31 May 2022


Outskirts of Bordertown

From the flight deck of this humble Yorkshire blog, I occasionally like to travel to far flung settlements. Some of you may recall that in recent months I have transported you to Stanley, South Dakota and to Lebanon, Kansas - both small towns in America that most readers would have probably never heard about before. I certainly hadn't until I began exploring.

Bordertown Institute on Woolshed Street 

This evening we are moving thousands of  miles away from America and I am taking you on a journey to  a little place in South Australia called Bordertown. What an imaginative name this small town was given in the nineteenth century! You see it sits close to South Australia's border with the state of Victoria - hence Bordertown. Doh! In recent years its population has risen to around 3,000 of whom 2,000 were born in Australia. The others mainly come from South East Asia, New Zealand and Great Britain. Only thirty three inhabitants describe themselves as "indigenous".

Bordertown Cheap Foods Store

Established in 1852, the town was at first connected with mining industries and it was an important staging post for travellers and goods transport between Melbourne and Adelaide both by road and rail. Nowadays, its economy owes almost everything to agriculture in the surrounding region.

Bob Hawke
Hawke House on Farquhar Street

In 1929, a newly born baby exercised his lungs in Bordertown. He was none other than Bob Hawke who went on to become Australia's charismatic Labour prime minister. He served the nation in that role from 1983 to 1991. Hawke died in 2019 at the grand old age of 89. Though he is not buried in Bordertown, his childhood home - Hawke House - is now a museum dedicated to his memory even though he only lived there for the first year of his life.

Bordertown Church of Christ

I cruised around Bordertown courtesy of Google Streetview and the impression I was given was of a proud, peaceful and prosperous town with plenty of amenities and services. It even has its own newspaper - "The Border Chronicle" which seems to cover state, national and international news rather more than local news.

Looking for a  good value house to buy in Bordertown, I found this three bedroom place on Marian Street for $138,000 (AUS) 0r £78,500 (GB) or $99,200 (US):-

Anne Champness who is the Chief Executive of the local Tatiara council based in Bordertown tells us that it is the core of: "A vibrant, prosperous and connected community building its own opportunities" - whatever that might mean.

Finally, I can't leave Bordertown without mentioning the White Kangaroo Wildlife Park. The owners of this establishment insist that their white kangaroos are NOT ALBINOS but a genetic strain of western greys. It seems that some controversy has surrounded the attraction  in the past and all the kangaroos have been specially bred for public display...
And so all too soon, the time has come to leave Bordertown where it glistens in the South Australian sunshine - 284 miles from Melbourne and 168 miles from Adelaide. 

30 May 2022


Today I did not meet any famous people nor did I witness a bank robbery.  There were no car accidents and I didn't have a hospital appointment. No home improvement plans were made and I did not book a holiday abroad. I didn't even go for a walk in the nearby countryside. No long lost friends came a knocking on my door and I didn't  read even one page of a book. It was just Monday. Nothing of any significance happened.

However, I erected a seven foot wigwam of bamboo canes and planted several runner bean plants around it. Then I planted a row of cauliflowers. All of these plants were given a generous watering to help them on their way. I also visited our local Tesco superstore where there is a bay for plastic recycling.

Council collections of material for recycling prohibit many plastic items so we gather all of our extra plastic waste in our  own bins and about once every six weeks I take this stuff to the recycling bay at Tesco. I  have been doing this for the past twenty years. Ominously, there's a sign there now that warns visitors the recycling facilities are set to end.

The sign mistakenly advises that our waste plastic should be picked up by council collection services but whoever wrote that sign had not done his or her homework. It is the same with most British councils. Very few of them encourage the collection of all plastic waste. Most citizens simply put their extra plastic in their general waste bins which in Sheffield we call our "black bins".

When I was a teenager, there was a very competent local rock band who never quite made it into the big time at national or international levels. They were called Nothineverappens and that's how some of our days  can be when nothing of any note happens. Just like today.

29 May 2022


Chris McQueen (Huddersfield) - Man of the Match in yesterday's rugby league final.

I admit that I like watching sport on the television. This past weekend has been a big one. 

On Saturday afternoon, I watched The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final live on the BBC. Wigan Warriors narrowly beat Huddersfield Giants to lift the trophy though in my humble opinion Huddersfield were the better team. They lost because their goal kicker was not on his best form. He missed four kicks. In top level Rugby Union that simply would not have happened. Huddersfield had not won the trophy since the year that I was born - 1953 and of course, coming from Yorkshire I wanted them to win.

