11 December 2018

Everywhere

Fraisthorpe
Did you ever hear the song "I've Been Everywhere"?  It was written in 1959 by an Australian country and western artist called Geoff Mack. That first version included lists of Australian place names. but perhaps the most famous version of the song was recorded by Johnny Cash. In his rendition the Australian place names were replaced with American names:-

I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man,
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Travel, I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere
I've been to: -
Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottowa, Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama, Mattua, La Paloma, Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo, Tocapillo,, Pocotello, Amperdllo...


Hailing from The East Riding of Yorkshire, I thought it was nigh time to create an East Yorkshire version with place names that reflect the history of that wondrous corner of England. Many of the names are rooted in our Norse or Viking heritage though others reflect pre-Christian, Saxon, Norman and even Victorian influences. Which ever way you look at it, the East Yorkshire names have a very different sound and flavour

I have been everywhere my friend
I have been everywhere my friend
Crossed The Yorkshire Wolds my friend
I have inhaled the North Sea  air my friend
Travel, I have had my share
I've been everywhere my friend
I've been to:-
Wetwang, Swine. Holme on Spalding Moor, Withernwick, Ulrome, Skidby, Thorngumbald, Land of Nod, Skerne, Aike, Brandesburton, Pocklington, Nafferton, Rise, Skeffling, Sigglesthorne, Catfoss, Meaux, Rudston, Fraisthorpe, Hull...

I could write a blogpost about each one of those East Riding places but please don't sigh. That is not going to happen. Instead let me just focus on Fraisthorpe - a small coastal settlement just south of the seaside town of Bridlington.

My father would often take me there with my brothers and we would change into our swimming trunks in the shadow of concrete World War II defences left behind on the beach before running into the cold and opaque North Sea.

"Fraisthorpe" is called "Frestintorp" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The suffix "thorpe"  indicates that it was originally an outlying farmstead. The beginning of the name indicates that that farmstead of long ago was owned by a man called Freistingr or Freysteinn. Either of these first names reveal a Norse connection. 

It is possible that there was a settlement at Fraisthorpe before Vikings arrived in the ninth century but if there was, its name is lost in the mists of history... which is everywhere, man. 

10 December 2018

East

St Winifrid's, Stainton
It has been a rather weird weekend. Shirley has been at the coast with several of her many cousins. Meantime I have been at home getting better.

Thankfully, on Sunday I felt well enough to drive out of the city. I travelled east beyond the former pit village of Maltby and did some walking and picture taking. It was a lovely December day after several grey and rainy days.

On a quiet country lane, a fellow who was out walking with his family turned back specially to speak with me. He wanted to know why I was taking photographs. I told him that my hobby was legal and that some of my pictures would be submitted to the "geograph" website. He was perfectly happy with my explanation having just spotted my bulging biceps and our height differential.
Woolthwaite Farm
I must admit that I felt a degree of sympathy for him and his family as they live in such an isolated location. Rural crime has been on the increase and the sight of a lone figure in a black Hull City manager's coat must have been slightly unnerving.

I visited nearby Stainton where the great Yorkshire fast bowler Freddie Ttueman was born. There was a massive stone cross in the churchyard - apparently it is the village's war memorial. In front of it was a grave that contained the remains of a teenage boy who was electrocuted at the nearby colliery in the 1920's.
Ivy covered tree near Sandbeck Lodge
It's always nice to visit map squares I have never entered before. I drove home feeling hungry and planned to prepare a nice rump steak with two small jacket potatoes, garden peas and fried mushrooms with onions.

After half an hour this simple culinary dream came true.

I forgot to mention than by a quiet country lane on my way to Stainton I spotted a memorial to coal miners who were lost in a methane explosion at Maltby Colliery in the 1920's. Twenty five bodies were never recovered. Followed by the names of those men, this was the inscription:-
"THIS MEMORIAL IS DEDICATED TO THE ETERNAL MEMORY
OF THE 27 MEN WHO TRAGICALLY LOST THEIR LIVES AS A RESULT
OF THE EXPLOSION THAT OCCURRED IN MALTBY COLLIERY 
ON JULY 28TH 1923

25 OF THE BODIES WERE NEVER RECOVERED AND THEY ARE
FOREVER ENTOMBED 800 YARDS DIRECTLY BELOW THIS MEMORIAL"

9 December 2018

Henderson's

Individual British cities are invariably associated with particular industries, brands or products. My adopted city - Sheffield - is mostly associated with metal products including cutlery and surgical instruments. After all, it was in this city that silver plating began and it was here that stainless steel was invented by Harry Brearley.

