17 August 2018

Sillydale

At the north end of Silly Dale
Yesterday I put on my clown costume and went to Sillydale - sometimes written Silly Dale. Silly Dale is a short, dry limestone valley just north of Wardlow Mires in Derbyshire. How it got its silly name I have no idea. Perhaps President Trump's Mar-a-Lago mansion should be renamed Silly Dale. You could say the same for 10, Downing Street in London.

Having parked in the charmingly peaceful upland village of Foolow, I made my way across the landscape like an earthworm. First to the hamlet of Grindlow and then south to the head of Silly Dale. I was expecting to find giggling people walking backwards or riding on unicycles while juggling bananas but there was none of that. Not even a monument to Spike Milligan.
Old barn at the south end of Silly Dale
Just a couple of horses at the head of the valley and at the southern end a derelict barn and a bull standing on a mound observing his harem of brown cows below. Yes - Silly Dale was something of a disappointment. 
Back in Foolow I lifted Clint's tailgate as I removed my colourful clown's outfit. Regarding country walks, please store this piece of advice - Avoid walking in oversized, floppy clown shoes. Even in Silly Dale I think it is probably best to wear proper walking boots.
Bull in Silly Dale
Above him you can see typical drystone walls - not fences!

16 August 2018

Poem

Earthworm

After rain I slide more easily,
Contracting then relaxing,
Gliding through the dampened soil,
Circumventing stones and roots -
It lubricates my passage.
I have no eyes to see
So it does not bother me
That I exist in darkness. 

Just listen and you’ll hear me
Pulsing quietly below
The surfaces you know
Or dig and you will find me
Writhing in the loam
This earth that is my home.

15 August 2018

Disc

The longest- running BBC radio show is "Desert Island Discs". It lasts for an hour - during which the week's special guest chooses eight recordings - usually songs - that he or she would choose to take to an imaginary desert island. The guest also gets to choose one luxury to take with them and a book too. Towards the end of the show, the guest is asked which one of their eight recording choices they would select if they could only take one.

Pam Ayres
Last weekend the guest was a woman I have long admired for her wordsmithery and her wholesome sense of humour - Pam Ayres. She has become a national treasure having first appeared on a TV talent show back in 1975. The songs that she chose to take to her desert island were:-

  • Tim van Eyken & Members of the War Horse Company Chorus - "Only Remembered"
  • Alun Armstrong & Original 1985 London Cast of "Les Miserables" - "Master of the House"
  • Bob Dylan - "The Times They Are A' Changing"
  • Neil Sedaka - "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen"
  • Bruce Springsteen - "Independence Day"
  • Tina Turner - "The Best"
  • The Fureys and Davey Arthur - "When You Were Sweet Sixteen"
  • Ruggero Leoncavallo  - "Vesti la Giubba"

Interestingly it was the song by The Fureys that Pam Ayres picked if she were only allowed to take one. I hadn't heard that plaintive song in years. There are various different versions of "When You Were Sweet Sixteen" and here are three of them:-



By the way, which song or piece of music would you take to your desert island?

14 August 2018

Church

Tideswell Church
© Copyright Andrew Hill - geograph.co.uk 2012
Just over fifty years ago I informed the choirmaster and the vicar at my village church that I was resigning as a choirboy. No more chilly Sunday mornings in my cassock, surplus and ruff singing to a dwindling congregation. No more listening to endlessly dull sermons or prayers and Bible readings that droned on and on. Besides I had stopped believing in "God" years before - that's if I ever really believed in "Him".  

And you know, since my resignation I had never attended one regular Sunday church service until last weekend when I found myself standing in the pews of The Cathedral of the Peak - St John the Baptist Church in Tideswell. - at 9.30 am.

Not much had changed in fifty years. The same droning prayers, readings and sermon. It all seemed so hollow, desperate even - still clinging to the ludicrous notion of an afterlife - as if  the trials and tribulations of earthly life merely foreshadow the glorious and everlasting life to come.

At one point we were invited to shake hands with other churchgoers. That would have never happened fifty years ago. They grinned at me and said "Peace be with you!"as I replied, "Hello!". It was quite irksome.
Inside Tideswell Church
When the hocus pocus of communion was being performed at the altar, I whispered to my daughter, "It's such a substantial building but this service is so insubstantial". Indeed Tideswell Church is a wonderful building - so much craftsmanship, so much history. It soars gloriously above the large Peak District village. It speaks of christenings, funerals and weddings going back to the fourteenth century. You feel that history - it's almost tangible.

