30 May 2019


Please picture a mile. Imagine walking that mile in one straight line. That mile represents the size of The Earth.

Now imagine flying round the planet. A full circuit would be just under 25,000 miles. That is too far to walk but most of us can imagine a non-stop round-the-world flight returning to the city we set off from.

Now imagine repeating that orbital flight until you have completed forty circuits of the planet. You will have travelled a million miles in total. 40 x 25,000 = 1,000,000 (one million). That million represents the size of The Sun.

Picture it. That single mile you walked (The Earth) and those forty round-the world flights (The Sun). This ball we are all living on is not much more than a speck of dust compared with that ginormous fiery orb which shines upon us day after day. When you lie on the grass in summertime you can pretend to hold The Sun between your thumb and index finger but of course that is just an illusion connected with the fact that The Sun is 93 million miles away - in other words the equivalent of 3720 round-the-world flights.

These thoughts and calculations arose after hearing Professor Brian Cox on the radio yesterday morning. He informed listeners that The Sun is a million times bigger than The Earth. Wow! I must admit that until now I had never really appreciated the sheer enormity of the  size difference. Our planet is roughly the size of an ant on a hot air balloon.

My apologies to visitors who had already grasped this.

29 May 2019


"Jenny-O" is the pseudonym of a friendly blogger from Nova Scotia, Canada. Her blog is "Procrastinating Donkey". Most Mondays she promotes a poetry challenge. It is a challenge I have taken up several times. Usually you just get a title to run with.

I don't know why - maybe it's just that I am a contrary kind of fellow - but the line I take on these poetry challenges is to come up with something that is a bit out of the ordinary, perhaps defying the expectations of the task setters.

Let's take Monday of this week for example. The title we were given was "The Tool Shed". What would you produce if indeed you felt okay about creating a poem?

I thought about an allotment on the edge of a city in a river valley. I thought about an old shed where the allotment owner would not only store tools and pot plants but where he might shelter from the rain, eat sandwiches and wrestle with terrible urges. I imagined him as a middle-aged  adult still living with his mother, a loner, someone who could never fit in. Someone very quiet with disturbing fantasies. I imagined children playing around the brook, under the trees at the bottom of the allotments and Roger tempting them back to his tool shed. This is what I came up with:-


It was where he would take them
Roger I mean
He had an allotment
Down by the brook
Where he grew vegetables
And rhubarb
His mam made crumbles and pies
She loved those pink stalks
"Good lad Roger!" she'd smile
With pride in her eyes.
They say that there were five
But it could have been more
The youngest of them
Was just turned four.
The paper reported
That he hanged himself
But the rumour persists
It was somebody else.

Looking back through the annals of "Procrastinating Donkey", here's another poem I contributed - in July of last year. It's now resurrected. The challenge was "Music". I thought about birdsong and what mankind is doing to our wild creatures. The poem is set somewhere in the future - perhaps not too far away:-


Once there was music
Often the sources were unknown
Especially in jungle or forest
You would walk along
With accompaniment
From the green canopy above
From shady branches
Or from shrubs close by
Mellifluous and practised
Rising or falling
Woven patterns in the air
Or single note staccato
Sweet as honey
It was the soundtrack of our lives
All is quiet
So very


In May of last year, Jenny-O asked for "Rain" poems and I contributed one I had previously written which contains echoes of my East Yorkshire childhood:-


All through that night
And into the following day
It rained.
We tried to shelter
In the lee of trees
By the crossroads
Where we used to play -
Fine at first
The droplets grew,
Plothering from oak leaves
Under that leaden sky
Till sodden the verges
And the old road
Muttering rivulets
Flowed down Harrison's Hill
Gurgling to gutters
Replete with water
While wet as fish
We splashed home
In the endless rain,
The endless

I have been writing poetry since I was seven years old. The urge to create poems rises and falls but it never disappears. It's always there. Perhaps you could suggest a new title for me or an idea for a poem. I hope to be inspired by one (sensible) visitor suggestion and to publish that new poem here in "Yorkshire Pudding".

28 May 2019


This picture was taken ten days ago on Hillary Step leading to the summit of Mount Everest. When I first saw it, I assumed that it had been cleverly photo-shopped. But no - this is reality. A hundred climbers are queuing to get to the top, like bargain hunters outside an electrical store on New Year's Day waiting for the sale to begin.

Waiting around up there on the world's tallest peak cannot be a good thing. The air is so thin and it is awfully cold. Being up there can do funny things to your mind. Surely the climbers need to keep moving, get to the summit and then turn back, heading down, hopefully, to safety. There should be no queuing.

Other thoughts cross my mind about that picture. Firstly, the climbers all appear to be wearing state-of-the-art climbing apparel - lightweight and well-insulated. It's very different from the gear that Norgay Tenzing and Edmund Hillary were wearing when they made the first successful ascent on May 29th, 1953. There were certainly no queues that day.

