Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Roman Bath.

I found Bath very beautiful but everything from parking to buses was a rip-off; just to milk us tourists.

But even though the Roman Baths cost the two of us £27, they were probably worth it.

This is the main bath where all the socialising would be going on. The statues and the columns are all 19th century. The Roman remains are all at floor level and are the square blocks of stone.

Of course, the Pool would have been enclosed by a roof which would have kept the weather out and the heat in.

Everything went on around the baths - washing, talking, bathing, doing deals, gossiping.
This is an actor pretending to be a stone mason advertising his skills by the poolside;

I was fascinated by an area where the paving stones were worn down in a line. The archaeologists think this was where people queued up to buy oysters from a stall which had a chute so that running water was flowing by to keep the oysters alive.

This is a section of the stonework which brought hot spring water to the baths;

This is where the hot water comes from the spring into the main pool. It's hand hot rather than scalding; 

But the Baths are a whole complex. There is the sacred hot spring which was worshiped by the ancient Britons as the home of their god Sulla. It was then taken over by the Romans who merged that god into their own god of healing, Minerva.

There was a temple, the large pool and a complex of hot and cold rooms and small baths.

To keep the water hot, there was a lead pipe carrying water from the spring to the smaller pools. It's an amazing feat of engineering, using local Mendip lead and remarkable plumbing skills;

Of course, there's always security - I'd have probably been in trouble with the bouncers then too;

This is a section of the Hypercaust - the tiles supported a stone floor and on the right hand side is a tunnel which brought heat into this steam room from a fire kept alight by slaves;

You could see the life going on around you in the remains of the Roman past.

There was also a museum of everyday objects but that's for another day.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Monday, 29 September 2014


On Thursday, because we couldn't go anywhere exciting we went to Bath in Somerset. It's not abroad but neither of us had been there before; it's old and it's very pretty. All the buildings are made out of 'Bath Stone', a rich, orange-hued limestone quarried from the Mendip Hills nearby.

It was very fashionable in the 18th Century when the Prince of Wales and his courtiers came there to take the health giving waters and to bathe in the hot springs.

The money this brought to the town produced some broad expansive terraces of elegant Regency houses for the wealthy tourists;

It's a world heritage site and jealously protects its image. All the new buildings and stores have to be built of the same Bath Stone to fit in.

There's an ancient cathedral;

And the local authority has blown many millions of pounds of the peoples money on renovating the old baths so that wealthy visitors can indulge themselves; here they are enjoying the rooftop pool;

The town was always aimed at the wealthy - here's a mock up of a sedan chair outside one of the museums - to carry people from their hotel to the baths;

There are plenty of museums trying to get our money, I'm not a fan of Jane Austen but lots of people are;


This is the statue outside the Cathedral celebrating the local mineral waters;

 And this is me filling my Tesco's bottle with some free mineral water from the hot spring.;

It smelt strongly of bad eggs from all the sulphur in the water and it was really hot - it kept warm in my rucksack for about two hours after I filled it which was a bit spooky.

This is the famous weir that runs through the centre of town;

I wasn't so impressed until I went to the Roman Baths but that's a story for tomorrow.

Click on any picture for a slideshow.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Home:  helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Crossfire Hurricane and Room Four at The Hobgoblin.

Saturday night at The Hobgoblin and it's a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis and 'Face the Future' charities - the night came at the end of a long sponsored cycle ride.

This is 'Room 4' - as far as I know they are named after the room they rehearse in at Brooklands College. I first saw them earlier in the year when they were playing on the 'Boombox Taster' night.

Good heavy metal, ending up with Motorhead's 'Ace of Spades' but playing a lot of their own material which is always a good sign.

They have a way to travel but they are further along the road than many bands twice their age - watch out for them!

These are just a couple of members of 'Crossfire Hurricane' who are as local as it gets and regulars at The Hobgoblin. I think it's the third time I've seen them, I always look forward to it even though the music is different every time. That may be why I'm always there.
Last time I saw them was just in August and back then I was writing how they seemed to have moved towards Metal. Now they are somewhere else and wherever it is, it's a really good place to be.
They are still exploring music and I'm going to keep watching out for them as long as I can.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

