30 September 2020



"Oh no!"

"What's wrong honey?"

"Just checking into  Blogland. That goddam Yorkshire Pudding guy!"

"What has he done to upset you now?"

"Another goddam blogpost about walking in the countryside!"

"What's wrong with that?"

"It's just so goddam tedious. And it makes me feel so goddam lazy!"

"Where's he been this time?"

"Some goddam Derbyshire village called Old Glossop. Then he has walked up onto the moors like a goddam sherpa!"

"Are there pictures Bob?"

"Yeah. Come and take a look honey."

"How delightful! I like that picture of the rocks with that city beyond. Where might that be Bob?"

"I guess it's goddam Manchester."

"Oh, don't be silly Bob! Manchester is in New Hampshire. Everybody knows that."


Gatepost at Mossy Lea Farm

"The Queen's Arms" in Old Glossop

29 September 2020


It's one thirty in the morning. I went to bed early - at midnight, confident that I would soon be in slumberland. But nothing happened. Sleep refused to embrace me. 

After an hour and twenty minutes, I got up and came back downstairs. Mug of tea and two ginger biscuits. D.J.Trump on BBC World News  brazenly trying to smother criticism of his tax dodging. Apparently it is all "fake news".  Shouldn't a president play by the rules?  He even dodged Vietnam with a made-up medical condition.  It is outlandish that the guy even gets to stand for president.

I think there's two reasons I could not sleep. Firstly, the now regular Monday afternoon trip to a local pub to meet up with chums. I am just not used to drinking beer at that time and it kind of upsets my equilibrium. It didn't help that I had a half hour nap after our evening meal.

Secondly, I am worried about a huge bill for repairs and upgrading at my daughter's flat in north London. It's as if she and all other homeowners on her street have walked into a terrible trap engineered by Haringey Council. It's going to break some people and she has cried a few times about it. Not a good thing when you are twenty seven weeks pregnant. Of course it's okay for the council tenants who occupy flats on the street. They won't be landed with huge bills. It all seems so unfair and it has been preying on my mind since I heard the awful news last Wednesday.

It's now past two am. The tea is finished. The blogpost is almost done. I want to go walking in the day ahead. Good weather is promised. Like last week, Tuesday is going to be the best day. Perhaps sleep will come to me at the second attempt. I need it if I am going to head out for a walk. Night-night.

28 September 2020


I wish I was a cow - well maybe not a cow as they are girls - perhaps a big, gentle bull. Life would be so peaceful. I would not feel the cold. I would graze for hours with my friends. There would be no talking. After all - what would there be to talk about?

Grazing on the valleyside, I might notice the passing of days. Light into darkness. Darkness into light. And the passing of seasons. The coming of winter. The arrival of spring. There would be hot and there would be cold. Nothing to worry about.

If human beings entered my orbit, I would look up at them momentarily with my big brown eyes before returning to the very meaning of life - to graze upon the green grass. Those humans would scurry away somewhere as they always do. Somewhere over the rainbow perhaps.

I took these pictures yesterday, above The Porter Valley before returning home to get started  on a major Sunday dinner for six. Menu:-

Roasted pork loin
Homemade Yorkshire puddings (dreamlike)
Cauliflower cheese
Chopped red cabbage in apple sauce
Roasted potatoes
Mashed potatoes
Courgette cubes tossed in butter and thyme
Roasted carrots
Homemade gravy
Homemade apple sauce

For dessert Shirley had made a tarte-tatin which we ate with Cornish ice cream, custard and double cream. Each meal was calculated to contain eleven calories but of course there was wine too...from Italy, Australia and France.

And all the time the quiet cattle above The Porter Valley were munching grass as another night fell and October drew closer. From the trees came the hooting of an owl and from the city came the insistent bleating of an ambulance siren - faraway. Carried on the autumn breeze like music.

27 September 2020


The Island of Hydra in 1978. I am twenty five years old. This is the island where Leonard Cohen lived with his Marianne. White houses with terracotta rooftops tumble down to the harbour like jumbled Lego bricks. I have been sleeping on a pebbly beach along the shoreline. Swimming and reading books, consuming the printed words like food. Soaking up the sun.