Most modern climbers approach Everest from the Nepalese side. They will have flown to Nepal from faraway countries with yet more money in their banks and a burning desire to stand on top of the world's tallest mountain (8,848 m 29,029 ft). Later, if they survive, they will be able to tell their friends and families that they have crossed Everest off their bucket lists -"It was awesome!" 

To secure  permission to scale the mountain a climber has to buy a pass from the Nepalese government. It costs around £8000 or US$10,000. Then there are local mountain guides and carriers to pay along with insurance, food supplies, tents, sleeping bags etcetera. Getting to the top of Everest does not come cheap. 

I will probably never see Everest - let alone stand on its lofty peak - but it has a place in my heart. Back in 1943 my father visited Everest base camp while walking and climbing in the high Himalayas. Ten years later I was born - in the very same year that Tenzing and Hillary reached the top. Subsequently - in the spring of 1970 - I met Lord Hunt at a reception in St James's Palace, London. John Hunt was the leader of the 1953 expedition.

There's something quite distasteful about the top picture but that distaste is hard to pinpoint. Perhaps it's to do with human urges to conquer all that the natural world has to offer.  Perhaps it's to do with western affluence and having funds to squander on such a selfish enterprise. Perhaps it's the recognition that there are many other high peaks in The Himalayas - maybe not quite as tall but much quieter, just as challenging  but rarely climbed.

Another thing about that mountain is that it can so easily take your life. Eleven climbers have died on Everest this season. What about the loved ones left behind? What are they supposed to think?
Chrisopher Kulish (62) - an American lawyer
and now Everest's latest fatality
From "The Denver Post" - yesterday:-

27 May 2019


Two of my favourite blogs are "Bless Our Hearts" and "Sparrow Tree Journal". Recently and separately the erudite authors of these blogs referred to feeling blue. No particular reason, Just an ineffable sense of feeling down in the dumps. 

For both Jennifer and Mary that dark, empty feeling may have been just a fleeting phase. Perhaps now they are back in the sunshine again. I hope so.

Their references to their black moods stuck with me and I thought about them even as I was rambling from Youlgreave the other day. We all want to be happy, to embrace happiness every day of our lives but in spite of ourselves most of us are incapable of nailing our colours permanently to the happiness mast.

Our moods rise and fall like currency graphs. We may don emotional armour and display to the world out there that we are okay when sometimes we are crying inside. The reasons are usually impossible to pin down.

Of course one might feel blue when bad stuff has happened. The loss of a pet. An unpleasant remark from a friend. Stress at work. Catching a nasty virus. But very often blue feelings can threaten to overwhelm us without reason or logic. You just feel down - secretly inside yourself. And more often than not you don't talk to anybody about the sensation. You just carry on, hoping that the graph will rise again.

We are all social beings but there's a part of each one of us that feels solitary. It's that voice inside our heads. The one that pulls us this way and that. Criticising us, complimenting us. There when we wake and there when we fall asleep.

Yes. It would be good to buzz with happiness every day of our lives but that's not the human way. We have our vulnerabilities, our hopes, our fears, our regrets. Arguably, we might be incapable of relishing periods of happiness if we didn't also have our dark days.

Through this blogpost, I wish to come out and admit that like Jennifer and Mary I also feel blue from time to time. The ever present voice screams silently inside and I torture myself with past failures, wondering when or if happiness will shine again. In a dark dungeon water drips and an unseen creature scuffles in the corner. That's just the way it is.

26 May 2019


 Yesterday I headed off to the Derbyshire village of Youlgreave under an early summer sky. There I parked up ahead of a pleasant country walk. No more than two hours long.

It took me out of the village along an old track that led to green meadows where sheep and cows grazed. The grass was lush and sweet. 

A pair of women with a dog had just passed through the field I was approaching and the young cows within it had become skittish. I arced  around them but as I headed for a squeeze stile through the boundary wall, they moved towards me as one. I turned to yell at them, waving my arms about like a windmill and that made them visibly hesitate but it was only a brief delay.

I guess they thought I was a farmer with salt or food supplements to dish out. It was  a relief to get into the next field where another herd was waiting.
After passing through a large  eighteenth century farm complex called Meadow Place Grange, I descended to Lathkill Dale - a beautiful valley that bisects the landscape and contains the very lucid River Lathkill. I walked beside it for half a mile before climbing up the opposite side of the valley.
Later, back in Youlgreave, I entered All Saints - the parish church. I photographed the stone carving of a pilgrim set in the north wall. It was created in the middle of the twelfth century - around 1150. Approaching the altar and between the choir stalls there is the alabaster tomb of a local landowner who was killed during an argument in 1488. He was Thomas Cockayne. I would suggest that his tomb must  get in the way of many church activities. It is very unusual to find a chancel obstructed in this way.

