Wednesday, August 27

Smoky Joe's

I hear that a cab driver in nearby Lancaster had a fag-break which cost him £315.
John Goulding, of Fleet Green in Lancaster, was found guilty in his absence at Lancaster Magistrates Court, of breaking the smoking ban laws.
The regulations as we all should know by now make it an offence to smoke in an enclosed public or work place – which includes vehicles such as taxis.

Magistrates heard that Goulding was smoking a cigarette in his taxi while parked in a bay on Belle Vue Terrace in Lancaster. He was spotted by one of Lancaster City Council's licensing
officers, who informed him that he was breaking the law and subsequently issued a Fixed Penalty Notice.
Goulding failed to pay the fine and as a result action was taken through the courts.
Magistrates ordered him to pay a fine of £175, court costs of £125 and a £15 victim surcharge.

Coun David Kerr, cabinet member with responsibility for environmental health, said: "Since the smoke free regulations were brought in over a year ago there have been very few cases where we have had to resort to issuing Fixed Penalty Notices.

"That, in part, is due to the large amount of publicity there has been about the regulations and the fact that most people realise that the laws are there for a good reason – to protect public health.

"Nobody has an excuse in saying that they are not aware of the
implications of the regulations and we will continue to take action where we have evidence that they are being broken."
So there you have it lads the law is breathing down the back of your necks and it wont be long before one of our local smoky Joe's is caught and fined.

Near Miss

Check out this video taken from the cab of a UK train. No wonder the driver swore, and I bet the idiot that was nearly killed saw his life flash before his eyes.

Monday, August 25

Twisted Logic

Well that's the last Bank holiday weekend of the summer over with, and the next stop before we know it will be Christmas. 
 The super Sunday turned out to be a bit of a late starter with most folk not going out until the evening and not as much of the usual rush up to Dalton for the traditional afternoon boozing. Maybe it had something to so with the closure of that popular watering hole the Wellington, which leaves a huge dry gap between pubs and also was the biggest best beer garden in the town. 
Barrow itself was busy though and I was kept busy ferrying drunks into town from the pubs and house parties in outlaying areas. One group of four lads got into the most bizarre conversation as I drove them into town. They were talking about the date of some sporting event and the year of 1970 was mentioned. The inebriated guy who was sprawled on the front seat piped up with “but that was before I was alive." His mates fell about laughing but the poor guy just couldn't understand what he had said wrong. "So you were dead then" his mates said mockingly. 
My sprawled out drunk thought about this for a minute or two and then with the twisted logic of drunks the world over, declared "well yes if I wasn't alive then I must have been dead back then." This went on for the rest of the ten minute ride into town but nothing his mates could say would convince the sprawling drunk that he hadn't been dead before he was born.

Thursday, August 21


After what must be one of the first recorded deaths involving an electric mobility scooter police are investigating a case of possible manslaughter. A frail grandmother died after being involved in a hit-and-run incident involving an unidentified mobility scooter rider. The 84-year-old was making her way across a road when she was struck by the electric buggy. A woman driving the vehicle fled the scene after claiming she was going to call for an ambulance. The victim, who has not been named, suffered a broken hip and was taken to hospital where she died 12 weeks later. The death was reported to the Sunderland coroner by the hospital, which was concerned that it was linked to the crash. Now an inquest has been opened and witnesses have been asked to come forward. The incident happened as the victim was crossing the road in the Hendon area of Sunderland last May. Northumbria Police checked nearby CCTV footage but failed to locate the scooter rider. Because electric-powered buggies are not classed as motor vehicles under road traffic legislation, the driver cannot be prosecuted for a motoring offence. This leaves open the option of a manslaughter charge against the rider, if they are ever identified.