Solitary but not lonesome, I wander into the town for my one indulgence – an evening meal in a taverna with two or three beers. Lamb kleftiko, Greek salad, stuffed tomato. The tables are arranged upon a spacious terrace overlooking the harbour’s twinkling lights. An almost full moon is reflected in the bay and there are stars a-plenty. 

A mixture of Greek and more familiar pop music oozes from hidden speakers. The volume is lifted as the Mediterranean blue and white tables are cleared. More drinks are consumed. Dancing happens in the middle of the terrace. There’s even that “Zorba the Greek” tune. Initial inhibitions start to melt.

Midnight passes. A smiling woman’s small hand grasps mine and I am there in the middle with the rest of them. We are dancing and laughing unselfconsciously – Greek and English, German and French, American and Dutch. United Nations. Yes we are dancing. Maybe twenty of us. 

A current popular song leaks from the speakers. It is “Because the Night” performed by Patti Smith and her group. We have formed a circle, arms around each other and we are whirling, having fun. All as one. Turning and laughing. Looking into each other’s eyes. All from different places. United by the song and we are singing the familiar chorus. Our voices echoing along the narrow white alleyways that lead down to the harbour. 

It is one of my signature memories of the Greek islands. That particular August. That particular place:-
Because the night belongs to lovers
Because the night belongs to lust
Because the night belongs to lovers
Because the night belongs to us
The barman puts it on again and the night really does belong to us. Yes - we whirl like dervishes. Briefly, the rest of the world does not exist.

Of these things I shall say no more. It was long ago and far from here.

26 September 2020


Onion bhajis with wild garlic
Yesterday we met up for lunch with  Stewart's parents at "The Rising Sun" in Nether Green - another suburb of this Yorkshire city. Not  "Love in the Time of Cholera" but "Lunch in the Time of  Covid". Masks? Check. Hand Sanitiser? Check? Contact details provided? Check.

We were given disposable copies of the Autumn menu. Shirley said, "Where's Heresy?" I think she was imagining a fishing village on the coast of Northumberland or Suffolk. I  was somewhat puzzled until I read the text for the second "main meal" on the menu; "Heresy battered cod with golden handcooked chips and mushy peas". The mistake made me laugh out loud. What the pub's chef had  meant to write was "Heritage battered cod", not "Heresy" which of course principally means "belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious doctrine".

I thought there might be some one-horse town in America called Heresy but apparently there isn't. Heresy, South Carolina or Idaho would make a good setting for a scary film with ghouls, zombies and suchlike. And of course the residents would all enjoy battered cod.

Fishermen of Heresy (by Frank Meadow Sutcliffe)

Another menu item was  - Vegetarian burger with bhaji and paneer etc.. Making a silly joke, I asked the ginger bearded barman/waiter if it was an "argy-bargy"? I got absolutely no response from him and it turned out that he had never heard of the expression "argy-bargy" - sometimes spelt "argie-bargie". It means a kind of ruckus, argument or noisy dispute . Oh, and if you didn't know, that word "bhaji" is from the Indian subcontinent and it means "a small flat cake or ball of vegetables, fried in batter."

The expression "argy-bargy" has been around in Great Britain for more than a hundred years and all four of us at the table were astonished that the young man had not encountered it. When it comes to language, it's so easy to make wrong assumptions like that. I am sure that the young man habitually uses some words or expressions that I have never heard of. No doubt he was muttering them behind his spotted coronavirus mask when we walked out.

We left him a £5 tip. After all, we were in the pub for three hours  and in case you imagined otherwise, I only drank one pint of beer, called curiously "Daily Bread" by the Abbeydale Brewery from this fair northern city.

25 September 2020


BOSH! on "Blue Peter" last night

There was a collective sinking of hearts throughout these islands this week. Worries about coronavirus figures have caused a reversal in our efforts to get back to some kind of normality.. The Blonde Buffoon appeared on our TV screens in a glum mood emphasising words like "must", "should",  "death" and "sorry". Of course, not one  "sorry" was related to his blundering leadership.

