22 July 2018

Yippee!

We were out last night - attending a blues venue - part of the Sheffield Tramlines annual music festival. Consequently, I did not get to check my National Lottery numbers until this morning.

You may recall that when I met God at Bleaklow Stones, I asked him to arrange it so that my lottery numbers would come up on Saturday night. With ecstatic happiness and a massive degree of incredulity, I am delighted to inform you that God did not let me down!

My numbers have come up! All six of them. I have been waiting since November 19th 1994 for this to happen. I checked and re-checked my pink lottery slip and there was no doubt, no doubt at all.

Ten minutes ago, I phoned National Lottery HQ on their hotline number and a representative at the other end of the line soon confirmed that I am the sole jackpot winner for July 21st 2018. How much? A cool £7.7 million or in American dollars -  $10.1 million.

Thanks be to God!

Mrs Putin is out, weekend visiting Frances has gone to Tideswell and I am in the house all on my own. I haven't shared my big news with anybody else yet - just you lovely people out their in Blogworld. I know that you will all be filled with joy as news of my good fortune reaches you.

£7,700,000 is a lot of money but stupidly, as I sit here in my dressing gown, I have absolutely no idea how I am going to spend it. Perhaps I will buy a banana-coloured Maserati GranCabrio MC - a snip at only £114,000. And I am already planning to fly first class to Acapulco, Mexico - away from those annoying poor people who are herded onto aeroplanes like cattle. I shall drink champagne at 30,000 feet while chatting with other first class passengers - like Lewis Hamilton, Lady GaGa or Damien Hirst. It will be brilliant. So so brilliant.

But all this money is not going to change me. I shall make a generous donation to The Archer Project for the homeless in Sheffield - at least five hundred pounds and perhaps another five hundred to Oxfam. But I must warn any needy, greedy or destitute bloggers out there that I will not be responding to any "heartfelt" or desperate begging letters. If you want loads of money - like me - you will just have to work for it or buy your own damned lottery tickets. 

It is going to be so difficult getting used to the reality that I am now a very wealthy man. Of course, I have never seen myself that way. I am just an ordinary guy who happened to bump into God on a moortop. I wonder what a £7.7 million pile of pound coins might look like? Praise the Lord! Praise Him!

21 July 2018

Stirred

Mistress Putin rose early but this Yorkshire Putin rolled over and went back to sleep. Soon I entered a bad dream. I was in a school that was composed of elements of all the schools I have ever been in. I needed to get to the other side of the sprawling institution for my first lesson of the afternoon.

But people kept distracting me. I was very aware of the time ticking away yet try as I might I never got there. I thought of the little sixth form group I was meant to have been teaching and what they might have done in my absence. Feeling downhearted and almost ashamed of myself, I made it back to the school hall and for some reason I do not quite understand I prepared to settle down on a camp bed.

Keys jangled in the dark corridors as two caretakers entered the hall. They were of similar appearance. Stocky fellows with shaven heads and gold rimmed spectacles. They didn't seem too concerned that a member of the teaching staff was planning to stay the night on a camp bed...

And that's when the telephone rang. Brrr-brrr...Brrr-brrr...Brr-brr. Clearly Mistress Putin was not going to pick up downstairs so like a sea-lion easing itself from a Hebridean shore, I rolled out of our prince-size bed and grabbed the phone.

It was our Ian in London. He was riding home on a Boris bike having just spent two hours at the gym. The lad was buzzing with things he wanted to share with his old man. My bad dream started to dissolve like an alka seltzer tablet in a glass. In its place there was Hurricane Ian.
There have been preliminary meetings about a TV show and it really could happen. In fact, it sounds as though - in the course of time - it will happen. They have something that is a little bit different to present to the world.

Meantime he has had a second date with a vegan lady who can speak six languages. Meantime there's the second leg of an old friend's stag do to contend with - the first leg having been in Ibiza. Meantime he and Henry have agreed a second "Bosh!" book with their publisher and they have been working up potential recipes while planning the work process. Meantime he's planning to go wild swimming in the River Thames. Meantime, maybe he will try writing a children's book just like David Walliams.

Phew! That's quite a lot of stuff to digest after being stirred from a bad education-based dream. I didn't even get to ask about the old photographs I scanned for him. He plans to use a couple in the Bosh! Instagram page. It's so good to hear him buzzing with life and the pleasures of living. Examples of those scanned pictures accompany this post.

To visit the Bosh! Instagram site go here.

20 July 2018

Encounter

In yesterday's blogpost, I neglected to tell you that while I was at Bleaklow Stones I met God. It was just like the dream of my childhood. He had long flowing grey hair and a long grey beard and the expression upon his timeless face was serious - as if he was carrying all the troubles of the world upon his shoulders. Upon refection, I guess he was and always has done.

In my childhood dream, God was wearing a long, flowing white robe - like an oversized Victorian nightdress. However, when I met him at Bleaklow Stones he was wearing hiking boots rather like mine, dark grey shorts and a light grey T-shirt on which these words were boldly printed in black - "I AM GOD".