25 May 2019


Theresa May
(With apologies to Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark)

Theresa May, you made the right decision yesterday
We heard your message on the radio, you failed completely so you're going to go
Those prayers we prayed, we were sure that they'd come true someday
Uh huh Theresa May, it's great that you are going away

It's 8:15, that's the time that it's always been
We got your message on the radio, you failed completely so you're going to go

Theresa May, is mother proud of little girl today
Uh huh, these cheers we raise, they're never ever gonna fade away

Theresa May, you made the right decision yesterday
We heard your message on the radio, you failed completely so you're going to go
Those prayers we prayed, we were sure that they'd come true someday
Uh huh Theresa May, it's great that you are going away

It's 8:15, that's the time that it's always been
We got your message on the radio, you failed completely so you're going to go

24 May 2019


I feel okay today but sixteen unbroken hours in a polling station can take the wind out of one's sails.

In the middle of the afternoon a familiar woman appeared in the church hall. I recognised her from the Oxfam shop. She is about fifty with long grey-blonde hair. Slender and combative Miss James carries a long stick to guide her for she is partially-sighted.

Down at Oxfam where she likes to peruse the book shelves while claiming she is totally blind, I remember once offering to assist her. She turned on me like a she-wolf complaining about the shop's lighting. "Who ordered these lights? They're terrible! I'm blind. Without good light I can't see a thing! No! No! Get away from me. I don't need your help!"

She is very cantankerous. While most of us like to get through our days without confrontation or unpleasantness, Miss James seems to actively seek these things so when she appeared at our polling station my heart sank a little.

It turns out that she knew very well that ours was not her assigned polling station. In fact, she had just come from her own polling station a few streets away following a typical argument in which she had ended up ripping a ballot paper to pieces in front of the poll clerks. They must have wondered what had hit them.

In our church hall she was all sweetness and light as she sought clarification on the election process. She didn't blow up too much when I said I knew she was partially sighted. "No I am not! I am registered blind. Can I read that booklet myself?"

She was just having a breather, recouping her energy before returning to her own polling station to fire more broadsides at officials who surely hoped they had seen the last of her. We found all of this out from the polls inspector who has to rove around the different polling stations checking that everything is flowing smoothly.

I guess Miss James fell asleep happily last night as she recollected her various fights at the post office, the green grocer's, on the bus, at the charity shop and in the  polling station. "Ahhh! Another most satisfactory day!" she may have sighed as she looked forward to more confrontations on Friday.

23 May 2019


Today is cancelled. It's just gone midnight and I am away to bed but I will be up again at 5.45am ready to drive down to my allocated polling station. I will be there until 10.15pm working as a poll clerk at the European Union Parliamentary Election.

Britain voted to leave The European Union in June 2016 but we still haven't left and so the country is obliged to participate in these elections. The whole thing is an utter mess and as time goes on one wonders where our confused politics will lead and how we can ever return to a state of political normalcy. 

The thing seems broken and who can possibly fix it? The hapless Theresa May seems destined to resign in the next few days and her right-hand woman - Andrea Leadsom has already resigned as Leader of the House of Commons. Perhaps she intends to go for the top job but she is as unimpressive as the other candidates plotting leadership bids. In my opinion, the worst of these is the bumbling Boris Johnson - currently the bookies' favourite. The guy is a clown and a liar to boot. He was the worst Foreign Secretary ever to occupy that high office.

Brexit is like a death wish. We should never have been asked the simplistic Leave/Remain question in the first place. Ignorant people now grumble: "Just get on with it" or "We voted leave so we should leave". They seem to disregard the complicated ramifications of this misguided decision and fail to appreciate the benefits of European unity,

And so today, still in Europe, we vote for candidates and parties who may never take up their seats in Brussels or Strasbourg. You couldn't make this up. I will intersperse the hours at the polling station with cheese and tomato sandwiches, bananas, mugs of tea and biscuits as voters drift in to put their crosses in the various meaningless boxes. It's called Democracy.

22 May 2019


I baked fish pies - served with french beans and buttered carrot batons. We had dinner early and then I set off in the car (aka "Clint") - heading off for an evening walk in gorgeous May sunshine.

At the road junction, fifty yards from our house there had been a road accident. A Volkswagen car was on its roof and people were standing around looking puzzled. The police and ambulance hadn't even appeared yet. 

The situation caused unexpected delay and I was late arriving at my starting point on the Baslow road  well south of Sheffield by Big Moor.  The sun was now lower in the sky than I had anticipated.

I descended to the valley of Millthorpe Brook along an old cart track known as Car Road. In an adjacent bluebell glade I disturbed a deer. It bounded off before I could reveal my camera and switch it on. I have missed some of the best pictures that way.
Part of the herd
At Bank Green, I needed to cut across some green meadows along a little used public footpath. There was a small herd of dark brown cows there. I think the breed may have been Red Poll. They looked at me with great suspicion as if perhaps I might have been sent  by the local abattoir. I noticed a group of adolescent calves amongst them and a certain tension in the herd. They were starting to panic. Then a muscular young bull arrived through a gap in the hedgerow and it was as if he was snorting, "What the hell is going on?"