Partly for blogging posterity, let me relate the latest coronavirus figures for Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Yesterday there were a further 6634 cases and 40 new deaths. The figures are clearly starting to rise back up as in France and Spain. Total figures for our country so far - 416,363 known cases, 41,902 deaths. Deaths per million citizens equals 616.

In comparison, here are the overall  figures for Florida, USA -  693,040 cases,  13,795 deaths making the deaths per million rate 642.

Having followed the statistics from the start of this ****ing pandemic, I have  become very suspicious about calculating procedures in different countries. There should be a consistency of approach but there clearly isn't. In any case, how on earth would authorities gather accurate numbers in Malawi say or Bolivia? And what about Putin's Russia? They claim to have had 1,136,948 cases but only 20,046 deaths. Could there possibly be political influence in the reporting of Russia's figures? Surely not!

Anyway, I went down to the local pub last night to chat with Bert and Steve. There weren't many customers in and we had the tap room to ourselves. It was table service only and you had to be out of the pub by The Blonde Buffoon's 10pm closure time. If not sitting at a table you have to put a mask on. So depressing to be heading back in time and there's Christmas up ahead. What will it be like this year?

University students are being told to stay in their rooms and it is mooted that they won't be allowed to travel to their family homes for Christmas. Jobs are disappearing down a black hole - hundreds of them. This ****ing thing goes on and on. I am bloody sick of it. Aaaaaargh!

But on a happier note, our lovely son Ian and his mate Henry appeared live on Britain's most famous children's TV show last night - "Blue Peter". It was a "green" edition of the show - filmed in Manchester. They cooked two vegan dishes from their new recipe book and the only other guest on the show was the great David Attenborough though his piece was filmed at an earlier time. Ian and Henry both received green "Blue Peter" badges before heading back to London by train - first class seats courtesy of the BBC.

Can you see Ian's "Blue Peter" badge?

24 September 2020



Seeding dandelion caught in morning sunlight

More pictures from Monday - the day that a red grouse kindly posed for pictures.

I had woken up far too early. Could not get back to sleep so showered, filled my flask with water, grabbed a banana and my car keys and headed west. Over the hills to Glossop. 

"What the hell is going on?" grumbled Clint - unused to such early starts.

I  parked him safely on Whitfield Avenue, donned my boots and had set off walking before 9am. I noticed an old building with a big plaque in the middle of the first floor. It was once The Joseph Hague School but now it is two residential properties. Here's the former school:-

And here's a close-up of the plaque. If only all wealthy people were so public-spirited:-

Soon the moors were rearing up in front of me. Because I was on my own  I could plod along at my own pace, resting occasionally to catch my breath. After passing a remote grouse shooters' cabin, I reached the triangulation pillar on Chunal Moor.

I sat by the pillar, unpeeled my banana and unscrewed my stainless steel flask. It was good to sit up there with not another human being in sight, enjoying the last summery morning of the year.

Soon I was descending the moors. I met another lone walker - a Lithuanian woman who was panting up the hill, getting her ten thousand steps in. We stopped to talk for a while. She was a nice person with a happy demeanour. I said as I sometimes do, "It was nice to meet you". 

And then I reached The Worm Rocks:-

In "The Four Quartets" Thomas Stearns Eliot wrote, "In my beginning is my end" and so it is with this particular blogpost. Earlier in the morning I had stopped by Ladybower Reservoir to take this picture:-

23 September 2020


The red grouse is a ground-nesting moorland bird. Standing as tall as a bantam chicken it is unique to the British Isles.

