Up North

Up North, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Just back from the North of England - land of cheap beer, black puddings and black peas. I went up for a family wedding (congrats Lee and Kasia!) but stayed on for the LMS weekend at the East Lancs Railway. I was hoping to see Princess Elizabeth, but alas the excursion it was on wasn't cancelled. I did see the Jub Leander, 4F 44422 and Jinty 47324. Overheard a couple of old trainspotters talking about seeing 'Semis' (why?) at Preston and I'd forgotten that's what we called the Duchesses, the most beautiful locos ever built!

On the Monday afternoon I visited Bury art gallery, where I was appalled to hear that the council was planning to sell off the family silver - their Lowry - to cover some debts! The gallery staff were resigned to it happening - it's already been removed from view.

Also visited Lois in the Peak District and had an exciting Tuesday afternoon in Speedwell Cavern, on a boat, 200m underground, in an old hand-hewn lead mine! It felt like a Disneyland ride but every so often I had to remind myself it was for real! We were in a metal boat floating on icy water in a tiny underground cavern! The hard hat earned its keep, scouser guide Paul kept up the banter and Lois's two-year old son Joe loved it! The Peak District is awsomely gorgeous!

Wednesday I travelled on the Wirral Line via Liverpool to see the Lady Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight. It was closed last time I tried to visit but this time it was open and what a joy it is, crammed with top-quality Pre-Raphaelite paintings and other Victorian delights, including lots of marble naked ladies! On Thursday I took a day-saver to Rochdale to visit their gallery. All Northern towns have collections of Victorian art - that's where the money was back then. It's a lovely museum, and unlike Bury is proud of its industrial heritage, with fascinating exhibits on King Cotton and mining. Loved the architects' drawings of mills and their model villages. But why oh why do museums have to give themselves silly 'modern' names like Touchstones? Sounds like a themed young-persons lager pub! Nice to see the cafe serving Fairtrade food tho. Talking of food, I managed a 60p cup of black peas at Ramsbottom station on Saturday and took in the world black pudding throwing championships, also in Rammy (or Tupp's Arse as we used to call it), on Sunday. The idea was to knock off giant Yorkshire puddings from top of some scaffolding - a photo on Flickr. Hope the food wasn't just thrown away at the end of the festivities.

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