30 August 2021


Two Yorkshire puddings on Sunday                 ©Stewart (Thanks)

What a nice long family weekend we have had. 

On Thursday evening, our Ian came over from Wrexham in North Wales where he had been to visit a big food factory that creates and ships  ready meals for a range of supermarkets. That night we ate some sample vegan ready meals for dinner.

On Friday, Ian's girlfriend Sarah came up from London to Sheffield by train. We picked her up from the station and that night we all went out to a popular vegan restaurant in an old industrial part of the city called Kelham Island.  Baby Phoebe sat at the head of the table like the chairman of the board. She was very well-behaved and the food was tasty too.

Ian and Sarah went climbing on Saturday morning but returned for lunch. I made vegan burgers in "Bosh!" brioche buns with homemade chips (American: fries) and the weather was warm enough to eat out on our decking in the sunshine - something that has been in short supply recently.

Frances attended a friend's wedding in the city centre on Saturday so there had to be a couple of "milk runs" because Phoebe still refuses to take mother's milk from a bottle. Stew made vegan fajitas for dinner. Delicious.

Ian and Sarah spent time with a number of his old friends on Sunday. Though our son is happy in London, he is very fond of his home city and always enjoys coming back. In the late afternoon, I prepared a big vegan Sunday dinner with Linda McCartney "chicken" roasts, roasted potatoes, parsnips and carrots, sweetheart cabbage, runner beans, courgette slices, leeks in a vegan cheese sauce, stuffing, vegan gravy and Yorkshire puddings for the non-vegans which meant everyone but Ian. Even Phoebe had a Yorkshire pudding (see above).

A good while after dinner, Ian, Sarah and I chose a film from Netflix to watch - "Chernobyl 1986". It is a Russian film with dubbed American voices  - in that sense quite weird. The film focuses on brave heroes of Chernobyl who undertook critical safety work under dire conditions. It failed to point any fingers of blame or to highlight the terrible effects that the disaster at Chernobyl had upon the local population and the natural environment.  Even so I quite enjoyed it.

This morning, Ian and Sarah visited a golf driving range but at lunchtime we met up with Stew, Phoebe and Frances again at "The Broadfield". Great food. They do amazing pies but I had fish and chips with mushy peas, tartare sauce and gherkin slices. Very good.

Afterwards Ian and Sarah headed back to London in her car which Ian had borrowed for the drive up to Wrexham. Phoebe was pushed home by her parents and Shirley and I returned to this now quiet house in which I sat down at the "Lenovo" laptop that is in front of me right now.

29 August 2021


I have always loved this seemingly simple song. Paul Simon wrote it at some indeterminate time in the 1960's. It was partly inspired by a road trip he took in 1964 with his then British girlfriend - Kathy Chitty. Neither of them had much money so they hitchhiked and took Greyhound buses. I referred to Kathy in a previous post.

I appreciate the juxtaposition of  what is arguably a big and perhaps surreal thing - looking for America and such trivial matters as getting a cigarette from a raincoat or chattering about fellow passengers aboard a long distance bus. Poetically, the contrast is very clever in my opinion.

They may have been looking for America but of course they were destined never to find it - not a definitive version anyway. It would and will always remain elusive - just an idea, a notion or an imagining:-

"I'm empty and aching and I don't know why"

Saginaw, Michigan

27 August 2021


Amongst the many books I have accumulated over the years, I  came across a grubby little Sheffield Street Directory. I believe that it was printed in 1935 even though that significant piece of information is not announced on the cover.

The small book lists every street in this illustrious northern city, indicating which zone and postal district it was in back in 1935.  Alongside those pages, there are advertisements for a range of products and services including "Drama and Elocution" with Bessie Barwell at her house on Machon Bank and "Corsets, Abdominal Belts and Elastic Hosiery" from Ellis, Son and Paramore. 

There are also adverts for estate agents, breweries and even high grade coal from the nearby town of Bolsover: "Not an Ordinary Coal but a Super Coal". However, there were two particular adverts that made me chuckle and were rather surprising too - adverts for mysterious schemes that were guaranteed to make you taller! 

Standing at exactly six feet from the ground below me, my height has never been anything that has ever bothered me. I am happy with my height. Nonetheless, I realise that there are some visitors out there in Blog World who are small in stature and may fantasise about being taller. It is a shame that we are no longer in 1935 because the adverting could have led those vertically challenged visitors  to increased loftiness and the unbridled happiness that automatically arrives with greater height.

Why not be TALLER? Why don't we see such adverts any more?

