Sunday, 11 March 2012

Yorkshire Sculpture Garden & National Coal Mining Museum

We had some good fortune this weekend in that the weather was fantastic on the day that we had free.  Sunny, blue skies and 60-62F.  Perfect.  So how do we spend the morning?  450 feet below ground.  Huh?  We'll, there were two sites I wanted to see outside of Wakefield which is just over an hour north.  The first of those was the National Coal Mining Museum (link).

The Museum is at the site of a forming working coal mine which closed in 1985 (museum opened in 1988).  You could spend a good chunk of the day there but we went primarily for the underground tour.  Admission is FREE as is parking.

There was a small museum and special exhibit that we took a look through prior to our tour.   The special exhibit was the photo essay centered around the miners strike from 1984-5.  Lots of info on wiki (here) but that was essentially the beginning of the end for the UK mining industry.  In 1983 Britain has 174 working mines; by 2009 there were 6. Horrible way to have to earn a living, in my (soft) opinion, but a crummy job is better than no job.

Not only does this tie into my recent Industrial Revolution theme (Ironbridge, Magna Steel Works) but this strike was the setting for the movie and musical Billy Elliot (that we saw in London).

The highlight of the visit was the tour into the mine.  We donned our hard hats and a battery pack and lamp.  We had to leave everything with a battery (watch, key fob, camera, phone, etc.) above ground so no photos.  Down below they had a former miner take us through the mines and show us various working conditions in the mines.  Just squeezing the group on the lift/elevator to go down made quite an impression.

The most telling exhibit was the Victorian era family (late 1800's) where the entire family was down in the mine.  The little boy's job was to sit in the dark and open the little door when required.  Eventually, women and girls were not allowed to work in those conditions.

As we walked through (or hunch-scrambled) various safety measures were discussed though it was mentioned that most were reactionary means due to an accident or death.  I'm thankful that I don't have to do that kind of work and I hope a little bit of that sinks into the kids as well.

Reminded me of the excellent book and movie Rocket Boys / October Sky.  Highly recommended if you haven't read the book or seen the movie.

After a reasonably priced lunch in the cafe, we walked back to the car.  Nothing particular about this shot.  Quintessential England to me with the hills and tight cluster of houses in certain areas.  Amazing blue sky today -- not typical!

The next stop was the outdoor activity of the day--the Yorkshire Sculpture Garden (link) which was about 10 minutes from the Mining Museum.  The site is set on the grounds of Bretton Hall, an 18th century estate.  Not sure of the actual size, but I'm guessing we did about a 3 mile loop around to the various sculptures scattered about.  See the map on the last page of this PDF link.  It's a nice way to get some exercise as you don't have to walk too far before you see something new. 

Note, this is also FREE though parking is £5.  Cheap day out too.

There was a stretch walking out to the back of the property were I kept Alex entertained with some math problems.  We did squares (2x2, 3x3, etc) up to 32 before both of our brains cramped up.

totem -- note the upside down face over Alex's shoulder

very large and very female bunny

my lovely wife in the conservatory (fortunately no Col Mustard or a lead pipe)--rhododendrons, I believe

and Nicole

this was a stack of three very long and thin I-beams that made interesting noises when tapped/banged

 waste bin art

can't say I know what these are or what they mean -- who cares when the weather is this nice

small creek and pond on the grounds -- we circled around it as part of our walk.  The island on the right had some birds nests that you'll see later on

What do you call a man with no arms or legs on a tree?   . . . . . Art

crossing the bridge and looking into the sun evidentally

Alex's highlight was this droopy branch that he got to ride after Nicole got up

 presumably the estate house -- didn't go in or even read up on it

hard to tell, but I think that's a heron nest and the mom was feeding her chicks.  There were a couple of heavy-duty photographers camped out waiting for the perfect shots.

The Jay Seppanen-Steve Frey domestic animal of the week shot.  Highland cows (hairy coo's).  Guess we can skip Scotland now.

 you can see we've walked all around the back and up a hill to get this vantage point of the estate house

here's one that they could climb up and in -- it's suppose to provide semi-obstructed views to cause one to contemplate life (. . . . okay . . . )

 miscellaneous countryside shot -- check out that blue sky!

rare (for us) woodland walk on the way back (I think we were on 27 x 27 by this point)

back to the main grounds and various modern sculptures -- a slightly knackered group at this point

no clue what this is--crazy eights?

 or this one -- did I mention that it didn't really matter?  Just a great day out enjoying the perfect day

 I'll go with the inside of some fruit for this one

 large lady with a very small head

We topped it off with the usual ice cream treat at the end.  Everyone had a good day.  We were tired though!

We had a repeat Nicole meal-of-the-week this week:  ham and mushroom pasta.  Very good.

Spring is coming and so has the return of the enormous pigeon like creatures.  I have no idea how this guy can fly.  This shot is out of our bedroom window.  He's pretty much chicken size.

That'll do it.  Have a good week.

1 comment:

  1. Nice day out, I will have to borrow that itinerary in the future. Aren't the Woodpigeons huge here? Biggest I have ever seen. The hairy coo's remind me of the Bugs Bunny cartoon with the huge upright walking guy ( Ralph maybe ) who would watch the sheep then clock out when his day was up. He had the hair over the eyes thing also. Maybe that was a Wile E. Coyote cartoon not BB after all. I just can't quite pull in the memory...