No reply was necessary even though I can talk bull quite fluently. I decided it was wiser to backtrack then find a different way to descend to Millthorpe Brook. I noticed sunlight illuminating trees above the valley while below bluebells were already bathed in shadow waiting for night to fall (see the top picture).

Round in a circle and then the long slog back up Car Road until I was once again in evening sunlight looking out over the wide expanse of Big Moor. 

It was half past eight and time to hurry home ready for the pub quiz at "The Hammer and Pincers" with the two Michaels. By the way, we won one of the main prizes. Our brains still retain some useful information such as the fact that "Goldfinger" is not only the title of a James Bond film, but the name of a banana too.
Car Road heading to Bank Green

21 May 2019


"This call will be recorded for quality and training purposes"... "This call may be recorded for monitoring purposes"...

You hear such statements frequently when entering telephone conversations with businesses or even government departments. Sometimes the subject matter of those conversations will be very innocuous and yet still we receive that recording advice...or is it a warning?

It never used to happen. Before effective recording technology came along you just had two way conversations. Nobody was recording them.

I sometimes wonder where all these recordings are kept and who exactly accesses them. Though I have never tried it myself, I wonder what the response might be if we phoned companies back and requested copies of the recordings or said, "Can you just play back the bit where I was talking about my insurance claim?"

How long do they keep the recordings? Are they sometimes bluffing when they say that the call will be recorded? Is it all just some kind of power game in which the customer or client is made to feel self-conscious, small and somehow defused?

Once or twice when I have been irritated or badly served by a company, I have retorted, "Aye and I want to warn you that I am also recording you for monitoring purposes!"

To me all this one-sided recording of innocent citizens is slightly sinister. They don't even ask. "Would you mind if we recorded this telephone call?" I don't think it has anything to do with "training" or "quality" - it's all about gathering evidence that might possibly be used against the caller in the event of a dispute.

Rant over.

20 May 2019


A week ago, Ian and Henry were on their way to The British Book Awards annual ceremony at The Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Their first book had been nominated in the Non-Fiction Lifestyle category.

They hired tuxedos and went along more in hope than expectation... but damn me - they won it! And here they are being interviewed straight after the ceremony for The British Booksellers' website:-
That happy evening, "Bosh!" also won a second award for their marketing campaign.

"The British Book Awards" are undoubtedly this country's top annual book awards and I cannot tell you just how proud and delighted I am with Ian's continuing success. The "Bosh!" story goes on.

19 May 2019


Whirlow Farm - The Barn
Ohhhhhhh...No I wasn't recording sounds from the bridal suite. Ohhhhhhh... is the sound of me moaning about my hangover. I haven't had one of those in a long time. I have woken up far too early which doesn't help matters. That's why I rarely drink whisky. It seems to disturb my sleep.

Ohhhhhhh... It was a great day. The humanist ceremony was held in the garden of the old farmhouse, Fortunately, the threat of rain subsided even as a massive grey cloud trundled over the suburbs. In the middle of the ceremony, there was time for reflection as we all listened to "Una Mattina" by Ludovico Einaudi. Hedge sparrows chirped in the bushes, doves cooed above the barn and a crow cawed as he flapped effortlessly across the sky. It was as if they were part of the music.

Soon champagne was being dispensed. No sooner was one's glass empty than waiting staff were filling it up again. And there were endless canapes too. Ohhhhhhh...

In the great barn where two hundred lambs are born each spring, 150 guests settled down to an Asian thali meal. And there was wine too. And there were speeches. Lamb was not on the menu.

As the maid of honour, our Frances delivered a lovely speech about Charlotte and their friendship. She had thought it through so cleverly and it was conveyed with grace and unhurried confidence. 

I gave the happy couple a wedding album having had Wednesday's photos printed off at Boots pharmacy before slipping them into the transparent pages. Charlotte and James were delighted with it and I gave them a memory stick containing the photos too. But yesterday, I deliberately left my camera at home.

Later there was dancing and "Black Sheep" and "Moonshine" beer. Feeling like a spring lamb myself, I danced like a dervish as the pretty young things cleared the floor in awe of my rhythmic athleticism and musical interpretation skills. Ohhhhhhh...

We came home twelve hours after we had arrived - in something called an "Uber". It is a kind of taxi service which usually discriminates against people like me - people who do not possess mobile phones. In fact, in several ways we are becoming a persecuted minority.

At home, Frances said that one of her friends had seen me weeping at the wedding service and I admitted that water had indeed leaked from my eyes. I explained this by pointing out that Yorkshiremen are not afraid to reveal their emotions. We might be hard as nails, up for a fight, normally stoical, made of Yorkshire grit but we are also sensitive souls. What's wrong with the tears of a sixty five year old man - running down his cheeks as a girl he has known for twenty seven years ties the knot? Guilty as charged.


18 May 2019


It was a happy morning in sunny Sheffield on Wednesday. I had the privilege of taking wedding photographs at the Town Hall for my daughter's best friend Charlotte and the young man of her choice and her dreams - James.

