30 September 2015

Hope

Young men are often portrayed as sexual predators. In relationships with young women, they are apparently only after "one thing".  Drunken, leering louts, laughing about their conquests and using rude or sexist words to describe women - that's young men. Or is it?

Yesterday, I walked into the city centre to watch "Everest" at The Showroom Cinema. Just before I got there a young man came alongside me and I noticed that he was carrying a bunch of roses. He asked me the time and I told him twelve thirty.

We walked a few steps further on and cheekily, indicating the flowers, I said to him, "It's not Valentine's Day you know!"

"I know but I've got a date in Doncaster. It's our first date. I'm off to catch the train," he said.

"Is it a blind date?"

"No. I've known her a long time but only as a friend. This is different and to tell you the truth mate, I'm a bit nervous!"

"Well I hope it goes well. The fact you already know her should help. You never know, she could be Miss Right!"

"I hope so."

"Good luck!"

And I watched him scurrying onwards to the railway station, roses clasped in his right hand and the hope of love in his heart. He did not fit the caricature of a loutish sexual predator. He was vulnerable, unfulfilled and he was seeking happiness through the magic of a loving relationship. It was a morning that promised so much for him  - if she felt the same. And I do believe that that is how most young men really are.
___________________________________

"Everest" was a stunning film that gives the onlooker a breathtaking sense of the size, rugged  geology and inhospitable weather of that mighty mountain. It also touches upon some of the reasons that drive climbers to tackle it despite the dangers it presents. I have always liked films like "Everest" - about adventure and human beings in challenging situations - cinematic interpretations of real life stories. In contrast, I happily admit that I have never seen or wanted to see any James Bond film nor any "Star Wars" film either. Just not my cups of tea. 

29 September 2015

Explorer

Paths off Hallgate Lane, Pilsley
Sometimes, when I am out and about, rambling along less trodden paths in less salubrious places, I feel a bit like an explorer of yore -  a latter day David Livingstone. But I am not bringing religion to the natives - nor coloured beads or mirrors, I am just looking to record what I see with my trusty digital camera - far quicker than a sketchbook.

Last Friday, I was back  in an area where tourists or "Berghaus" ramblers with flasks and compasses never tread - North East Derbyshire. For a hundred years this was a grim area of mining villages and smoky coking plants, railways and humble terraced homes even though all of that was layered upon a much older rural history. Now you could say that it is almost post-industrial. The mines have gone and the coking plants are wastelands.

I parked in North Wingfield opposite the  "I (Heart Shape) Hair" Salon, then set off on The Five Pits Trail to Wolfie Pond before looping back to the Chesterfield road where I confess that I purchased a small bag of chips from The North Wingfield Fisheries. Delicious and golden they were too  and so  I consumed them with greedy relish before advancing to Station Road.

Jungle drums were beating deep in the forest and the mosquitoes were like miniature Spitfires attacking exposed parts of my bodily temple as prehistoric crocodiles slid into the steamy River Rother. But I carried on determined to claim this ungodly land for Queen and Empire.

Soon I was in the dark heart of Danesmoor where I saw a visual poem of our times. On one side of the street, the old Bethel Chapel was being converted into a residential property and on the other side the presumably once popular "Parkhouse" pub was little more than a burnt out shell. Possibly an insurance job. That is how it is these days. Old ways are being buried under mountains of passing weeks and years. Perhaps it was always thus.

Then on to Hallgate Lane and Lower Pilsley. To Seanor Farm where I surprised a nervous heron in the farm pond and then over the fields and back to the car in North Wingfield. Fortunately, the native North Derbyshire-ites hadn't torched it and I was able to drive back to civilisation, like James Cook aboard "The Endeavour" after his first visit to New Zealand.

More proof that I was there:-
Wolfie Pond
Chesterfield Road, North Wingfield
Industrial wasteland between Danesmoor and North Wingfield
Impressive St Lawrence's Church, North Wingfield
Wary heron at Seanor Farm
Ode to Danesmoor. The visual poem of our times in Danesmoor - chapel being 
converted into a dwelling and the burnt out "Parkhouse" pub.