At first I didn't see him. The greyness was like a camouflage. He was sitting against a weathered rock munching on a manna sandwich.

I was going to simply ignore him, respecting his personal space but he raised a bony grey hand to wave at me so I went over and spoke with him. I tell you it was a real surprise when I discovered that he was God as I have spent all of my thinking life disbelieving.

"Sit down and join me my son," he whispered. His echoey voice seemed to curl around the stone outcrops like smoke.

Time seemed to stand still while I talked with God. We spoke about many things and God was kind enough to bless this blog which it turned out he has visited many times. 

"There are many advantages to being omniscient," he winked.

We covered global warming, the dinosaurs, Christianity, The Black Death, who wrote The Bible, Hull City A.F.C., Brexit and Donald Trump. God insisted that he hadn't engineered the presidency for Brer Trump - it was Satan in league with the Russian president whose name he could not remember, excusing himself with the reminder that he has been around billions of years. "I can't remember everything Mr Pudding!"

I asked him if he could arrange it so that I will win the National Lottery jackpot this coming Saturday and he pledged that, if he remembered to do it,  my numbers would indeed come up. In exchange I gave him the other half of my water. He glugged it down and wiped his beard saying, "That was lovely my son! Thank you."

It was time to go our separate ways. God slung his rucksack over his shoulders. I noticed that two angel wings had been embroidered on the rear pocket. They were golden. We shook hands and he whispered, "Go in peace!" He refused point blank to have his photograph taken. Silly old God!

Was it mist or low cloud that descended upon the stones? He was heading for Bleaklow Head. I watched him fading away into the landscape and began to quietly sing a hymn I remembered from the years when  I was a choirboy in Holy Trinity Church...
Ye holy angels bright, 
Who wait at God's right hand, 
Or through the realms of light 
Fly at your Lord's command, 
Assist our song, 
Or else the theme 
Too high doth seem 
For mortal tongue.
And when I looked again he had gone beyond those voiceless stones and tussocks of moorland grasses and spindly heather. I don't suppose I shall ever meet God again. He smelt of candlewax and sandalwood joss sticks and it looked as though his nose had been broken at some time in the past. I hope he remembers those lottery numbers!

18 July 2018

Stones

Bleaklow Stones
Six miles up The Derwent Valley, passing Ladvbower, Derwent and Howden Reservoirs. Finally you arrive at the oak tree that King George VI planted in 1945 to mark the completion of the Upper Derwent reservoirs project. 

That is where I left Clint before tying my bootlaces. It was 8.45 yesterday morning. With my knapsack on my back I set off, striding northwards, following the course of the infant River Derwent. It is a river that leads you to the high, treeless moors where the river begins in peaty hags and groughs. No one could possibly say for sure where to find the river's source because it has many sources.

Before you can ascend to those wild uplands there are four miles of river valley to negotiate. Fortunately, there's an old grouse shooters track you can walk along - at least for part of the way.

The weather in northern England has been exceptionally dry this summer with virtually no rain falling for two months. Two results of this - the water level in The River Derwent was very low and later I found that the peaty landscape of the moorland tops was very dry - not like the black boot-sucking porridge you will encounter in wet winters.
I jumped over the infant river and started to ascend the great hump of bracken and heather that leads up to the Barrow Stones. At times I was on all fours as startled moorland sheep looked up from their grazing to wonder what manner of beast was now in their midst. 

One of the best things about solo walking is that you travel at your own pace and make your own choices. There is no discussion or negotiation. No need to alter your pace. Finally, I reached the top.

Barrow Stones occupy a couple of acres of that exposed moorland summit. So many interesting stone shapes - carved by wind, rain and frost over thousands of years. It's like a sculpture park created by Mother Nature. 
Another five hundred yards brought me to Grinah Stones with its great rocky buttress. And then I looked up to even higher land - a mile away. There on the horizon I made out my ultimate target - Bleaklow Stones. Using my camera's zoom facility to its fullest extent I was able to confirm that this was indeed my destination.
What about my dodgy right knee? What about the stabbing pain in my right calf muscle? This might be my last ever chance to make it to Bleaklow Stones. I had to carry on.

When I got there it was two o'clock in the afternoon. I took some pictures - especially of the most famous outcrop - The Anvil Stone. Then I lay down on a cushion of moorland vegetation close to the sky, amidst those timeless stones, ate my apple and drank half of my water before beginning the arduous trek back to Clint.
Leaving Bleaklow Stones at 2.20pm I reached Clint at 6pm. Fortunately, I had remembered to put an extra bottle of water in Clint's boot (American: trunk)  and this was finally consumed with much relief. Exhausted but elated, I travelled homeward with images of the amazing stones still flickering on my mind-screen
The Anvil Stone

16 July 2018

Outcrops

I love to visit stone outcrops on my rambles. The one above lies to the west of Sheffield, overlooking the A57 road near Hollow Meadows. It is called The Head Stone. Often I wonder what ancient inhabitants of this land would have made of  such an outcrop. I can't help imagining that it if not somehow revered, it must have been a focal point for them. Below you can see The Head Stone from a different angle. The pictures were taken yesterday afternoon.
Before I reached The Head Stone I had climbed up from Wyming Brook Drive and along Reddicar Clough through swathes of bracken, noticing that there were  thousands of bilberries waiting to be picked. I ate a handful and wished I had brought a container to fill.  They would be very nice scattered on one's morning bowl of muesli.