25000 Thanx.

Day four of freedom wasn't a lot of fun (Day three was good but I need to steal some Wi-Fi to show you). I had to get up really early and get off to my Doctor for a rather painful appointment and then all plastered up I did the shopping at Tesco's on the way home.
Early lunch and then off round the M25 to Crawley for the funeral of an old friend and comrade. He had a good, dry sense of humour, so he wouldn have laughed at what happened.
After half an hour lost in the town I was late.
We were in the area of the crematorium but just couldn't find it. Then we saw a large funeral procession and joined on the back of the line of cars. Well, it had to be going there?
As we slowly moved along I got more worried - it was so near time that this would have to be the funeral itself.
Except he wouldn't have had Rolls Royces, surely?
And didn't he say 'No Flowers'?
And I don't think he was a Chelsea fan?
Unfortunately after about ten frantic minutes it was obvious we were getting further and further away.
We peeled off, drove back all the way back and somehow got there just in time.
It was a good funeral, a life well lived.
25000 is a big deal and there are some interesting things going on in the background I can't tell you about.
I used to write about everything but it let the bad guys know what I was about to do.
So I can't do that any more. 
Right now, this is as good as it gets and I'm going to celebrate by giving away a free gift for anyone who wants it - more on that later.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Friday, 26 September 2014

Day two on the river.

Second day of freedom and it was all shopping and paying bills. I'm conscious of how precious this time is and how it's slipping away from me.

At least the afternoon was sunny and Me and Robyn took advantage of it to take a walk along The Thames at Old Windsor.

It's the end of summer although there are still leaves on the trees;

We sat at the lock, watching boats coming in, the gates shutting and the water draining out to let the boats sail out at the new level.

It's ungrateful but I would rather be somewhere else.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me:   neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Footsore on the Downs.

I wish I was walking to these places, it must be 70 miles from end to end along The South Downs Way footpath;

It was still sunny on my second day of freedom and we walked along the ridge from the windmills at Clayton to Ditchling Beacon, a very steep hill indeed.

It's a hard challenge for cyclists and many races climb it.

When we got there, there were still road marks at the top; 'Allez!' and this commemoration of the British cyclist Tommy Simpson who died on the bleak and murderous Mont Ventoux stage of the Tour de France;

I had a wonderful day on the Downs back in the spring;

Today was beautiful in a different, September sort of way;

Rolling chalk hills, swooping swallows diving and swirling for the sheer joy of being alive. We made it!

With time for a wish on the way back;

But we didn't all make it back in one piece;

I bought these walking shoes in 2011, just before I was diagnosed. They were really cheap but I never thought I'd get to wear them out. It's the second pair of shoes I've worn out this year, my Big Bad Boots went in the springtime. 

It's a testament to Dr Feelgood of Charing Cross Hospital that I lasted this long and to the Orthopaedic and Trauma surgeons at St. Peter's that I still have two legs to walk on.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Home:  helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

First day of freedom.

I spent the morning getting my Mum into respite care . It was traumatic but it's 2 weeks holiday for me, the only break I've had in three years. Two weeks freedom.

After lunch, Robyn and I went for a walk on Staines Moor.

Here we are standing on one of the bridges over the river Colne;

It was beautifully sunny, a last day of summer, almost. We walked back along the clear bright river as it winded its way over the moor.

We passed the grazing cows and horses and then we found that the banks were lined with wonderfully fresh, spicy watercress;

Mmmmmh, scrummy!
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

UKID at The Hobgoblin.

This every day set of speakers has been transformed into something special by a graffiti artist (I'll have to try and track him down) for UKID who were headlining at The Hobgoblin on Saturday. It's the third time I've seen them.

I shouldn't like them - they mix heavy metal (which isn't me) with DJ Culture (which I'm far too old for). But it's great - this is what you get;

This is Ben-Jah on vocals;

UKID are Ben-Jah (Lead Vocals), Glenn (Guitar), KJ (Bass) and Joey (Drums). There's politics, social comment but most of all loads of action;

This is Joey on drums - with some really great artwork by the same artist on the bass drum.

UKID are exciting, original and have important things to say - check out their website and Facebook page....just do a search.

Their videos are on YouTube - have a look.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Home:  helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Monday, 22 September 2014

Tapestry, These Sceptic Stars and Robotboy at the Hobgoblin.

Saturday night and we're at The Hobgoblin to see UKID from Glastonbury. I'll be doing a separate blog about them tomorrow - any excuse to post more pictures of this incredible band.

There were still three other bands to see first - this is 'Robotboy' making their first public appearance.....at The Hob; 

Not a bad start - I hope to watch them develop, meanwhile here are 'These Sceptic Stars';

Not sure about the stage clothes but we liked some of the music;


If you remember, I reviewed 'One Man' a few weeks ago, a solo acoustic set from Matthew Williams? Technically brilliant but I was lukewarm because I was looking for 'punch'?

I got plenty of that tonight; this is Matthew in the middle on his bass guitar;

Plenty of 'punch' tonight!

And this is how to end a set;

But the real reason I was there was for UKID, an amazing band. I'll put the pictures up tomorrow.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Two weeks.


There’s some mad packing going on and some arguments too – I’m trying to get my mum ready for tomorrow morning when we try to get her into respite care for a fortnight.

It’s not easy, I can tell you.

