15 November 2018

Bothamsall

Shirley and I are going to Whitby today - just a one night stay. It is a special little seaside town on the North Yorkshire coast but I will probably say more about it in another post.

In the meantime, I just wanted to leave a few words about Tuesday's walking expedition south east of Worksop in Nottinghamshire. 

I parked in the village of Bothamsall and enjoyed a lovely eight mile circular walk that also took in the larger village of Walesby and involved crossing or walking beside two little rivers - the Meden and the Maun. 
Perhaps the highlight of this ramble was the detour I  made to see what remains of a remote twelfth century ecclesiastical building called Haughton Chapel. It fell into disuse long ago and was happily crumbling away into nothingness until efforts were made within the last twelve months to halt its demise and to treasure it once again.

Some stonework has been repaired and there's clear evidence of cement pointing. There's also a brand new fence. In one corner of the old churchyard there's a little monument erected by The Royal Canadian Air Force in memory of the twelve young men who died aboard two World War Two bombers that crashed nearby in 1943 and 1944 respectively. So tragic...

14 November 2018

Card

Above you can see my design for a Christmas card. Specifically it is for my daughter's company. She asked me to make it a couple of weeks ago - including cartoons of all twenty seven employees.

That was quite a challenge I can tell you! In a sketch book, I made dozens of practice pen portraits. I had the idea of presenting the twenty seven like a football squad. There's Steve in the middle. He is the entrepreneurial boss. And there's our Frances on the front row in her black and amber Hull City strip.

She joined SourceBreaker just over two years ago and at that time she was the fifth member of staff.

The business is thriving. They occupy office accommodation  halfway up The Shard in London. As I understand it their main raison-d'etre is the creation and delivery of software that assists in the processes of recruitment - making it easier to connect businesses with the right new recruits. Please don't ask me any more! All I know is that Steve's idea has gone from strength to strength.

To create the funny faces, all I had to work with was a single photo of each member of staff but I was very motivated to do a good job. After all many other people will be seeing it because four hundred copies will shortly be printed to send off to clients. Though I say it myself, I am rather pleased with how it turned out.

13 November 2018

Installation

Situated halfway up our garden there is now a new art installation. I know that its title is rather wacky but we call it "Apples in a Wheelbarrow". It partly represents the fruitfulness of the earth. I collected all the the apples myself . They had fallen from our trees. In fact, I collected three full wheelbarrows.

After filling several jars with apple sauce, giving bags of apples away to neighbours and baking apple pies and apple crumble, we still had a mountain of apples to deal with. What was to  be done with them?

Then one day - as I was sitting on the toilet contemplating the meaning of life - I had a sudden flash of inspiration. Art! I visualised a wheelbarrow with apples piled up within it and that very afternoon I set about my task like Damien Hirst creating "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" back in 1991. But instead of a tiger shark, an aquarium and a vat of formaldehyde I had a wheelbarrow and a glut of apples. Small difference. Artists have to work with what they have got.

Though the new installation pays homage to autumn's fruitfulness, it also suggests decay. Within the pile, I deliberately included a number of very bruised apples that are already deteriorating - going mushy and brown like the soil from whence they came. 

12 November 2018

Solo

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
Thousands of citizens descended on Barker's Pool in Sheffield city centre yesterday morning. We were there to commemorate the fallen heroes of World War One - a hundred years after that terrible conflict ended.

The sombre service proceeded and we reached a point where everyone was meant to sing the eighteenth century hymn by Isaac Watts - "O God Our Help in Ages Past...". The brass band played the intro and then bam - it was time to raise our voices and so I did. The only trouble was that nobody else in my section of the crowd was singing. Unexpectedly and slightly embarrassingly I was in effect singing a solo!
The woman next to me had a programme and it was open to show the nine verses of the hymn. I had begun so I couldn't just finish. I had to keep going and so I sang those nine verses at full volume thinking only of those who died in World War One. I was singing in their honour. At times my voice was tremulous with emotion.

When the service was over and the marchers had gone from the square, I felt a hand on my shoulder. A man who was a stranger to me said, "I just want to say thank you for singing that hymn so beautifully. I was really moved. I was standing just behind you. Thank you."

And I said, "I thought everyone was going to join in. Thank you for your kind words..."
Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the op’ning day.