Many is the time that I have been startled by red grouse when rambling on heather-clad moors. The birds rise up making their familiar cackling sound. They are understandably wary of human beings. After all, instead of cherishing this splendid bird,  there is a segment of our society who apparently find pleasure in blasting them out of the sky with their rifles. They call it "sport". The segment to which I refer is  99% male and wealthy. Most grouse killers were educated in private schools and have reactionary political views. Most of them don't even eat the grouse after they have "bagged" them. It is estimated that they kill half a million grouse each shooting season (August 12th to December 10th)

Grouse shooting has a big impact on the ecology of natural moorland. Huge swathes of our moors are burnt each year in order to stimulate new heather growth. Fresh heather shoots form the staple diet for young grouse. The burning of heather adds tremendously to Britain's carbon footprint and negatively affects the ability of spongy moors to retain water.

The rich and rather secretive grouse shooting fraternity employ countless gamekeepers who are known to  persecute other moorland creatures such as mountain hares and raptors like buzzards, red kites and peregrine falcons. The grouse shooters call this "environmental control" or "moorland management". Ha!

Yesterday, as I walked from Glossop up onto the wild moors to the south of the town, I spotted not one but a pair of grouse sitting on a drystone wall. I pulled out my camera and tried to photograph them but the sun was shining brightly behind them. The resulting images were little more than backlit silhouettes. Disappointing.

However, twenty yards further up the track I looked to my right and saw another red grouse sitting on a drystone wall. This time the sun was in my favour and I was no more than five metres away. Furtively,  I pulled out my camera again and managed to take ten pictures of the bird before he or she flew away. I have chosen three of those pictures to illustrate this blogpost.

It was a magical minute.  In my considered opinion, the only shooting of red grouse that should be allowed is indeed with a camera. No guns. Grouse shooting belongs in history books - not in modern times. Grouse should be appreciated as the beautiful creatures they are - not as private targets for privileged dimwits.


22 September 2020


Coffika - Ecclesall Road, Sheffield

Lovely weather again yesterday. Here in the wilds of northern England we have enjoyed a fortnight of golden days as Summer reluctantly passes her baton to Autumn. I would have been out walking somewhere - plodding along yet  more miles of public footpath and quiet lane.  However, socialisation got in the way.

At ten in the morning we met up with four other sixty somethings in "Coffika" - a refurbished coffee shop on Ecclesall Road. We didn't leave there till just before midday. There were Frances's in-laws - Cheryl and Pedr and old friends Linda and David. We rabbited away happily and at one point I was prompted to tell the story of my brother Paul's death in 2010, including the traditional Irish wake and the funeral phases. Ten years and it still seems like a dream.  Why can't I speak to him on the telephone?

There was a three hour gap before the next event listed on my crammed social calendar. In that gap I ate a peppered salami and cucumber sandwich and visited a picture framery to arrange the framing of a tea poster that Frances and Stewart brought back from their honeymoon in Sri Lanka. It will be her thirty second  birthday present yet  in spite of the quoted price, the frame will not be crafted from precious metal. Ah well, you're only thirty two once.

Three o'clock found me in the beer garden of "The Hammer and Pincers" waiting for Mick, Mike and Danny. Another two hours of happy conversation lubricated not by coffee but  by foaming pints of Stones best bitter. I have been meeting up regularly with Mick and Mike for twenty five years now. Ex-policeman Danny is a more recent addition and he's nice enough. It's good to be at ease with people you like - just being yourself as the talk flows along like a Peak District stream. Nothing to prove.

I rode home on the 88 bus with my face covered and as usual prepared the evening meal - slices of Sunday's roasted pork in gravy with mashed potato, green beans, roasted courgette cubes and of course the pièce de résistance - Yorkshire puddings that I had saved in our freezer.

It is now six fifty on Tuesday morning and unlike yesterday my social diary is blessedly empty. Shirley will be working all day and the weather forecast is again benign  so it's a great opportunity to ramble on my own once more. I will be driving over the hills to Glossop and plodding a few miles south of there. Socialisation is all very well and good but you cannot beat your own company and the undulations of your private thoughts.
"The Hammer and Pincers" in past times before suburban growth
absorbed it into the city. Once it stood by a toll road in glorious isolation.