Another product that is distinctly Sheffieldish and adored with nostalgic affection by Sheffielders everywhere is Henderson's Relish. It is a black savoury sauce with a secret recipe. As Matt Helders of The Arctic Monkeys pop group said, "It's like Worcester Sauce but a million times better". 

It was invented in 1885 by Henry Henderson and for more than a hundred years it was manufactured in a little factory on Leavygreave Road. You will find  iconic orange-labelled bottles of "Hendo's" in the kitchen cupboards of all true Sheffielders,

Henderson's is good to splash in soups and stews or upon slices of cheese on toast. Some Sheffielders even dash it on plates of chips (American: fries) and some use it in place of soy sauce in Asian dishes. Henderson's is very adaptable and unlike that vile Lea and Perrin's Worcester Sauce, Henderson's is vegan! No anchovies added to this secret mixture.

My grown up children live in London but they both make sure that they never run out of Henderson's. The company has its own helpful website with historical notes provided and souvenirs for sale. You may visit that website here. It's hard to believe that I have been blogging for over thirteen years and hadn't got round to devoting a post to Henderson's until today. Silly me!

8 December 2018

Telugu

I decided to write the main body of today's blogpost in the Telugu language:-
ঽঽౘౙ ఱశషఫ డఘఋ౮ ౯ేంొోౌ ౻షబఖ ఆఇఈ ఊఋ  ఊఋలఁೲౡఫఠఅ ఐౌోసశఢ ౠౙ
ౠౙ ౸౹ఫడ ఋఊ ౠౖౣౕ౾
As "Yorkshire Pudding" attracts so many well-educated and well-travelled visitors, I am confident that most of you will have already translated the joke from Telugu. You are probably in stitches!

Incidentally, to my amazement, Mrs Pudding said she had never even heard of the Telugu language. Incredible!

Just in case there are others out there who are unfamiliar with Telugu, it is of course spoken widely in the eastern Indian province of Andhra Pradesh. In fact, it is the first language of over 75 million Indian citizens. It belongs to the Dravidian family of languages and can be traced back to 400 B.C..
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Confession - I was just exploring the "Insert Special Characters" facility on the Blogger composition page where for example you can also find
😎👳👀
&
ᎠᎴᎿᏃᎹᎯᏏᏪᏩ
(North American Cherokee Letters)
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Question What is the woman in the cartoon at the top saying to her husband?

6 December 2018

Poem

Once

Once there were tigers
Padding through shadows
Anticipating another kill
They were quiet
But you could sense
Their presence
Watching. Breathing.
Or lapping furtively
From jungle streams.

Once there were hedgehogs
Snuffling in soil
Or scurrying homeward.
Living quietly
They preferred the night
Yet were amongst us
Feeding on worms
Rolling into needle balls
When danger called.

Once albatrosses
Rode on invisible winds
Circling the globe
Seeking squid or sprats
Gliding over oceans 

That furrowed white below.
It is reported that
The very last pair
Danced on camera
Beaks raised to southern skies
Emitting melancholic cries

Like dodos.

5 December 2018

Innocence

When I was a university student up in Scotland, I often rode upon the east coast railway that links Edinburgh with Newcastle and Yorkshire.

One dark winter evening, I was sitting in the buffet carriage of an east coast train when it pulled in to the station at Newcastle. The train was pretty full with seats at a premium. An older man bustled into the buffet car and asked if he might sit at my little table. Naturally, I consented.

I soon found myself in conversation with this newcomer. Communication was challenging simply because he spoke with such a broad north eastern accent. Many would have found that accent impenetrable but my step-grandfather Foster Morris had been born and raised in Newcastle so I was somewhat accustomed to the brand of English spoken by working people in the north eastern region.

My new companion was wearing a brown tweed coat with frayed cuffs and an old tartan scarf. His hands were like shovels and hardened through hard work. He told me that he had retired as a coal miner that very week having just reached his sixty fifth birthday. As I recall, he was from a coal mining area just south of Sunderland where many of the coal mines had tunnels that went right under The North Sea.

Clearly, the horizons of his life had been very limited. He told me he had never left the north east before and he had also never been on a train till that very evening after catching a bus into Newcastle. However, he had raised a family and he had laboured as a coal miner for fifty years.

I was warming to him. It was nice to be a twenty two year old university student talking to a man who had worked hard all of his life and I felt a kinship with him because of all the coal miners there had been on my mother's side of my family - including my maternal grandfather and great-grandfather.
"The Coal Face" by Alan Glasspool
Nosily, I asked him what he was doing on the train. Where was he going?

With pain in his eyes, he told me he was heading to Manchester. It seemed that one of his sons had been sent to Strangeways Prison after being sentenced that very day for burglary. "I warned him. I bloody warned him it'd end up like this!"

