30 March 2014

Addict

How did we live before the internet? Like an alcoholic sitting in a support circle, I need to gulp before admitting that I am an internet addict. But in this I am not alone. My particular addiction has spread like wildfire around the globe. Millions are affected.

When I switch on the computer, I am soon checking my most visited websites. It is a well-worn path. First it's the BBC News and then the football section of that same website. Next it's on to Panoramio and Geograph to check statistics, developments and viewings. Next I'll go to MSN Hotmail to check emails and dump any unwanted advertising bumph that has appeared. Afterwards I check out my blog and any comments that have appeared. I will also trawl through associated favourite blogs and perhaps leave some comments of my own. Onwards to the "Hull Daily Mail" website for news on Hull City and crime in the East Riding. Then it's time to check out the weather forecast by returning to the wonderful BBC website.

It's all like a comfort blanket. I feel a warm glow when investigating these familiar websites. These regular destinations underpin any other forrays into the internet jungle that I might make - online purchases, food recipes, "The Bangkok Post", Ordnance Survey, Booking.com, The Sheffield Star, The Guardian, Wikipedia, Crossword Solver etc..

The internet is a wonderful phenomenon and compared with past generations we are blessed to have it at our disposal. On a daily basis, I continue to feel a real sense of awe whenever I log on. How can this magic happen? I look back to when I was a university student in the pre-internet dark ages. I was a very diligent, hard-working student - immersed in my studies. I spent hour upon hour  in the university library. Often I'd have to order materials from other university libraries or waste oodles of time checking through obscure volumes in the stacks. If the internet had been around back then, the slow frustration of following research leads would have been massively reduced. Far less time would have been wasted.

I am sure that a forensic scientist or indeed a psychiatrist would be able to deduce much about the people we are by investigating our internet habits. The choices we make and our preferences are like footprints in  the sand. I wonder what internet patterns you yourself have gradually established and what they might say about you.

While writing this post, I sidetracked to Wikipedia and discovered that IAD (Internet Addiction Disorder) is gradually being recognised as a problematic condition for many users. It has various different forms. Gulp! My name is Yorkshire Pudding and I am an internet addict...

29 March 2014

Stone

A stone is fourteen pounds. If a woman gave birth to a baby that weighed in at fourteen pounds, she would really know about it. The screams from the delivery room would be heard in the next town. Fourteen pounds is seven bags of granulated sugar. If you walked back from the supermarket  with seven bags of sugar in your shopping basket your arm would be hurting. And fourteen pounds - one stone- is the amount of weight I have lost in March - a shovel full of quivering, lardy fatness.

My motivation came during the trip that  Shirley and I made to Cardiff at the end of February. In the Mount Sorrell Hotel in Barry, I caught sight of my naked self  in a long mirror from the side with belly fully distended and I thought to myself, "Who is that fat bastard?"

Though we have some bathroom scales at home, I had never used them until we returned from Cardiff. I peered down at the dial below me and realised that the mirror in the hotel had not been lying. It was true. In spite of my general good health and physical stamina I had turned myself into a fat bastard. The time had come to make a change and lose some weight.

One problem with this would be my extremely healthy appetite. Whereas many people regularly seem to leave food on their plates, this is not something that has ever happened with me. Fish skin, gravy,  bones, everything - at the end of a meal my plate is always clean. Sometimes I even feel like eating the plate as well. Not just a fat bastard but a greedy one too.

I couldn't see myself nibbling at salads or depressing Weight Watchers' meals so I invented The Yorkshire Pudding Diet instead. I decided to give up beer for a month and no late night suppers like cheese on toast, a sausage roll or a "John Gray" brand scotch egg. Furthermore I planned to eat fruit whenever I felt the urgent daytime desire for a snack. As someone who always has a spoonful of sugar in tea or coffee, I decided to add zero calorie sweeteners instead. So essentially that is The Yorkshire Pudding Diet.

I know that losing the second stone will be much harder - especially as I plan to resume beer drinking in April. But there will no longer be any beer cans at home and I plan to guzzle beer in pubs no more than three times a week. 

