Long Road from Jarrow: A journey through Britain then and now by Stuart Maconie

I knew of the Jarrow March/Crusade in 1936, but not much about it beyond the fact that men from Jarrow in Tyneside marched from their home town to London to present a petition against the mass unemployment and extreme poverty in the north-east of England. Stuart Maconie has filled in the gaps in his excellent book Long Road from Jarrow: A journey through Britain then and now. In October last year he retraced the route they took, 300 miles, comparing what conditions and attitudes were like in 1936 with those of 2016. The men were accompanied for part of their march by Ellen Wilkinson, who was the MP for Middlesbrough East and it was Ellen who presented their petition to the House of Commons. But despite their protest and all Ellen Wilkinson’s efforts on their behalf it didn’t result in any improvements for employment in Jarrow.

Maconie a writer, broadcaster and journalist, writes fluently and with conviction. The Long Road from Jarrow is a mix of travel writing, social and cultural history and political commentary, with the main emphasis on the current social, cultural and political scene. It’s a thought-provoking book that both entertained and enlightened me. Maconie writes about the past, the history of the places he walked through and the tales and reminiscences of the people he met. He also writes with enthusiasm on such topics as football and music and food. It’s a lively, chatty account that includes the thorny topic of Brexit, the current and past state of the north/south divide and considers what it is to be ‘British’.

I was fascinated and thoroughly enjoyed this walk through England, past and present. My copy is an ARC from the publishers via Netgalley.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1617 KB
  • Print Length: 365 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1785036319
  • Publisher: Ebury Digital (20 July 2017)

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Stone circles are amongst the most tangible and durable connections to the past. They have fascinated me ever since I was a young teenager and saw Stonehenge. We were on our way to Girl Guide camp in the New Forest, travelling overnight by coach from Cheshire and reached Stonehenge just before dawn. I was just about awake as we scrambled down from the coach and made our way over the field to be at Stonehenge as the sun came up. It was magical.

We were the only people there and in those days Stonehenge was fully accessible. I’ve been there since, and seen it on TV but I am so glad I had that experience before full access to Stonehenge was available, before there was a carpark and a visitor centre, shop and cafe. Now you can only view the stones from a short distance away along a tarmac pathway – after you’ve planned your visit in advance, parked your car and been driven 10 minutes by a shuttle bus, because entry to Stonehenge is by timed tickets. (Access is free at the solstices.)  I understand the need for all this but it still makes me shudder.

When I discovered that there is a stone circle near Keswick I was keen to go there whilst we were staying in the Lake District last week. Although there were more people at Castlerigg Stone Circle than I would have liked I really did appreciate the informality of the site.  There are no restrictions and you can wander around the stones as much you like. I suppose you’d have to get there at dawn or at least a lot earlier than we did to be there on your own.

Castlerigg is set on a plateau near Keswick, surrounded by hills, including Skiddaw and Blencathra. There is no carpark, visitor centre or shop – and I hope it stays that way. You can park in a little lane, where there was an ice-cream van selling delicious home-made ice-cream on the day we were there.

This was our first sight of the stones:

Approaching Castlerigg Stone Circle (1)  P1010056

Stone circles are ancient monuments. There are over 50 stone circles in the Lake District, made with locally available stones. Nobody knows what their function was, although there is much debate about whether they had a ritual and religious use, an astronomical significance or an economic function.

Castlerigg dates from around 5,200 BC which makes it older than the pyramids! Here is part of the circle. It is about 30 metres in diameter, which makes it quite difficult to take photos of the whole circle:

Castlerigg view 2

As you can see that the stones vary in size. The tallest stone is 2.3 metres and the largest weighs about 16 tonnes.

Castlerigg P1010061

And here are two photos of parts of the interpretation boards:

Int Bd Castlerigg P1010051

Int Bd Castlerigg P1010052

Castlerigg Stone Circle is described A Guide to the Stone Circles of the Lake District by David Watson, published in 2009 with colour photographs, maps and directions to the sites. The cover photo shows Castlerigg Stone Circle.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshot

We’ve been away last week – we went here:

Caringorms P1080750the Cairngorms – and there was snow in May.

Cairngorm shop P1080752Lower down the snow fell too but didn’t stick. The photo below is of a beautiful little loch in the Glenmore Forest Park, An Lochan Uaine the ‘green lochan’ (although in my photo it looks blue – it was really green!). ‘Lochan’ is Gaelic for ‘ a small loch, or lake’.

An Lochan Uaine P1080677The green shows up more in this photo:

An Lochan Uaine P1080681

We have many more photos, which no doubt, I’ll be posting and writing about later. Click on the photos to see them enlarged.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy.

Berwick's Elizabethan Ramparts

Following on from last Saturday’s Saturday Snapshots here are a few more photos of Berwick-upon-Tweed, which is the northernmost town in England. It’s a Border town that changed hands between England and Scotland 14 times until it finally became part of England in 1482. It’s a walled town; the original medieval walls were built in the 13th century and the Elizabethan Ramparts, dating from 1558 are virtually intact.

Berwick Elizabethan Ramparts

The fortifications replaced the medieval wall on the North and East sides of the town. The photo above shows part of the Elizabethan wall that is now the boundary wall of a car park.

Below are two photos of sections of the walls:

Berwick Ramparts 1

Berwick walls & bridges

The photo below shows a Russian cannon, captured in the Crimea. Before the Second World War this part of part of the walls was once bristling with artillery. All that remains now is this cannon which was brought back as one of the trophies at the end of the Crimean War (1854-56). The top of the barrel of the gun is embossed with the double-headed eagle emblem of the Russian Tzar.

Berwick Ramparts Canon

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshots – on Sunday

A few years ago we had a holiday in Gloucestershire – in Painswick. I’ve posted some photos in the past but not these of a walk in Frith Wood, which is on a ridge between Slad and Painswick. It’s a beautiful, magical wood of magnificent beech trees, with a mix of oak, ash and sycamore and it’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Frith Wood

Frith Wood DSC_0106

Frith Wood DSC_0100 Frith Wood DSC_0109For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Castle Stalker

I was delighted to find this romantic ruined castle during our holiday on the west coast of Scotland. This is Castle Stalker, a 15th century tower house built by the Stewarts of Appin. It’s on a small island in Loch Linnhe, just north east of Port Appin (the setting for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, a fictionalised account of the “Appin Murder” of 1752).

It was quite late in the day when we got there and the light was fading, so my photo is rather dark. I’d love to go back and take a trip across the loch to the island and see round the castle. It’s privately owned and there are tours on just 5 weeks of the year. There’s a brief history of the castle on the Castle Stalker website.

Castle Stalker is the location of Castle Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh in the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

 

Saturday Snapshot: On Holiday

We’ve been away last week, over at Kentallen on the west coast of Scotland – near Glencoe. These were the views of Loch Linnhe from our bedroom windows, taken late afternoon on the day we arrived. Click on the photos to enlarge them:

Here’s a close-up of the flag:

We got back home last night and I’ve got lots more photos of the places we visited – I just need time to sort them all out.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home with Books.