26 August 2021


In this post I travel fourteen years back in time  to 2007 courtesy of my photo library. Like 2006, it was a year in which I did more than my fair share of foreign travel. Above - can you guess where that is? It is an unusual view of  The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. I was in Tuscany for three days in February - also visiting Florence and Leonardo's birthplace in Anchiano near Vinci.

At Eastertime, Shirley and I went to Morocco for ten days. It was a self-made holiday with half the time spent in Marrakesh and the other half at Essaouira  on the Atlantic coast which is where I took this picture of fishing boats:-

In early June we went to Galicia in northern Spain with our friends Moira and Steve. Like many pilgrims before us, we visited the great cathedral at Santiago di Compostela. Here it is claimed that the bones of St James are concealed in his gaudy shrine though the story is of course all pure fantasy. This is a view of the cathedral against a slightly threatening sky:-

In early August, Shirley and I flew to Biarritz in south west France where we picked up a hire care before meandering through the foothills of the Pyrenees to my brother's house near Pamiers, south of Toulouse. We stayed in a small hotel near Lourdes before travelling into the town to mingle with more Roman Catholic fantasists. The people in wheelchairs were hoping for cures as hundreds filled plastic bottles with holy water near the shrine of St Bernadette:-

At the end of August, I flew to Gdansk in Poland from our local airport - Doncaster-Sheffield, also known as Robin Hood Airport. This is a picture of St Mary's Church in the old town - one of the biggest brick-built churches in the world and it was completed in 1502 after a hundred years of  construction work:-

So that's that. A look back at 2007, the year that Luciano Pavarotti, Kurt Vonnegut and Benazir Bhutto died. All that travelling, soaking places up like a sponge. What a contrast with the time of this plague that we have all been living with for so loooooong now. Apart from my country walks, I have hardly been anywhere. Never mind - last night we booked a house in a Leicestershire village for early September and we won't need to fly there.

24 August 2021


At long last I have finished reading "Detroit 67 - The Year That Changed Soul" by Stuart Cosgrove. 426 pages of  well-researched delving into the true story of Tamla Motown and the city that spawned it.

The book is divided into twelve chapters that take us through the months of  a critical year in Detroit's history, focussing particularly upon the key players in the Motown story - notably Berry Gordy, Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations and Detroit's police force.

Stuart Cosgrove, a Scottish academic and music obsessive, tries to make sense of 1967, joining up the dots while looking both back in time and forward.

It has taken me far too long to read and I guess that's because I was  never a big fan of soul music or the Detroit sound. I didn't much care about the in-fighting of The Supremes or the ways in which Berry Gordy sought to manage and progress the phenomenon that was Motown.

This was the book's first sentence: "Berry Gordy's townhouse on the exposed corner of Outer Drive and Monica was trapped in a furious wind tunnel" and this was the last: "It was not the end of the assembly line, but it was never the same again, and in a very real sense it was the end of Detroit's place at the forefront of world music - and the end of sixties soul".

Between those sentences there is a lot to take in and process. I guess I read it all because the book was passed on to me by a friend. There was an element of duty about the time I devoted to it - an estimated sixteen hours spread over several weeks. The next book I shall soon start to read is one I have chosen myself and I have wanted to read it for a long time. I am hoping that it grips me and motivates me to keep turning the pages, over and over again with hunger to know what happened next.

23 August 2021


A view of Riber Castle

A good weather forecast took me and my faithful companion Clint to the village of Tansley in Derbyshire. I parked the aforementioned automobile close to Holy Trinity Church before setting off in a southerly direction.

It was another circular walk and rather delightful  too. I saw many things including the village of Riber which is overlooked by Riber Castle - built as recently as 1862 under the instructions of a nineteenth century industrialist called John Smedley who made his fortune through textiles and a successful milling business. In the decades after his death, the gothic castle was used as a boarding school, later a wartime warehouse and later still it was the epicentre of a zoo. The most recent project has seen developers creating luxury apartments. 

Hearthstone Farm

A nearby hamlet is called Hearthstone which in my opinion is a smashing name for a peaceful settlement high above the valley of The River Derwent.

It was a lovely day. I walked for almost three hours so I did not overtax myself as I sometimes do - often reaching Clint like a legionnaire who has just trudged  across The Sahara Desert. Today I still felt fresh and could have easily walked another five miles.

For Dave Northsider and Steve Reed - a shasta daisy (I think)  at Riber Manor

I steered home via Chesterfield - in plenty of time to make our evening meal. New potatoes, tenderstem broccoli and slices of cold beef with the same homemade gravy we had at our Sunday dinner table with Stewart, Frances and Phoebe in attendance. She tried Yorkshire pudding for the very first time before tossing it on the floor. Sacré bleu!