11 November 2018

Remembrance


"There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance..."

- William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
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They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

- Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

10 November 2018

Brexshit

I considered a different illustration for this little blogpost but remembered that some visitors like to eat while they are wandering through the blogosphere. Because of the presence of electricity, barfing on one's keyboard can be injurious to health.

For the past three years, British newspapers have been filled with Brexshit tales. Brexshit this and Brexshit that. Most of us are heartily sick of it.

Half the British public were led up the garden path by those who advocated Brexshit. Increasingly, the pledges and promises that were made appear to be nothing more than fool's gold. Of course many people voted for Brexshit simply to cock a snook at David Cameron and the British establishment and undeniably - just as in the last American presidential race - there was shady Russian involvement

Some Brexshit voters were amazingly naive - such as one of Shirley's uncles who has since passed away. Back in 2016 I asked him why he had voted for Brexshit and he spoke of our country's independent spirit and how we had "won two world wars", claiming that we "don't need anybody else". As I say, he has since died - along with a million other retired Brexshit voters. In the meantime ,a million young people have now reached voting age.

Our beloved prime minister The Right Honourable Theresa May voted to remain in the European Union back in 2016. Her heart isn't really in it and the kind of Brexshit she plans to serve up is nothing more than a dog's breakfast of compromise, delay, tariffs and half-promises. It is an utter and complete mess and like many other British patriots I am very worried about what this will all mean for our nation's economic future. It appears like self-harming on a giant scale. 

It's time to take stock - a reality check - but May and her mob seem determined to leap off the cliff - arguing that this is what the British people voted for. That is a patent lie. We need to stop the crazy Brekxshit before it's too late. We are part of Europe and we can never completely sever our ties with the European Union.

I am reminded of the last lines of "Hotel California" by The Eagles:-

"Relax," said the night man 
"We are programmed to receive 
You can check-out any time you like
But you can never leave!"

Ahh! Saturday morning rant over. That feels better.

9 November 2018

Drat!

"Drat!" is a very mild expletive that I sometimes use when things go wrong. I guess it's better than using more earthy Anglo Saxon expletives that could easily cause offence to those of a sensitive or prudish disposition.

There were a few "drats" yesterday when I went out for another circular ramble in the nearby Peak District. 

As some of you will have deduced from the many photographs I have taken on my multitudinous country walks, I am very much a fair weather plodder. I don't mind snow or ice but I need to see blue sky and sunshine to illuminate my pictures. This is why I keep a close eye on the local weather forecast.

However, yesterday the weather people got it wrong. Instead of sunshine broken by occasional clouds, there was a grey blanket overhead - like a big grey quilt smothering the earth and sucking colour and shadow from the world around me.

I abandoned Clint by the roadside in the village of Calver. He was not too unhappy as there was a foxy yellow Mini in front of him. "Haven't you gone yet?" he hissed as I slammed his tailgate shut and set off with left boot following right boot over and over again like a drumbeat.

I had taken the precaution of bringing  my oversized blue cagoule with me - the perfect item of outdoor clothing for making a memorable fashion statement.. However, in spite of occasional bouts of thin drizzle, I managed to avoid taking said item from my "Converse" rucksack.

Through woods and across fields, over stiles and along narrow Bramley Lane with not a single vehicle passing by. Then over the Bakewell road and up an ancient track to the moors above Calver and Stoney Middleton where hummocks and holes and random historical clues speak of the days when this plateau was exploited by lead miners and quarrymen.

It was pretty frustrating to be out in that grey day knowing that beams of sunshine would have created so many photogenic scenes for me to capture with my Sony bridge camera.
By an old gateway I noticed a squared block of limestone sitting on a rough plinth and  embedded in its top surface there was an old iron plaque with two words engraved - "Ruby's Chair". Who Ruby was and why she needed a "chair" like this I have no idea. Internet research has proved fruitless. I guess that on a sunny day the views from Ruby's Chair would be most splendid but as I say, yesterday was not a sunny day.

From Black Harry Gate, I marched two miles down the valley of Rough Side that merges with Coombs Dale and before too long I was crossing the A623 road and plodding back to Sir Clint of Calver. 