As soon as my companion had received the news he had headed for Newcastle, determined to visit his wayward son

We were half an hour into our journey south and at that point a man in British Rail uniform entered the buffet car. It was a rare ticket inspector. I showed him my student railcard and my ticket but the coal miner looked puzzled. He didn't have any sort of ticket.

He tried to explain himself to the inspector whose own English accent betrayed the fact that he was from the London area. It was like a Swahili-speaking herdsman meeting an Inuit - such was the success of their conversation.  I was obliged to intervene and quickly found myself playing the role of a translator.

The retired coal miner said he didn't know that he needed a ticket. He'd just walked onto the platform and onto the train. He had assumed that he could just pay on board the train and pulled a cheque from his inner pocket. As I recall it was a cheque for two thousand pounds - being the lump sum from his retirement package.

The inspector was unimpressed and showed not a single iota of sympathy or understanding. "That's no use to me! Why isn't it in your bank?"

"Because I don't have a bank account. Can't I use it like cash mate? You can give me the change."

I continued to translate, explaining to the ticket collector what I already knew about my fellow traveller.

I begged him to take the man's name and address and to bill him but this official was a jobsworthy and said he'd be phoning through to York to have the coal miner arrested for ticket dodging.

"Have a heart man!" I protested.

But at York where I needed to meet my own connecting train, the transport police were waiting. I interrupted the ticket inspector's explanation in defence of the coal miner and the lead policeman seemed to be listening with understanding. I shook the coal miner's hand and wished him all the best as he was led away. And that was the last that I ever saw of him though I have thought about him many times since that dark night heading south.

4 December 2018

Milkiness

In spite of feeling "under the weather" with a sore throat and raised temperature, I nonetheless undertook a three hour walk this afternoon. 

Firstly, it involved a five minute drive out of the city. I deposited Clint upon a rough surfaced car park in the lee of Lady Canning's Plantation. It is very popular with dog walkers. But I don't own a dog, have never owned one and have no intention of ever owning one.

I set off along Houndkirk Road - an ancient track - the construction of which  preceded most of the paved roads that crisscross those moors. After a mile and a half, I left the old track and plodded eastwards along a side path that  heads over to The Burbage Valley. That's when I spotted those three friends in the top picture. They posed for me beneath a milky sun that was veiled in thin cloud.
I walked along the same ridge the three friends had just traversed and soon I was able to take the photograph shown above with the Hathersage Road twisting its way into the valley of The River Derwent. Across that valley you can the telecommunications mast on Sir William Hill.
Where the Hathersage road crosses Burbage Brook there's an odd rock formation that is known locally as The Toad's Mouth, I have driven past it a thousand times but because parking at that point is impossible I had never captured a picture of it until today. There it is above. It really does look like a toad doesn't it? I have no idea who carved the eye or when.

I was tempted to pop into "The Fox House" inn for a pot of tea but instead decided to press on, linking up once more with Houndkirk Road in fading light. I spotted an old milepost that would once have guided merchants and carriers. It's very worn now but you can still make out "Tideswell 9/ Buxton 16" - the mileage to  two of the most significant towns in North Derbyshire.
Because I had been feeling slightly poorly, I was relieved to finally see Clint's sleek silver chassis coming into view. He was snuggled up next to a muddy Land Rover and seemed more than disappointed when I interrupted his sly small talk. His engine growled petulantly as we headed back to the city.

2 December 2018

QPR

At Loftus Road before yesterday's match
We drove down to London on Saturday morning. Presently, our son Ian is living in a £2 million house between the West London suburbs of Hammersmith and Chiswick. I know that that is what the house is worth because its owner has recently accepted a bid of that size from a rich buyer. That means that Ian and his renting entourage will have to depart the place at the start of February.

He made us a lovely vegan lunch and then we set off walking to Shepherd's Bush - just over a mile away. We dropped Shirley off at the temple of shopping known as The Westfield Centre before carrying on to a football stadium I had never visited before -  Loftus Road, the home of Queen's Park Rangers.

They were playing the team I have supported since 1963 - Hull City A.F.C.. City are currently in a precarious position near the base of English football's second tier - The Championship. However, we were a goal up within ten minutes and in a very entertaining match we came out on top - beating QPR by three goals to two. Ian was hoarse by the end of the match and a huge smile was fixed upon my face. There's nothing quite like seeing your team win away:-
"We're winning away! 
We're winning away!
How shit must you be!
We're winning away!"
Afterwards, we picked Shirley up from The Westfield Centre and walked back towards Ian's very expensive residence. We stopped off at "The Thatched House" pub-restaurant for a couple of celebratory drinks and then carried on to the "Sagar" South Indian restaurant for a delightful vegetarian meal.