28 September 2015

Words

Spindrift
Some words are pleasing to utter. They can have a mysterious or magical quality. Not so long ago I reflected on the word "hinterland" but now I am down by the sea. Yesterday, while listening to the radio, I was reminded of a lovely marine word - "spindrift". "Spindrift" is the foam that is whipped off the crests of waves during a gale. Though the word seems rather calm and homely, "spindrift" only occurs when the weather is wild and angry.

While mooching along the beach you may come across "flotsam and jetsam" - two more pleasant-sounding marine words. "Flotsam" is floating things lost from a boat but "jetsam" is stuff that was deliberately cast overboard or jettisoned into the sea. Every piece of flotsam and jetsam has a tale to tell even though it is further evidence of man's careless relationship with The Earth and its seas. Of course before ocean trade began there was no flotsam or jetsam. The terms are fairly modern - probably dating back to the seventeenth century.

Where the sea meets the land there is very often a strip of seashore that seems to belong neither to land or sea. Here there are strange seaside plants and perhaps nesting birds, pieces of driftwood and shells. Sometimes, in stormy weather, the sea may attempt to claim it just as land plants try to encroach upon  it in the growing season. This area is known as "the littoral". I love that word - "littoral" - never fixed, always subject to change - between the land and the sea. Haven't we all walked along "the littoral", humming songs or thinking secret thoughts poking around amidst the pebbles, the driftwood and those spiky maritime plants?
Samphire

And thinking of maritime plants with their various names - sweet vernal grass, sea cabbage, blackthorn and lizard orchids for example - you might come across "samphire" - another pleasant word to say. "Samphire" is an edible seaside plant that belongs to the parsley family and is sometimes referred to as "sea asparagus". Curiously, around the Dee estuary in Cheshire and North Wales it is often called "sampkin" but I like the word "samphire".

It is the kind of word that belongs in a poem, along with "spindrift". "flotsam and jetsam" and "littoral" - perhaps a poem that focuses mostly upon word sounds rather than intellectual probing or philosophical suggestion that aims to "plumb the depths". Sometimes, you only want the sound of words, like healing music in your head.

27 September 2015

Detours

Yesterday I drove over to Hull to watch my beloved Tigers draw 1-1 with Blackburn Rovers. Before the match I was to have lunch with my old friend Tony in Beverley but I set off early in order to feed my photo-taking  addiction with a detour to the villages of Cherry Burton, Bishop Burton and Beverley Westwood which is an area of ancient common land to the west of the town. Here are three photos from that detour:-
Barn conversion home in Cherry Burton
Bishop Burton village pond
Beverley Westwood
Then on to Tony's  house for delicious sausage sandwiches and talk about his recent rather difficult and costly divorce. We set off for Hull at one thirty and parked in the  rooftop car park at St Stephen's shopping centre before strolling to our temple, our mosque, our Lourdes - the home of The Tigers - The KC Stadium. In the end it was a frustrating match for us. Our lads were not firing on all cylinders and there was a shared feeling round the ground that we had let Blackburn off the hook.

On the way home I took another detour to St Andrew's Quay by the mighty River Humber. I was hoping to get pictures of the evening sky framed above The Humber Bridge which was once the longest suspension bridge in the world. In a way the angle was wrong for the sun was sinking far to the right of the bridge. Even so, here are two pictures:-
Someone was sailing on the river in the evening light. I turned to compose the following picture before heading home to watch England lose narrowly to Wales in the Rugby World Cup on TV of course:-
P.S. Our lovely daughter Frances reached her twenty seventh birthday yesterday. Next weekend she is moving cities - from Birmingham to London and Shirley and I will be hiring a van to help the transition.