They used to say that smoking a single cigarette took four minutes off your life. I have no idea who calculated this and the claim may have had no proper foundation. However, it is surely true that losing body weight will in most cases extend a human being's life so that a pound of weight lost could be a month of life gained. This makes more sense to me than the old cigarette claim.

Anyway, I am feeling rather proud of myself tonight. I have never tried to lose any weight ever before and to lose a whole stone in a month hasn't been too much of a struggle. I guess it's principally all about motivation and I am hoping that the motivation that has led me successfully through March will endure as we tiptoe into British summertime.

28 March 2014

Apologies

When Kim Jong-un took over this blog, there was nothing I could do about it. I complained to  Blogger Inc HQ but no doubt guided by the CIA, they were reluctant to intervene. Apparently, it is not the first time that Kim Jong-un has hijacked blogs by so-called westerners . Rumour has it that the "Rhymes With Plague" blog has always been a clever front for North Korea and that Mr Bob Jong-Brague of Letsbe Avenue, Canton, Georgia USA is merely a figment of Kim Jong-un's imagination - a cyber-blogger who doesn't exist in the real world - his sole purpose being to host subliminal messages promoting the various causes of the People's Republic of Korea including world domination.

I know that during the blog hijacking, "Yorkshire Pudding" began to disappear from other people's bloglists and "favourites". There was nothing I could do about it but I am nevertheless sorry. Of course I am sorry as this humble blog has struggled as much as "Cement Mixing News" and "Jimmy Savile Weekly" to maintain a healthy readership from the ragged and desperate edges of humanity - all listed in my sidebar under "Other Blogs".

With support from a computer whizzkid called Bert Damon who is a regular at my local pub, we were able to counter the North Korean takeover and resume normal service. You will see I have removed the ugly profile photo of Kim Jong-un and have replaced it with my old profile picture - a self-portrait in Yorkshire puddings and other natural materials. Take that Kim Jong-un you great fat chubber!

Even as Kim and his techno-minions plotted the blog takeover, I had been composing a characteristically dull post concerning the long country walk I took on Monday of this week. I parked in Clowne near St John the Baptist Church and walked to the delightful North Derbyshire village of Elmton. Then onwards to Bolsover, west to Oxcroft Junction then back under the M1 to the ruins of Romeley Farm and to Milking Lane where a big black dog "befriended" me - barking like the Hound of the Baskervilles whenever I tried to leave him. And so back to Clowne after the HoB had run off into some woods after a rabbit. What a relief! Here are some pictures:-
St John the Baptist Church, Clowne
St Peter's Church, Elmton
"The Elm Inn" in Elmton
The old pinfold in Elmton. In medieval times and beyond, stray animals
would  be gathered here for collection.
Maintaining the cemetery - Bolsover
King Street, Clowne - gently curving terrace

27 March 2014

Advertisement

Kolea - Land of the Flee free
Howdy pupils. Is me Supleme Reader of Kolea - you frend Kim-Jung-un. Why none wesern pupils cum in my cunt tree for horriday? Nort Kolea vely nis plays to visite. I picky pitchers jus for you> Here berow, near boarder wid Pupils Republic of China, waterfarr temple at Baekdu, Velly nis:-

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Yours fatefully 
King Jong-un xxxx

26 March 2014

Takeover

Kim Jong-un Palace
Kim Jong-un Boulevard
 Kim Jong-unville (formerly Pyongyang)
KJU 1 
Pupils Republic of Korea