On Sunday morning I overslept before standing under a rainforest shower as soap suds slipped down my manly physique. Then Ian called an Uber taxi and we travelled to the old BBC building at White City for breakfast in an exclusive members-only club that operates under the Soho House banner. Not really my thing at all. As I said recently, I''m the kind of guy who favours frugality. However, the breakfast was very good and in  the rooftop pool area there were marvellous panoramic views over London.

We sped north via The North Circular Road. Three hours and thirty minutes from door to door. Not bad but not as good as QPR 2 - Hull City 3. Up The Tigers!

30 November 2018

Belph

Cottage in Belph
Belph? Has any blogpost  in blogging history ever had that title? I very much doubt it. Belph is the easternmost settlement in Derbyshire - very close to the Nottinghamshire border. Wikipedia says that there are around thirty houses in Belph  but I counted ten. 

I left Clint there and set off on a pleasant country walk in good weather. The weather people got it right. It was the nicest day we have had in several days. After Belph I walked to a village called Hodthorpe that owes its existence entirely to coal mining. The mines have gone but places like Hodthorpe remain like post-industrial flotsam washed up on the shore of a new world. Did men really go down into the bowels of The Earth  to bring up coal?
Hodthorpe Community Socila Club
Nearby bored horses were killing time. One of them came over to me and I gave him fresh grass from my side of the electric fence. He seemed grateful and watched me as I plodded to the other side of his paddock.
Soon I was in farmland and woods that are part of the Worksop Manor Estate and then on to the Welbeck Abbey Estate - the home seat of the Dukes of Portland. Even today, much secrecy still surrounds this estate and it is policed by gamekeepers and farm workers with CCTV cameras in strategic places. At its heart is Welbeck Abbey itself - only rarely open to the public.

I came across two ladies sitting on logs in a sunny spot. They were enjoying their packed lunches and I stopped to chat with them for a few minutes. I would estimate that the older woman was in her mid to late eighties and the younger woman was  way past seventy. They were the only other walkers I encountered in four hours of tramping.

It was a nice walk and afterwards I treated myself to a rare McDonalds meal. There's touch screen ordering now and you pay through a terminal. Then I took a plastic number stand to my table and one of the lowly paid employees brought along my tray. I can't say I enjoy this process but I enjoyed my Big Mac and fries with a latte before driving home.
Iron boss on security gates at Welbeck Abbey

29 November 2018

Chorus

Some visitors may recall that I made a song in September. It was inspired by a trip that my adoring wife and I made to Orford Ness in Suffolk.

We were strolling along by brambly briers in late summer sunshine, heading for the old lighthouse that will one day be consumed by the sea. My heart felt light and gay - if I might reclaim that word - and I started to sing.

Instead of letting it evaporate into the ether, I hung on to that tune and built a proper song around it. I wrote down the lyrics and everything and then with difficulty managed to make a YouTube presentation of it. I called the song "Orford Ness" and if you are interested you can still find it here.

Then the week before last we visited Whitby on the coast of North Yorkshire. When we returned, a poem welled up from inside me and I wrote it down, calling it at first simply "Whitby". I shared it with visitors to "Yorkshire Pudding" here.

"Whitby" was just meant to be a poem to read - nothing more but then I spotted this comment from Bonnie in Missouri, USA:-
Bonnie had thrown down a gauntlet that I was happy to pick up.

I am delighted to report that I have now turned "Whitby" into a song called "Whitby Shore". As I worked upon it I felt that it needed a chorus and here it is:-
Unfortunately, I am presently unable to share the finished song with you as my laptop microphone has decided to give me a speech impediment whereby the sibilance of my "s" sounds has become distorted. Nonetheless before too long I hope to make a blogpost featuring  "Whitby Shore" for your scrutiny and possible enjoyment.

I am trying to access a USB microphone that will bypass the built-in mike but Amazon appear to be twisting my arm to join a strange secret cult called "Amazon Prime". They even said, "Congratulations! We are giving you a free trial with Prime!" when I tried to order the new mike but  I have no intention of joining any religious movements - especially when they are run by an organisation that it is striving ominously to take over the world.

28 November 2018

Frugality

Financially, Shirley and I are quite comfortable. We are not rich by western standards but we have savings and we don't owe anybody anything. We have two cars and occasional holidays and we never blink about grocery or utility bills. Our house is paid for and we get rent from our other house - the one that we helped Ian to buy some years ago and later had to take over ourselves.

In spite of this, my default position is frugality. I  don't like to squander money but I do like a bargain. Most of our grocery shopping is done at "Lidl" - our local discount supermarket and when I need petrol for either of our cars I go to the cheapest forecourt in town.