Near the traffic lights there is a coffee shop called "Insomnia" and after stepping inside,  I treated myself to a large latte and a ploughman's sandwich which I enjoyed while seated at a corner table. Simultaneously, I  consumed another chapter of the book I am currently reading before heading home once again. This is life on the wild side - close to the edge. Well, Longstone Edge maybe.
Another horny sheep baring her teeth at me

8 November 2018

Knives

Samuel Baker (15) stabbed to death in the Low Edges 
area  of Sheffield on May 24th this year. His 
killer was another fifteen year old boy.
Sheffield is famous for knives. Even today, some of the best knives in the world are made here 

However, in recent months, knives have been hitting the local headlines for a very different reason. Knife crime is on the rise in some neighbourhoods and this has resulted in several deaths and stabbing injuries. It is very concerning.

It's the same in London - but on a bigger scale. This year 115 people have been stabbed to death in the capital. The victims are nearly all young men of Afro-Caribbean heritage. Frequently, gang issues related to territory, drugs and/or grudges are at the heart of these horrible attacks but sometimes innocent passers-by  have been targeted and there have been several cases of mistaken identity.

Thank God it's very hard for people to get hold of guns in this country. There seems to  be a lot of anger out there - amongst young men with little status and limited prospect of making something of their lives through honest endeavour. They often come from broken, chaotic homes and no doubt enjoy films that include violence and killing. The same with computer games.

Something is amiss. It is too easy to focus in on the perpetrators of knife crime. Society and government should be looking closely at how our young people are schooled. We should be looking at youth services and pathways to work and we should be looking at policing and the alleviation of poverty. Several factors underlie the rise in knife crime and if they are not addressed as a matter of urgency  the problem will only grow bigger and many more young men will die.

What can be done? What do you think? ...Rest in peace Samuel Baker.

7 November 2018

Leaf

This is a beech leaf that I picked from an overhanging branch in The Derwent Valley just yesterday. I was walking with my lady to the ruins of Derwent village which normally sits below the surface of Ladybower Reservoir. She hadn't been there before.

There were many leaves like that one - mostly scattered beneath the trees that bore them. Every autumn leaf is slightly different from the next one and I don't know about you but to me each leaf is rather like a mini work of art - kindly created for us  by Mother Nature.

6 November 2018

Addressing

Nebuchadnezzar by William Blake (circa 1795)
I know that this will come as a huge surprise to many who visit this blog, but my real name is not Yorkshire Pudding! That is just a pseudonym I adopted for personal reasons in order to hide my true identity and thereby frustrate ill-intentioned searchers.

My real name is Nebuchadnezzar Smith. 

Now I have absolutely no problem when friends or acquaintances address me by my first name. That's sociable and nice. "Hi there Nebuchadnezzar! How are you doing?" or "May I buy you another drink Nebuchadnezzar?" Sometimes these known people even abbreviate by name and I don't mind that too much - "Lovely weather today Neb!", "Neb! Good to see you buddy!" etcetera.

If I could turn now to e-mail communications from businesses. They are definitely not my friends and I very much prefer that my relationships with them should be formal and business-like Consequently, I bristle with annoyance whenever they address me by my first name without my agreement.

Take yesterday for example - I received an e-mail from my gas and electricity provider - Octopus Energy. Instead of writing "Dear Mr Smith", they began their message with "Hi Nebuchadnezzar". Previously, I informed them that I did not appreciate this pally form of address that would have been considered outlandish in past times. The people at Octopus Energy are not my friends. They are a profit-focused service business and I resent their deliberate strategy to create an illusion of friendly togetherness. I want distance.

Octopus Energy are by no means alone in this. It has become a widespread and rather sickening e-mail communication habit. Insurance companies say "Hello Nebuchadnezzar"  while Booking.com and Trip Advisor say "Dear Nebuchadnezzar" as if by getting personal they have really got me on board their ships.

To all businesses or service providers I deal with I always want to be "Mr Smith" and never "Nebuchadnezzar". As customers and clients we have allowed this misplaced informality to develop over recent years and I guess that very few of us have raised any form of protest about it. In the final analysis, I know that I am like King Canute trying to turn back the tide but that still does not make the presumptuous informality right and proper.
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Keen observers of this blog may recall that I  tackled the same subject back in December 2015 in a post titled "Salutations"

5 November 2018

Sheep

Let us return to Friday afternoon at Edale End Farm. Instead of crossing the farmyard, the fenced public footpath wound round the back of the farm buildings. I turned the corner and there were two hundred sheep corralled into this long confined area. It was only six or seven feet wide.