Howdy hi pupils lemme intloduce my self my name ist Kim Jong-un and Iyam the supleme leader of the democlatic Pupils Republic of Korea which ist velly nis cunt tree in Asia and Iyam taking over dis yorkshire pudding blog to spread my seed aloud the world cos dem US Merican pupils dun me no good leputation part from mister Denis Lodman who ham been my hero now not dat dickhed mister Michael Jordan who hast not cum in Pupils Republic of Korea to stay on my island and see all dem pitchers drawing of him when I boy in swizzerland School mister Denis Lodman he nis fellowbloke an he got many tattoo me make tattoo too on back of  wife Ri Sol-ju she me lumpy pumpy and makin baby boy who I call Kim Jong-Lodman after my friend of basketball in Merica nis blother for daughter Ju-ae why him bit black childlen of supleme leader who have dem new clear weapons and have led button to pless for dat Michael Jordan why he no cum make me velly angry hit on head with new clear weapon then him no laugh no laugh be aflaid like my uncle Jang Song Thaek when i have him killed body go twitchy me laugh ha-ha zapped that dude good no more tell me what to do no more stupid advice so howdy you do pupils make me nis comment maybe you come to Pupils Republic of Korea meet wife and kidz and have good tim on my island with me only thirdy one youngest leader in worl play basketball no famine here my pupils them loving me me better reader than my father him not so strong as me what supleme mean anybody know gotta go inspeck army later dem make nice strait line all loving me supleme leader send M&Ms
Yours fatefully 
King Jong-un xxxx

25 March 2014

Abuse

Father Brendan Smyth - abuser of over one hundred children
in Belfast, Dublin and America. He died in Curragh Prison, Kildare in 1997
Perhaps I was just lucky but I come from a family in which there was no abuse - well certainly no sexual abuse and if, as boys, my brothers and I received any physical chastisement it was probably because we had earned it. And I was a choirboy in the village church with a choirmaster and the local vicar often in attendance but they were happily married men and didn't abuse me. In fact, back then I had absolutely no idea that there was such a thing as child sex abuse. I must have been fourteen years old before I heard about this secret aspect of human behaviour and even then I could hardly believe it. Such a thing seemed as believable as "Desperate Dan" in the "Dandy" tucking into his giant cow pies - with horns sticking through the pastry lid.

Though personally I eschew religion of all varieties, I would have thought that men who dedicated their lives to a particular church or creed would have done so with a holy sense of vocation. There would be reverence for their particular deity and a quest for moral goodness in daily living. If there's anybody you should be able to trust it should - theoretically at least - be a man of God. And yet...and yet...all these stories continue to come out - especially surrounding Roman Catholic priests. We're not just talking about a handful of priests whose wicked sexual abuse of children has now been unearthed but literally thousands. The Holy See, the central governing body of the Catholic Church, has "considered sex abuse allegations concerning about 3,000 priests dating back up to 50 years" according to the Vatican's Promoter of Justice. The words "iceberg" and "tip" spring to mind.

Sexual abuse by Catholic priests has happened in just about every country on the planet where the tentacles of this mammoth organisation have spread but the most noteworthy legal investigations have happened in the developed world - USA, Great Britain, The Republic of Ireland, Canada, Australia, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Norway. Heaven knows what priests have done in South America, the Philippines, Africa. You almost have the sense that part of a priest's training must have concerned the conduct of surreptitious sexual abuse of children and how to exploit your power as a priest to achieve sexual gratification. So widespread has been this terrible, cruel and selfish behaviour.

As a secondary school teacher, I learnt never to touch children and if alone in a classroom with a child I made sure that there was a colleague very close by or actually in the room with us. My job and income were at stake. The idea of hitting a child in anger seemed like an admission of failure to me. As well as sexual abuse, thousands of Catholic priests (and nuns) involved in teaching were guilty of cruel physical and psychological abuse. They belted or belittled children, made them shiver in the cold, punished them with unsuitable physical work. This behaviour hasn't made the headlines as much as the sexual abuse cases but physical and psychological  torment can mark people for life as much as illicit sexual activity.

In these awful matters,  I am sure we are talking about the minority of Catholic priests and I am equally sure that many thousands of priests have been kindly, wise and holy men who have lived blameless lives of service. Even so many of them will have been party to the cult of secrecy that continues to surround accusations of sexual abuse made towards particular priests.

Sexual abuse of minors is not the exclusive domain of the Roman Catholic Church. Rabbis, Buddhist monks, Church of England vicars and even Muslim immams have all been outed and brought to justice. In Swindon, Wiltshire for example - Immam Ebrahim Yusuf Kazi abused young girls in his charge over twenty seven years and was jailed in 2011 for a paltry two years as women he had wickedly abused wept openly in the court. 