Interesting sign in Tansley

22 August 2021


Map to show the location of Ios

....Fishing boats failed to appear and sunset was approaching. I was beginning to think that I would have to spend the night there with the rocks and sea waves breaking gently on the pebble beach that had become my prison. Fortunately, the cove faced west and I had my little shaving mirror with me. It had a diameter of perhaps three inches and sat in an orange plastic circle.

At about 7.30pm with the sun sinking low, I heard and then saw a little fishing boat, hugging the coast about three hundred metres off shore. Perhaps I wouldn't have to spend the night on the beach after all! I waved my T-shirt and shouted "Help!" at the top of my voice. Then I aimed the little mirror at the boat and the sinking sun beyond it. Jiggling the mirror ever so slightly I hoped that I would occasionally be reflecting the sun.

The boat moved between the two headlands - from left to right then disappeared. I was utterly dejected, believing that the fishermen had not spotted me but then the boat came chugging round the headland and I knew they were coming to my cove. They had seen me after all! I was saved. Rarely in my life have I known such relief.

Even though they only spoke a few words of English between them, I gathered that the three fishermen on board the simple blue and white boat were heading out for a night's fishing.  For several moments I thought I was going to have to spend the night with them and on a different occasion a Mediterranean moonlit fishing trip would have greatly appealed to me but that night I was hungry and had the thirst of a camel though they kindly shared some of their water with me.

As we passed it, I pointed out the beach that I had tried to get to that morning before indicating that I could walk back "home" across the island. They turned into the shore where I tried to give them money - "For bira, for retsina". They wouldn't take it so I shook hands with the the three of them and said  "ef karisto" (thank you) a dozen times or more. The skipper pointed out the rough track I would need to take to get back to Ios Town.  Though it was now nighttime, the vestiges of the day and the rising moon provided enough light to illuminate my  three mile trek.

I stopped at a well to drink from a wooden bucket and later stole a bunch of sweet grapes from a remote allotment. How lovely they were.

Once back at the port of Ios, below the main hill town, I went into the first taverna I reached and bought a 1½ litre of table water and a bottle of beer. After downing all of this liquid in thirty seconds or so,  I ordered a traditional Greek meal - fried egg and chips! It was so good and only cost me 65 drachmas.

Suitably refreshed, I walked back to Sunset or Koumbara Beach to sleep. Silver moonlight was now sparkling on the waves - such a beautiful sight to behold. I wriggled into my sleeping bag  feeling comfortable and just glad to still be alive when I heard a rustling behind me in my beach shelter. I grabbed my torch and twisted round and that is when I saw  - the rat!
Pictures I drew of my beach shelter  - August 1982

21 August 2021


Stuff tumbled from the lower shelf of the big pine bookcase in our study. Sorting through the mess, I discovered things I had forgotten about, including travel journals. Amongst them was a diary from the summer of 1982.  I have blogged about what happened before but today I rediscovered the words that I wrote at the time in the very W.H.Smith notebook shown above...


Tuesday August 31st 1982 - Ios, Greece

There were no paths. I just guessed where the beach would be. I slid down the cliff and to my dismay found I was probably in the wrong place. There was only a small pebble beach and rocks.

Anyway, I decided I would make the most of it. I swam and sunbathed, read my book and drank my water till around one o'clock when I chose to leave that lonesome place.

In the hot afternoon sun, I struggled back up the cliff but when I was about fifty feet up with rocks below, I slid and slipped down about ten feet. Now glued to the crumbling cliff face, I trembled with apprehension and it was a couple of minutes before I was calm enough to slowly descend. In that moment, I did not have the appetite for a second ascent.

Coming down had been easy enough. I had not imagined that I'd have a problem going back up when I wanted to leave the little cove. Later, I attempted to leave by different routes - right and left of the beach but after initial success I met with sheer cliffs. I had my blue backpack with me containing passport, money and air ticket etc. so swimming out to sea and round the headland seemed out of the question.. Besides, I was tired from all the swimming I had done and my three failed  attempts to scale the cliffs and get out of there.

I found some shade in the lee of a big rock that must at one time have been dislodged from the cliff. I rested for an hour, regathering my strength and  feeling increasingly  thirsty because I had finished all my water a couple of hours before.

I tried yet another scrambling route but the same thing happened as before - the rocky 60° slope crumbling under my hands and feet as I tried desperately to gain purchase. Then I asked myself a question: if a fishing boat passed by would I try to signal for help ? My internal response was a resounding "Yes!" for I knew that I was now in a very dangerous situation.

I was by now weak and dehydrated - it must have been around five in the late afternoon. Again I rested. There were no boats passing by so in desperation I tried another route up the cliff. But this last effort was just like all the rest - useless. If I fell onto the jumble of large rocks below I could die either instantly or more likely a slow death caused by the injuries I would sustain and the lack of water. There was no doubting that.

to be continued...

