Tourism by Bicycle

Small towns in the UK shouldn’t be missed. Sadly they are. People don’t know about them and the contrast they make with urban areas. Tourists flock to London first and foremost which I can understand. The city is glorious with world-renowned landmarks not to be missed. I don’t need to name them here. You need at least a week to see the sights. You only need a day or two in Failsworth to experience the draw of village life. But you might become so relaxed and happy that you want to spend a couple of weeks. The comparison of two extremely different locales is worth making. Only this way do you get to know the real United Kingdom. Find an available bed and breakfast inn and you are all set for the time of your life. You can get to know some wonderful people who will cater to your every need. Our inns are comfortable and offer lovely gardens in which to sit and read.

If you like to walk, there are scenic views all around, not to mention the quaint heart of town with one-of-a-kind shops and eateries. Taste the local food and you will know what an English breakfast is all about. Tea time is important so get a spot early at the local tea shop. If you haven’t had Earl Grey, you haven’t lived. Our scones are home-baked and go hand in hand with delicious clotted cream. Jams made from local berries are divine. You will want to take some home.

There will be time to take a bike ride with On Road and Mountain to see the countryside and scrutinize the array of typical English cottages that dot the land. Feel free to lots of photos and post them on Instagram. We could use the publicity as we welcome tourists all the time. The best time is in spring or summer when we have festivals and special events. If you want to visit a nearby village, rent a touring bike that has a storage compartment. You might want to stay overnight. You can go for miles and enjoy the changing scenery and the special qualities of each area.

Bikers know what to bring when they plan to spend considerable time on a bicycle. It is not about exercise after all, but having a colorful adventure. You never know who you will meet along the way to your final destination. I suggest you bring bottled water and a head covering for the sun. You will say cooler this way. A compact umbrella is a must in case of a sudden, unexpected downpour. In this regard, a plastic fold-up poncho is a biker’s favorite. You don’t want to load up too much, but a snack is easy to stow. A protein bar or a few biscuits are all you need to quench the hunger while you wait to arrive at the next town for lunch. Leave room in your compartment for gifts you want to buy.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Have you ever wracked your brain for the perfect gift for your father? Was money no object? That makes the selection much easier of course. You have a world of possibilities if you are committing, say, $1000 or under to the item. You can get cool car accessories, a mini weekend vacation, a new deluxe tool kit, a new hunting rifle or fishing pole, and last but not least some of the best mens watches for under $1000. Even if your dad has one, if it is his birthday, you can update it with something really special. As for me, I am thinking a gold watch since he only has one of those large waterproof sports watches right now.

A gold watch isn’t just a retirement symbol these days. It is a gift of love and luxury that many cannot afford. Concord makes a sleek, modern and elegant one for men. Okay, it’s French and not English. We are not talking about gold tone here, but the real thing. It won’t wear out like the imitation watches. It is built for a lifetime of use. Most people have more than one watch and for dress, there is nothing like gold. I won’t settle for the gold plate as this birthday of dad’s is a milestone. It demands a costly present that will remind him of me every time he wears it. I have to say that the Concord gold watch for men is over my budget and runs about two thousand. However, I found a discount jewelry store on a visit to New York, a city known for its diamond/jewelry district where everything is wholesale. I got a heck of a deal as I had hoped.

When dad’s big day rolled around I got the watch wrapped and ready. The family was gathered and it was time for cake. The candles glowed in the dim light of the dining room and my father was poised to blow them out. He did it swiftly and then cut the festive cake. After about twenty minutes, we were finished and it was time to open gifts. I wanted mine to be last. He got a new drill from my mother, a new electric shaver from my sister, and new golf clubs from his brother. Now it was my turn. I put the small gift in front of him and nodded a signal to open it now. He obliged me and was ecstatic. He clearly loved the watch and put it on the left wrist in a jiffy. He was beaming. He said that I was so thoughtful to add an inscription on the back. He would treasure the watch forever. He thanked the entire family for their offerings and said it was time for champagne. Indeed, it was. We were all in a great mood, especially dad, and we moved on to sip the wine and tell family stories.

We had planned a successful birthday to remember, one out of the ordinary to be sure. After everyone went home and I turned out the lights, I sighed a breath of relief. Everything had gone off perfectly.