That's the trouble with child sexual abuse. It lives with victims forever. It affects their daily lives and their relationships. It's there when they go to sleep at night and because it has happened to them it can conceivably turn them into abusers too. It is more than likely that a victim of childhood sexual abuse will be reading this blogpost. I can only begin to imagine what it did to you my friend but through this blog I would like to give you a huge non-sexual hug and reassure you that it wasn't your fault. No way. 

23 March 2014

Background

Another view of "The Duckmanton Hotel"
To the south east of Sheffield, there are many reminders of what was once the North East Derbyshire coalfield. There were many profitable pits and around them hard-working communities clustered. Humble rows of cottages were built for mining families and there were churches, corner shops and pubs. About them grew slag heaps - waste material drawn from the bowels of the earth in the quest for coal.

Margaret Thatcher and her merry men decimated Britain's coal industry in the mid nineteen eighties. They were determined, at all costs, to crush the country's most powerful trade union - the National Union of Mineworkers headed by Arthur Scargill. Where once there were bustling mining villages there are now memorials, country parks, industrial estates or landscaped hillocks which cleverly disguise the black waste beneath. Sometimes you see methane vents which continue to release poisonous gases from old coal workings.

On my mother's side of the family, my grandfather and great grandfather were both coal miners - not in North East Derbyshire but in the South Yorkshire coalfield a few miles further north. Mum would often wash my great-grandfather's back when he returned from work to sit exhausted in an old tin bath by the fireplace. Consequently, I feel an allegiance to coal mining communities and shared the anger they felt when Thatcher wielded her vengeful axe. Afterwards, Britain imported coal from Poland or further afield to keep our power stations producing the energy that has created  and sustains our modern world.

On Friday, after planning another long walk, I drove to  a place I had never been before - Duckmanton in the heart of North East Derbyshire and there I noticed the monumental "Duckmanton Hotel" in the very heart of the village. Once it would have served whole shifts of thirsty miners. It would have been the very epicentre of community life with associated sports clubs and showbiz "turns" on Saturday nights. Now its very future as a pub is hanging by a thread and if I return in a year or two I bet it will have either been demolished or turned into apartments - something like that.

From Duckmanton I set off northwards to Poolsbrook, thence to Staveley and Inkersall and on to Arkwright Town before taking the path eastwards to Long Duckmanton. Visitors from faraway could now so easily tramp these same paths and have no idea that they were walking in coal mining country. My poem "Freehouse" was inspired by this walk - dedicated to those lost communities and the tough lives generations of miners endured. Their story with its tragic end threatens to become submerged with the passage of years and it is not a story that the London-based literati are much enthused to investigate.

"Duckmanton Hotel" is a "freehouse" - not chained to a particular brewery but as Adrian from "Adrian's Images" astutely observed - "Nothing is ever a freehouse" as Thatcher and the British establishment aided by the police and the army confirmed so vindictively back in 1985. 
Pools Brook Country Park - once the site of Ireland Colliery
Entrance to Pools Brook Country Park
An old pithead building north of Arkwright Town
Danger sign on the old pithead building
Methane vent north of Arkwright Town

22 March 2014

Poem


Freehouse 
("The Duckmanton Hotel")

Only echoes now.
They hang about this monument to coal
Like a cigarette fug
Imbuing curtains and threadbare carpets
Staining the ceilings
But close your eyes
To listen and
You may still hear them
Ghosts from long ago
Birthday parties, wedding parties
Raucous laughter
Drunken squabbles
The clicking of dominoes
And thudding of darts
Thirsts to slake
Glasses to break
All human life passed here
Another day, another beer
The song of the miners clear and true
"Oh there were times I'm sure you knew..."
At the heart of this community
A piece of red tinsel
Catches the light
And in the lavatory
A yellow sticker still reads
"Coal not Dole" 
Oh close your eyes
To listen and
You may still hear them
Ghosts from long ago
Police horse hooves thundering
Wives and mothers wondering
If the fight would ever end.