Bizarrely, when we arrived at The Town Hall, there was a gathering of climate protesters on the front steps. It wasn't long before they staged a "die-in" - lying down here and there to suggest that the extinction of the human race may be just around the corner if we don't wake up. I tend to think that they are right.

The civil ceremony was a simple affair witnessed only by immediate family and me. Afterwards, we walked out into The Peace Gardens for more photos before drinks were taken outside Brown's bar and restaurant.

I left the happy scene before the little wedding party all went on to enjoy a celebratory meal in Silversmiths Restaurant.

The main wedding celebrations will happen later on today at a community farm on the edge of the city. There's a huge barn that has been decorated and organised to accommodate a hundred and fifty guests. There will be another non-religious wedding ceremony followed by feasting, drinking and dancing.

Every wedding is an act of hope for the future and lord knows we need more hope in these topsy turvy times. Good luck to Charlotte and James. It was an honour to play a small role at the launch of their married life.

17 May 2019


Church Street, Honley
In Tuesday's glorious sunshine, I was keen to walk in unfamiliar territory. My drive took me north of Sheffield via Stocksbridge and Langsett. I was on the road to Huddersfield but at Holmfirth, I branched left for Meltham and that is where I parked my silver hire car. 

I was no longer in South Yorkshire. This was most definitely West Yorkshire - once home to countless textile mills that tapped into the power of Pennine streams. Meltham shelters some nine thousand souls.  The older houses are all built from hard sandstone. They are solid and they endure - just like the Yorkshire character itself. Once wool and cotton workers inhabited those streets but most textile industries collapsed long ago and places like Meltham have had to discover new ways to exist.

From Meltham I walked through woodland to Honley where I treated myself to a small  bag of deep fried potato fingers - what we in England call chips. I shook malt vinegar and salt upon them  then sat on a shady bench consuming them along with a cold can of diet Coca Cola.
Old timer sitting on a wall in Honley. He said he was "All right".
Somewhere in Honley I managed to lose my house key. It must have escaped from the zip pocket on the front of my camera case. Fortunately, I did not also lose the key to the hire car which would have caused untold inconvenience and would also have incurred a £300 replacement fee.

I was kicking myself about losing the key but I still enjoyed the rest of my sunny walk via Netherton and Blackmoorfoot Reservoir, then on to the charming village of Helme where a woman on a chestnut black horse passed me by for a second time.
Luckily, my house key was attached to a clear plastic key ring into which I had inserted our telephone number on a  green label. And as luck would have it, soon after returning to Sheffield I received a call from Honley. A woman named Rachel had found the key and had kindly left it in the village foodstore. 
Abandoned Lord's Mill - an old woollen mill near Honley
I have just sent the shop a stamped addressed envelope so that they can mail the house key back to me. Sometimes it is easy to forget that most people are like Rachel - kind, helpful and honest. They don't get as much airtime as they deserve - rather like Kourtney...
By Whitehead Lane,  South Crosland - cow number 600937 - aka Kourtney

16 May 2019


I bought a book called "The Walker's Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs" by a fellow called Tristan Godley. At times it was quite an irritating book to read. It contained far too much information and it seemed as if the author's whole interest in walking was connected with the spotting of various signs.

He explained a whole array of methods we might use to determine compass directions from the shape of trees to stars in the sky and from lichens to church architecture. All very interesting but to be truthful - when I am out walking I always know where north and south and east and west are simply by looking at my map. It's not as if I am walking in a featureless wilderness.

In two of the chapters, Godley describes a journey he made to the heart of Borneo, seeking to pick up the travelling techniques  of  Dayak tribespeople. Deep in the jungle, he heads for a village called Long Layu with two Dayak trekkers. They follow signs such as the direction of streams and birdsong. They are at one with Nature. Finally they make it to Long Layu but Godley has nothing to say about his destination. Nothing to say about the people who live there and the homes they have crafted. It's almost as if  the destination is insignificant. It's the getting there that matters.

Godley often refers to courses he leads in reading natural signs when walking in the great outdoors and at one point he refers to a "shepherd's hut" in his garden where he does all of his writing and his studying.

There's much of interest in the book. Maybe too much. As I say, it sometimes felt like a case of "information overload". For me, walking is often a meditative process of exploration and observation. I don't wish to spend my walking journeys collecting information like a scientist on a field study weekend. I want to think as I walk along, to dream, to remember and to see. It is an holistic experience and knowing where North is is never high on my agenda. In contrast,  for Tristan Godley it's probably his top priority.

I made it through 400 pages, reading every word and there are certainly a few nuggets I will take from this book but in the final analysis I am glad that the thirteen hours hours of reading are over.

13 May 2019


We are in the habit of having Sunday dinner in the evening whereas the majority of British people have it in the middle of the day. Yesterday, I roasted another basted pork loin joint - accompanied by roasted carrots, broccoli, new potatoes, apple sauce, homemade gravy and of course the obligatory Yorkshire puddings. This was all washed down with a bottle of South African sauvignon blanc. Not New Zealand wine for once. Sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone and go really wild!

