the hartlepool monkey


During the Napoleonic wars, a French ship ran aground on the coast at Hartlepool, and the ship’s mascot, a monkey, was washed ashore. The good people of Hartlepool, believing it to be a French spy, tried the unfortunate creature, found it guilty of enspionage, and hanged it.

However, there is one school of thought which proposes that the monkey did in fact escape, and went on to become the town’s Member of Parliament.

I believe it’s name was Peter.








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Along the quay at Peterhead
The lasses stand aroon
Wi’ their shawls all pulled around them
And the saut tears runnin’ doon
Don’t you weep, my bonnie wee lass
Though you be left behind
For the rose will grow on Greenland’s ice
Before we change our mind
For it’s cheer up my lads
Let your hearts never fail
For the bonnie ship the Diamond
Goes a-hunting for the whale
It’s another run-down North Sea town now, and the oil and gas money doesn’t filter down to the ordinary people. It’s a squandered legacy, and there’s not much to show for it. There’s an inward-looking edginess to the place, streets full of thrift stores, and a notorious prison that’s been turned into a museum. It costs nine quid to get into, so we didn’t go. The local library was good – the Arbuthnot Museum is in there, with exhibits about the whaling and fishing industry. It has a stuffed polar bear on display, which looks quite jolly in a sad kind of way.
It will be bright both day and night
When the Greenland lads come hame
Our ship full up with oil, my lads
And money to our name
We’ll make the cradles for to rock
And the blankets for to tear
And every lass in Peterhead sing
“Hushabye, my dear”
For it’s cheer up my lads
Let your hearts never fail
For the bonnie ship the Diamond
Goes a-hunting for the whale

kinnaird head

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She’d fallen in love with the wrong man, a servant piper, so her father had him tied up in a cave underneath the Wine Tower at the water’s edge. Then he locked his daughter up in the upper floor of the tower, and retired to his castle for the night. There was a storm in the night, and a high tide, and you can guess the rest. When the daughter heard that her lover had drowned, she jumped to her death from the top of the tower, and it’s said that her ghost is seen as an omen of bad weather on the way, and sometimes you can hear the sound of pipes in the wind playing a mournful lament.

It’s all rubbish, of course.





holy trinity & all saints

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Holy Trinity & All Saints is a fishermen’s church at Winterton on the Norfolk coast. Inside, there’s a memorial there to Clarence Albert Pratt-Porter, rector of the parish, who died trying to rescue a choirboy on the beach, who got into difficulties while he was teaching him to swim.





sterna paradisea (arctic tern beatbox)

The arctic tern (sterna paradisea) is the angriest bird in the world, and with good reason. This ground-nesting bird migrates from the edge of Antarctica to its breeding grounds in the far north, and when it gets there it has to put up with thousands of bloody tourists tramping all over the place.
No wonder it gets annoyed and attacks them.

This video was recorded on Inner Farne, off the coast of Northumberland.

farne archipelago



The Farne Islands, just a few miles off the Northumberland coast, have long been a destination for hermitage and pilgrimage. Saint Cuthbert, who preferred the company of birds and donkeys to that of humans, had a little cell on Inner Farne in the seventh century, but now the only pilgrims are those intent on photographing the bird life – the arctic tern in particular is a popular attraction, as are the shags and puffins, and it’s often impossible to move for birders and twitchers with their ridiculously large equipment.

The first part of this piece is an incantation naming the various seabirds sampled from an old bird identification LP , the second part is a jig performed by Saint Cuthbert whilst being attacked by arctic terns, and the final part is an arctic tern beatbox.