20 March 2014

Treacle


In virtually every British kitchen you will find a tin of Lyle's Golden Syrup. It is often called treacle. In our house we use it to sweeten porridge, spread on pancakes and it is in several flapjack recipes. Golden syrup was a by-product of the sugar refining business established by Abram Lyle and his three sons on the banks of the River Thames in 1881.

We have all grown up with that distinctive green and golden tin. It is a design that goes right back to the nineteenth century. In fact, Lyle's Golden Syrup is officially recognised by The Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest brand. 

In the middle of the tin design there's a dead lion with a cloud of bees hovering over him. The design image comes from Abram Lyle’s religious beliefs: it’s a reference to a story in the Old Testament, in which Samson killed a lion, then saw that bees had formed a honeycomb in the lion’s carcass. The Bible references Samson’s words that also feature on the tin “Out of the strong came forth sweetness”

It wasn't until 1950 that Lyles (now Tate and Lyles) launched their black treacle - mimicking the timeless Golden Syrup tin design but with red as the predominant colour. This product is mainly used in some rich cake recipes and in treacle toffee.

I have had a spoonful of Lyle's golden syrup already today. In recent weeks, Shirley and I have switched our breakfasting preference to porridge. We make it in the microwave. A cup full of rolled oats in a medium sized mixing bowl. A little salt. Add hot water and cold milk. Stir. The mixture should be like wallpaper paste before it has set. Then stick in the microwave for three and a half minutes. I like my porridge to be quite stiff - not sloppy so getting the liquid content right involves some trial and error. When it's done the porridge is spooned into a breakfast bowl - spoonful of treacle and a little more milk and it's done. Into the strong goes forth sweetness - and fresh porridge of course.

18 March 2014

Ramblers

Since I opted for early retirement, I have walked hundreds of miles on my own. On weekdays, when Shirley is at work, I invariably long for the weather people to  provide me with bright, sunny days. And when they do, my boots are in the back of the car and I'm off with map and camera in hand. I can walk for hours - sometimes as much as four hours of solid walking without a single rest. The plodding of my footsteps, deeper respiration, sweat on my brow and the wonder of the world around me - these things have combined to make the process of walking something that possesses a semi-spiritual value. It never used to be like that.

But on Sunday, it was time once again to walk with others - namely Shirley and our friends Ros and Pete. We parked at Grindleford and set off by the burbling River Derwent towards Froggatt and thence to Calver. In Calver, with its quaint limestone cottages, we headed for "The Derwentwater Arms" where we were clearly the first customers of the day. We ordered modest  lunches and chatted as we looked out over the village cricket ground.
"The Derwentwater Arms", Calver
Then it was back towards Grindleford by the opposite bank of the river. I saw these daffodils and wished that I could send them to blogging phenomenon Mr R.Brague in celebration of his seventy third birthday which is of course today:-
Not long after this, Shirley saw something moving in the water. We had clearly disturbed it. It swam to the other bank and though it was by now perhaps fifteen yards away, I managed to get a reasonable picture of it by zooming in and trying to hold my camera as steadily as possible. It is a water vole - the largest British vole and one of our most endangered species. Its characteristic slow, doggy-paddle style swimming strokes are now a rare sight on Britain's canals and rivers. We were very lucky to spot it:-
Then onwards, returning to the delightful village of Froggatt. Here's a picture of Froggatt Bridge:-

On the edge of Froggatt Wood I asked my walking companions to pose for a picture on what had been a another lovely little country outing. Much better than pottering about at home:-

16 March 2014

Wilberforce


The winner of the competition presented to you in my last blogpost was none other than Mr R. Brague of 10101 Strollingdownthe Avenue, Canton, China Georgia, USA. My congratulations to him. Already his worthless exclusive prize is winging its way towards him via FedEx.

As Mr R.Brague knew immediately, the mystery man in those three pictures was none other than William Wilberforce. He (not Mr R. Brague) was born in the city of Hull, Yorkshire in 1759. After a lifetime in politics, he died at the age of seventy three in London. Like most of us, between birth and death he did many things but unlike the rest of us Wilberforce was a tireless anti-slavery campaigner  -  The Slave Trade Act of 1807 was largely down to him. And The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 was mostly built on Wilberforce's dogged political work though he died a short time before it reached the statute books.