Fun Auction Experience

I do not go to auctions often. In fact, hardly ever. I tend to visit places and look around, viewing it as more of an experience. I do not always have the need, specifically, to keep anything. However, attending an auction can be the best way to indulge my Anglophile tendencies on a dull weekend. I read about one in the paper. This particular auction promised to present some items from a long ago-resident of Failsworth among the auction items. This mention of Failsworth intrigued me enough to make the 200 km drive to check it out.
Upon my arrival at the address listed, I discovered it was not an upscale auction house as I had imagined. Instead, it was a very large barn. At first, I thought I was incorrect as to the location, but then I realized that a venue of this type was actually an ideal location. There was quite the crowd for this particular auction; there were much more people than I would have thought. They were streaming through the large open doors and into folding chairs placed in two rows down the length of the barn. There were so many rows that I quickly lost count. All of the seats faced the other end of the barn, where several items were already on display.
The day was rather cold and wet, but the auction house seemed to have planned for this. There was a nice garage heater, large enough to heat the majority of the barn, set up near the front. It was keeping most of the chill out of the space, which was impressive. A gray and damp day here can chill straight to the bone, even in the middle of spring. However, I remained warm and cozy for the duration of the auction.
There were a few items of interest to me. There was an overcoat worn by a British soldier in World War II, a leather and wood armchair that looked straight out of the lobby at Claridge’s, and a screen made by the incredible Eileen Gray. Those items all quickly went out of my price range, alas, but those things were not quite the reason I had gone to the auction in the first place.
About halfway through the auction, they brought it out. It was a piano, made by John Broadwood & Sons. It had been in the home of a Failsworth resident for several years. I really just wanted to take a look at it, imagine it as it would have been in the house and what it must have sounded like. I couldn’t help myself; I placed several bids and eventually lost out to someone who was kind enough to let me take a look at it after the auction’s end as he discussed with the auction house how to get it sent to his home.
One other item up for sale was a batch of letters from the same Failsworth resident to his son, who was studying at Cambridge back in the 1950s. I bid on the batch, and these I did win. I was very pleased with them, as they give much information about the goings on of the family and neighborhood. It gives a very good feel for what things were like in the early 50s and was just the kind of thing I was looking for.
That’s it for me today. I think I am going to go read through those letters again.

Anachronism

If you look at old photos of Failsworth, United Kingdom you realize just how old is this historical little town. People reminisce about how things were in the old days but those days are not fast disappearing. The town retains its bygone era charm. The Failsworth historical society does its part to keep things intact. Modernization is not about to ruin this very special town.

For those new to the place, Failsworth, a township and an ecclesiastical parish in in Manchester civil parish (it is in fact four miles NE of the city), Lancashire. The township lies on the Eochdale Canal. The population is stable at 10,425. The chief industry is cotton spinning, but cotton and silk weaving and the manufacture of hats are also dominant. If you can procure one, you will indeed have something special. It seems like a very suitable industry for this antiquated place. Now the English do love their hats and they find them in out of the way places. Custom-made is the order of the day in Failsworth.

The lifestyle is befitting an old historical town. There are many customs and traditions that have been handed down through the ages. People value the past and revere what has been preserved. A walk through any neighborhood confirms this impression. Life just seems to go on and on. Oddly enough on one of my jaunts about the vicinity I spied the best hot tub I’d seen in my life in someone’s back yard. It seemed like such an anachronism. A bit of modern suburbia overtaking the quaint traces of yore. It was smack dab in the center of a brick backyard and not on a lawn as would be expected. I saw a group of kids splashing about enjoying a hot summer day. The water in the tub was being replenished with the garden hose. There must be some kind of heating element inside to keep the water toasty warm befitting the name of the unit.

A hot tub? Why not. A hot tub is not restricted to the environs of big cities with flashy backyards. Small towns have their recreational needs, too. It is not enough to run through the sprinklers. Such touches of modernism don’t hurt anything. It is not like they are ubiquitous or have transformed the town. It would be more jarring to see fast food restaurants and chain stores.

Given the hot summer day, I am sure the hot tub is the local attraction for neighborhood kids. You know there isn’t going to be any kind of public pool in town. Kids may use the one at school, however, if it is open. But I think they prefer being together in a friend’s yard with his mom serving snacks. In this regard, Failsworth is not unlike any other town in the summer when kids congregate outside. I would be surprised to see a few more hot tubs appear in other parts of town. Historical or not, a town grows over time and becomes a reflection of some modernization. A hot tub is certainly one modern convenience I can see repeating itself from time to time.