24 September 2015

VW

WINTERKORN I must insist that the following agenda item remains top secret. If the matters that are to be revealed should leak into the public domain, it would surely cause tremendous damage to the reputation of our company. Now over to Helmut whose software team, I am sure you will agree has come up with an ingenious solution to the American emissions issue!
(Guffawing laughter from the rest of the board)
SCHWEIN Damned Americans!
HELMUT  Gentlemen. If you study the papers I have placed in front of you you will see that we have found a way of doctoring the onboard software so that emissions outputs during official testing will appear to be four times lower than in normal driving conditions.
SCHWEIN You beautiful man Helmut! You mean it's roughly the same process that we have been employing in Europe since emissions testing began?
HELMUT Precisely but with a little tweaking.
WINTERKORN With the cleverly depressed emissions results our green credentials will not be impaired and we can bolster sales across North America just as we did in The European Union and Asia.
ENGEL But what about the hidden impact on the environment and on people's health in urban areas!
SCHWEIN Don't be such a softie Engel! This is business my friend. Besides the relationship between diesel emissions and respiratory difficulties is not entirely proven. 
WINTERKORN I agree with Herr Schwein. It is essential that we develop strategies that defeat the march of dimwitted environmentalists and the governments that have been drawn in by their absurd propaganda!
SCHWEIN I propose that we move forward immediately with Helmut's ideas if we are going to advance sales to the next level.
WINTERKORN All in favour say "ja".
REST OF BOARD  Ja!
WINTERKORN Now before I draw this meeting to a close gentlemen and err... Frau Sexk├Ątzchen , can we rise to sing the company song
MEMBERS OF THE BOARD
For mighty Volkswagen
Let's all raise a flagon
Das Auto! Das Auto!
The People's Car!
________________________________________________________
And they say that crime doesn't pay!

23 September 2015

Recording

"Callers are advised that this call may be recorded for training purposes".

"In order to provide a better service to customers, we record all calls."

"Before providing a list of call options you are advised that calls are recorded for the security of our staff.... Your call is important to us, please wait while we put you through to a member of our team."

Why? Why are they recording our calls? What if we said to them - "Now that I have finally got through to a human being I must inform you that this call is being recorded for legal purposes. So if you give me any bother or keep me waiting any longer or try to sell me an insurance package I do not want or call me by my first name you can expect the wrath of the law to come down upon you like a ton of bricks!"

What if we said to them - "I do not wish to have my voice recorded by you! Please turn off the recorder or I shall come round to your call centre and wallop you with a cricket bat!" What makes them think it is okay to routinely record us? And I don't know about you but I have never had any come back on these thousands of call recordings. Are they really recording us or is it just an empty threat? I mean if they really are recording calls they will need huge servers to retain the calls they claim that they are habitually recording.

In the past, nobody warned us or informed us that calls were being recorded because they weren't. Nowadays, although the person at the other end speaks with a polite, mater-of-fact voice as they let us know about their recording mania I think that there are threatening undertones. No longer is the customer always right, the customer has become a type of untrustworthy enemy who needs to be tamed through the threat of being recorded. Something like George Orwell's "1984":-

How easy it all was! Only surrender, and everything else followed. It was like 
swimming against a current that swept you backwards however hard you struggled, 
and then suddenly deciding to turn round and go with the current instead of opposing 
it. Nothing had changed except your own attitude: the predestined thing happened 
in any case. He hardly knew why he had ever rebelled. (Chapter 4)

Every citizen, or at least every citizen important enough to be worth watching, 
could be kept for twenty-four hours a day under the eyes of the police and in the 
sound of official propaganda, with all other channels of communication closed. The 
possibility of enforcing not only complete obedience to the will of the 
State, but complete uniformity of opinion on all subjects, 
now existed for the first time. (Chapter 9)

22 September 2015

Viva!

Let me introduce you to the couple shown above and then you can join me in wishing them farewell. They have been the licensees at my local pub - "The Banner Cross Hotel" for the last eighteen years. On the left there's Roger and behind him his partner in love  and war and business - the redoubtable Janet. 

They are upping sticks and moving to Tenerife where they plan to forge a new life together in the sun. Both ardent Sheffield Wednesday fans I suspect that there is much that they will miss about their home city but they are ready and very willing to go. It will be an adventure and if perchance it didn't work out they could always come home.

Both strong characters they have presided over the pub like the king and a queen of a small country. When you entered their pub you were very much in  their realm. Janet would often yell out, "WE'RE ALL WEDNESDAY AREN'T WE?" and frequently gave Sheffield United fans short shrift though it was mostly  a kind of pantomime. Roger was often bad cop - making sure there was always a good level of behaviour in the pub and barring people who stupidly crossed the line. But underneath it all they were decent, hardworking licensees who did their best in difficult times for pubs.