Earlier on, it being a lovely spring day with fluffy white clouds scudding slowly from the south west, I went for a constitutional walk on the southern edge of the city. 

There was a long uphill climb from Blacka Brook until I reached the green plateau on Totley Moor where long ago there was once a sheep farm. Then I skirted up the quirkily named Wimble Holme Hill and saw a small group of  deer trotting through the woods below. One of these deer bathed noisily in a little stream but it was impossible to get a decent photo of him or her through the foliage.
Horse in a fly mask at Hallfield Fram - on yesterday's walk
Where the path round the hill meets Moss Road, I saw a family heading up (see the top picture). It might have been  reminiscent of  a scene from "The Sound of Music" but one of the girls was glued to her mobile phone and the dad was wearing a baseball cap.

Monday morning and Clint has just been taken away for bodywork repair following the accident we suffered a week ago. I will be picking up a hire car this afternoon - all part and parcel of my insurance arrangements. In the meantime, I guess I need to get some garden work done as our grass and privet hedges look like they need haircuts. The dormancy of winter is long gone.

12 May 2019


Late last night I watched Joni Mitchell on BBC 4. It was an "Old Grey Whistle Test" clip from 1974. She was singing "A Case of You" from her iconic album, "Blue". Let me share that same clip with you:-
Hell, that was forty five years ago though the song itself is older still. There was a strange beauty about Joni Mitchell but what was most beautiful was her ability to speak intimately and poetically to listeners through self-penned songs. She had so much to say about what it means to be human. Genius comes in many different forms but in my view, Joni deserves that label.
A Case of You

Just before our love got lost you said
"I am as constant as a northern star"
And I said "Constantly in the darkness
Where's that at?
If you want me I'll be in the bar"

On the back of a cartoon coaster
In the blue TV screen light
I drew a map of Canada
Oh Canada
With your face sketched on it twice
Oh you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling
Still I'd be on my feet
oh I would still be on my feet

Oh I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I'm frightened by the devil
And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid

I remember that time you told me you said
"Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine
'Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
Oh, you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling
And I would still be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

I met a woman
She had a mouth like yours
She knew your life
She knew your devils and your deeds
And she said
"Go to him, stay with him if you can
But be prepared to bleed"

Oh but you are in my blood
You're my holy wine
You're so bitter, bitter and so sweet

Oh, I could drink a case of you darling
Still I'd be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

11 May 2019


Weatherwise, the week that has just passed by has been dreary. Up here in the north of England (Up North) we have had  good amounts of rain and the golden orb has mostly been hidden by clouds. However, we needed a week like that to water the land, top up the reservoirs and fill the streams.

The dreariness has made photo walks problematic but yesterday, before the rain returned, I managed an hour long stroll from Ringinglow, down into the valley of The Porter Brook and up the other side along Clough Lane. I saw a bee investigating purple and blue spider flowers (Centaurea montana) by the side of the lane and later, after Clint had agreed to me reading in the driver's seat for an hour, a million silver raindrops splattered the glass.

I came home to roast slices of lean loin pork on a bed of sliced onions, mushrooms and yellow pepper. And there were Jersey potatoes and chopped pointed cabbage too. All ready for when Her Majesty returned from The Health Centre with tales of smears, inoculations and coils. It's always nice to chat over dinner.

And then I zoomed out to Walkley on the west side of this city where a little folk concert was happening in some allotments above The Rivelin Valley. It was to raise money for the local Food Bank which my friend Mike is involved with. He was also playing with his band - Dogwood Rose. I  wanted to support him. After all, he's a granddad now! Hi Gramps!

Back home, I felt the call of The Pub and who was I to deny this? I went down there at ten thirty and supped four pints of Tetley's bitter talking to an enigmatic but kind-hearted chap called Craig. I have known him for twenty five years.

Later still, The Beloved Daughter arrived home after travelling Up North earlier in the evening and heading straight to a friend's birthday party. She was a little tiddly after the consumption of alcoholic beverages but we spent an hour chattering about this and that before bedtime. How do I love that young woman?  Unconditionally and forever.

10 May 2019


Today I was going to post Sandy Denny's "Who Knows Where The Time Goes?" but when I checked  back I found I had already done that - see here.

So then I thought I would post about our old cat Boris - the one that never came home - but upon looking back I found that I had already done that too - see here.

What could be my blogpost for today? I thought I might write a poem about one of Antony Gormley's iron men, standing on the beach at Crosby near Liverpool but again backtracking proved that I had already done that  - see here.

Perhaps I could post about my feelings upon retirement from teaching, But once again, I discovered that I had already done that - see here.

In fact, as I came up with several more "new" blogpost ideas I found that they had also already been addressed. There was nothing "new" about them at all. They were already done. Consequently, instead of publishing a fresh post today, I decided to just guide visitors back to four earlier posts. See above.