Small Town Safety

Small town life is ideal, but it shares some similarity with urban centers. Even small towns where everybody knows your name are plagued with some degree of crime. This usually takes the form of petty burglary in both commercial and residential spaces. It may be in broad daylight or at night. Even if past history is sparse, anything can happen in the future of course. New people move into town or existing residence attract bad seeds. Who knows! The problem is there lying under the seemingly peaceful surface.
Because guns are legal when purchased according to local law, and because they make people feel safe, they are often the first choice of protection against thieves. Sure, you can install an alarm system, but it is costly if it is effective. People also fail to turn them on and off, forgetting their presence. If you are really concerned about robbers, why not have both!
If guns are your option, you will no doubt have some kind of in wall gun safe for storage and personal safety for yourself and your family. There is a high level of responsibility that goes with owning a gun no matter what type. You don’t just stash it anywhere in the house or garage and forget about it. You will want a place that is designated for weapons, usually a small to medium metal box if you only own one or two pistols for example. It will have a combination dial, electronic, or keypad lock. It should be kept in a strategic place that you can access in a flash should an intruder suddenly and surreptitiously arrive on your premises. Of course, you always want to think twice before exposing a gun in that it might instigate unnecessary retaliation. It is sometimes a tough choice to make and depends on the prevailing circumstances.
Gun safes bar the wrong people—mainly children—from access. They furthermore shelter the gun from theft, fire, and water damage. The latter two threats may be combined as firemen have been known to wield heavy duty hoses to douse an interior blaze. It may land smack dab on your gun safe. These safes have multiple purposes. For now, let’s just say that they are receptacles for small town security.
Selecting a gun safe will depend on the size of the weapon you own and its likely placement. Some are wall mounted, some are freestanding, some are below cabinets. People put them in bedrooms, dens, garages, and basements. It depends on available space and whether or not you want it to show as a kind of public deterrent. This is more true of commercial enterprises where an invading robber could view it and know instinctively what is inside.
These days you never know who is going to be armed. Armed robbery is a greater crime in most towns and implies that other people—mainly store owners and families—are present. It is extremely threatening and shakes you to your core. Once this experience has happened to you, a gun no doubt will soon be in your environment.

Pride

Hi everyone. Henry here again. Hope you are enjoying the blog so far. I know I am having a lot of fun writing about it and being able to show you a side of England that you might never think to see. Smelling the virtual roses, so to speak. And a good thing, too, because otherwise you’d miss out on all kinds of good things. Today I was thinking a lot about small town pride. A place like Failsworth deserves to have immense pride in itself.

It is a small town but it has been showing an impressive amount of steady growth. More people are realizing that it is a nice place to live, with the ability to connect to the larger parts of Manchester through the metrolink with ease, giving immense flexibility when it comes to working and family life. A place like Failsworth has all the benefits of living in both a small community and a thriving metropolis at the same time. I really feel that it represents the best parts of England in a small package that is both historic and wonderful, and not to be missed.

I think that being part of a small town like this changes your mentality in ways that set you apart from those who live in bigger and more populated areas, especially with spaces in the town that are critical to either its fame and/or history as well as its continued success. A company like Failsworth Hats, for example. I am sure when you see it from the street, Failsworth Hats doesn’t look like it would be home to high-end fashion pieces, stylish and trend-setting quality headgear as well as basic and more traditional articles of clothing. It can be hard to reconcile those white exterior walls with the slick, glossy pages of their catalogs.

But knowing something like that has the ability to change your viewpoint on something. Yes it does seem peculiar to basically have a town founded on hats, but that is what Failsworth has done. And done well! It’s true. Look around on the internet for genuine Failsworth hats and see what I mean. They pitched in for the good of country when necessary, they were able to adapt to changing times and markets, and they take pride in their business practices, their products, and also in their workspace. It is tremendously heartening to know that a company that has been around as long as Failsworth Hats understands its place in the community and strives to continue to advance the lives of everyone that works there.