When the sheep saw me, panic ran through the flock and they squeezed up even more. I have often had this effect on women. One of the horny ones rattled the fence by butting it but there was no way out, They were trapped by The Yorkshire Pudding Monster.

Yet I had my own dilemma. To proceed with my country walk, I had to progress through this ovine blockage to the wooden stile at the end. Momentarily, I pictured myself being trampled to death by dozens of  silently hysterical sheep.
I edged closer to the flock and they squeezed up even tighter than before. There were a few "baas" but mostly it was a quiet scene. I sensed their flock mentality - thinking and acting as one - not like individuals. I hoped to stick to the fence and push my way along and then good fortune kicked in.

One of the old girls decided to make a dash for it - running past me to the empty part of the path I had just walked along. And when  she went another fifty sheep bravely followed. It was like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube.

The sheep did not speak. There were no leaders shouting, "Come on girls! Let's go!" Their escape choices were communicated telepathically. With three more of these sudden bursts, all of the flock got past me and you know - as they ran past - not one of those sheep touched me. I would have counted them but feared I might fall asleep.

Why were they there? I think the farmer had deliberately sealed them in the space pending some act  of animal husbandry. Perhaps they were about to be wormed or simply inspected but it all added a frisson of unexpected excitement to my peaceful rural ramble. And what is more - I lived to tell the tale!

4 November 2018

"One"

"One" by Carole King
The 2018 version

Poetic phrases come to mind
Whenever I find injustice being done
And I wonder, what am I gonna do
What am I gonna do

What can one do except be one
Talking to two, touching three, growing to four million
Each of us is one
All of us are one

Open your heart and let the love come shining through
And you will do what you need to do
To know just where the other you is coming from
We are one

It just amazes me that I can be
Part of the energy it takes to serve each other
And I wonder, what am I gonna do
What am I gonna do

What will we do
We’re gonna run
Reach for the sun
Come together as one
Show ‘em how it’s done
At the end of the day we’ll be able to say
Love won.

3 November 2018

Circuit

At Hope Cross
My silver companion, Mr Clint, was parked at the junction of Fullwood Stile Lane and Edale Road, north of the village of Hope.

"How long are you going to be this time?" said Clint with an undertone of irritation in his voice.

"About three hours. Maybe four," I replied as I pulled my boots out of Clint's rear end.

"I suppose I should be happy you've parked me here," he said.

"What do you mean?"

"Well I can see some sexy European babes as they come across that bridge over there. Did you see that Fiat 500 that just passed by? The coffee coloured one?" drooled Clint. "She winked her left headlight at me."

"You dirty dog!" I exclaimed, reprimanding my lusty South Korean friend as I pressed the "Lock" button on my Hyundai keyfob and set off on another circular walk.
The Roam road to Hope Cross
Up the narrow lane to Fullwood Stile Farm - crossing the railway track that traverses The Vale of Edale. Then I met the old Roman road that heads up the valley side to Hope Cross. 
It was a long steady climb. The swathes of bracken - so vigorous and green in summertime  - had all turned golden brown like ripe tobacco. Occasional ragged sheep observed me plodding by. I was walking quite literally in the footsteps of Roman soldiers who had regularly tramped that little track almost two thousand years before.
Edale - illuminated like dream scenery
How beautiful daylight can be in early November. I marvelled at my favourite valley down below - lovely Edale - illuminated like dream scenery - and beyond were the brooding moors that separate the east of northern England from the west. A toy train moved like an arrow on its way from Sheffield to Manchester.
Slack Barn in The Vale of Edale
Hope Cross marks an ancient moorland crossroad. Here drovers, jaggers, thieves and farmers rested a while in days gone by. I opened the nearby galvanized gate to allow two mountain bikers through before descending to Jaggers Clough. Then up again and then down the long diagonal track that leads to Clough Farm. Here I turned west by the little River Noe and enjoyed its wordless company all the way back to Mr Clint. 