Some of my clothes are pretty old. I have three shirts which I still wear regularly that my mother bought for me in the nineteen nineties and I have a "Kent State" sweatshirt that was a souvenir of my camp counselling summers in Ohio in the 1970's. I don't really care about clothes or fashion as long as my garb is clean and not falling apart.

I guess that I have inherited my frugal nature from previous generations. My mother grew up in a coal mining community between the wars. Her family had very little and in her early childhood life was a grinding struggle to pay the rent and put food on the table. Like many, she bathed once a week in a tin bath in the kitchen.

At the end of the second world war she became a village schoolmaster's wife but she remained money conscious and thrifty to the end of her life. All of her spending was recorded in little notebooks. At Christmastime she set targets for the purchase of Christmas presents for her four sons. It was important that she spent exactly the same on each of us.I still have those notebooks now. It is hard to throw them away.

When I was nine years old, I was desperate for a bicycle. I begged and pleaded and when Christmas Day came the bicycle duly arrived. It was a Hercules but it was second hand and around twenty years old. A handyman in the village had repaired and cleaned it. My heart sank a little but I loved that bike and it didn't bother me overmuch that my mates from the council estate had been given shiny new bikes. Looking back I can see that receiving that secondhand Hercules had much to do with my mother's thriftiness.

My grandmother, Nana Morris, was poor all of her life but she made excellent soup using bones she collected free of charge from the local butcher. Her lavatory was an outside one that you found at the bottom of treacherous stone steps that led to her backyard. Wiping one's nether regions required the use of newspaper squares that had been threaded on to a piece of washing line.

Consequently, it's probably no surprise that I am frugal by nature. We hardly ever throw any food away and vegetable peelings are all composted. Electrical items are never replaced without good reason. First they have to break down and then resist repair. However, being frugal is not the same as being mean. It's just about avoiding waste and unnecessary expense. I contend that if more of us were thrifty the world would almost incidentally reap great environmental benefits.

27 November 2018

Hannah

Hannah with Rosa
Hannah Hauxwell was an accidental media star and national treasure. She was "discovered" by a walker who strolled past her remote farm in North Yorkshire some time in the summer of 1972. Hannah happened to be out and about in one of her fields and soon found herself in friendly conversation with this passing stranger.

It was a meeting that would change Hannah's life because when that walker got back to Leeds he told a friend about the ragged woman he had met. That friend happened to work for Yorkshire Television and as they say - the rest is history.

On the day that the walker passed by, Hannah was living in dire rural poverty. She had land and she had a farm with outbuildings but she had very little else. The farm had no electricity and no water supply. She relied upon a nearby spring for water and a meagre supply of coal for her kitchen range. Her weekly income was around £5.

The rest of her family had gradually passed away years before and so she was left with Low Birk Hatt Farm in Baldersdale and all the responsibilities associated with running such a farm. She was more of a dreamer than a farmer and really struggled to make the place pay. She dressed in ragged clothes and ate frugal meals.  For a long time she couldn't even afford to own a farm dog because of the food it would need.
Though materially she had very little, she possessed a beautiful and radiant personality that for the next thirty years would disarm almost anybody who met her. She was honest, contented and not in the least bit resentful. She accepted her lot and was happy with it. She found pleasure in simple things.

A Yorkshire Television producer built two documentary films about life in the high Pennines around  Hannah Hauxwell and quite quickly she became an unlikely media star.  Viewers and readers admired her spirit and her kind heart. She seemed to represent precious and timeless values in a world that was already becoming technological, interconnected and chaotic. Modern people were already starting to lose touch with fundamental realities that were embodied in Hannah. 

I know all of the above because I have just finished reading "Hannah: The Complete Story" though I can also recall  seeing one of those black and white TV documentaries in the early seventies. The memory of it stuck with me and that's why I bought my secondhand copy of the book when I spotted it at a Sunday morning car boot sale in Suffolk in September.

Hannah died in January of this year having reached the ripe old age of 91. She sold the old farm when she was seventy two and moved to a little cottage in a nearby village. She never returned to Low Birk Hatt believing that such a return visit would "unsettle" her.

YouTube version of "Too Long A Winter"  Hannah comes into the documentary just after the 16 minute mark. This is how she was first introduced to the British public.

26 November 2018

Recollecting

The Coalman
When I was a young boy we didn't have central heating in our old Victorian school house. In wintertime, there'd often be ice on the inside of our single-glazed upstairs windows and the linoleum on the floor felt freezing cold to my naked feet when I leapt out of bed on a January morning.

Dad made the fire downstairs at the crack of dawn. I would usually wake to the sound of him raking out the fireplace below. The coal was delivered to our coal house every fortnight by Tony Chappell whose yard was situated between our East Yorkshire village and the next one - Brandesburton.

The coal was shovelled from his old lorry into thick black hemp sacks which Mr Chappell carried on his right shoulder with ease. His face and arms were always blackened with coal dust when he called round.

