Jamie's Notes

A fat man on a bike

On Sunday, two overweight men, both approaching forty years of age and neither of them in peak physical condition decided that it would be a grand lark to cycle along the old railway track from Hull to Hornsea – despite neither of them riding a bike in anger for many a year. One of those fat men was me. The other was my friend, Dave.

It’s that way, then.

I have no clue why I thought this would be a good idea. It just popped into my head, so I sent a text to Dave:

Me: ‘Dave, shall we cycle to Hornsea next weekend?’

Dave: ‘OK’

Damn. Can’t believe the bugger said yes.

The track is a tiny part of Sustrans Route 65 which, if you were fool enough to do the full thing, takes you from Hornsea to Middlesbrough – two of the least desirable places on the east coast.

Our part of the trail, fifteen miles from the finish, starts in central Hull. Since we are not interested in drug deals, street drinkers, rats and derelict factories, we put pedal to the metal and got the hell out of dodge. Once out of the city it was smooth, well maintained track & rolling countryside. The good thing about old railway tracks is that they are mostly flat; ideal for people who have the physical endurance of a soggy handkerchief, like me.

At the end, we are greeted by a large ominous eye on a stick, and to our disappointment no welcoming party.

We celebrated with fish & chips and ice cream, and remained pleased with ourselves until we remembered that we had to ride home.

I did the same ride a decade ago and found it quite pleasant. I enjoyed this one too, but I have not been kind to my body in the intervening years.

Very, very frightening

Thunderclouds above our house

Brilliant sunshine gave way to belligerent clouds this evening, and with them dozens of lightning strikes and thunder that rattled the windows and agitated the neighbourhood dogs.

Even as an adult I find thunder unsettling. The lightning, not so much.

E slept peacefully through it all. My mother used to wake me when there was a good thunderstorm. She would first unplug all of the electrical appliances, in case there was an electrical surge, and we’d watch it out of my bedroom window with all the house lights off. I used to laugh when I thought about this later, until I lost an ADSL router during a storm and was without internet for a week.

Hydrangeas on the kitchen table

Video from the front in Portland

‘Great civilisations are not murdered. Instead, they take their own lives’ – so concluded Arnold Toynbee after investigating the fall of different civilisations through the ages.

Whatever your political persuasion, scenes like these from the City of Portland yesterday must give you the chills. To an outsider like me, this just looks like a country at war with itself.

George is leaking

George had his operation on Monday. We waited all day for news, and at 4pm received a call to say that it had been a success and that we could come and collect him.

The vet explained that because the removed mass was so large, the remaining space would fill with fluid unless it is allowed to drain. He now has a little tube sticking out from his abdomen for the liquid to escape. ‘He will drip’ she warned, before handing over some large waterproof pads to protect the car.

So, he’s back home and leaking. He was disorientated at first, probably the after-effects of the anaesthesia, but is back to his old self now. The ongoing challenge is making sure that he doesn’t lick or scratch the wound. Easier said than done. We coaxed him, at the vets recommendation, into an Elizabethan Collar – aka ‘the cone of shame’. That didn’t go too well. He looked unbelievably sad, tripped while going down the steps to the garden and then got himself trapped beneath the swing. He is content to wear my old vests instead.

Not happy

His fear of the vet is now firmly and irrevocably entrenched. He refused to enter the building when we took him back for a check-up yesterday, and had to be carried in.

Two days left

Just two days left until it becomes compulsory for us to wear a face-covering or mask in stores, and I’m not seeing any evidence that people are proactively changing their behaviour. Earlier today, in Asda, I didn’t see a single person wearing a face covering of any kind.

I struggle to understand it. It’s such a small thing to do. Whether you agree with the science or not – at the very least it shows some respect for the people who have to work in the stores with thousands of people milling past them.

It did feel weird at first, but I’m used wearing one now. I feel safer with the mask on than with it off, even if the purpose of it isn’t to keep me safe. I’ll feel much safer when everyone else is wearing one.

Don’t be a twat. Wear a mask.

An early walk

We forced ourselves out of the house early today, before lassitude sets in, and walked a couple of miles around Welton Vale – not strenuous, but enough that we can say that we have done something.

Our journey took us past the Raikes Mausoleum, which we saw on our visit last year. In the intervening time, a large hole has appeared – big enough for a small person to climb in and down to the crypt. I’m not sure what you would find down there. I’m also not sure that I would like to find out.

Raikes Mausoleum

It’s a real shame to see it fall into disrepair. There are, according to the experts, very few mausoleums of this type left – and the Raikes family has an interesting history.

The ground floor was sealed up in the 1960s after repeated break-ins and desecration, and will probably stay that way. There isn’t any information online about the interior. This listing on Historic England describes the exterior:

Mausoleum. 1818 for Sir Robert Raikes. Limestone ashlar. Circular plan: probably a copy of a Roman model. Tall single storey on basement. Rusticated base with segmental openings to basement. Eight steps to sealed, rendered and lined doorway in architrave: scrolled brackets to projecting cornice over frieze of bay leaves and garlands. Over the door is a corniced panel with the inscription “AEDIFICAVIT ROBERTUS RAIKES ARMIGER AD MDCCCXVIII”. Around the building are 8 Doric pilasters dividing it into bays: each alternate bay blind. Other bays have projecting panels with cornice and blocking course carrying sarcophagi in low relief: above are ventilation holes in sunk corniced panels. Frieze of triglyphs and guttae: Doric cornice, blocking course, and stepped ashlar dome. The building is enclosed by a circular flagged area defined by a dwarf wall, once carrying iron railings (now removed).

Not a dirty word anymore

I was in my home town today – for work, rather than anything interesting. I took the opportunity to drive to the top of Olivers Mount and looked down upon the town of my birth. From up here, I can see the first twenty-five years of my life spread out before me. Down there is the house that I grew up in, the place that I first kissed a girl, my schools, the old railway yard that my friends and I explored and the beaches that we roamed.

The view from the mount

I moved away from Scarborough in 2005. I was twenty-four years old and felt ready to leave it in the dust. For a long time before, and after, I hung all the baggage of my childhood and adolescence on this place: my parents’ divorce, the loss of my mum and grandparents, relationship breakdowns, broken friendships – all of it. I hung it neatly and then left it behind. So long suckers. Adios. I actively avoided the place In the intervening years. Scarborough became a dirty word.

Lately, I’ve begun to feel different about it. The good memories are the ones I think of first, and the bad ones no longer weigh me down. When I come back to Scarborough now, it just feels like home.

More in the archives.