In order to qualify to be married there, Frances and Stew have to attend six services in six calendar months. Consequently, they were up from London again at the weekend. It is likely that the next time I am in The Cathedral of The Peak I shall, God willing (!), be walking her proudly down the aisle - a year from now.

After our attendance, we called in at The Yonderman Cafe for breakfast - eggs, bacon, oatcakes, black pudding, sausages, beans, tomatoes, toast and mugs of tea. It's a popular place and with the rest of the congregation we paid homage to  the mysterious Yonderman before driving back to Sheffield.

13 August 2018

McPudding

Our son Ian was up in Scotland over the weekend. He was there to attend a wedding that had already cost him several hundred pounds. Most of that was spent on a four day stag weekend on the Spanish island of Ibiza.

That's how it goes these days - stag and hen dos in faraway places - drinking excessively and spending lots of dosh on airfares, meals, accommodation etcetera. In contrast, my own "stag do" back in 1981 was a very quiet affair that involved walking down to our local pub - which was then "The Closed Shop" - to meet up with a small bunch of male friends for a few drinks.

For the actual wedding weekend, Ian had to pay for more accommodation, the rail fare from London to Dundee and the hire of a full Scottish outfit - including a tartan kilt. Here he is:-
This is the first time I have ever seen any male member of my Yorkshire family in a kilt! The kilts we see today were largely a Victorian development  - different from the rough lengths of cloth that highlanders once used to attire themselves. The thing you can see around Ian's waist is a sporran and you can easily guess what he has tucked in there. Under the kilt he was probably wearing what all Scotsmen prefer to wear - frilly women's bloomers from Marks and Spencers.!

By the way - it's Ian's birthday today. He is thirty four years old. Happy Birthday Jock!

12 August 2018

Poem

"I just feel completely disconnected from myself lately. I don't even know who 
I am any more..." - Ms Moon "Bless Our Hearts" (a blog from northern Florida)
___________________________________________________
Who I Am

That unshakeable
Shadow stretching
In silver streetlight.
Photographs stored
In disorderly drawers...
Somebody else’s memory.
Written words
Like flotsam,
Old paintings.
Documents.
Familiar face reflected
Again and again
And yet and yet
It is easy to forget
Who you are...
Really.
Shall we look for ourselves between the lines
Or in the voids that follow our melodious rhymes?

11 August 2018

Anthem

The single first appeared on this album
Just like anybody else, there are songs that I associate with particular times in my life. In the 70's I spent four and a half years at The University of Stirling in Scotland. The song that I mostly associate with that time is "Come Up and See Me (Make Me Smile)" by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel. It was often playing in "The Allangrange" students' pub.

The lead line "Come up and see me" was drawn from a Mae West film of 1933 - "She Done Him Wrong".  There are deeper, more meaningful songs with better-crafted lyrics but there was something very human and plaintive about the Cockney Rebel song. Apparently it was engendered late one night as Steve Harley reflected on the bitter break up of his original band

Even after forty three years "Come Up and See Me" still reverberates in my head and takes me back to that concrete university campus by Airthrey Lake in the shadows of Dumyat and The Ochil Hills. I am in touch with very few of the people I knew back then though some were truly loved...
There's nothing left, all gone and run away
Maybe you'll tarry for a while
It's just a test, a game for us to play
Win or lose, it's hard to smile
Resist, resist, it's from yourself you have to hide
Come up and see me, make me smile
Or do what you want, run on wild
Are there any particular songs that mark key times in your youth?

10 August 2018

Burqas

Here in Great Britain there is a prominent right wing politician called Boris Johnson. Until very recently, his mop-haired buffoon was our foreign secretary - but he resigned - ostensibly in relation to the way our nation's "exit" from the European Union is going.

As a boy, Johnson went to exclusive Eton School - beloved of the wealthy and the noble - before proceeding to Oxford University. Johnson loves the sound of his own voice and seems to enjoy stirring up controversy. Many political commentators believe that all his bluster is merely a thin disguise for his burning ambition to become this country's prime minister.

Currently, he is in the middle of an on-going debate about the way in which a  small proportion of Muslim women dress. In a recent speech, he compared women who wear burqas and other forms of face-concealing headwear to letter boxes or bank robbers. He said such concealing garments are "ridiculous" and that he could find no scriptural justification for them in The Quran.
In several European countries - including Denmark, Belgium and France - the burqa is now banned and in bringing the topic up Johnson was tuning in to widespread public distaste about what many see as alien forms of dress that have no place in the free world.