20 August 2021


Last evening I visited our local Waitrose supermarket. They have just started stocking a new bakery product - namely vegan brioche buns by "Bosh!" There's our Ian on the right with his old schoolmate Henry on the left. It's the latest thing on the still magical journey that is "Bosh!". No doubt it will end one day - but not yet. Not by a long way.

This very weekend they are one of the headline "acts" at a big vegan festival  near Newark. They'll be selling and signing their books before giving a talk on the main stage about plant-based living. Later they will be DJ-ing - spinning discs and bringing chosen beats and samples together as hundreds of people  dance to their music.

Brioche bread is normally enriched with butter, eggs and milk but Ian and Henry have found a way of mimicking it without dairy or animal ingredients. For our evening meal tonight, we had homemade vegan burgers with lettuce,  tomato slices and vegan mayonnaise inside the new "Bosh!" buns. Though I made them myself  and at the risk of sounding boastful, I promise you that they were great!

Locating the buns in the bakery section  at Waitrose was not easy because a team of  shop staff were stock checking and replenishing the shelves at the time. I asked a fellow with a  clever, hand-held device if he could tell me where to find the "Bosh!" buns. He was both courteous and helpful. His little machine told him that the buns were in stock  so he asked a junior called Alice if she knew where the product would be. She said, "We don't stock Bosh! buns. I have never heard of them." 

And then I spotted them on the shelf immediately behind her. There were only two packs left. We all had a giggle about that and Alice apologised saying, "I guess I look pretty stupid after saying that!" I smiled and kept my own counsel. Sometimes that is the best way.

19 August 2021


 At seven months old,  I am now starting to get used to the idea of eating. To tell you the truth, I was happy with mum's milk but my parents seem determined to move me on to eating what they call "solids". It's not easy, I can tell you. Why can't  babies spend  their entire lives getting nourishment from their mothers' milk?

I have tried quite a few types of food now - broccoli, carrot, apple, banana, peanut butter on toast and porridge to name but a few. Mum won't let me have any foodstuff that has salt or sugar added  to it. Grandpa tried to give me some milk chocolate on Monday but mum saw what he was doing and got mad with him. I don't know why.

One of the hardest things about eating is controlling spoons. It is hard enough just grasping one but then you are expected to manoeuvre it into your bowl and then up to your mouth. I have been trying hard with this but I must admit that sometimes the food goes all over the place. I even got some "Ready Brek" in my eye. The spoons keep jumping onto the floor.

I enjoy eating when I am naked - well with just a disposable nappy on. Have you tried it yourself? Eating in the nude is great because you can make as much mess as you want. If you haven't done it yet, you should try it. Not just at home but in restaurants too.

Well - I am going to a wedding in Stamford, Lincolnshire today. Mummy has bought a nice dress for me to wear. When the vicar in the church asks the bride if she will take the groom in holy matrimony, I am going to vocalise at the top of my voice. Maybe "Yaah! Yaah! Yaah -boooooo!"



18 August 2021


Humberhead Peatlands

Today the weather gods sent  me and Clint  north east of here. It took an hour to get to Crowle. It's a large village that sits at the north end of The Isle of Axholme - west of The River Trent. Long ago, before  effective land drainage schemes happened, I can imagine that the area had the characteristics of an inland island - especially in the wintertime.

Another large settlement on The Isle of Axholme is Epworth which was the home of John and Charles Wesley and therefore the birthplace of Methodism. It's also where Shirley's old secondary school is located. 

Due west of Crowle is a vast  area of  peaty moorland known as The Humberhead Peatlands.  It is a haven for birds and insects with adders and other reptiles. There are birch trees there and swathes of bracken. and evidence of past peat workings which happened on an industrial scale at the end of the nineteenth century. Nowadays the entire area is protected.

I walked in there but after a mile it became hard to find my way and I feared that I would get lost which, admittedly,  might have met with the approval of a few of this blog's visitors. However, instead of pressing on into the wilderness, I decided, rather wisely I think, to retrace my steps. There were no other visitors and it had become impossible to distinguish between unofficial paths and the alleged public right of way that is supposed to connect Crowle with the village of Moorends beyond the sprawling bogland.

Dilapidated house in Crowle

Later, east of Crowle, I had another walk - this time  in farmland. As the weather gods had promised, the sun shone and the temperature was balmy. Of course the London-based BBC TV weather presenter later assumed that the entire country had been languishing under a blanket of grey Atlantic cloud..."Well it's been a rather grey and chilly day today and there'll be more of the same tomorrow".   Eh? Check your facts matey!