On the slope to my right I noticed a small unnamed stone outcrop and as I scrambled through the bracken I guessed that it would have been good a place for ancient hunters to rest or base themselves in distant times gone by. They would have had a good view of the valley below and the area around the stone would be dry and solid. They could have left or stored things here and might have even made temporary camps.

See the big millstone slab to the left...
I looked underneath it and what I saw was a crude collection of rocks above a secret hollow. The rocks appear to be holding that two ton slab in place. As I say, I have investigated many stone outcrops but have never noticed such an undercarriage before. It crossed my mind that what you see under that great slab is not natural. The rocks may well have been placed there by human beings. Had I stumbled across a burial place? 

It is very possible that this place has never been subject to archaeological investigation. It is a good distance from any passing public footpaths and though I am sure that grouse shooters and other walkers have been there perhaps none of them considered why that slab of stone has a bunch of rocks beneath it.  I am going to refer my questions to The University of Sheffield's Department of Archaeology.

15 July 2018

Carvings

One day, when we were in south west Scotland, we took a detour to Dumtroddan Farm. We left Clint near the farmhouse and walked through a couple of gateways into a  cow field. Near the centre of the field there were two fenced off areas and within them there were low-lying rocky outcrops. There was another fenced off area on the edge of adjacent woodland and within this there was a similar outcrop.

Why the iron fencing? Well it was a means of protecting some very special rock carvings. Though four thousand years may have passed by, you could still make out the patterns left by Bronze Age people. They are known as "cup and ring" carvings and similar patterned stonework can be seen in numerous locations in Scotland, northern England, Wales, Ireland, northern Spain, Brittany in France and indeed much further afield.
 Just wo of the cup and ring carvings at Dumtroddan
Nobody knows why the carvings were made. Did they have some religious significance? Were they about marking territory? Were they connected with rituals or arithmetic? We can only guess though various theories abound.

Back home in Sheffield, I learnt that some very old stone carving has been found on a rock in Ecclesall Woods - about a mile from our house. Archaeological experts have concluded that this rock was also carved during The Bronze Age - perhaps 3500 years ago. Yesterday I went looking for it. 

I knew roughly where to find it though it isn't close to any of the woodland paths. With a bit of guesswork and scrabbling through undergrowth I finally located the little clearing in which this historic rock sits. It was carved long before Jesus Christ, The Lord Buddha or Muhammad were even dreamed of. 

I ran my fingers gently along the lines in the rock and wondered about the men who carved it. They would have had no idea that their handiwork would last so long - nor would they have ever imagined that a 21st century schizoid man would one day pause amidst the trees to think of them.
 In Ecclesall Woods yesterday

14 July 2018

Homeless

Yesterday the centre for the homeless based behind Sheffield Cathedral  were happy to accept my donations. Some day soon a bunch of lucky homeless fellows will be strolling around our city's streets wearing a selection of Yorkshire Pudding underpants. though I expect that these will be hidden from view. At least, I hope so.

Homelessness is not a massive problem in Sheffield but underthe last two Conservative governments headed by David Cameron and Theresa May, we have certainly seen a significant growth in the numbers of rough sleepers. I take my hat off to all the good citizens who give up their time to help the homeless. It can't be easy - what with associated issues such as mental ill-health, drug taking, alcoholism and violence. But there is a crying need out there.

And there but for the grace of God go any of us. It would be very easy to find oneself being thrown from the carousel of life - unable to get back on again. Mental breakdown, a broken relationship, losing one's job, drinking too much, personal financial crisis - these are just five reasons why homelessness might happen.

Of course Sheffield's homeless people all know about the support they can receive at the cathedral so in the daytime a good number of them are magnetised to the area. After I had dropped off my donation I had a bit of a wander and spotted a "down and out" fellow sitting on the doorstep of a Georgian building along an alleyway known as Wheats Lane.

Secretly, I took a couple of pictures of him then slightly nervously I approached him and asked him if he minded. He really appeared "out of it" - on a distant planet and didn't seem to get the gist of what I was saying. Thin-faced and glassy-eyed, he gave me the impression that he had been out on the streets for years. I gave him a couple of pound coins then went on my way, leaving him sitting there with the rest of his life ahead of him.

The western world is wealthy enough to make sure that all of our people have somewhere safe and warm to sleep at night. There really shouldn't be any homelessness. Who is to blame? Personally, I wouldn't say it was the homeless themselves. You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one...