Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Cleaning up the rivers in Burnley

Parking round the back of the shops in the town centre I spotted these stone monuments.

They are commemorating the clean up of the River Brun (from which Burnley takes its name). The river runs through the town centre, mostly hidden from view but can be seen if you know where to look.

The poem about the Brun, by George Hindle in 1896, refers to the “radiant sun”. I’ve not seen much of that in Burnley lately!

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Going to Scarborough

As I crossed the Pennines last week the weather didn’t improve. I got on a bus in East Lancashire where it was 5 degrees and overcast. Then I caught a train in Manchester which was the same except it was trying to rain.  Just over three hours later I arrived in Scarborough where it was just as cold and overcast but with the sea mist in the air – or was it a sea fret?

I’d gone to see my brother working at the “Books by the Beach” book festival which he co-founded 5 years ago with the present director. This year he’d handed over the reigns and was acting in a consultancy role as well as chairing/convening several sessions with well-known authors.

So I had an invitation to stay at the Crescent Hotel, which is at the end of a row of Georgian buildings, and catch up with him for a couple of days. As a crime writer he travels the world and trying to meet him is not the easiest, the last time being briefly before a funeral. My friend calls him the yeti.

Starting off with a quick exploration of the town it was obvious that the book festival was well-publicised. I also noticed that the seagulls were enormous. No wonder they use owls to try to stop them pinching food from tourists.

We wandered up an alley where my brother showed me this wonderful shop full of guitars. Very expensive ones too. I made a note to visit Guitar Galleries the following day when it was open – not that I thought that I could actually afford anything in there.

Then we walked down to the Grand Hotel, in its heyday the largest hotel in Europe.

Architecturally it is interesting both outside and inside, reflecting its former grandeur.

In the evening we went down to the sea front to eat and found ourself in Antons, a converted chapel.

The following morning it was time for more exploration. We took the funicular down to the beach promenade and walked along the front. The funicular is operated by the Central Tramway Company and reminds me of Lisbon (or the Angels’ Flight one if you’ve watched the Bosch films based on Michael Connelly’s books).

The spa was off to our right but we headed towards the harbour and pubs. It seems like every seaside resort has the same arcades and fish and chip or ice cream parlours.

But there are also great views of the harbour, the castle, the Town Hall and the boats.

 

Then it was time to refresh ourselves in a local Sam Smith’s pub chatting with friendly locals and tourists mingling in the bar looking across the harbour.

We realised it was time to head back, past the house that King Richard III allegedly stayed in, past reminders of the old packet ships that sailed up and down the coast, and a reminder of how uninviting the sea was!

My brother Peter had to do his thing, chairing a session and interviewing author Robert Goddard, whom I’d met the previous evening. He was talking about his latest book “The Panic Room”, which I am now enjoying reading.

The fresh air had knocked me out so I retired to my comfortable room in the Crescent whilst Peter did another session with “The Yorkshire Vet” before we met up for a meal at the Fish Restaurant round the corner. Great food and friendly helpful staff. What more could you want?  And did I mention that food portions in Scarborough are huge?

As I was leaving my hotel to catch the train I noticed that the hotel was using the “mirrors by the lift” psychology. It’s used in stores too but basically the idea is that if the lift is a bit slow  then putting mirrors by the doors makes people less impatient as they are too busy checking themselves out in the mirror.

So this is my impression of Scarborough: a seaside fishing town with lots of grand old buildings alongside the amusement arcades, an expensive guitar shop, a funicular and a spa, friendly people, generous food portions, famous writers and a bit of psychology to finish off with.

Lots to think about as I headed back to Lancashire.


Helmshore Textile Museum part 2

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I wrote about the textile museum in a previous post and included photographs of the machinery in use at the time. However I was also interested in its social history and the interesting additions to our everyday language.