Back then very few villagers had their own cars. This meant that there was money to be made from door-to-door deliveries. Of course we had bottled milk delivered to our doorstep every morning but there was also a pop man who brought various varieties of fizzy drink on his lorry. You got money off if you returned bottles from the previous week. My favourite flavours were dandelion and burdock and sarsaparilla. There was no Coca Cola.

There was a butcher's van and every Friday a fish man opened the rear doors of his Morris van to reveal cod, a set of weighing scales, herring, prawns and our mother's favourite - finny haddock which she boiled in milk with a knob of butter. It was our staple meal on Friday evenings - with mashed potato and peas.

Sometimes a troupe of gipsies would pass through the village like visitors from another planet. We marvelled at their rags and exotic appearances. They had no motorised vehicles just unkempt horses to pull their covered wagons. In summertime, some of their sunbrowned and unwashed children would be barefoot. 

The gipsies didn't talk to us and we didn't talk to them. We just observed each other with curiosity but sometimes single gipsy folk would call at our house selling clothes pegs and suchlike and there'd be occasional tramps too - men of the road with boots falling apart. They looked like scarecrows. I remember that Mum was always very kind to the gipsies and the tramps too. She'd buy the clothes pegs and the wildflower posies and she'd give those ragged men mugs of tea and ginger biscuits and chat pleasantly to them before they carried on walking their roads to nowhere.

Nowadays you don't see tramps in the countryside any more and the gipsies of yore have Toyota trucks and long white caravans with calor gas canisters outside. But they are still objects of fear and curiosity to those of us who choose to live in houses. I believe that the gipsies - now often referred to as"travellers" - call the rest of us "gorgers" because we over-consume. I think they might be right about that.

25 November 2018

Sunday

It's Sunday morning and I am alone in the house. Shirley, Frances and Stew are in Tideswell attending a church service. It's another one they can tick off as they seek to fulfil attendance requirements ahead of their marriage.

Last evening we moseyed on down to the Urban Choola Indian restaurant just down the road. We tucked into splendid curry meals but avoided starters as experience has shown that in Indian restaurants, starters will often spoil consumption of main courses. So no basket of poppadoms with chutneys and no onion bhajis or samosas.

Afterwards we strolled back up the hill to our local pub. It was noisy in there - but mostly because of televisions on the walls - blasting out historical Christmas hits. We didn't want this and other customers were also struggling to converse because of the din. Stew asked the bar staff to turn the volume down which they did but later it crept up again.

Terry, a carpenter, who has been a pub regular for fifty years came across to me and said, "It's bloody awful in here nowadays. The manager is useless. No idea about hospitality and looking after his customers!" He was in despair as I sometimes find myself - longing for times before the big refurbishment that changed our comfortable local into some sort of bland sports pub with waxed floorboards where once there were homely carpets.

Anyway, we enjoyed our drinks and had a nice long chat about wedding things - including the contentious guest list.
"A man shaped like a barrel"
A man shaped like a barrel came in for pints of lager. It was Colin the bus driver. Lord knows how his chubby hands manage to reach the steering wheel. Then Sue came in with some of her family. It was her birthday and they had been out for a celebratory meal in the city centre. I noticed how her thirteen year old grand-daughter is already starting to look like Jennifer - Sue's daughter. Jennifer was with her new man - a fellow she met on the internet. She now lives with him eighty miles away  in Middlesbrough and so her two children have had their schooling disrupted. Thankfully, they seem to be settling in well in their new school.

Back home, Shirley and Frances wanted to watch "Strictly Come Dancing" on the BBCiplayer. This show has become a national obsession but I find it mind-numbingly tedious  so it wasn't long before I dozed off. I sincerely hope that I was snoring like a fat bus driver during its transmission. 

The morning is advancing. Tony Blair is talking about the stupidity of Brexit on the television but I need to make another mug of tea and head upstairs to perform my ablutions before the churchgoers return.

24 November 2018

Stuff

A kestrel hovering at Totley Bents last Sunday
This week has ended with grey days. Drizzle and rain and a chill in the air. Night-time arrives in the late afternoon. They have not been days for walking and pointing my camera at country scenes.

There was a pub quiz on Tuesday with Mick and Mike but we didn't win. I reckon we have been quizzing together for over twenty years - week after week. It's nice to have friends like that - with whom you can be yourself. No need to prove anything or try to win points. You can just be yourself.