Many's the pint of foaming ale they have served me and many's the night I have spent in their company or tackled their many pub quizzes - sometimes successfully despite quizzing masterminds like Higgy, Jonathan, Richard and the i-phone cheats."Are you all stupid or what?" Janet would sometimes bellow into the microphone.

Both Janet and Roger have been known to sample  their liquid wares. I guess it is one of the by-products of running a pub and it's hard to maintain a healthy relationship with alcohol when you are surrounded by drink and you live right above the pub.

There was a big leaving party in the pub on Saturday. I went down but it was just too busy for my liking so I turned round and went down to "The Lescar" instead. Apparently the bar was three or four deep with thirsty customers keen to pay homage to the abdicating monarchs. I saw them for the last time yesterday evening when the pub was quiet again - except for old favourite songs on the juke box and Janet dancing along with close friends. It has been such a long and much anticipated goodbye.

A new chapter is about to begin at our local and nobody knows for sure what the future holds for it. There could so easily come a time when we will look back with nostalgic longing on the eighteen year era of King Roger and Queen Janet.  As they board the plane for Tenerife and their new life, I wish them God speed as people sometimes say but in answer to Janet's famous capitalised question I say finally, "NO! WE'RE HULL CITY!"

21 September 2015

Surprised

Great Britain is very well mapped by our brilliant Ordnance Survey organisation that began its amazing work back in the middle of the eighteenth century.

They produce a wide range of meticulously detailed maps that can be ordered online or bought from all good bookshops. Without Ordnance Survey maps, I would never have been able to explore this green and pleasant land in the way I have done. Their maps have led me to all manner of secret and wonderful places as I have plodded through the landscape.

Unbeknownst to me, OS have been staging a series of photo competitions this year - the prize being to get your picture printed on the front cover of one of their maps.

It seems that they had no suitable entries for OS Explorer maps 279 and 280 which cover lands to the east of Sheffield. So - they trawled through the geograph website and found two of my pictures and wonder of wonders they are now being used on the map covers for Doncaster and The Isle of Axholme!

I don't think they are the best examples of my photography by a long shot but they do the job required and I am rather proud of this very unexpected achievement. It gives me a little taste of immortality even though the many people who purchase and use these particular maps will have no idea who the photographer was. OS are sending me complimentary copies of the maps.

And now that I know about this competition I have sent off a dozen entries for their Landranger series of maps so maybe I will have another success or two. Of course there's no prize money involved but still I am well chuffed!

The Isle of Axholme is a low-lying rural area west of the River Trent. It is where Shirley's parents Charlie and Winnie had their arable farm and it really does have something of an island mentality - rather cut off from the outside world as it was before Dutch engineers finally drained the area in the seventeenth century. For this reason, it is especially pleasing that my photo of the riverside has made it on to the front cover of Map 280.

20 September 2015

Drunkenness

A river begins with a small stream.
Drunkenness begins with just a glass.
It is a long time since I experienced the feeling of drunkenness. Years in fact. Nowadays, though I continue to enjoy three or four  beers every other evening, I never get myself into a  state of inebriation. I like to be in control and to wake refreshed, ready for a new day. The thought of a hangover attracts me about as much as signing up to be a warrior for The Islamic State.

But there have been times... when I was younger. In university and elsewhere. Times when I drank myself stupid so that I did shameful things that were totally uncharacteristic of the real me - like releasing a dark beast that usually sleeps within. Punches I threw. The arguments I had. Vehicles I drove. Women I pulled. Staggering homewards. Waking with no memory of what happened the night before. There are things I did when really drunk that I have never shared with anyone - secrets that I will surely take to my grave.

My parents were never big drinkers. Their relationship with the demon alcohol was sensible and most unremarkable. However when Mum was in her late seventies, she began to like a tipple and her drink of choice was strong whisky. She began to drink it in the afternoon and the measures she poured herself became bigger and bigger. If she came to stay at our house she would sometimes sneak into our dining room to pour herself secret glassfuls.  Even when she was in the old folks' home where she finally died she would badger care assistants to fetch her drink. It was a sad thing to witness.

