Saturday, 15 December 2018

Spendmas In Lincoln? (2)

fbb Gets It Wrong Again!!
Your assuming author though that correspondent Roy did not travel from Sheffield to Lincoln on the Saturday of the Christmas Market due to a passenger pleasing day of (in) action by the lads and lasses at Northern Trains. But Roy is made of sterner stuff. His schedule for the Saturday was as follows.

0535 Sheffield (First Bus X78)
0647 Doncaster

0714 Doncaster (train)
0736 Newark North Gate

0809 Newark North Gate (train)
0909 Lincoln

Without the reduced service on strike days, Roy might have left Sheffield at 0735 and arrived in Lincoln at much the same time.

Back To The Festive Fun ...
... with a snippet of History.
At one time equipped with three spires, the Cathedral was for many years one of the tallest buildings in the world and definitely the tallest by far in the UK but it lost that place when the central spire collapsed!
The other two spires were also subsequently removed, but there seems to have been some disagreement amongst artists as to how tall they actually were.
Even spire-less, the building is truly magnificent and forms a glorious backdrop to the annual Christmas Market.
Stagecoach is the main operator of buses for the car-less market site. Cleverly, their normal service to the area (routes 7 and 8) ...
... pass close to the cathedral with a stop at the medieval Bar 67.
This stop is at the city end of Nettleham Road. These two routes offer a bus every 10 minutes from the bus station which is close to the Railway station. Stagecoach produced a special leaflet for the Market period ...
The Market service is much enhanced compared with the normal schedule to Ermine estates, especially in the evenings and notably on Sundays ...
... when normality is a half hourly 17/18 portmanteau circular.
Clearly, on Sundays, the Market shuttle is additional to the "simplibus" offering.
Timings on Mondays to Saturdays are the same, but it appears that double decks are provided ...
... in place of the more usual vehicles.
Roy did not reveal whether these "shuttle" buses were always extra to the scheduled 7/8 service, but the existence of a "dolly" stop in the double deck picture above suggests that many trips were duplicates.
Buses could turn round at the roundabout?
fbb awaits further observations from Roy.

In addition to their service buses, Stagecoach also operated a Park and Ride from the Lincolnshire Showground somewhat further north of the Cathedral on the old A1, now the A15.
These buses, also double deck ...
... ran every 15 minutes. One vehicle had its very festive driver.
There was one other bus in use at the Market ...
... selling beer and other alcoholic beverages. The bus is ex Eastbourne ...
... where, latterly, it wore an "all cream" livery - much nicer than the beer bus' black.

As far as fbb can tell, remotely, the Market was, once again, well attended and successful. Despite the efforts of Northern Trains' staff to mess it up on the Saturday, public transport did a jolly good job. As Young Mr Grace was wont to say ...
... "You've all done very well!".
It is amazing how "tradition" has been promoted to something approaching fake news applied to every aspect of the traditional Nativity narrative. There is nothing wrong with a little artistic licence, particularly if it helps us understand what went on,

But so much of the so-called "Christmas Story" misleads and gets in the way of our understanding.

From a Biblical point of view the event was never headline news. Mark and John ignore the birth of Jesus completely because it was of only minor importance to the last three years of his life.

Matthew was writing for fellow Jews and sought to convince them that the baby was, indeed, the expected and promised Messiah.

Luke (the Doctor) was writing for non-Jews and always focuses on the way in which The Christ changes the lives or ordinary folk. Hence a focus on Mary and her relative Elizabeth and the visit of the low life (shepherds) to see the baby.
So, where did the donkey come from? And they didn't follow the star! And she wouldn't have word blue. Blue cloth and donkey hire (or ownership) were both expensive. It is most likely that they both walked 90 miles.
Heat during the day would have been a problem so travelling would have been in the evening and at dawn. The nights would have been cold and the risks from robbery considerable. Historians suggest that Joseph and Mary both walked and that the journey might have taken well over a week at best, probably longer in view of Mary's condition.

It was not a "pretty" journey at all. It was a real pain in the neck - and in a lot of other places too!

Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant.

And that is all that Luke tells us about the journey. NO DONKEY.

All the rest of the clutter may be "nice", but it is not CHRISTmas.

Even when they get to Bethlehem, the fake news continues to obfuscate the simple but remarkable entry of an infinite God's "Son" (Immanuel - God with us) into the restrictive bounds of human experience.

There is just one piece of ancient monochrome on-line which attempts to get it right. In an extract via Getty images, the puppets are shown as walking to Bethlehem.
Sadly, the protagonists have shiny curved coat hangers round their heads but NO DONKEY.
 next snippets blog : Monday 16th December 
    to include the quiz answers from a week ago        

Friday, 14 December 2018

Spendmas In Lincoln? (1)

fbb is not a great lover of the world of retail, leaving such challenges to Mrs fbb who is much better at the complexities of special offers BOGOFs and the like. Despite some opinions to the contrary, the old man does visit shops and can purchase victuals (and cook them) but would not undertake such chores as a pleasure.

Likewise Christmas Markets do not attract;although the street food stalls do have a certain allure.
Cheese - yummy! Real heritage sausages in hot dogs - double yummy!
Hot chestnuts; hmmm, not so sure.
fbb has youtful memories of attempting such in front of the living room fire; creating two flavours, namely raw (not unpalatable) or burnt to a cinder (inedible) or a 50/50 melange of the two. But by the time the skins were peeled off (ouch ouch) the chestnuts were tepid.

But as for the rest of the "stuff" ...
... it is interesting (enjoyable for some) to browse, but there is rarely anything on fbb's "to buy" list.

But all these delights, plus a vast quantity of other stalls were available at the Lincoln Christmas market which this year ran from Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th December inc.
Sheffield correspondent Roy went by train (but not on the Saturday as Northern were having one of their festive strikes). The numbers visiting from afar can be gauged by the crowd barriers outside the station for managing the returning crowds.
Lincoln Cathedral (fbb's favourite home of a bishop's chair) sits on top of a hill ...
... and, as you would expect, it is surrounded by cobbled quaintness with nowhere to park. It is in these ancient, picturesque but vehicularly inaccessible areas that the Market in all its glory is situated.
For the youthful and energetic, there is a steep hill leading from the modern town centre up to the fun and frolic area.

This road is called (with stupendous medieval imagination) ...
... Steep Hill. Clever choice of name, eh? On Christmas Market days, steep hill is thronged with happy market goers.
To bypass the scrum, local operator P C Coaches was running a "Walk and Ride" (???) service from Silver Street in the main shopping area ...
... up to a stop near the Cathedral.
Appropriately, the company uses the Cathedral as part of its bus livery. They run a series of public bus services in the area ... 
... which includes the Walk and Ride - so not a specific Christmas Market service. It runs every 20 minutes, but the timetable on the company's web site does not show days of operation!
But the main supplier of buses for the Seasonal Retail Magnificence (?) is Stagecoach, whose services we will look at tomorrow.
Two things are not worthy of debate.
Unbelievers are quick to denigrate the idea of a Virgin Birth as being "impossible". So what? IF there is a God, then by definition he is outside of the constraints of space and time, not dependant on our human and limited physical laws. That is what a God is!

So impregnating a 16 year old girl would not be a problem.

And if there is no God, then CHRISTmas is rather silly.

More attractive an explanation is  to posit a bit of pre-nuptial nookie on the part of Joseph.

Matthew, in his Gospel, is having none of that.

This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately.
While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream ...
... and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus - because he will save his people from their sins.”

To "do what is right" by the standards of the day, Joseph should have turned Mary out on the street and publicly denounced her infidelity. As "one of the good guys", he decided to break ranks with convention and, possibly, leave her private, unmarried but unthreatened, in her family's home.