I worked at the Oxfam shop again on Wednesday. It's amazing to think that I have been going there for four years now - pretty much the same amount of time I spent in higher education in the seventies. It's always interesting to see new donations. You never know what you are going to get. For example, on Wednesday we received an envelope stuffed with used German banknotes from the nineteen thirties. For a moment, I paused to imagine whose hands those notes might have passed through.
A horse at Totley Bents with a railway tunnel vent behind
This week I made  two visits to Sheffield's best printing and art store. I had been given permission by "The Yorkshire Post" to get a certain magazine front cover printed. It depicts our son Ian and his Bosh! colleague Henry soon after their cookbook was launched.

I am reading a book about  a Yorkshire farmer called Hannah Hauxwell. Accidentally, she became a national celebrity in the nineteen seventies. Predictably, I will blog more about her and the read when I have finished the book.
Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital and University Arts Tower
Seen over rooftops from Brincliffe Hill
Last evening Frances and her fiancee Stew came back from London - mostly to attend the church in Tideswell as they continue to fulfil the monthly attendance requirement - in order to be married there next summer. I made them a simple spaghetti for their late dinner with lardons, chopped red onions, sliced and roasted courgette, Parmesan cheese and chopped tomatoes. They seemed to enjoy it after a three and a half hour drive back to Yorkshire in a friend's car. Stew also had the last of my latest apple crumble. For some reason he dislikes custard or cream.

Weatherwise, last Sunday was a nice day. I managed to get out to tread a few miles near the pleasant Sheffield suburb of Totley but after that it all went downhill and our particular sun was unable to pierce that gloomy grey blanket. It could have been depressing but I know that one fine day the sun will smile again and when that day arrives I will appreciate it all the more. 
Farm sign on a tree last Sunday

23 November 2018

22 November 2018

Lesson

Enter! FILE IN QUIETLY! Red! Put that chewing gum in the bin! Bonnie! Tuck your school shirt in and straighten that tie! Late again Meike? Sit down quickly girl and do not glower at me like that! Steve! Put that mirror away!

Settle down now and listen up! I want you to get your exercise books out and write down this title:-
ANIMAL ADJECTIVES
Now. Does anybody know what the term "equine" means?...Yes Lee?

Very good Lee! Yes exactly. Equine means - relating to horses. What about "bovine"? Yes. Good girl Jennifer! Well done! It does indeed mean - relating to cattle or cows.

Now look at the board everybody. Yes - that does mean you too John Gray! And Kylie - please stop looking out of the window! You will see that I have made a chart. There are two columns. This column is for the animal name and this column is for the adjective that goes with that particular animal. Now copy the whole chart into your books. Yes - what is it Donna?...Okay you can visit the toilet but please be quick! Graham and Briony! Stop that and please - keep it private in future!

Okay, let's crack on everybody:-  
Thirty five minutes later... Okay. Is everybody finished? Come on Bob! You are always the last to finish.

There's only a couple of minutes to the bell. Homework everybody! Yes - it is school policy Jenny! I need you to pick two of the adjectives and make up meaningful sentences in which your chosen words are used correctly to demonstrate how such terms can be used effectively in character descriptions.

Ah! There goes the bell! Did I say you could leave yet Ms Moon? And you too Christina! SIT DOWN! The rest of you may go!

21 November 2018

Aliens

People often look up into bejewelled night-time skies and whisper, "Surely, we cannot be alone in this vast universe. There must be others out there. Somewhere..."

And science fiction is awash with tales of space aliens and UFOs and what the US government might be hiding from us in Area 51 in the state of Nevada.. 

Well, my friends, I am now in possession of incontrovertible proof that space aliens do indeed exist and what is more they have been reading this blog!

As I have said before, I will occasionally check out background statistics for "Yorkshire Pudding" compiled by those friendly folk at Blogger HQ. I can see where this blog's visitors hail from. Last month this is what I found at the bottom of my viewing chart:-
154 visits from France, 149 from Vietnam and there at the bottom - spookiest of all - 144 visits from something conveniently labelled "Unknown Region". That means outer space! What else could it possibly mean? The aliens are tuning in here and so I have a special message for them...
_________________________________________________

Dear Friends from The Unknown Region,

I am speaking to you on behalf of all Earthlings in a spirit of friendship and intergalactic understanding. Thank you so much for visiting this humble earthly blog.

Ours is a lovely green planet with sparkling blue oceans. We have mountains and deserts and great forests. We share this wonderful place with a myriad of marvellous creatures from tiny microbes, krill and spiders to blue whales and elephants. Unfortunately, in spite of our progress, the human race seems to be spiralling out of control. The rich still get richer and the poor still get poorer.

We are doing our level best to spoil or destroy what we have got.  There are far, far too many of us. The population of Earth in 1018 was 300 million. Now a thousand years later it is well over seven billion! I am sure you will understand that this huge increase has had a massive impact upon the state of our planet. It is clear that we are losing our grip on things while our narcissistic leaders lack guts or wisdom or both.