I find myself quite conflicted about burqas, niqabs and even hajibs. As a lifelong atheist I am suspicious of all religious belief and the often medieval practices that may accompany such belief. I am also a proud feminist and hate to see any oppression of women. Women are men's equals and I feel that they should walk our streets as equals, proudly showing their faces, not veiled from public view.

Another thing I think about the burqa is this - are the women who choose to hide their faces able to explain this choice, living as they do within a liberal western democracy?  I suspect that the choice is often a self-indulgence, approved by menfolk and driven by social expectations rather than well-considered religious philosophy.

I am a pretty tolerant fellow but toleration must surely have some limits. Should we tolerate anything and everything? As I say, I feel quite conflicted about the burqa issue. What do you think?

9 August 2018

Stolen

Fabio
My beloved wife woke me early this morning, yelling up the stairs - "It's gone! It's gone!"

Emerging from another dream about fairies dancing in a woodland clearing, I yelled back, "What? What's gone?"

"It's the Maserati!"

I raced  downstairs and sure enough Fabio - the banana-coloured Maserati I bought straight after my big lottery win was not where I had parked him yesterday afternoon. There was just an empty space.

We phoned Woodseats police and a couple of hours ago a panda car arrived containing P.C. Gray and P.C.Barlow - who is a woman constable still in training I believe. There were many questions to answer and papers to sign but in the end P.C. Gray confessed in his lilting Welsh accent, "You haven't much chance of getting it back. It'll probably be on a shipping container already. Heading for China or some such place." Great!

After the cops had gone, Shirley and I had a heated debate about the lottery money. To tell you the truth, it has disturbed our equilibrium. It is often said that money cannot buy you happiness and that money is the root of all evil. Well, I am beginning to concur with these sentiments. I am sick of it. We were happier before all this dosh was transferred to our bank account.

There's so much of it that the total figure is growing day by day. I could easily buy another Maserati to replace Fabio but how could I sleep at night? Instead of fairies in a woodland clearing I would be imagining hideously ugly car thieves in balaclavas, circling like vultures.

For the time-being we will stick with Clint plus Shirley's little grey car - Bonnie. By the way, Bonnie received a nasty scratch in the health centre car park on Tuesday afternoon and the careless perpetrator didn't even report it - just drove off. Damnable! 

As for the lottery money, we will just have to think some more about it.
_____________________________________________________

This blogpost was written in memory of Fabio. He did not stay long but he was my friend.

8 August 2018

Unmentionable

Kirkmaiden Church before being "blessed"
One of the nice things about having a blog is that you can more or less write about anything you want to. Today, I shall approach a subject that is almost taboo - bottom wiping. Yes - bottom wiping. And having uttered that term I can already see blog visitors from across the world clicking away and grumbling, "That's the last time I visit Yorkshire Pudding!"  So be it.

When Shirley and I were at Monreith  in south west Scotland just last month, she opted to sit on the beach one afternoon reading her novel while I went off to find a church that I had spotted on my map. It's called Kirkmaiden Church and it is no longer in use. Built into the cliffside amidst woods, it overlooks Front Bay in sight of The Mull of Galloway.

Along the beach then up into the woods and there it was with its magnifient red sandstone doorway. Adjacent to it there was the ruin of a much older church but I had a problem. A personal problem and it was becoming quite urgent. I needed to defecate. There was no time to get back to the car park where Clint was parked. I remembered there was a blue council porta-loo there.

No. This business needed  to be settled and settled quickly or the consequences would be dire. I'd be walking back to her ladyship like a waddling duck, smelling like a Danish pig farmer. Action was vital but I had no toilet paper on me. I grabbed a couple of handfuls of dried summer grasses from the recently mown churchyard and headed for a shady corner.

There relief was duly obtained. I shall not go in to the fine details of this evacuation but the dried grasses were successfully utilised and a measure of rear cleanliness was achieved. Fortunately there were no thistles or creepy crawlies in the dried vegetation I had requisitioned for this intimate occasion.
Doorway at Kirkmaiden Church
Back on the beach I washed my hands in the sea and built another tower of beach cobbles. I got to thinking about toilet paper and what people did before it was manufactured. Mass production of toilet paper in the western world did not begin until 1857 though wealthy Chinese families had been using paper to wipe their bottoms for many centuries before that.