The exterior of Failsworth Hats is a no-frills white color that manages to look both historical and sturdy, professional yet inviting. It is very much in keeping with the rest of the town. There is so much that can be said about the upkeep, too. It must take the best paint sprayer available to get the walls coated so professionally and efficiently. It is such a wonderful display of pride that bright white walls can inspire others to do the same, whether it be their own homes or other areas around town.

Keeping Our Town Tidy

morrisons-spillageFailsworth is a charming little UK town and needs no introduction for those who live in greater Manchester and the environs. It is but a stone’s throw away at 6 kilometers from the city center. It is easy to reach and a joy to visit. However, given the attraction to tourists, we want the place to look tidy and rubbish free. We do a bit of pruning and clearing to keep up appearances. Not surprisingly, a bit of housekeeping is in order in many areas to keep things looking pristine. You can’t really go around with a cordless vacuum to the clean up the streets, but you can watch where you toss your refuse of the day. Let no man find a piece of trash, an abandoned cigarette, a paper coffee cup, or a tissue blowing in the wind.

This town in Lancashire has a rich history beginning with its agricultural days at the time of its founding way back in 1200. It grew beyond farming over time into three distinct hamlets, adding weaving and textile manufacturing to its revenue stream. Along came the Industrial Revolution and the road to urbanization was well trod indeed. The booming mill town produced goods from the new large redbrick plants. Now it is known for hat-making and silk weaving as an offshoot of the former main town trade. Cotton spinning is also to be found which, with the other industries, keeps the town alive.

If you google Failsworth you no doubt will get articles on the regional hats. The headwear is casual or formal. The town supplies the world by email request with a range of toppers in old world styles going back to 1903. There is nothing quite as distinctive worldwide. The proud company is known as having “an unquestionable heritage and an eye on the future.” Visitors relish viewing displays of fine workmanship and attention to detail. They are perfect for anyone from the avant-garde to the man in the street. You can opt for trendy new versions or the traditional felt. Fabric is always in high demand.

While it once had a population of 14,000 in 1901, now it is a thriving town known for its landmark Failsworth Pole, actually a maypole on the site of previous political poles of note. It is also home to Daisy Nook a lovely country park that we also like to keep clean as a whistle to show off its luxuriant expanse. People who have pride in their town know not to clutter and therefore mar the green vistas. It is a wonder of tidiness and tending.

There are some picturesque village woodhouses along the eastern boundary of the town and some have even housed noted poets and writers like Benjamin Brierley, born and bred in Failsworth in the late 1820’s. The town also boasts a town hall and cemetery. You can wander amid tombs and well-cared-for (i.e. clean) patches as you see fit. If you like canals, find the Oldham Canal near the eastern border and the Rochdale at the northwest.

The Failsworth Cenotaph and World War One

ambualnce-failsworthFailsworth is a town that also helps demonstrate the fact that even the most obscure and small towns in England were affected by the horrors of World War One. There’s a cenotaph that was constructed in the year 1923, and it is dedicated to the two hundred Failsworth soldiers who fought and died in World War One. It should be noted that small towns like Failsworth tend to be very strongly affected by the loss of even a few citizens compared to big cities.

All deaths are tragic, and all deaths are going to have a huge affect on any local community, as well as individual members of that community. However, in a town that already has a small population, a relatively small population decrease is going to have wide-reaching effects. The town of Failsworth managed to lose a lot of able-bodied men as a result of that catastrophe, and many individuals within the town were going to have to struggle in order to pick up the pieces.

Failsworth is a relatively obscure small town, but this cenotaph tends to get more visitors around Remembrance Sunday. The legacy of the people who died in World War One has not been forgotten, thankfully enough, even though the war has passed out of living memory. World War Two is undergoing the exact same transition now, which is all the more unfortunate. However, it seems as if people are collectively trying to make sure that the most brutal wars of the twentieth century remain part of humanity’s collective memory, hopefully so they will not be repeated in any capacity.

Towns like Failsworth are certainly doing their part admirably. The people that travel to England in order to visit sites like these are doing their part just as surely, since they are sending the signal that there is still plenty of public interest in the history of World War One, as well as the victims of World War One.