In case you’ve been wondering why I haven’t had a bucket list, why there weren’t any fantastic last ever holidays; I’m a carer.

For the last three years since my diagnosis I’ve been caring for my mum without a break and going mad.

In fact, I should have had a break.

Carers are entitled to four weeks ‘respite’ care every year. My Mum should have gone off to a home to give me a much needed break.

If you are poor it’s free, if not you pay. Either way it’s a lifeline to sanity. I didn’t get it.

Why didn’t it happen?

Because her doctor didn’t bother to tell us.

That’s right, she couldn’t be bothered to tell us.
She simply didn't give damn about us.
So, no break for three years.

Three years when my cancer just got worse and worse.

When I broke an ankle and it was misdiagnosed.

When I had a thrombosis.

When my Mum had her own serious health problems.

All that time I got no help, had no break. The things I could have done, the places I could have seen.
To say that I’m angry doesn’t do justice to how I feel about this.

It’s come far too late for me - summer is long over. I’ve got nothing booked – no time to sort anything out and I have no plans. But it’s a break and I really need one.

And things will happen – you know that!

Starting Monday afternoon.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Home:   helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Museum of Nothing in Particular.

I went for a walk and found that the local farmer had had a delivery of recycled building material to repair one of his paths.

I decided to do a bit of archaeology and this is what I found - a whole house!

Actually I also found fragments of roof tiles, a piece of lead sheet, broken paving stones and bricks but this is the interesting stuff.

The blue tile is from a bath room, it's made of terrazzo; you make up a coloured quartz cement mixture and then put into it fragments of coloured stones. 

When sets hard, you grind it flat and then polish it so that it becomes smooth. In this case the tile is made of blue quartz, glass and a few little pieces of broken mirror to give it a real sparkle.

My guess is that it was fashionable in the 1960's.

The brown spiral is fired clay with a salt glaze. It's Victorian - mid to late 19th century. What you can see is the top of an edging paver - used to line the ornamental tiles of the front path of the house. I've got it up on its side, it would have lined both sides of the path pretending to look like rope.

The white stone is Carrera marble and where the bulldozers have broken it off or chipped off the sharp edges it sparkles in the light. On the back there's a little vein which would have given the stone a real ornamental look.

It comes from the quarries where Michaelangelo once selected the stone for his statues and which still produces marble for sculptors today.

There is a shaped edge - hand carved. It was made to be the mantelpiece above a Victorian fireplace. Victorian gentlemen would have stoked their fire and then leaned on this, rather pompously.

Like I said, a whole house, 150 years of life.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Home:   helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Friday, 19 September 2014

The SkaSouls at The Riverside.


I'm sorry I'm late with my Blog - had a big old nosebleed in Tesco's - blood on the floor and everything.
Foolish people might think that I'd been overdoing it - how silly is that?


Last night? I'm here at The Riverside Club, Staines. It was massive - we only just got in.

Who was playing?

The mighty SkaSouls that's who.

Dance floor heaving, rafters vibrating, glasses clinking, toe tapping, Ska band.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

They're back!

At the end of a really grumpy day I just had to get out of the house and I didn't have anywhere to go.....except for a walk where the punk horses used to live.

I did it because I was in a foul mood but when I got there they were back.

Except there were less of them and they were in better health.
I'm not sure if I feel happy about it. obviously I'm glad they aren't pet food and it's nice to see them back.....but I don't want to make the emotional investment I made before.

It is nice to see them back though.

Swans don't like me taking pictures normally, either.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Imperial Wharf Jazz Festival part 2.

As dusk fell over Imperial Wharf, YolanDa Brown started to play and a whole new crowd came in. She's a multi MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) award winner;

With an array of Saxophones and a radio mike, Yolanda filled the Wharf with her sound and a couple of times came out into the crowd as she played too.

Exciting stuff; if perhaps just a bit too smooth for me. The crowd loved her. And I mean they loved her. 
There'd been plenty of dancing during the day;

But by nightfall it was time for some real dancing.

It was time for Salsa;

I definitely couldn't get them all in, there really are twenty of them; the famed Roberto Plas and his twenty piece orchestra. 

This is the maestro himself on drums;

Leading his orchestra and singers from the front, it's very Latin;

Every so often he would be shouting, cajoling, pointing or poking with a drumstick;

Amazing sounds, absolutely amazing rhythms, did I mention there was dancing!

And suddenly it was all over. the end of a fabulous day.

Thank you Sharon for being there, for Manju and Girdeep and for all the boiled eggs and tuna salad sandwiches too!
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Home:   helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

And then I had this picture which I wasn't going to use because it didn't come out good (on my old pawn shop camera) but then I decided to use it any way.

It's YolanDa Brown's backing singers;