21 September 2020


Tomb of  Robert 4th Baron Willoughby (1349 to 1396)  in Spilsby

In the last twenty four hours, Yorkshire Pudding office staff have been inundated with e-mails, texts, tweets and telephone calls - urging yours truly to publish more photographs from our week in eastern Lincolnshire. For example, Briony in Brighton said, "I beg of you to show more Lincolnshire pictures!", Donna in Colorado said, "Please tell Mr Pudding I really need to see more photos from his recent vacation" and Dave in West Cork, Ireland wrote repeatedly, "More pics! More pics! More pics!"

I was planning to post  a story about a rich brat called Trump and how he bullied and intimidated other kids and counsellors when he attended summer camp near Binghamton NY in the early nineteen sixties but that draft post has now been deleted in favour of more Lincolnshire imagery. To quote Paul Weller of The Jam, "The public gets what the public wants".

In St Peter's Churchyard,, Wildmore
Riverside in Boston
Egret at Freiston Shore
Coningsby Church
"The Britannia" public house by the river in Boston
Eastern Europeans picking purple sprouting broccoli
Two black cows at the sea bank - Wrangle Flats

20 September 2020


Neil Oliver is a Scottish  academic and TV presenter. He specialises in matters archaeological and historical and is passionate about both. His interest in the past can be quite infectious.

A couple of days ago I finished his four hundred page book "The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places". As the title perhaps suggests, each of the hundred chapters focuses on a different location in order to colour in the long history of this amazing archipelago on the edge of Europe.

Neil Oliver's style of writing is accessible, intimate and bubbles with enthusiasm for matters historical. Each time I picked up the book it was with a sense of eager anticipation. Turning the pages was never a chore.

However, I wish that the book's title has been "My Story of the British Isles in 100 Places" and not "The Story". I say that because there was a distinct bias towards Scottish locations and even in several of the chapters that were ostensibly focused on English, Welsh or Irish places the author often couldn't stop himself from weaving in Scottish connections.

Of the hundred "places", twenty two were in Scotland and only five in Yorkshire - even though Yorkshire has a larger population. And there were only eight chapters that focused upon Irish locations. I accept that Neil Oliver is a proud Scotsman but as a historian his nationalism ought to have been put aside - unless the book was to be titled "My Story..."  or perhaps it might have had an introduction in which the Caledonian bias was acknowledged.

There isn't a chapter on the historically important city of York or chapters on northern England's great industrial cities like Bradford, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. Queen Victoria is only mentioned in passing. Perhaps there could have been a chapter devoted to Windsor Castle. Britain's second city - Birmingham is also bypassed. And what about The Beatles' Liverpool? What about Stratford-upon-Avon? What about Sir Frank Whittle - inventor of the jet engine or Emily Pankhurst or The Jarrow Crusade? What about Epworth near Doncaster where Methodism was born?

Even the cover of "The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places" is biased towards Scotland. We are looking at an illustrated map of  these islands but it is Scotland that takes centre stage. That cannot be  co-incidental.

I was very involved with the book as I read it and I guess that if you are Scottish or have Scottish ancestry you will enjoy it even more than I did. It taught me many things and gave me much food for thought.

Neil Oliver

19 September 2020


Gargoyle on the porch of the parish church at Wrangle

Where land and sea merge and apparently the sun always shines brightly from a sky blue coloured firmament. We are leaving the east coast of Lincolnshire in a few hours. It is just after midnight now and as usual I am up  late with the owls, the badgers and bats and all other creatures of the night.

Around four o'clock yesterday, I drove a couple of miles to the village of Wrangle for another walk on the sea banks. Shirley opted to stay back at Curlew Cottage reading and  knitting so it was pretty much the first time we had been apart in seven days.

Earlier we had been back in Boston itself - walking out to the port area. Then we paid historic Fydell House a visit. Built in the early eighteenth century by a wealthy wine merchant, the house was frequently visited by the famous botanist Sir Joseph Banks whose family home was at Revesby Abbey - some twelve miles away.

Another visitor was Joe Kennedy - father of JFK and Bobby and Ted. Joe became the US ambassador to Great Britain in 1938 and  his first official visit away from London was to Boston - the town that gave his home city in Massachusetts its name. 