On Saturday evening, I got to watch The European Champions League Final live from Paris. It was just before the scheduled kick off time that I discovered I could view the game free of charge on YouTube via the BT.com site. I watched every dramatic moment as Real Madrid beat Liverpool by one goal to nil - raising the cup for the fourteenth time in their illustrious history.

I would have liked to watch The English Championship Final live from Wembley in London. this evening but Sky Sports held the rights to it and we do mot have access to any Sky sports channels at home as I refuse to subscribe to a service that was initially funded by the right wing media megalomaniac - Rupert Murdoch.

In the end Nottingham Forest beat Huddersfield Town by a single goal - putting Forest back into The Premier League for the first time in twenty three years. The winner's purse in this match is probably the biggest in world football with Forest set to earn £175 million.

Like many sports fans, I thoroughly resent the impact of pay-to-view channels in the televisual enjoyment of big games and major sporting events. It is as if they have stolen our sports away. I feel this most hurtfully in relation to watching cricket. It seems that  the cricketing authorities have sold their souls to the highest bidders so that many cricket lovers - myself included - rarely get to watch any live cricket on TV. In addition, many youngsters who might have been inspired to take up cricket are denied vital on-screen inspiration.

How dare they take our national sports away from us!

28 May 2022


Letter to Sundar Pichai - chief executive officer
 of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google

Mr Sundar Pichai
Google Headquarters
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View,
CA 94043

28 May 2022

Dear Mr Pichai,

I am writing to you on behalf on many thousands of Blogger users. Recently we have been irritated by issues surrounding comments when attempting to leave them on other people's blogs.

Frequently, comments end up in the "spam" folder or disappear altogether. As you can imagine, this is most frustrating.

Of course no blogger wants to see any "spam" in what many of us refer to as the blogosphere but why designate legitimate friendly comments from known correspondents as "spam"? This just not make sense. Perhaps it is all just a technical glitch

I have read all about you in Wikipedia and I have seen photographs of you too. You look like a nice, friendly chap - the kind of fellow who recognises that it makes good business sense to keep Google clients and users happy.

We recognise that you are a busy man with lots of  important decisions and phone calls to make but we hope and expect you will make time to personally sort out the matter I have described above.

If you need extra information or assistance with regard to "spam" comments, I will be most happy to assist.

Yours sincerely,
Yorkshire Pudding (Mr)

(Union of Transcontinental Bloggers)

27 May 2022


For one reason or another, I hadn't had a good long walk in several days but that changed today. I drove east to a place called Shireoaks just outside the Nottinghamshire market town of Worksop. After parking Clint in a shady lay-by right next to The Chesterfield Canal, I set off on a circular route that brought me back to the beginning after three hours.

On a leafy path in Gateford a young woman came up behind me. We were some distance from local houses with no other people in sight. I was suddenly conscious of what might be going through her mind - encountering a strange man in a secluded spot. It could easily be the stuff of nightmares.

Somehow I was able to put her mind at rest and we ended up chatting quite happily. I explained my geograph hobby and why she had found me stock still staring at a map. She told me that she had recently started working at a care home for the elderly and had been hired to enrich the residents' days with entertainment, music and art and craft sessions. We walked along together and when we split I said, "I hope that you continue to enjoy your job. You're doing something very worthwhile in my opinion".

Now I am just going to let some more of today's  photographs do the rest of the talking.

26 May 2022


David Jason as Del Boy

I was at another funeral this week. The deceased was a neighbour I had known for thirty three years though it was only within the last four or five years that we would stand in the street and have a nice chat together. Previously it had just been polite "hellos".

He was eighty seven though you would never have guessed it. He had a full head of hair and was well-groomed and upright. What lines there were upon his face spoke of laughter and contentment, not pain nor self-pity. He had lived a happy life and enjoyed a long marriage that spanned sixty seven years. He had three daughters, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

He was Jewish but his wife was Church of England and they were living proof that religiously mixed marriages can work out just fine. You don't need to marry within the faith you were born into though I guess this is easier to claim in a  tolerant city like Sheffield than in some other parts of the world.

What I mainly want to say about Gerry's funeral is that he gave very clear instructions. He left his financial affairs in  order and wrote down exactly what he wanted to happen on the day he was laid to rest. This included a recording of him singing "My Way" with a backing group.  It was a very tolerable and original rendition from a man who was obviously confident in his singing ability.