The track to Ealand Grange

17 August 2021


Frances is our daughter. Using her smartphone she has taken some wonderful pictures of our baby granddaughter, Phoebe. To be honest, her pictures put my own efforts to shame. Perhaps I should invest in a smartphone myself - just for the camera. Hopefully, I could disable all the other features. It's just the camera I want.

Phoebe was seven months old on Sunday and to celebrate this on her Instagram page, Frances published a bunch of pictures of the precious babe. I have picked just three of those photos to share with you. Can you see her teeth in the image below? She now has two of them. Teeth can be pretty useful when you're learning to eat. And when you are a messy  eater it's good to be naked. You can always have a bath afterwards.

The picture below was taken in our dining room on Sunday afternoon. Phoebe was not supposed to be eating the card that marks her first seven months. It was supposed to be propped up next to her as in previous months. Little rascal!

16 August 2021



In the Pashto language the word "Taliban" means "students". Indeed, the Taliban movement began amongst students of Islam during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1978-1992).

However, the Taliban fighters we see today are not students. They are bearded warriors from a medieval costume museum riding in battered pick-up trucks or upon motorcycles, clutching purloined weapons.  As well as having plenty of money from opium sales, they undoubtedly believe they have truth and justice on their side. They look into the camera like aliens from another planet.

The way they have retaken their country in just three weeks is breath-taking. It has been so easy. The official Afghan army has been as tough as wet tissue paper. All that money spent on training them and equipping them! They might as well have been provided with a bunch of white flags costing  less than a hundred dollars.

It's as if the clock has been turned back to October 2001 so that the Taliban can continue with their harsh rule - only this time it's a bit different because the legacy of bitterness will have been boosted tremendously by the American-led occupation.

I wonder how the intellectually challenged George W. Bush and his devious lapdog Tony Blair  will now reflect upon their Afghan adventure. All those lives lost and all that money spent - for what? It would have been better to engage with the Taliban leadership and find a way forward that was in tune with the march of history, not attempting to fight against the tide.  

It is worth remembering that amongst the nineteen 9/11 terrorists there were fifteen Saudi Arabians but not one  Afghan national.

The last place on Earth I would want to be right now is Kabul. Children crying. Voices raised in desperation. Car horns blaring as rotor blades whirr. Where is the exit door? Where is the golden ticket? And all the while out there in the darkness but alarmingly nearby, the medieval warriors close in with their vindictive holy truth and their Russian guns, promising  a return to their good old days.

It's nice to know that The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani has already escaped to neighbouring Uzbekistan "to avoid bloodshed". Yup! His own blood!  Whatever happened to captains going down with their ships?

Taliban fighters in the presidential palace

15 August 2021


Is it an English thing? I don't know but here - in the frost-free months -  you will often see hanging baskets of flowers close to people's front doors.

Although you can buy ready-made hanging baskets from garden centres or florists, for the past three decades Shirley has made up a new basket every year inserting suitable flowering plants that will later provide a mixture of blooming colour.

When you decide to have a hanging basket, you should also be prepared to water and feed it very regularly - often daily. Consequently, if you go away for a day or two you have to find ways of preventing the soil from drying out. Friendly neighbours may help.

In my experience, most hanging baskets are maintained by women. For whatever reason, women tend to be more enthusiastic about flowers and flowering plants than the majority of men.

I should have taken a picture or two of our current hanging basket when it was at its absolute best a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, I didn't  so that's that. You will just have t make do with the photograph at the top of this blogpost. 

A healthy hanging basket outside your front door provides a cheerful  welcome home  or a happy greeting for visitors. Admittedly, they are more common in salubrious suburbs or villages than in inner city districts or areas of significant economic depravation.

13 August 2021


St Helen's Church, Selston - predates the era of coal by several centuries

The small locomotive engine, Number 4, came clanking, stumbling down from Selston with seven full waggons. It appeared round the corner with loud threats of speed, but the colt that it startled from among the gorse, which still flickered indistinctly in the raw afternoon, outdistanced it at a canter. A woman, walking up the railway-line to Underwood, drew back into the hedge, held her basket aside, and watched the footplate of the engine advancing. The trucks thumped heavily past, one by one, with slow inevitable movement, as she stood insignificantly trapped beneath the jolting black waggons and the hedge; then they curved away towards the coppice where the withered oak-leaves dropped noiselessly, while the birds, pulling at the scarlet hips beside the track, made off into the dusk that had already crept into the spinney. 
First lines of "Odour of Chrysanthemums"  by D.H.Lawrence (1910)

See above. These were the first lines I read as I began my A level English Literature course at Beverley Grammar School in the East Riding of Yorkshire in September 1970. For some odd reason, I have always remembered that reference to Selston and today I visited the place for the very first time.