Fydell House, Boston

We were shown around by a guide called Martyn who seemed unaware that the elastic loops on his face mask were making his ears look deformed and comical. But he was a nice guy, a born and bred proud Bostonian and passionate about the old house where he is a regular volunteer guide.

in "The American Room" he showed us a photograph of Joe Kennedy speaking to invited guests. If World War II had not happened, Joe Kennedy might have won the Democrat ticket prior to the presidential election of 1940 - won by Franklin Roosevelt in a veritable landslide.

I will stop rabbiting on now and pick a few photographs to accompany this blogpost.

World War II pillbox on the sea bank

Young cattle at Freiston Shore wetland
R.I.P. Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died in the last few hours. 
A true champion of justice.

17 September 2020


Boston market place this evening

How very kind the weather has been during our week in south east Lincolnshire. One could not have asked for better days at this time of year and not a spot of rain. has fallen. Tomorrow, Friday, the sun will beam again.

Today we tootled along country roads to Coningsby and Tattershall where there is a fine brick castle that dates back to the mid-fifteenth century. It was the palatial home of Lord Ralph Cromwell, Treasurer of England, built on the site of an even older manorial building. Unfortunately,  the castle grounds were closed to the public today because of the big black crow - CORVID 19!

Tattershall Castle - closed to the public because of the pandemic

We bought "meal deals" from the Co-op in Coningsby and consumed them in New York. I kid you not - there is a little village in east Lincolnshire called New York. We sat in the village's sunny graveyard amidst the dead, chomping sandwiches while reading our books. The dead remained perfectly quiet, snug beneath the green sward.

In the evening, we headed into Boston for dinner in a Thai restaurant that overlooks The River Witham. It was a good meal but when you have lived in Thailand - as I have - you can get a little picky about the authenticity of Thai cuisine. Good but not excellent.

By the way, Boston Massachusetts announces on its city signs that it was founded in 1630. Boston Lincolnshire was founded at least four hundred years earlier. The town signs don't even bother to declare that fact. I am just saying. 

The old Methodist church in New York

16 September 2020


After a late morning constitutional walk, we went for lunch at "The Bull and Dog" in the peaceful village of Freiston. See above.

We left via the COVID exit door and in the little outdoor seating area where I guess smokers often huddle, I spotted a circular sign on the wall. As I have said before, I am not a fan of platitudinous sloganeering but on this occasion I was stopped in my tracks, considering the validity of the claim. And you know I agreed with it. What use is cleverness or wise words or keen insight into the nature of human existence if you do not show kindness in your everyday life?  Would you agree that kindness is at the very core of what it means to be civilised? To be wise?

15 September 2020


Victorian pumping station on Hobhole Drain

Hello again. It's me - Yorkshire Pudding, reporting from eastern Lincolnshire in Merry Olde England.

Picture me in my chosen outfit on what was another warm, blue sky day in which the temperature rose above 80 on the Fahrenheit scale. Authentic grey FDNY T-shirt, khaki shorts, black socks and well-worn walking boots. To enhance my appearance I slapped some Nivea suncream on exposed skin.

Stickney Mill

We parked in Stickney before  undertaking a four mile round walk over the surrounding  flat agricultural landscape. Then we had a simple lunch at Stickney Bakery. We read our books for a while in what was once an old railway yard - now a shady picnic ground. Then we drove to a charming little town called Spilsby on the eastern edge of The Lincolnshire Wolds. In a charity shop, I bought an extra T-shirt and Shirley acquired two crystal wine glasses. Afterwards we drank bitter shandy and lager at "The Red Lion" in the market place.

Back home at Curlew Cottage, it wasn't long before Clint carried me to the village of Butterwick to purchase fish and chips for our evening meal. The proprietor piled so many homemade chips (American: fries) onto our order that  we could have fed a family of six with them!

And that was Tuesday September 15th, 2020. A good day. How was your Tuesday?

Detail of carving on a medieval tomb in Spilsby Church

Spilsby Town Council noticeboard
The mistake made me laugh.
Can you see it?
Stickney Bridge over West Fen Drain

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