In the second half of his working life Gerry became a successful wheeler dealer within the motor trade. He built his own independent business and made many of his customers happy with the deals he worked out for them. Jokingly, he was sometimes likened to a British sitcom character called Derek Trotter or Del Boy who appeared  in "Only Fools and Horses". Thus, as Gerry's coffin was carried from the chapel into the sunlit cemetery, the music that accompanied the procession was that programme's theme song:-

Stick a pony in me pocket
I'll fetch the suitcase from the van
'Cos if you want the best ones
But you don't ask questions
Then brother, I'm your man

Cause where it all comes from is a mystery
It's like the changing of the seasons
And the tides of the sea
But here's the one that's driving me berserk:
Why do only fools and horses work?

Needless to say, Gerry had reserved his own burial plot in a quiet corner of the cemetery and that's where he was laid to rest. His immediate family cast single roses into the hole where his coffin had just been lowered.

Will you be leaving any instructions for your final departure?  What will you request?

25 May 2022


When I chose "Yorkshire Pudding" as my nom-de-plume I had also been thinking about "Fat Rascal". The fat rascal is another baked Yorkshire delicacy made famous by Betty's tea shops in Harrogate and York. It is essentially a large scone with some ingredient twists - including citrus peel and sour cream or creme fraiche.

We looked after Little Phoebe on Monday night and took her to nursery school on Tuesday morning. Mummy and Daddy were away for the night celebrating Daddy's birthday in a country hotel near York. When they returned, they gave us two fat rascals as a reward - bought at Betty's tea shop in Harrogate on Tuesday morning. See the picture at the top.

They were very yummy. I guess that if you eat too many fat rascals you might become a fat rascal. Back in June 2005, I decided against the nickname as my body was and remains as lithe and sculpted as that of an Olympic swimmer.


  • 100 g butter, softened
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 75 g currants
  • 50 g mixed citrus peels
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 75 g golden caster sugar
  • 150 150 ml sour cream or 150 ml creme fraiche
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • glace cherries, for decoration
  • blanched almond, for decoration (whole)

  • Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 and grease or line a baking sheet, or oven parchment
  • Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Add the cream and mix to a stiff paste - a firm dough.
  • Roll the mixture out on a floured board, to about 1" thickness and stamp out rounds, of about 3" in diameter. ( You can also shape the fat rascals by hand; take a piece of dough, about the size of a small egg, and make a small ball - flatten it out slghtly into bread roll shapes - like a bread bap shape.)
  • Arrange them on the greased baking tray and glaze them generously with the beaten egg.
  • Then place 2 whole blanched almonds on top with a halved glace cherry for decoration - pushing them down gently into the dough, so they do not fall off during baking!
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they have risen and are golden brown.
  • Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack.
  • Store them in an airtight tin for up to 4 days.

24 May 2022


Just look at the pain in that woman's face. It is a look that says, "I am scared. So scared. Scared and alone. Why are they taking a picture of me? What have I done wrong?"  

She belongs, or perhaps belonged, to the Uyghur ethnic group, residing in the province of Xinjiang in western China. Her name is Hawagul Tewekkul and she is  fifty years old if indeed she is still alive. She was forced to reside in a re-education centre (aka prison)  along with thousands of other Uyghurs. By the way there are some 12.8 million Uyghurs in  China.

It seems that the idea of these state re-education camps is to teach the inmates to become more Chinese, to reject Islam and to embrace all that is truly Chinese - including Mandarin and  modern communism.

Methods employed include bullying, forced sterilisation, physical beatings, rape, sleep-deprivation, electrocution and chanting. Naturally the all-powerful Chinese government downplays the re-education programme, sometimes even  denying that these  centres exist but that is one big, fat lie.

Records of  thousands of  Uyghur  people consigned to these re-education centres  were compiled by the Xinjiang police force. These politically sensitive records should have remained entirely secret but they have successfully been hacked into and this morning the BBC published a well-researched and thorough  online exposé - cleverly utilising the hacker's harvest.

Such a brilliant journalistic achievement. It must surely heap extra pressure on the Chinese to come clean about what they are doing to the Uyghur people and to stop repeating their tiresome lies.