Throughout the eighteenth century, British plantation owners - who operated largely in the West Indies, Guyana and some of the southern states of America - had callously exploited their African workforce in order to maximise profits. Stories of this barbarism did not sit well with free-thinking Christians and humanists back in Britain. Wilberforce became the parliamentary voice of these dissenters.
Wilberforce's grave in Westminster Abbey
Here's an extract from an anti-slavery speech he made in parliament in 1789 - "Sir, the nature and all the circumstances of this trade are now laid open to us; we can no longer plead ignorance, we can not evade it; it is now an object placed before us, we can not pass it; we may spurn it, we may kick it out of our way, but we can not turn aside so as to avoid seeing it; for it is brought now so directly before our eyes that this House must decide, and must justify to all the world, and to their own consciences, the rectitude of the grounds and principles of their decision." It chimes with another Wilberforce quotation unearthed by my friend Mountain Thyme in Colorado “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”


After a grand funeral  in the summer of 1833, William Wilberforce was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey alongside his lifelong friend - William Pitt. Back in Hull, his childhood home is now a museum - devoted mainly to his ceaseless work against slavery - and in front of Hull College a statue of him sits atop a tall stone pillar. Unlike the majority of politicians who seem intent on inflating their egos and feathering their own nests, I think that Wilberforce really did achieve something of worth - forcing his countrymen and fellow politicians to think differently about slavery and to get something done about it. His work also had tremendous resonance in a newly independent America, wrestling with its conscience regarding slavery and the notion of "liberty and justice for all".
Wilberforce's Column in Hull, East Yorkshire

15 March 2014

Who?

The eagle-eyed visitor may have spotted that my profile picture has changed again. Previously, I was Freddie Trueman - the Yorkshire fast bowler. Now I am somebody else - but a man who is also very much associated with Yorkshire. That's the only clue you are getting. Strange as it may seem, the top picture is of the same man who is represented in these next two images:-



14 March 2014

Benn


Tony Benn 3 April 1925 – 14 March 2014

"If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people"

"I'm not frightened about death. I don’t know why, but I just feel that at a certain 
moment your switch is switched off, and that’s it. And you can’t do anything about it."

Farewell to Tony Benn, beloved British democrat, socialist, parliamentarian, writer, husband,  father, grandfather, technophile,  pipe smoker, philanthropist, lover of mankind, diarist, orator, champion of the poor and the downtrodden, proud and consistent fighter against war and injustice. He died today at the ripe old age of eighty eight with his family around him.

13 March 2014

Cowdale

The yellow line marks the boundary of The Peak District
Aquae Arnematiae - The Spa of the Goddess of the Grove - that's how the Romans knew Buxton. Several roads led there and it was a place where Roman soldiers and merchants could acquire some well-earned rest and recuperation. Their veneration of water sources intermingled with the myths and legends of local inhabitants - a creed that pre-dated Christianity by millennia.

Yesterday, I parked in the hamlet of Cowdale to the east of Buxton - in high limestone country. Just to the north of this village there's a deep cleft in the earth where the River Wye runs eastwards to Miller's Dale, Ashford and Bakewell. Cowdale has no services, no shops or churches, no village hall - just this largely redundant phone kiosk:-
And then in the lovely spring sunshine, I struck out across the fields to the charming hamlet of King Sterndale. Christ Church is not as old as it looks. It was built in the middle of the nineteenth century and funded mostly by the Pickford family - later famous for removals and haulage:-
Inside the unlocked church I prayed to The Goddess of the Grove:-
Down to the Wye Valley via a precipitous path and then up the other side via the oddly named Woo Dale. At Lowfoot Farm this brown and white horse positively galloped across the paddock when he saw me entering it on the public footpath. Seeing a ton of horsemeat thundering towards you can cause your heart to miss a beat but fortunately he put the brakes or horseshoes on at the last moment then nudged me towards the exit - over the limestone wall- where he appeared to  laugh at me like a latter day Mr Ed:-
Up to The High Peak Golf Course and into the suburbs of Buxton - an unappealing estate of modest social housing. Its hostlery - "The Royal Foresters" is yet another English pub that has shut its doors forever. I bought a pint of milk in the 7-11 minimarket and in honour of Earl Gray of Trelawnyd secured a reduced price scotch egg. Then back down to the Wye Valley and up the other side to Staden and over the fields to Cowdale. But before I got back there I snapped this smiling ewe with her hungry new lambs - tails wagging madly:-
Slightly shitty lamb bottoms are perhaps not as cute as their innocent little  faces. The front one is called Adrian and the naughty one behind is of course... Bob:-
Maaay! Maaay! - No lads, it's still March!