Traveling to Failsworth and the Rest of the United Kingdom

ticket3People have all sorts of things in mind when they want to take a trip in order to see the United Kingdom. Plenty of people want to see London. London is one of the most popular cities in the world for a reason, and it will continue to attract people from all over the world. The United Kingdom is not as powerful as it once was, but it is still a world power, and people that love history will see landmarks wherever they go when they visit the United Kingdom in general and London in particular.

Many people feel as if a visit to the United Kingdom would be incomplete without visiting all of the most famous landmarks of London. Most people only have so many opportunities to travel on a regular basis, and they want to make the most of those rare occasions. There are plenty of people who have lived in London all of their lives without seeing all of it, so traveling to London is certainly going to make for a very fruitful journey.

However, some people have a very different visit in mind when they are planning a trip to England. They don’t want to see the most famous cities in England. They may feel as if they’ve already been there, given the focus that the rest of the world has always had on London. Many films set in England are specifically set in London, as are most of the other stories set in England. Some people that want to design their own individualistic English vacations would rather visit the small towns.

Fewer people are going to visit the small towns of England. The people that decide to go down that road are automatically taking the proverbial road less travelled, which is going to appeal to the more individualistic travellers that are out there. They can come back home with holiday pictures of obscure places that no one has ever seen before, which is going to help their photo album stand apart from the photo albums of others.

Many people blog about their traveling experiences these days. The people that blog about famous locations will probably still be able to attract a lot of interest, but a lot of their posts are going to be reminiscent of the posts of others. It’s difficult to say something truly original about London. So many people have gone there, and so many people have travelled down these same roads on multiple occasions literally and figuratively.

The people that visit Failsworth will be visiting a town that many people outside of England have never even heard of, which is automatically going to make the trip more special to many travellers. Even many people that love English culture won’t have heard of Failsworth, so the people that travel there are going to impress even the most dedicated fans of English culture. Failsworth has managed to hold onto the many ineffable qualities that make a small town a small town, and it is an authentically English small town.

Plenty of English traditionalists have gone back and tried to construct small towns that are reminiscent of the traditional small agricultural towns that they are too young to remember. When it comes to Failsworth, they don’t need artifice. These traditionalist people can see the real thing when they go to visit Failsworth. People who are interested in history can see the real thing. They don’t have to watch a modern person’s interpretation of the past in order to get some approximation of it when they travel to the town of Failsworth. Failsworth has been changed with time just like everything else. Conservatives would need time machines in order to get around that fact in any area. However, Failsworth is a clearer window into the past than many other modern small towns.

The Failsworth Pole

2249067_a2d50316The lovely countryside that people can see in Failsworth is going to be enough of an attraction for a lot of people. Many individuals would specifically go to small towns like this in order to escape the look and feel of urban areas. However, there’s a great deal of history behind the town of Failsworth, so it’s natural that this town is going to have plenty of famous landmarks.

Many people that travel to Failsworth can never leave without seeing the Failsworth Pole for themselves. The Failsworth Pole is a genuinely majestic political pole that has a long story behind it, which people will learn in detail when they decide to visit the site. Sadly, the Failsworth Pole that people can see today is not the original one. The original pole was lost to history in the year 1950 when it unceremoniously blew down.

The pole that people will be able to visit today is only from the year 2006, which seems to make it an important marker in the level of public interest that the town of Failsworth has managed to attract. The people who visit this site today will manage to see another majestic clock tower next to the pole. Clock towers are strongly associated with English history and the English landscape in general, which makes this site look even more appropriate. The gardens surrounding the clock tower and the pole are also lovely and well maintained, which is just going to make the area that much more picturesque for any of the visitors.

People that visit this site will also be able to see a statue of Benjamin Brierley. The quality of the statue is excellent, and this famous historical figure is depicted holding an open book in a contemplative manner. Benjamin Brierley wore many hats in his lifetime: poet, writer, and weaver. Today, he is remembered as one of the most famous individuals from Failsworth, so it isn’t surprising that the town chose to remember him in this fashion.

The statue is actually close to the public library of Failsworth, appropriately enough, and the people who decide to visit the library will be close to some of the most famous landmarks of Failsworth. The library will also help give them more of a sense of the cultural life of the town, since libraries once had more of an effect on the cultural life of almost any small town community. Before the Information Age, people couldn’t do research anywhere else, and learned people all journeyed to their local libraries. Failsworth is a town that clearly values education, and clearly valued education in its recent past as well.

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