Wednesday, August 20

The Boat People

The Roa Island Wreck sitting next to the causeway near Foulney Island has become a familiar landmark to most folk round here for a few years now. Being near to the home of local TV star Dave Myers, it even made national television looking picturesque in the background of the new Hairy Bikers series the Hairy Bakers. I had noticed the rusty 70 foot former fishing trawler moving about during violent storms and always half expected to find the rusty hulk sitting astride the road to Roa Island at some point. A year or so back though I heard a rumour that the boat wreck had been sold, and started to look out for the scrap men towing her away or cutting her up where she lay. Next time I drove past her, I was so shocked that I nearly drove off the causeway and into the channel, some crazy guy was actually attempting to scrape away the thick layers of rust and paint her.
A week or two later and the rumours started to get even more bizarre, with tales of folk actually living on the marooned wreck. Asking around over the months I could only find scraps of information about the mysterious boat people, just who were these crazy folk? Strangely the answers come about when I happened to mention it to a fare that we pick up regularly from the Roa area. It's me said Helen straight away," along with my Partner Scott and daughter Saff."
I was shocked surely not, here was a perfectly sane respectable lady telling me that she lived aboard a ship wreck with no mains water supply, electricity, rubbish collection, phone line or postal address. But hey wait a minute, that also means no bills or rates to pay and with the added bonus that no one can find you. Helen tells me that they had been running pubs for the last ten years and had gotten heartily sick of the rat race. The boat is to be a five year project eventually morphing into a permanent house boat moored at a place yet to be decided. You really do have to admire the sheer guts and determination of this family, remember that life has to revolve around the high tides and if you don't get home in time, then you are stranded ashore. All the supplies you need for day to day living you will have to carry over the rocky muddy beach and up the steep ladder onto the boat. I really sincerely do wish them the very best of luck with this slightly crazy venture and hope that local folk will take them to heart and help out where possible. After all that's what us Furness folk are famous for. "What's the boats name? “You may well ask, and when you learn it and its translation then somehow it seems very apt. The trawlers name throughout its long hard working life has been the “VITA NOVA" which means fittingly "NEW LIFE."
Read Helen's blog at
Read the Vita Nova story at

Thursday, August 14

Official Vandals

I see that the vandals from way up north of Cumbria have had their annual spree of mayhem and destruction. Yep it's that time of the year again, and we the poor ratepayer have to pay for the doubtful privilege of Carlisle contractors spaying our roads with black sticky tar and then gleefully throwing truckloads of paint chipping stones and dust in all the wrong places. The boys have excelled themselves this year, particularly on Barrow's Schneider Rd which has been transformed from quite a decent stretch of road into a dusty hazardous disaster area. Impressive clouds of dust recreate scenes from hundreds of years ago making the road look like some sort of rural dirt farm track. To add to the authenticity of the scene all modern road markings have been obliterated including the green cycle tracks for which we paid many tens of thousands of pounds to be laid. 

Sunday, August 10

Suits You!

I shall more than likely be hunted down and thrashed with rolled up copies of the Guardian newspaper, by the PC brigade for this one, but it's a true story and I don't mean any offence. 
Walking down to the sea front I couldn't help notice as a women stood at a street stall trying on different styles of sunglasses. As she tried each pair on she gazed into a mirror and checked out how she looked in the different colours and styles.
 Then she would ask her companion for an opinion on whether or not they suited her. What was strange to my unsophisticated eyes was that she was dressed in full black Hijab and covered from head to toe with only a slit for her eyes.

Grand and Petit Taxi's

This battered old Chevy is a more unusual example of the Moroccan Grand taxi, most seemed to be battered 70s vintage Mercedes. The Grand taxi can seat up to six passengers and has no meter, fares can be negotiated before you hire one. The other type of taxi of which two can be seen in the background is the Petit taxi, they can carry three passengers and have a meter fitted. The Petit taxi is only used within the city limits and are amazingly cheap,anywhere in town for about £1.80p.

The example below is a Grand Taxi spotted on a dusty highway way up in the Anti Atlas mountains.

Saturday, August 9

Snails in Morocco

Well Morocco certainly turned out to be a bit of a culture shock in more ways than one.
 Firstly to witness the poverty and hardship which is endured by most Moroccans with a smile is a humbling experience. Some rural folk out in the desert still live as they did in biblical times, eking out a meagre living with herds of goats and making the trek to the distant water well by donkey. Looking out the window at the pouring down rain, which everyone has been moaning about here in Barrow is a stark contrast to a country where a lot of children have never even seen rain, the last decent downpour was nine years ago!
 Then at the other end of the scale we were told of an Arab multi billionaire who was spending tens of millions to move a giant cement factory, lock stock and barrel, ten miles up the road just because it spoils the view from his newly constructed huge luxury palace.
 Wondering down the beach promenade at night was at first a bit daunting even at one or two o-clock in the morning crowds of twenty or thirty thousand local folks were wondering about. After a while we noticed that most people were in family groups ranging from grandma down to young babes, all simply enjoying themselves. The very idea of even one family walking about late at night like this in Barrow town centre particularly down our infamous Gaza Strip just doesn't bear thinking about.
 What makes the big difference of course is that even though it is available most locals just don't touch alcohol. It really is refreshing to walk down the street at night and not have to dodge the pools of vomit and suffer the intimidating behavior of aggressive drunks.
 Walking down the prom on the last night I spotted something which brought back distant memories of trips to Walney beach and gathering winkles. A street vendor was selling freshly cooked bowls of the delicacy complete with the obligatory pin to tease them from the shells. After eating a half dozen or so it finally dawned on me that they weren't winkles at all, just common garden snails cooked in brine. The missus always said I would eat owt. I guess she is right.