If you decide to visit us here, please do not come with animosity or an urge to conquer. Come with goodwill and intelligence and help us to make this world a better place. Show us how we can heal the wounds that we have made and guide us so that we can truly learn the errors of our ways to make a better world for all who might follow us.

Peace and Love,
Yorkshire Pudding

20 November 2018

Poem

Whitby

We’ll sing a song of Whitby town
And the years that have flown by
Waves pounding on the harbour walls
And the guillemot’s sad cry
Of nights we supped
In the old "Board Inn"
As North Sea winds blew hard
Then rolling home in the dark midnight
To rooms up Miller’s Yard.

We’ll sing a song of Caedmon
Just a cowherd so they say
Who charmed the monks and Hilda - she
Who drove the snakes away.
Of days we mended
Broken nets
As we gossiped on the quay
And gulls flew out to fishing boats
Returning from the sea.

We’ll sing a song of poor James Cook
And his ships all Whitby-made
From oaks that grew down by the Esk
May our memories never fade
Of the bold "Endeavour"
That sailed
Oceans unexplored
Red duster flapping from her mast
And Whitby lads onboard.

Yes, we’ll sing a song of Whitby town
And the people that we knew
That plied their trades and earned a crust
Down the alleys where they grew.
Just like the mighty harbour walls
That keep the town secure
With Viking blood
From Yorkshire roots
Their spirit shall endure.

19 November 2018

18 November 2018

Whitby

Whitby Abbey
Whitby is a special place. In my estimation. there is nowhere quite like it upon this planet. Home to some 14,000 residents, Whitby sits on the North Yorkshire coast at the mouth of the River Esk. 

Standing atop the eastern headland there are the evocative ruins of Whitby Abbey. It was founded in the year 657 and became the most significant monastic centre in northern England. It accommodated both monks and nuns and the first abbess was St Hilda. She is associated with Caedmon - an illiterate cowherd - who miraculously received the gift of language and became a renowned Anglo Saxon poet. Along with Viking raids, the Synod of Whitby, Norman influence and Henry VIII's dissolution there is very much more that might be said about Whitby Abbey.
The section of coast upon  which Whitby stands is sometimes known as Yorkshire's Jurassic coast. Many large fossils of prehistoric sea creatures have been found in the cliffs along with many thousands of ammonites. In addition, it is one of the best places in the world for finding the semi-precious black gemstone known as jet. In the town there are several jet workshops and jewellers. Jet is essentially the compressed and fossilised remnant of monkey puzzle forests that thrived almost 200 million years ago. In her mourning for Prince Albert, Queen Victoria wore many items of Whitby jet jewellery.
Statue of Captain Cook in Whitby
Though Captain James Cook was not a native of Whitby, he came to the town as a boy and learnt to be a mariner - sailing on merchant ships around the British coast and across the North Sea to Germany and the Baltic. When he finally joined the Royal Navy, his career rose meteorically and he led famous eighteenth century voyages of exploration to  Canada, Tierra del Fuego, New Zealand and Australia before meeting his unhappy end in The Hawaiian Islands in 1779. Interestingly, his most famous ships - including The Endeavour were all built in Whitby..
Whitby is also associated with the Irish writer Bram Stoker who stayed in the town in 1890. Its legends and its townscape are said to have inspired the writing of his famous novel "Dracula" which in turn spawned a whole horror industry. Linked to this, Whitby now has annual "Goth" festivals when black-clad weirdos arrive from all over the country and beyond to dabble in their black arts and eat chips on the harbourside.

Each summer Whitby hosts one of England's foremost festivals of folk music. Every available room is booked, campsites are filled and the town's many pubs throb to the sounds of sea shanties, laments, songs by Bob Dylan and self-penned ditties about love and loss as guitars are strummed and Northumberland pipes are squeezed.
Cormorants
Arguably, the very best fish and chips in the land are served in Whitby. Down at the harbourside there's the famous Magpie Cafe where Shirley and I had dinner on Thursday evening. On previous visits I have never made it into The Magpie because of long queues but there are several other great fish and chip eateries in the town.

There's so much more to be said about Whitby - from its whaling history to its artists, its seabirds and its salmon, from Charles Dickens to Theresa Tomlinson, from its storms bursting upon the harbour entrance to its legendary 199 steps... but I must not go on and on.

On Thursday night we fell into conversation with a smoker outside "The Duke of York" pub. He said, "It's not a place for religious folk you know. Whitby ends with -by. That means it's Viking not Christian." On the headland just above us the ancient abbey ruins prepared to endure another winter, another millennium. I don't believe that St Hilda or Caedmon would have agreed with him but then again my surname ends with -by so I am naturally drawn to that Viking theory.