Jesus (Yeshua, Joshua) means "God Saves" so the longer term message of CHRISTmas is reinforced by both Gospel writers.
 Next Christmas Market blog : Saturday 15th December 

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Underground, Overground, Wherever We Be? - 3

Underground Maps - Last Words?
The mysterious Mr Sameboat has made some very interesting changes to the central area of his revised Underground map. The shape of the non-circling Circle line is quite different from normal, becoming a dented diagonal oval.
To the west, the oval has a little excrescence added in a similar orientation to the current diagram.
Although no walk-route link is shown in the Paddington area, Lancaster Gate, apparently, is (or has access to) a National Rail station. We know from the TfL connections map that this involves a shortish toddle to the GWR terminus.
One thing Sameboat has done, somewhat prophetically, is to separate the two "branches" of the Northern Line. This idea has been talked about for many a long age, but is still not completely implemented. This proposed map has a mud green colour for what we old crusties used to call the "West End" branch, leaving the traditional black colour for the route via"City".
He has renamed the "West End" bit as "Edgware Line" which makes sense, although changing the name of an Underground Line is risking a civil war and pitchforks at dawn in the streets of London.

But, talking of names, our chummy but mysterious cartographer has given separate appellations to the various bits of the Overground.
The Enfield and Chingford lines are named sensibly but the "chords" are more controversial. For those readers who are befuddled, fbb will translate - and add his own, equally controversial, suggestion.

Same Boat     Traditional Name       fbb's idea
North Chord   Gospel Oak to Barking  Goblin
West Chord    North London Line      Orbit North
South Chord   East London Line       Orbit East

Neatly this would leave "Orbit West" for the proposed West London Orbital from Hounslow and/or Richmond via Dudding Hill to West Hampstead and/or Hounslow. There is a weirdness in the use of "Stansted Express" which fbb does not really understand.

The "Met" diversion at Watford is shown as proposed ...
... as is the Bakerloo to Lewisham.

A selection of National Rail lines is shown in pastel colours with broad-brush names ...
... which includes Thameslink, When the map was first presented (way back in 2015), the London Bridge to Blackfriars bit was closed, so the useful cross-London route is not shown helpfully. Currently, Transport for London has no intention of showing the frequent Thameslink route across the centre of the City although it is a useful and fast(er) cross-London link with a frequency less than four minutes.

The full list of specific named lines is shown in a key.
All very interesting, but there seems to be no keenness to create a properly integrated network for London and, therefore, not need for a complete diagram.

Surely, London should be at least working towards one simple rail network with a simple fares system for all passengers. Whilst Oyster/Contactless make buying tickets easier, especially with the daily "cap", it merely papers over the glueing together of two separate fares systems and the wealth of anomalies that this causes.

Press Once For Fake News?
A couple of days ago, this headline appeared in the Sheffield Press (The Star).
Rather than send a real live reporter to report, the hack included a chunk from Google Streetview of Olive Grove Bus Depot, complete with First bus.
Fair enough, you might think, but ...
... the "incident" took place at Olive Grove Depot (indeed!) but Olive Grove Council Depot.TheStar even used an old Streetview view!
That Angel delivered a terrifying message to the young girl.
Mary was deeply troubled by the angel's message, and she wondered what his words meant. The angel said to her, “Don't be afraid, Mary; God has been gracious to you."

You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king, as his ancestor David was, and he will be the king of the descendants of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end!”

Mary said to the angel, “I am a virgin. How, then, can this be?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and God's power will rest upon you. For this reason the holy child will be called the Son of God."

But there was one huge problem.

She was already betrothed to Joseph.

In modern Western culture, there is a clear distinction between betrothal/engagement and marriage.
In the cultures of Bible times, the distinction was much less definitive. Betrothal in most eras of Bible history involved two families in a formal contract, and that contract was as binding as marriage itself. Betrothal then was more of a business transaction between two families than a personal, romantic choice. Dowry or bride price agreements were included, so that a broken engagement required repayment of the dowry. 

Effectively, Mary was almost married when she met the angel.

After betrothal, all that remained were three matters: the wedding celebration, the bride’s move into the groom’s house, and the consummation of the marriage.
But God had thrown a sexual spanner in the works.
 Next Christmas Market blog : Friday 14th December