I have travelled a long way with my alter ego - Yorkshire Pudding - covering so many topics, sharing so many images, writing so many things. 3045 blogposts and counting.. I wonder if the reservoir has finally dried up. We will see what tomorrow brings for as Scarlett O'Hara correctly said, "Tomorrow is another day".

9 May 2019


My father-in-law Charlie was a lovely, gentle man. Born the son of a farmer, he spent his entire life working hard upon the land west of The River Trent in an area of Lincolnshire known as The Isle of Axholme.

It was a two hundred acre arable farm upon which he grew barley, potatoes, leeks, turnips, sugar beet, cabbages and broad beans in rotation. Mostly he worked on his own - ploughing, sowing, spraying, harrowing, mending and finally harvesting. He spent countless hours out in those flat fields - alone under the wide Lincolnshire skies with only an Alsatian dog for company.

It was a simple life of seasons passing and the rise and fall of agricultural prices. In his fifties, he built his own modern bungalow to replace the tumbledown farmhouse where my wife grew up. And when I say "built it", I mean he built it with his own hands unlike Sir Christopher Wren or Frank Lloyd Wright.

In his early seventies, Charlie contracted prostate cancer which ate away at his body and after a short battle with that beast he died in Scunthorpe Hospital. This was back in 2000. He should have enjoyed more years but at least he got to see and love his grandchildren - unlike my father who was dead at sixty five.

Long after Charlie died, we discovered that he had kept a diary for many years. As a farmer, he recorded plantings, harvests, prices and weather matters. He always kept a close eye on the weather - measuring rainfall and temperatures.This was more than a hobby for his livelihood partly depended on fluctuations in the weather.

But when he retired at the age of sixty eight, he continued his diary entries and I remember one of them very vividly - "Nothing happened. Nobody came. Nothing on TV. A very boring day.". And there were similar entries about nothingness and dull, empty days.

Maybe the reason I remembered this is that I believe we all have days like that. The blogosphere, celebrity news and social media driven lives seem to fill us with expectations that something should be happening all the time. There should be a buzz, things to write about, maybe even boast about. Excitement, events, phone calls, friends. But the reality is that some days are quite empty. Not much happening. Nothing to say.

That's a part of life that some people struggle to accept.

8 May 2019


Early May means bluebells. In Sheffield's southern suburbs we have a tranche of ancient woodland known as Ecclesall Woods. That's where you will find the city's best bluebell glades. I must have taken "Yorkshire Pudding" visitors there before.

Yesterday afternoon, I was back in the woods and sure enough our lovely wild English bluebells were out in all of their subtle glory. Experience has taught me that they are difficult to capture with a camera. That dappled light, the shadows of trees, sunlight piercing the canopy. It's tricky.
A jay on a log in Ecclesall Woods yesterday
But I keep trying. There's something magical and other worldly about a haze of bluebells carpeting a woodland floor. They arrive from history and myth, marking the passing of years like a solstice. In spite of climate change, these bluebells will surely crowd the woods  and ring silently in countless Maytimes beyond my life.

Two years ago, I wrote this poem after a similar bluebell walk. I was pleased to revisit  it and make a couple of tiny changes. I hope you won't mind me sharing it again:-

In Bluebell Time

They came back.
A haze of indigo, purple and violet blue
Swirling across that secret glade
Like morning mist 
Drifting the mottled shadows
Under gnarled and timeless trees
Where invisible thrushes carolled
In the heart of those fairy woods.
And it was lovely and it was blue.
Tumbling down to the brook
And all along the margins of the path.
I bent and held a single stem against my palm
Silently pledged no hurt nor harm
To see them dangling like drops of rain
To see the blueness once again.
Yet they made no ringing or jingling sound
As they reclaimed their ancient ground.
What joy and truth was thereby found
To see the bluebells all around.

And five years ago, I wrote this bluebell poem after walking in Ecclesall Woods. I imagined a young man strolling with his sweetheart before going off to France to play his part in what is sometimes laughably known as "The Great War". Cannock Chase was a military training site in Staffordshire where thousands of Yorkshire recruits spent a few days before heading out to the horrors that lay ahead of them:-

I left you in the bluebell time
Afore that summer's foliage
Carpeted those paths we walked
In shadow.
I clasped you by a gnarled beech tree
And felt your urgent heart
Against my chest -
And the lovely bluebells
Hung like mist
And life seemed like a story
Of hope and yes, of love...
But I left you in the bluebell time
For Cannock Chase
And khaki games of war
No bluebell kisses
And no words to say
Those awful things we saw.

7 May 2019


Two things to report from yesterday. One good. One bad. Do you want the good news first or  the bad news?

Oh. Okay. I can hear you. Please don't shout! The good news...