"Wake up! Wake up!" I called  for he was sleeping - zeds emerging from under his silver bonnet - or what Americans call a "hood". Funny that. I thought a "hood" was where dangerous fellows wearing gold chains and baseball caps hung about dealing drugs and suchlike while voicing indecipherable rapping lyrics. Yo!

"Errr...you're back! What time is it?"

"Three thirty. Let's go home."

This was just yesterday.
At Edale End Farm two hundred sheep were blocking the public footpath

2 November 2018

Americans


Behind the scenes, Blogger allows blogmakers to check out their visitor statistics. As this is a British blog, the biggest number of visitors have invariably and understandably hailed from the British Isles. However, this year I have seen an American takeover and the USA now sits comfortably in top spot.

For example, last month "Yorkshire Pudding" attracted 7412 visits from the USA and only 4535 visits from Great Britain (aka "The United Kingdom"). Incidentally, in third position came another English speaking country - Australia with 1239 visits recorded and fourth came Canada with 779 visits.

Now - how do I feel about this American takeover?

To tell you the truth, I'm rather pleased. As I have confessed before, I am an unashamed Americophile and during my sixty five years I have fortunately been to The States several times. There are lots of things I love about America including its natural beauty, its varied landscapes, its creativity, its bustling cities and its people...well, most of them!

In my opinion, we should never put all of the inhabitants of a country in one basket. In that respect, generalisation is usually a form of unconscious racism. For example, you might hear someone say "I love the Greek people" or "I hate the French". These are stupid remarks because each Greek is different from the next and the same is true of French people. 

Inhabiting an especially wealthy and powerful country that spawned great international media empires and produced "Coca Cola", Microsoft and Ford cars, Americans often come in for unfair criticism.  It's easy to knock those who walk in the spotlight and I have heard countless thoughtless and ultimately stupid remarks about Americans such as "Americans are big-headed", "Americans know nothing about the rest of the world", "Most Americans are obese and exist on fast food and fizzy drinks", "American women are sexy", "Americans are naive". It's the generalisation that is so wrong. Don't you agree?

America's present population is 326 million. As with Greeks, each member of that vast community is different from the next. There are still many thousands with Native American blood in their veins and there are black trumpeters and professors, war veterans pushing shopping trolleys filled with all of their worldly goods, people who live in cabins deep in the woods, Latinos. Muslims, loners and party goers, nurses and nutcases, inventors and fishermen, wheelchair users and dancers. 

America is like one of those wonderful handmade quilts that adorn so many American beds - a patchwork of differences - shapes and colours and stories. So I say hello to any American visitors reading this blogpost and thank you for calling by. You are very welcome here and please -  Have a nice day!

1 November 2018

Update

As longtime visitors to this blog will appreciate, 2018 has been a very significant year for our beloved son Ian. In April, the vegan recipe book he wrote with his his old school friend Henry was launched at a special event in Borough Market, London. Since then the "Bosh!" book has sold very well - much better than expected. At one time it was the best-selling non-fiction book in Britain  and top of the Amazon uk bestsellers list too. It is now our nation's best-selling vegan recipe book of all time and has received many plaudits.

Today, November 1st, is another special day in the "Bosh!" journey. The book has been shorlisted in the Food and Drink category of The National Book Awards 2018 sponsored by Specsavers. The winner will announced at the awards ceremony on November 20th.

You can see "Bosh!" at the top of this post - alongside the other nominations - "Nadiya's Family Favourites", "Prue" by Prue Leith, "Cooking on a Bootstrap" by Jack Monroe, "Jamie Cooks Italy" by Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi’s "Simple"..

Apart from anything else, it is amazing to see a vegan recipe book in the mix for this prestigious award. And if Ian and Henry do not get the final nod, they can still be immensely proud that their baby made it into the final six. All will be revealed later this month.

Today is special for another reason in "Bosh!" World. Ian and Henry will be announcing some very big news to their legions of fans and internet followers. After keeping it under wraps for ages, they are going to tell everybody that their second plant-based cookbook will be out next April - exactly a year after the first one was launched. It will be called "Bish! Bash! BOSH!" and this time the book design theme colour will be green, not orange.

How will it do? Only time can tell but already the signs are good. Going vegan is becoming more and more newsworthy and Harper Collins publishers know what they are doing - that's for sure.
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LINKS
"Bosh!" YouTube Channel
Ian on Channel 5 News this very evening - 1/11/18