I had just driven Frances and Phoebe down to nearby Sutton-in-Ashfield where they met up with Stewart  ahead of a long drive down to Surrey. They are spending the weekend down there with several members of Stewart's family. Our rendezvous was the "Costa" coffee shop by the A38.
A small, thin house - Mansfield Road, Selston

I expected Selston to be a grim post-industrial mining village which had had the heart ripped out of it by Thatcher in the eighties but it turned out to be quite a pleasant place with many nice private houses along with streets of social housing. The days of coal mining are long gone now and if he could rise from his grave in New Mexico, D.H. Lawrence would hardly recognise "The Country of My Heart" as he once called this corner of Nottinghamshire.

By the way, when Frances was getting the coffees in "Costa", two women - probably a mother and daughter - cooed with delight when I  lifted Phoebe from her car seat.  They commented on her lovely eyes and her general cuteness. As a proud grandpa, I was, as folk will often say in England, "right chuffed".
Horses by Nottingham Road in Selston

12 August 2021


Up the M1 motorway and left at Junction 37 to Silkstone. When our children were small, I wanted us to move there or to nearby Silkstone Common or Cawthorne. They are all smashing villages just west of Barnsley. Ian and Frances would then have enjoyed village childhoods similar to the ones that Shirley and I experienced. But the right house never came up and before you knew it, it was effectively too late for uprooting.

Clint was unable to find a suitable place to park his silver butt near All Saints Church so we drove on a mile or two to Barnby Basin where I knew there was a nice little car parking space down the lane along which the Silkstone Waggonway was erected in 1809. Its purpose was to bring tubs of newly hewn  coal to the canal and it serviced the pits around Silkstone for fifty years or more.

The dog walker before our conversation

It was a lovely three hour walk. The weather was balmy. I spent twenty minutes talking to a dog walker who told me that he has never used a computer and does not possess a mobile phone. At Barnby Furnace a black African man approached me with his teenage son. They had just clambered out of an old blue car. The man held a smartphone in front of me without the courtesy of:  "Hello, can you help me. I am trying to get to a certain garage." On the phone there was a picture of the same car he had arrived in and there was also the address of a garage in Rotherham. I was able to join the dots together and tell them they were lost. I showed them my map but when they left me there was no smile or a cheery "Thank you". It was a strange encounter.

When I reached All Saints Church, I had a close look at the Huskar Pit Tragedy Memorial  erected in 1838. Twenty six children  died when the pit they were working in flooded very quickly during a heavy thunderstorm.  The owner of the pit - R.C. Clarke Esq had some questions to answer about his negligence but was never brought to justice. Here are three faces of the monument for your interest:

11 August 2021


The  IPCC report that I blogged about on Monday has left me feeling rather solemn and helpless. Here are some random personal reflections upon where we are with climate change and how we got here.

When I was born in 1953, this planet's population was way short of three billion but now in 2021 we are up to 7.8 billion closing in rapidly on 8 billion. The world's  population has more than doubled in my lifetime. By a long way.

When I was a child there were no plastic bags in shops. There were no supermarkets and most people shopped locally - taking their own bags and baskets with them. Fine green beans were not imported from Egypt and the only rice anybody consumed was in the form of rice puddings. Buying vegetables was a much more seasonal affair. You only ate salads in the summertime.

Hardly anybody owned cars and there were no motorways. Public transport was far more comprehensive, regular and far-reaching. Ordinary people did not travel on aeroplanes to enjoy holidays in foreign lands. In fact they rarely travelled far.

Ordinary homes were not centrally heated. You relied upon open fires to keep your home warm in the wintertime. Most families had just one fire. Nobody had showers in their homes and unless you were in a particularly dirty occupation, you had just one bath a week.

If you had siblings, clothes were passed down through the family. Laundering clothes and bedding was not as regular and energy-sapping as it is today. Nobody had tumble driers. Washing Day was a once in a week event - typically Mondays.

Things were made to last. My mother had a Hoover vacuum cleaner that lasted for twenty five years and even then it was not done. She passed it on to us when we bought our first house in 1981. 

Electric lighting in the average home was a simple business - normally just one light fitting per room. Side lights and suchlike were a rarity.

I am pleased to say that we always had a flush toilet but my mother and father grew up in homes where human excrement was collected to feed vegetable plots. They called it "night soil" and there were special galvanised buckets in which to carry it or let it mature. People who grew vegetables did not do so as a hobby. They grew them to save money and supplement the family diet.