Regular visitors to this humble Yorkshire blog may recall that several days ago I painted a peacock. No. I didn't grab a living peacock from a zoo and slap some magnolia emulsion paint on the screaming creature - I mean that I painted a peacock on a canvas to echo the wallpaper design in our "master" bedroom. You may remember that I wanted to have a go at a very different painting of a peacock and yesterday I managed it.

I based my painting on an image I had found on the internet. Before beginning my peacock I studied the photograph carefully. Rather than tackling the whole peacock, I decided to just paint a picture of its head. I had to remind myself that I was creating a piece of Art and not a replica of the photo image.

When I was eighteen, one of my three A level subjects was Art but the only oil painting I ever created at that time was an extra large image of a woman hanging up washing in a northern alleyway. They hung that picture in the school canteen. Painting with oils is very different from watercolour painting. Different techniques are required and different expectations. It is also a more costly process and more messy too.

However, I am pretty happy with how my second peacock turned out:-
Now to the bad news. 

Emerging from an awkward road junction that Clint has negotiated a thousand times before, he managed to bash into the side of a taxi. The damage caused to Clint's frontage and the side of the taxi appeared more or less cosmetic for it was a very low speed accident. However, knowing how expensive car bodywork repairs can be, this is an event that I have had to report to my insurance company. If only our lives had rewind buttons so that we could backtrack and erase unpleasant happenings before they happen. I admit that I was probably daydreaming about peacocks. It was my fault entirely.

6 May 2019


Finally, I have got round to sharing this splendid letter with you. It was sent out from a local primary school in March of last year when school was cancelled for the day because of heavy snow:-
In a world where children are faced with far more don't's than do's, it was most uplifting to find a headteacher asking children to go out and enjoy the snow. Perhaps he was remembering his own childhood and the fun he had in wintertime. There's affection and a real understanding of what it means to be a child in that letter.

It is easy to imagine a different school warning children about the hazards of playing in the snow. Advising them in a curmudgeonly way to stay safe and to complete homework tasks designed to fill an unexpected day off. 

I wonder what OFSTED - the government's school inspection department - would make of Mr Stewart's letter. Their bristling condemnation would probably explode like Chernobyl.

5 May 2019


That's our Frances on the right and there's her friend Charlotte on the left. They are having a little girl dinner in our garden. How many years ago was that? I guess that they are about eight years old in the picture so it would have been around twenty two years ago.

They have been friends since they were three years old and they are still friends now. They enjoy a special bond. They attended the same play group, the same primary school and the same secondary school before going on to the same university - The University of Birmingham.

Later, like Frances, Charlotte gravitated to London for work and after some romantic disappointments she met James her handsome husband-to-be. She is going to marry him on Wednesday of next week in Sheffield Town Hall. And on the Saturday afterwards there will be a proper wedding party at Whirlow Farm with food and music and dancing and beer and wine and flowers. Frances will be the maid of honour.

I have been asked to take photographs at the Town Hall civil ceremony that will probably only have half a dozen people in attendance. That is an honour for me but I hope it is a nice day with good light to illuminate those special moments.

Like our Frances, Charlotte has always had a proud, independent spirit. She is thoughtful, intelligent  and funny. It's quite splendid that both young women are getting married in the same calendar year and of course Charlotte will be the maid of honour at Frances's wedding.

I wish I had a friend like that - someone who has been very close for an entire  lifetime. But I left my East Yorkshire village long ago and I have no one like Charlotte. It must be lovely and rather comforting to have friend like her. A fellow traveller. Someone you will still be close to even when you grow old.

3 May 2019


Home alone and feeling drained. Shirley has flown off to Lisbon, Portugal for a long weekend away with the other nurses from her health centre.

Yesterday, I spent fifteen hours working as a poll clerk for the local elections. I was up at five thirty and at my assigned polling station by six fifteen. I didn't leave there until ten fifteen at night. The pay for this work is terrible but it is interesting to be part of the basic democratic process. 

There was a list of the seven hundred and fifty electors who live in the electoral ward. Mostly the names were Anglo Saxon with a just a smattering of names from other cultures. There were a lot of things you could read into the list. There were houses of multiple occupancy inhabited by university students. There were widows and divorcees, nuclear families, affluent families and even a lord of the realm who had hurried back from London by train. The three hundred people who bothered to vote were generally polite and friendly and I got on very well with the other poll clerk - a chap called Andy. That made the day much more bearable.

He shared something awful. Sixteen years ago this month, his sixteen year old daughter was killed in a car accident. That has got to be an awful memory to live with. I guess it never really goes away.

Anyway, it was a very long day so perhaps it is no great surprise that I have felt washed out today. I have also got a sore throat and have had another attack of  laptopitis - otherwise known as computer failure. This time I have had a new hard drive fitted for £90 so hopefully we will get far more than a week's extra service from the thing. I am typing on it right now.

I don't feel like going out. I might have a big glass of  New Zealand wine while watching The World Snooker Championship semi-finals  courtesy of the BBC. The event takes place each year at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield but in all the years I have lived here, I have never ventured down there to watch a live game. Maybe next year.

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