It was common in the Roman world to use sponges on sticks (tersorium) that were kept in vinegar containers. And in India today, the majority of  people in both country or city simply use their hands with water. Imagine rural scenes in India if every Indian peasant used toilet paper after squatting in the fields. After a few weeks it would look as if the country had been hit by a massive snowstorm.
Izal toilet paper was non-absorbent
Used widely in English schools in
the 50's and 60's

Historically, in England, what you used to wipe your bottom often depended on your location and social status. You might use seaweed, sheep's wool, dried leaves, pebbles, sea shells, dock leaves, fur or yes - like me at Kirkmaiden - handfuls of dried grasses. Incidentally, those ancient methods were surely more kind to our environment. We take toilet paper for granted these days but it hasn't always been with us. 

My grandmother ran away with with my step grandfather in the 1930's. They ended up living in humble social housing in Newcastle with a lavatory in their yard. As a boy I was always  delighted to see newspaper squares on a nail in there. You could read before putting these squares to a more basic use.

Have you got any bottom wiping tales or information you would like to share dear reader? Don't be shy.
Xylospongium (Greek) or tersorium (Roman) - Replica

7 August 2018

Businesses

Hair salon in Westminster, London
Once, when I was in Middleton near Manchester, I spotted a beauty salon that  specialised in sun bed treatments. It was called "Tanya Whitebitz". At first, I didn't get it. I thought that the owner, Tanya, was probably of  Polish descent. Then the penny dropped.

Over the years I have mentally noted the quirky names of several hairdressing salons and indeed fish and chip shops too. It seems that small business people are frequently filled with creativity when sitting down to come up with fresh names for their new ventures.

Here are the names of some hairdressing businesses - "Hairport", "Choppers", "British Hairways", "Comb Together", "Hairwaves", "Edge Cutters" (at Nether Edge, Sheffield), "Clippity Do-Da" and "Ahead of Time".
In Southampton
When it comes to fish and chip shops, there's "The Codfather", "Chip-In-Dales", "Oh My Cod", "Frydays",  "Fishcotheque" and "New Cod on the Block" You have also got "Our Plaice" and "Captain Haddock" after that character from TinTin.

In Britain there are many pub names that end with the word "Arms" and were invariably named after noble families. For example, around Sheffield, we have several pubs called "The Devonshire Arms" and "The Norfolk Arms". However, when I was a university student I noticed a pub in Glasgow called "The Muscular Arms".

Do you know any similarly eye-catching business names? Perhaps places you have seen or read about along the way. Please add to my little list.
Pub in St Albans, Hertfordshire

6 August 2018

Southwell

Southwell is situated in rolling countryside fourteen miles north east of the city of Nottingham. Until Saturday, I had never been there before but the idea of visiting the little town had been in the back of my mind for quite a while.

Only 7000 people live in Southwell but it boasts the most significant church in all of Nottinghamshire - Southwell Minster. Upon the site of this magnificent twin-towered building a church was founded by St Paulinus in around 627AD. The Anglo Saxon chronicler, St Bede, referred to holy baptisms in the nearby River Trent during the same century. The "-well" in the town's name suggests that at some time a holy water source may have endowed the place with special religious significance that probably pre-dated  both the Christian era and the arrival of the Romans.
The remains of Eadburh, Abbess of Repton and daughter of Ealdwulf of East Anglia were buried in Southwell's original Saxon church. Later - in 956AD, Eadwy of England donated land in Southwell to Oskytel the Archbishop of York. That link with the Archbishopric of York remains strong to this day.
After my long circular walk out of Epperstone, I was rather fatigued and slightly woozy because of the heat that had accompanied my plodding. In the minster, a wedding was in process but the wedding party were all gathered near the altar with its adjacent choir benches. The service was being relayed over the minster's sound system and so I heard both the bride and groom say "I do". Soon the lofty ceiling of the great cathedral was filled with joyous singing from the assembled wedding guests:-
Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of Heav’n to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!

It was almost four in the afternoon and I was hungry. I headed for "The Crown Hotel" for a rump steak with chips (American: french fries), peas and grilled tomatoes - washed down with a cold pint of orange cordial and soda water. There I met a silver-haired man called Dennis who had escaped from his alcoholic wife for the afternoon. He advised me that Southwell's name is pronounced exactly as it is spelt and not the pretentious "SUH-thull" that some, including the BBC, seem to favour.
An image of Byron in the window of Burgage Manor
Afterwards, I strolled around the handsome  town. It had an air of prosperity and civic pride. There were many lovely houses including Burgage Manor where Byron the poet once lived with his mother. Apparently, around 1806, he  had a scandalous affair with the daughter of one of the town's well-to-do families. That's poets for you!
Asian food outlets - King Street, Southwell
I wish I could have stayed longer and perhaps undertaken another long walk in the town's vicinity but it was by now six o'clock and time to head back to Sheffield - an hour away. It had been a grand day out.