Nobody bought ready meals because they did not exist. At the pub you could ask for bitter or mild from its parent brewery and there was little else to choose from - just some bottles, optics for spirits and soft drinks too. There was only one flavour when it came to potato crisps - plain. Cheese and onion came later.

Milk was delivered to the doorstep in glass bottles which were later collected and washed ready to be used again and again. There were no plastic bottles containing spring water from The Alps, The Scottish Highlands or Buxton in Derbyshire.

I am not listing these things for the sake of nostalgia but to say that back then the way that people lived tended to put less strain upon the planet's resources. Though coal was vital to us, our carbon footprints were nonetheless much smaller than they are today. I am sure that you can also recall other aspects of the way we lived that just happened to be friendlier to our world.  

10 August 2021


Today I was out east of Sheffield where Yorkshire meets Nottinghamshire. Basically, I was capturing a bunch of squares I had missed for the Geograph project.  There was no opportunity to plot a  circular route as per usual and though I did walk a couple of miles, mostly I relied upon Clint to taxi me around.

Arguably, at the top of this blogpost is the best picture I snapped all day. I took seven photos of St Peter's Church, Letwell but I judge this to be the most pleasing one.

After Letwell, I travelled a couple of miles to Langold . This settlement was conceived in the nineteen twenties to service Firbeck Colliery. That coal mine was productive for forty years but by the late sixties its demise became inevitable for geological reasons. More than sixty miners  died in Firbeck Colliery. There were far safer mines in the region.

At two thirty in the afternoon, I  noticed that the local fish and chip shop was open so I treated myself to a small portion of chips with a sausage and a can of Diet Coke. Afterwards, I had a look round the well-kept village cemetery before heading back to Tickhill and the road home to Sheffield.

Back in the city, I stopped off at the New Era Square  development south of the city centre to photograph the pandas. Funded by Chinese investors, the zone includes apartment blocks, eateries and other modern businesses. Sheffield attracts a lot of Chinese students though I am not sure how the damned coronavirus has affected their enthusiasm.

9 August 2021


As I write, the main conclusions of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is delivering the key conclusions from its forty two page report known as "Summary for Policy Makers".

None of what they have to say comes as a surprise. It is a tale of woe. A tale of increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere, of warming oceans, forest fires and desertification. Mankind has plundered and abused this beautiful planet and now we are reaching the painful reckoning.

More than ever, those who deny climate change  seem like crazy fools - isolated in their ignorance. One of them even got to be America's 45th president. The report brings together hundreds of scientific studies and confirms what the rest of us suspected: climate change is real and human activity is responsible. There is no getting away from this truth. 

Seen from outer space, this is just a little planet - a tiny blue and green marble gyrating in the endless blackness. You would think that the inhabitants of this small but miraculous orb could work together, be united in our husbandry but division, disparity and one-upmanship have conspired to work against our Earth. The "United Nations" is more of a dream than a reality and always has been since its inception. 

The report fails to address the thorny issue of over-population which has surely accelerated the activities that contribute to global warming. It also fails to shame the richest countries that continue to turn  a collective blind eye to the effects of their  excessive appetites.

The signs were apparent a long, long time ago but now we have reached the eleventh hour.  We cannot be optimistic that world leaders have the ability or the wherewithal to  halt or even slow down climate change. There's still too much self-interest and they are probably just going through the motions of alarm for they inhabit the short term and then move on.

Here in Britain, the jobbing Conservative politician Alok Sharma will be chairing the twenty sixth United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) this autumn.  In preparing for this critical conference, he has made over thirty return flights around the world during the time of coronavirus. Ironically, his carbon footprint must therefore be as big as Lemuel Gulliver's was in Lilliput.  It's not a good sign.

Meanwhile our Little Phoebe, Charlotte Grace in New Zealand and all the other babies in the world will be wondering  what kind of planet they are about to inherit  from the current custodians.  I apologise with all my heart.

8 August 2021


Yorkshire folk are  big enough to be able to laugh at ourselves. This is a sketch created by the  English comedian Harry Enfield. It was made as far back as 1992. Hell, that's almost thirty years ago. Enjoy:-

7 August 2021


"We're top of the league!
We're top of the league!
We are Hull City!
We're top of the league!

The new English football season kicked off today. In The Championship, newly-promoted Hull City beat Preston North End by four goals to one at Deepdale, Preston. What a great start to the season! Only forty five more games to go.

Down in West London I know that ADDY will now be in seventh heaven with a couple of bottles of "Babycham", celebrating The Tigers' victorious start to the season. Jenny in Nova Scotia  will be dressed in her Hull City replica kit, bouncing with glee upon her sofa with a can of "Hippie Dippie Pale Ale" in her mitt. There will  be similar scenes in Todmorden, West Yorkshire where Thelma's daughter will be astonished that her mother has become a football fanatic. And also in Spain, Senora Carol (aka Coppa's Girl) will be treating herself to a two litre carafe of Sangria. Meantime in Ludwigsburg, Germany Meike and The Mysterious Sister will  be singing Hull City's theme song in the palace grounds: "Take my hand, take my whole life too/ For I can't help falling in love with you!"