The museum also includes displays of the mill offices and the quality control machines, a typewriter and a clocking-in machine.DSC02118DSC02121DSC02119DSC02120

When I started work in the 1960s and worked in old mills which had been converted for modern use we still had those type-writers and clocking in machines.

(They even had them during war-time e.g. in the factories building Zeppelins in Friederichshaven, Germany).

And clocking-in machines were still widely used in the 1990s in many businesses.

There were also lots of rules to follow e.g. no swearing, no smoking (for obvious safety reasons), and no sharing the lavatory! Workers were also told how often they should wash and bathe themselves.

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Back in…

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Helmshore Textile Museum part 1

After reading my colleague’s blog about the silk mills I remembered we’d visited this museum some years ago and found it similarly fascinating

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It’s been a while since I last visited this Rossendale Valley museum and a photographer friend wanted to see it so we headed there after stopping for a tasty snack at Holden Wood tea shop.

Helmshore is now part of Lancashire County Council’s Pennine Lancashire museums along with Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham, Towneley Hall in Burnley, and Queen Street Mill at Harle Syke in Burnley among others.

The museum comprises two mills, Higher Mill which was a woollen fulling mill built in 1789 and powered by a 20 ton water wheel, and Whitaker’s Mill, built in the mid 19th century specialising in cotton spinning mill, starting from waste recycled cotton and finishing with mule spun yarn.

There is a bright new entrance and reception area. The staff were really friendly and the guides very knowledgeable. We had to get permission to take photographs and flash photography wasn’t allowed which made…

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Finland leapfrogs neighbours to claim top spot in happiness league

According to the UN’s annual report on happiness and well-being Finland is the happiest place on earth.

What’s not to like? Saunas, the Northern Lights, Moomins, Angry Birds, friendly people, Lapland, reindeers and Father Christmas (if you believe?).

And don’t forget heavy metal bands. A Finnish friend sent me a Nightwish CD swearing it was the national music of Finland. (Read more about them and hear them here).

The fact that it’s dark for half the year in the North and Summers are short doesn’t seem to bother the hardy Finns that much.

I’ve visited a couple of times to Helsinki and Espoo and apart from the difficulty in buying alcohol it seems a wonderful place. I’ve also flown to Lithuania via Helsinki on a number of occasions and it never closes (well once it did),and the airline crews are really helpful.

Finnair is my favourite airline – even though you don’t get free Lapin Kulta beer in economy anymore – and Helsinki is probably my favourite airport. Did I mention that the reindeer stew is very tasty too? And those liquorice and caramel toffees? And my Finnish felt boots I bought in Lithuania are perfect for this cold weather.

So congratulations on topping the list of 156 countries surveyed for the annual UN report. As usual the Scandinavians all feature in the top ten (along with several other countries that enjoy snow – is that significant?). In fact the same countries appeared in last year’s top ten but in a different order.

I described the methodology in last year’s blog on this topic here.

  1. Finland
  2. Norway (in top spot last year)
  3. Denmark
  4. Iceland
  5. Sitzerland
  6. Netherlands
  7. Canada
  8. New Zealand
  9. Sweden
  10. Australia

War-Torn countries and sub-Saharan Africa feature at the bottom of the table.

How did the UK do? We came in at 19th place, the same as last year, and the US dropped to 18th from 14th.


Macclesfield Silk Museum………a place to treasure

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

As part of my continuing exploration of the industrial heritage of Cheshire I decided to take in a visit to the Silk Museum at Macclesfield. I know it may not sound the most exciting of places to visit but sometimes it is the unlikely places that turn out to be the “little gems.”

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The Silk Museum is housed in the original School of Art built in 1879 with land and funding granted by the council and public subscriptions.  The School had been founded in 1851 and initially used rented rooms in the Useful Knowledge Society building.  Its original aim was to educate practical designers for the manufacture of silk, but later it went on to offer more general art education and gained a reputation for producing high quality work.

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It formed part of a complex of buildings linked to learning in this area of the town, including the Free Library…

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