5 August 2018

Notts

My brother Paul would have been 71 years old today. My father Philip would have been 104 years old. I still miss them even though it's eight years since Paul died and thirty nine years since Dad departed. In 1984, our Ian's due date was also August 5th but he hung on eight more days...
____________________________________________________

Yesterday I was in Nottinghamshire. I drove out beyond Mansfield on the Newark road, bringing Silver Clint to rest in the charming village of Epperstone. When I strolled away on my planned walking route he was already chatting with a bronze-coloured Mini called Miss Foo-Foo. "No funny stuff Clint!" I called back over my shoulder.
The Lauels - house in Epperstone
How lovely was that rolling countryside and the day was becoming hot again. The fields were cracked and there was not a drop of water in Thurgarton Beck. Up to Bankfield Farm and then along the long straight track that leads to the village of Thurgarton. I saw a microlight landing on Bankfield's little airfield and then by Hill Farm I noticed a bench with a  little plaque on it. It read, ""IN MEMORY OF THE ANIMALS WHO SUFFERED ON THIS SITE FOR OUR BENEFIT". I was puzzled.
However, as I continued down the hill to Thurgarton I met a very old man with very long eyebrow hairs. They were clustering up against the windows of his spectacles like fronds in an aquarium. I asked him about the bench and he explained that there had once been an animal testing laboratory close by - run by the Boots pharmaceutical company. It had been shut down because of pressure from the Animal Liberation Front and growing public distaste for animal experimentation. We chatted for a while and after shaking hands we continued upon our divergent walks.
In Thurgarton there was a cricket match in progress but I had to press on and didn't even have time for a refreshing drink in "The Red Lion". The main aim of my journey was to spend a couple of hours in the nearby town of Southwell and the long walk was just a preliminary to that visit.
However, back in Epperstone, I finally submitted to my Saharan thirst and sank a pint of bitter shandy in "The Cross Keys". This welcome liquid descended so rapidly that it hardly had time to hit the sides of my gullet. I shall blog about Southwell tomorrow.

4 August 2018

Saturday

This weekend, Shirley has escaped from The Beast. She is down in London with three other Sheffield mums. They had dinner with their sons last night. The picture suggests that it was a happy occasion. There's Shirley with Ian on the right and next to them is Frances's chap Stew with his mum.
Meantime, here in The Lair of the Beast, I am preparing to go on a little walking and sightseeing day excursion in Nottinghamshire. First, I need a shower. Please avoid the temptation to picture me standing in the shower cubicle covered in soap suds.

3 August 2018

Books

I have finished two novels very recently - "The Quarry" by the late Iain Banks and "East of Hounslow" by Khurrum Rahman. I picked up the first one in a British Heart Foundation charity shop and the second one was given to me by our beloved son at Christmastime. It was one of several new books he picked up for free from Harper Collins publishers. They were responsible for printing the "Bosh!" cookbook which, by the way, is now officially the best selling vegan cookery book of all time! Amazing.

Anyway back to the two novels. Please don't worry - I am not going to bore you with intricate synopses. They were both mostly set in modern day England. Banks's novel has barely a plot, little character development and the action almost all takes place in one location – a crumbling home perched on the edge of a quarry. It belongs to Guy who is dying of cancer and his autistic son Kit. One weekend they have house guests in the form of Guy's old university friends.It is as if they are saying goodbye.
"East of Hounslow" is a first novel by a young Muslim writer - Hounslow being a suburb of west London. The writer focuses upon young Muslims and the tensions in their urban lives. He explores ways in which terrorists might be made. The central character Javid - or Jay - travels to Islamabad for training but he has previously been tapped by MI5 - the British secret service. It becomes his mission to thwart a Boxing Day terrorist attack in the streets of London.

Both books contained significant measures of anger and frustration. There's swearing and aggression. However, I read them and quite enjoyed them. They were certainly readable and it was no bother to keep turning the pages but in the end there was no real delight, no feeling of happy denouement. I wasn't uplifted. Perhaps the next book I read will be "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine" by Gail Honeyman. I have heard that it is a very nice book, enjoyed by many women - my wife and daughter included.