Drunkenness can be fun for an hour or two - especially if it happens in pleasant circumstances with friends or family - but more often than not it is the precursor of bad things. Buying alcohol is quite costly and the money that is spent on it can be a big drain on personal finances. It can threaten physical and mental health in several ways including diabetes, heart problems, personality disorder. It may cause serious road traffic accidents and it is often a key factor in sexual or physical assaults. Theft, vandalism, days off work, family battles and social media rants are frequently spawned by drunkenness.

The English pub is a special institution. My distant cousin John in Silsden referred to it as "the third place" - not home or work but the "third place" in which we have our being - possibly surrounded by other pub goers and friends. It is somewhere you can relax and let off a little steam, play a game of darts, read a newspaper or just stare into the foam on top of your pint. But of course pubs can also be the very places where drunkenness happens. It is undoubtedly a question of balance and of self-restraint. The line between responsible drinking and alcohol-fuelled mindlessness is paper thin.

How is your relationship with alcohol these days?

18 September 2015

Gone

The last time I saw Fred he was curled upon our back lawn. With radar ears still attuned to possible danger or feeding opportunities, he looked up warily when I emerged from our kitchen door with cheap dog food on an old tin plate.

Customarily at this point, Fred would dance away to the shady cover of bracken fronds or the fatsia japonica bush that grows in a space once occupied by a very old apple tree. But that late afternoon he made little effort to shy away as I placed his free meal three or four yards from his resting place.

He looked at me with pinpoint accuracy. It is difficult to read any animal's eyes for we are liable to put human constructions on their internal emotions. Nonetheless I thought that Fred was saying two things with his eyes - "Thank you!" and "I have almost reached the end". 

He was painfully thin and his gingery pelt was scraggy - as if he had lost the energy to groom himself properly. His rump was almost bald as if, troubled by parasites, he had scratched the fur away or perhaps he had recently been attacked by another fox or a well-fed pet dog.

Earlier in the day, our next door neighbour had dropped round the phone number of the local RSPCA (Royal Society for the Protection of Animals). It seemed that another neighbour had been alarmed by Fred's condition. She said there were flies about his rear end and he seemed desperately weak. Euthanasia would, she apparently  thought, be the most humane end to his vulpine life.

From our kitchen window I watched Fred make a half-hearted attempt to consume the plate of food but it wasn't long before he stole away - limping up the little garden path towards our vegetable patch. And that was my last sight of him.

In the following days, I  looked under bushes and into other secret places, hoping to find Fred's lifeless body so that I could bury it decently somewhere and mark his grave with rocks and a flower or two.

I shall probably never know the exact place or time when he died but I will remember that piercing last look he gave me.  We had a bond that he also recognised. Strange as this may seem, I am enormously thankful that he  came into our lives so often these past few months and  proud that we nourished him right to the end. Goodbye Fred! Sweet dreams!

Urban Fox

Gingerly he slinked
Quite slyly
Into our lives
Standing there on the lawn
Gazing at evening sunshine
Reflected in our windows
Watching our shapes
Moving behind the glass
Quite ghostly.

I brought him food
And called him Fred
As if honouring
Some pagan god.
He would  "wolf it down"
Or scurry under
The fatsia japonica
Jaws clamped
Round his midnight feast.

Then just as he came
He left us
Never to be seen again
Like a dream
That evaporates
In morning light.

Hated like a gipsy
Feared like a beggar
Unstroked or chin tickled
He died somewhere
Under a privet hedge
Or garden shed
With no stone
Inscription
"Here lies Fred."

17 September 2015

Delightful

Nineteenth century surveyors' tower between Silsden and Addingham
Back in Sheffield now but we had a lovely break up in Wharfedale and on the last evening I managed to squeeze in a six mile walk before we went to "The Crown Inn" for delicious meat pies with mashed potato, mushy peas and "groovy gravy" all washed down with the water of life - "Tetley's" bitter.