11 March 2014

Remembered

The Sheffield Flood - March 11th 1864
The Bursting of the Dale Dyke Dam (March 11th 1864)
One hundred and fifty years ago tonight, disaster struck the city of Sheffield and its north western suburbs. March 11th 1864 was the night of The Great Sheffield Flood. and quite shamefully - in terms of national consciousness - this terrible disaster is now  almost lost in the annals of Victorian England's history. If it had happened anywhere near London - everybody would know about it.

In the days leading up to the disaster there had been heavy rain. From the moors above Bradfield small streams gushed their way towards the Dale Dike Dam - only recently constructed to create a massive reservoir that would supply clean water to the city's burgeoning industries and its growing population.

Civil engineering could sometimes be an inexact science back then - especially when profit hungry private businesses got involved. Needless to say, the dam was breached and with very little warning an estimated three million cubic metres of water surged down the Loxley Valley all the way to Malin Bridge, Hillsborough and beyond. This roaring torrent destroyed six hundred homes and killed two hundred and forty one people.

This evening, I say a silent prayer for all the lost ones - the babies, the small children, the mothers, the fathers, The Spooners, The Websters, The Armitages, The Coggans, The Gannons - all good Yorkshire working folk who paid the ultimate price and I remember John Turton of Owlerton who was my age and little Thomas Elston of Neepsend who was only two weeks old. All gone - but not entirely forgotten.
Dale Dyke Memorial plaque
If you would like to know more about The Sheffield Flood - go to Mick Armitage's website.

10 March 2014

Tracks

Our weather has been lovely recently and it is set to continue. There is a certain sharpness and freshness to the quality of light in the early springtime - when the earth is beginning to rouse itself from wintry hibernation and associated darkness.

So I was off - away from the city - out beyond Bakewell and Monyash to park at what was once Hartington Station. The railway track  from Derby to Buxton ceased operation long ago. Where once steam trains belched white columns over their shoulders, now cyclists with plastic helmets and fluorescent joggers with i-pods race by. Here's the old signal box at Hartington Station:- 
I am not very fond of walking on old rail tracks as you often find yourself plodding along in deep cuttings - or maybe the tracksides are so overgrown with trees that you cannot see a thing. But today - on what is now The Tissington Trail - there were a couple of stretches where I found myself walking on high embankments with fine views of the surrounding countryside. A farmer was bringing food supplements to his sheep and they forgot their usual nervousness:-
I took several shots of remote buildings bathed in the March sunshine. This was probably the best of the bunch:-
The Tissington Trail meets with The High Peak Trail  - another old railway track. Here cyclists pedal beneath the old bridge that led to Blake Moor and its mine workings:-
Near Brundcliffe, I left The High Peak Trail to reach a line of trees which follows the course of an old Roman road. There's only the straightness to  see now but for over two hundred years this road knew Roman carts and foot traffic - travelling between Derby and the important spa town of Buxton. Derbyshire lead would have been transported along this route and some of it would certainly have ended up in Rome and Pompeii.

There was even a surprise stone plaque in the drystone wall - in Latin of course. It bewails the condition of the road as well as confirming that this was the route from Derventio (Derby) to Aqua Arnememetiae ("The Spa-Town of the Sacred Groves") or what is now Buxton:-
A lovely walk in gorgeous sunshine and a good day just to be alive.