By the way, just before I sign off for today, when we were in Port William in Scotland we went into the Port William community charity shop. In one corner there were two bookcases containing donated secondhand books. Each bookcase had a label at the top. One label read "Men's Books", the other read - "Women's Books". This made me chuckle and I even considered asking where the transsexual books were - but of course I didn't. "I'm a Big Chicken" by Yorkshire Pudding...

2 August 2018

Buxton

Buxton Town Hall with "The King's Head" pub to the left
Buxton, in north Derbyshire, is England's highest market town and the administrative capital of an upland area known as High Peak. It has a population of about 22,000 and an interesting history.
Jack the Quarryman, Ashwood Park
During the Roman occupation it was known as  Aquae Arnemetiae - or the spa of the goddess of the grove. Hundreds of Roman soldiers enjoyed spa breaks in Buxton walking miles to get there along well-trodden tracks from numerous military outposts. The Roman occupation of Britain lasted for 350 years, beginning in 43AD, so Aquae Arnemetiae would have accommodated many generations of Romans.
There was a resurgence of interest in spa waters during the Victorian era. Railway tracks descended upon Buxton and soon the town became a booming inland resort with impressive hotels, bath-houses, pleasure gardens and the famous Buxton Pavilion with its vast glass dome, dining rooms and horticultural displays. A late afterthought was The Buxton Opera House - completed in 1903. It is a delightful little theatre that still thrives today.
Buxton Opera House
Buxton is around twenty four miles from our house. On Tuesday, Shirley suggested that we ride out there and so of course, being a mild and agreeable husband, I assented immediately to this "request". It was a lovely drive over and an even prettier drive back.
Milton's Head pub in Buxton
In between, we strolled around, visited Buxton Pavilion and the marketplace and had a splendid lunch in Wye Bridge House - which is now a popular pub-restaurant run by Wetherspoons. Her ladyship had enjoyed her trip to Buxton in summery weather. It is a very different place in the dark days of winter when cold winds blow and sleet lashes down from iron-coloured Pennine clouds.
Tuesday market

1 August 2018

Hooray!


Yorkshire Day

August the first is Yorkshire Day!
Our hearts lift up, we shout hooray!
From Flamborough Head to the Pennine Chain
We  cheer our county once again
Dear blogging friends, for what it’s worth
There’s nowhere better on this Earth
You can keep your Sydney and L.A. too
Your South Sea isles and your Timbuctoo
I would rather walk a Yorkshire street
With Yorkshire ground beneath my feet.
From Middlesbrough to Malham Cove
Our county is a treasure trove
Of coastal path and rolling dale
And foaming pints of Yorkshire ale
Where people use their common sense
No empty words  or proud pretence
A land of graft and imagination
Surely The Lord’s very best creation
So drink and feast and dance away
August the first is Yorkshire Day!

31 July 2018

Rambles

Sometimes I just have to get out for a country walk. Even if I am only planning a mile or two, it's often as if my body and mind combined crave some walking. 

On Sunday evening, as the sun was descending to the western horizon I completed a nearby circuit that I worked out years ago and have plodded many times.  I blogged about it here (2015) and here (just last month). I took yet another picture of "The Cricket Inn" at Totley Bents and here it is:-
The same urge to walk happened yesterday afternoon so Clint and I nipped out of the city - up to The Dale road south of Stanage Edge. Blustery but with sunshine flooding the landscape between scudding clouds, I walked a mile along the rocky escarpment before descending to the ocean of green bracken below. Then I headed back under the edge observing rock climbers negotiating various crags.
"Where the hell have you been?" said Clint when I got back to the parking strip alongside The Dale. All other vehicles had left but as I was taking off my boots a minibus pulled up in front of Clint and a dozen Chinese people of various ages clambered out.

Each one of them held a camera, i-phone or tablet and they all proceeded to snap pictures of their surroundings. What a mad world.

An attractive female member of the party asked me, "Wha-this-place-ca?"

I pointed at the nearby rocks, "That's Stanage Edge and over there that's the village of Hathersage."

"Ha-tha-say."

"No. Hathersage," I repeated - this time more slowly.

Inside Clint, I pressed the "Home" button and came back to make a nice stir fry using leftover chicken from our Sunday dinner - with wholewheat noodles, chopped onion, sweet red pepper and a courgette that Frances and Stew grew down in London. It was a gift.