This old internet thingumajig has a habit of surprising us doesn't it? In 2011, I visited my Uncle Jack's grave in Norton near Malton. At the tender age of twenty three, he was killed in the Battle of Britain. On the grave I saw a little wooden cross with a poppy attached to it and I wondered who had placed it there. Anyway, after posting a picture of the grave within the "geograph" site I soon found out who the cross donor was. He contacted me from Silsden near Keighley and I learnt that he was a distant cousin who also bore my unusual surname. My great grandfather's brother was this man's great great grandfather so we are very much of the same stock.
John and Heather in Silsden
We kept in touch and exchanged some information about family history and on Tuesday afternoon, after plucking up courage to meet up, we visited him and his wife in their pleasant bungalow home next to The Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The village of Silsden is only three miles south west of Addingham - over the hill and in the next valley which is called Airedale. It was a successful meeting and we stayed for almost two hours, chatting in the September sunshine. They're called John and Heather - and  it was very nice to meet them.

It was four o' clock when we got back to Addingham. I grabbed a map and laced up my boots before plodding out north of the village. To walk in unfamiliar territory is free and very delightful - like a secret world unfolding before your eyes. You never quite know what will be round the next corner and this fills my heart with the precious joy of simply being alive.
Wharefedale with view to Bolton Abey
The track from Hawpike to Addingham
Cattle silhouetted against a September sky near Highfield Farm

15 September 2015

Oreight

Above - a mysterious stone on the little village green in the hamlet of Denton. English Heritage suggest that it was once a fountain, sitting as they say it does atop an ancient well. It is also probably meant to mark the boundary of Denton Hall's estate. That was Sunday morning.

Yesterday (Monday), the skies were thick with cloud and from time to time there was a little drizzle. Even so we were out and about. Below you can see a rather misty view of Denton Hall from The Cow and Calf Rocks on the edge of Ilkley Moor. Denton Hall is where Saturday's wedding events happened.
In Skipton there's a statue of one of Yorkshire's finest cricketers. It's Freddie Trueman, fast bowler in full flight and this is his head:-
Sunday afternoon we walked up on to Addingham Moor with Tony and Pauline. Below there's a photo of a cow at the end of a drystone wall. She was keeping guard. In editing this picture I have opted for HDR colouration (High Dynamic Range) which is becoming all the vogue these days.
 Below there;s Shirley in the old stone quarry adjacent to The Cow and Calf Rocks on Ilkley Moor:-
 On Ilkley Moorside there are some grand Victorian houses that look out over Wharfedale and here's one of them:-
Last night we were going to buy fish and chips from the highly rated Old Station Fisheries in Addingham but sadly they now close on Mondays so we ended up driving into Ilkley for burgers and chips at "The Lister Arms" which is a Wetherspoons pub. This is a popular chain of good value pub eateries that have spread throughout the land and have bucked the trend as so many other independent pubs have fallen on hard times and shut their doors for good

One more night in lovely Addingham and then back to Sheffield tomorrow. It wont' happen  but Addingham is the sort of place I could have easily lived out my days - a large village with facilities and a real sense of community in the heart of Yorkshire. When you walk down the street, people you pass still automatically greet you - "Good morning", "Good afternoon", "Oreight!"

Oreight (Yorkshire)"All right?" or to expand it "Hello and I hope you are feeling all right".

13 September 2015

Wharfedale

Wharfedale is  the most significant dale in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. Running at the bottom of the valley is of course the River Wharfe. It starts its journey to the sea in the Pennine Hills and travels its winding course for some seventy five miles before joining with The River Ouse south of York.
The River Wharfe at Addingham
We are staying in the village that marks the boundary between Upper Wharfedale and Lower Wharfedale. To the west of us is the town or Skipton and to the east Ilkley. Our stone cottage was once a home for humble weavers but the old mills and weaving sheds ceased production long ago so now many of the old houses are the residences of commuters, retirees or temporary holiday visitors.

Last night's wedding event at Denton Hall was a happy affair with friends and relations dancing to a great little four piece band, quaffing wine and beer and chomping on roast pork sandwiches and vanilla ice creams. There was also a photo booth where you could make pictures for the wedding album and copies for yourself to take home. It was a great evening and we returned to Addingham by taxi at one in the morning with Sheffield friends Pete and Ros.