In an Irish cottage, above the raging sea, tears of joy will be cascading down Dave Northsider's cheeks while JayCee in Ramsey on The Isle of Man will be ironing Lord Peregrine's sagging Y-fronts with gay abandon as she hums the same old Elvis song embraced by the sisters from Baden-Württemberg. Over in Lloyd, Florida and Florence, South Carolina two shy American visitors to this humble Yorkshire blog will be going wild with unbridled delight like broncos at a rodeo. Yee-hah!

By the way, looking at the top of the Championship table shown at the head of this blogpost I declare that I have been to every town on the list. I have also been to all of those football grounds apart from Luton Town's stadium at Kenilworth Road. Am I boasting? I guess so. I know that West Bromwich isn't  Monte Carlo and Barnsley isn't  Asuncion but these towns are exotic places in their own right... "unusual...different".

Now if you will excuse me. It is 8pm and time for some Saturday night grocery shopping at "Lidl". Bye-bye!
Hull City's manager Grant McCann celebrates today's victory

6 August 2021


You may have noticed that the thirty second Olympic Games are reaching their conclusion in Tokyo, Japan. There's a lot that might be said about these games including discussion about whether or not they should have even gone ahead. 

Here on  the island of Britain, the BBC have always provided comprehensive Olympic coverage but this time round the International Olympic Committee have in their wisdom managed to severely reduce the number of hours of live screening available to our principal national broadcaster. These days it's becoming all about the money.

Olympians normally represent their countries but this year a team of native Russians are instead representing something called "The Russian Olympic Committee" or R.O.C.. You may recall that in 2019 the World Doping Agency banned Russia from all international sport.  Afterwards Russian appeals saw reduction of the punishment in a murky quagmire of compromise.

And so we arrive at the Tokyo Olympics. You must understand that Russia is not competing but all the athletes selected to represent the R.O.C. would have represented Russia. The arrangement stinks. Currently the R.O.C. have won sixty two medals including seventeen golds. It is not known how many R.O.C. competitors were involved in past doping programmes.

R.O.C. sports gear is styled in the red, white and blue colours of the Russian flag. It seems that the two main effects of The World Doping Agency ruling are that the Russian national anthem cannot be played at The Olympics and the Russian athletes must not say that they are competing for Russia - even though they obviously are.

What is this doing to stamp out national doping schemes? Privately, Vladimir Putin must be guffawing with delight... "Faster, Higher, Stronger and More Cunning".

5 August 2021


Dad and Paul at Filey in 1949

If my father, Philip, had not died back in 1979, he would have been 107 years old today. If my oldest brother, Paul Philip, had not died back in 2010 he would have been 74 years old today. 

They were both good men who embraced life. They were participants, not bystanders and they were each blessed with a range of talents.

In his youth, my father played both rugby and cricket to a decent standard. He had a good tenor voice and sang in choirs. He taught himself how to develop and print photographs and passed that knowledge on to me. He was a church warden and the driving force behind the establishment of playing fields and a sports club in the village of my birth. As the headmaster of the village school, he helped many people in many different ways long after they had left school. No wonder that at his funeral there was standing room only in Holy Trinity Church. He was respected and loved.

My brother Paul was a brilliant musician with a fine memory for tunes and songs. He excelled on the Irish fiddle and like my father had a fine singing voice. In his youth he was good at rowing, rock climbing and karate. He could speak French and German quite fluently and before his untimely death he was becoming pretty competent in modern Greek too. He drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney and found interest in everyone he met though he was disinterested in  status and wealth. No wonder that at his funeral there was standing room only in Kilfenora Church, County Clare, Ireland. He was respected and loved.

Our son, Ian Philip, should have been born on August 5th 1984. That was his due date but he delayed his entry to the world by eight days arriving on August 13th of that year. Kind and loyal, Ian is a hard worker who thinks positively about his "journey". In recent years, Shirley and I have been enormously proud of his ongoing work as a vegan cook, writer and influencer. It is wonderful to be able to turn your passion into your livelihood and that is what Ian has done through "Bosh!".

August 5th is one of the most meaningful dates in the calendar for me. A time to remember with affection my father and my oldest brother and to smile about the possibility that Ian could so easily have been born on the same auspicious date.

Ian (left) with Henry (right) and Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia fame in the middle

Most Visits