They departed at ten thirty and at eleven thirty our friends from Beverley - Tony and Pauline arrived for a one night stay. This included a five mile walk out of the village to Addingham Moor and a lovely meal in "The Fleece".

I am having trouble editing the photos I have taken so far because I haven't got Windows Office installed on this laptop. Even so here's a little taster group from yesterday - all taken in  this parish:-
Old barn near the village cricket ground
 The back of our little cottage and below - the kitchen.
"The Crown" in Addingham
Wharfedale view
Bench at Addingham Bowling Club

12 September 2015

Addingham

We are up in Wharfedale for a few days, staying in the village of Addingham. There's a wedding on this evening in nearby Denton Hall - the bride is the daughter of some Sheffield friends. Above there's a sheep I saw this afternoon next to the village cricket ground. She didn't seem at all concerned about the magpies that kept exploring her fleece for ticks. 

10 September 2015

Regeneration

Since I took early retirement from my teaching job in Sheffield, the taking of photographs has become something of a personal obsession. Regular visitors to this humble blog have seen dozens of my pictures - often from country rambles as I have plodded the byways of this green and pleasant land.

It is possible to trace my plodding history on the internet via Panoramio and geograph.co.uk. Additionally, when you put my real name into Google Images many pictures I have taken will be returned.

That searchability was never intended - it is just an unexpected by-product of the ever more sophisticated and gluttonous electronic web. Its appetite for data seems to know no bounds.

When one's photos get into the ether they can be picked up by various organisation or private individuals for illustration purposes - as long as copyright is acknowledged. This is a subject that I blogged about last December when I noticed that the communist  "Morning Star" had used my photo of a red grouse to illustrate a news article.

And now I notice that in May the BBC News website used one of my photos to illustrate an article about the regeneration of a former South Yorkshire coal mining village called Rossington. I walked there last summer on a hot and windless day and wrote about that particular ramble in a blogpost that I titled "Thwarted". I even used the same picture:-
There has been a little too much trumpet blowing in this post. "Me" and "I" are words that become tiresome when overused. For this one apologises but not every amateur photographer has his/her photographs tapped by The British Broadcasting Corporation and one is as pleased as punch about it - even if they didn't send one a handsome cheque for the privilege

9 September 2015

Queen



Our noble queen - happy and glorious - long to reign over us has now been on the British throne longer than any other  monarch in our lengthy history. Elizabeth II's great great grandmother Queen Victoria was on the throne for sixty three years and seven months but today Elizabeth has eclipsed that record.

To mark this proud moment, I have spent months crafting the following heartfelt poem which I offer to her majesty as a humble verbal gift and as an expression of my gratitude and loyalty to her most regal highness.
______________________________________-

Ode to Queen Elizabeth II
On the day she  became our  longest reigning monarch - Queen of  The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. )

Oh noble queen of this fair land
A poem I writ with my own hand
To honour thee Elizabeth
Jewel of our shibboleth
With dashing Philip at your side
You have had to ride
In  vehicles strange and various
Some being quite precarious
Like elephants.

Oh noble queen of The Commonwealth
May I enquire about your health?
Eighty nine years old are you
Accession was way back in 52
You have overtaken Victoria now
Such a miserable old cow
Was she all dressed in black
But you Elizabeth have had a knack
With colours - like a parrot.

Oh noble queen of the postage stamp
As  I make this poem my old oil lamp
Flickers like decades passing by
And we know that one day you must die
To leave your subjects quite bereft
With bumbling Charles or balding William left
To lead us once more to the breach
Jerusalem still out of reach
Like the fabled unicorn

Oh noble queen of people's hearts
A phenomenal woman of many parts
For sixty three years you have served so well
Putting world leaders under your spell
We bow to thee your majesty
Your grace, your smile, your dignity
Your face is on every coin I spend
To you my gratitude I send
Like a soft blown kiss
To sweet Queen Liz!
By your faithful subject - Mr Yorkshire Pudding