Here in Sheffield  our universities accommodate a few thousand Chinese students. Undoubtedly, they hail from wealthy families that have benefited hugely from China's economic miracle. But when I consider what their country has done and continues to do to the Uyghur minority, I wonder should those plane loads of students be here at all? Somehow it does not seem right - in spite of the money they obviously bring in.

23 May 2022


Tim Hardin  - Sketch by Dale Burkhardt

Is it really twelve years since I blogged about Tim Hardin? I guess it must be because the evidence is here. In 2010 I shared his recording of "Reason to Believe" but tonight it's the turn of his other most famous song - "If I  Were A Carpenter". This was released in 1966:-

If I were a carpenter
And you were a lady,
Would you marry me anyway?
Would you have my baby?

If a tinker were my trade
Would you still find me,
Carryin' the pots I made,
Followin' behind me.

Save my love through loneliness,
Save my love for sorrow,
I'm given you my onliness,
Come give your tomorrow.

If I worked my hands in wood,
Would you still love me?
Answer me babe, "Yes I would,
I'll put you above me."

If I were a miller
At a mill wheel grinding,
Would you miss your color box,
And your soft shoe shining?

If I were a carpenter
And you were a lady,
Would you marry me anyway?
Would you have my baby?
Would you marry anyway?
Would you have my baby?
Tim Hardin had only just turned thirty nine when he died in Los Angeles  in December, 1980. A son of Eugene, Oregon it is believed that his ultimately fatal addiction to heroin began when he was serving with the US military in South East Asia in the sixties. Hardin played Woodstock in 1969 but just two years later he was performing to a sparse audience in The Floral Hall, Hornsea, East Yorkshire. He would have been twenty nine at the time and I was seventeen.

22 May 2022


By popular request, that's our lovely Little Phoebe in our kitchen this afternoon.  I  was busy cooking the Sunday dinner but I made time to capture a few images of her at sixteen months old. Those pink shoes are her second pair'

Her Great Auntie Carolyn works in a charity shop and spotted a plastic kiddie car when it first came in. She thought it would be a good buy for Little Phoebe and this was her very first outing in her new vehicle.
To tell you the truth, it is not new at all. It's secondhand but that is fine with us, Stew and Frances too. We have made a point of avoiding buying any new plastic toys for Phoebe. Everything is secondhand or used - out of respect for this planet's finite resources.  We have been squandering plastic for far too long and it is time to cease or at least to hugely reduce our purchasing of plastic  items and  items encased  in plastic packaging.
Phoebe does not seem to mind one iota that her car is used as she prepares to drive off into the sunset. Let's hope that in a few months we will have an opportunity to pass the "Little Tikes" plastic car on to another small child to enjoy.

21 May 2022


Today has been spent in a pretty solitary fashion.

I woke at eight and pressed the button on our Sony radio alarm to listen to the morning news. That device is quite miraculous. It has served  us faithfully for thirty six years. There has been no reason to replace it. I wonder if it will just keep going forever.

Downstairs in my dressing gown I fried two eggs and ate them with two slices of wholemeal toast - washed down with my customary pint mug of breakfast tea. On to the desktop computer to check out blogs and other favourite sites. Surfing the internet can be like a drug habit. See later

Mid-morning I phoned my brother Simon. It can feel like walking on eggshells. He flared up when I gently reminded him about nourishment and hydration. I also phoned our son Ian in London. He had just come back from a gym session. We talked about his horse chestnut tree and other stuff such as his week's holiday in Lisbon, Portugal. He's flying out there with his girlfriend, Sarah, at seven tomorrow morning (Sunday). When they return they'll be ready to move into the house they have bought together in Fulham, west London.

I had my shower at midday, made the bed, got dressed and headed out into the garden to do some much needed tidying up - including hedge trimming. Four hours later I was back in the house making my main meal of the day - a spaghetti concoction with bacon, slices of courgette, chopped red onion and mushrooms with parmesan cheese.

After watching a quiz show on the television, I headed out to Lidl to get some supplies in. The main item I required was a large chicken to roast for Sunday dinner but I managed to fill four bags and parted with seventy pounds. It was at the till that I exchanged words with two other humans - the young woman on the till and a man I invited to jump in front of me as he only had an armful of groceries.

Back home, as I put the shopping away, I considered going out for a couple of pints of ale at one of our local bars but decided against it. Instead, I  logged into the BBC i-player and put a film on. It's called "County Lines" - dramatically focusing  on the seedy underworld of urban drug supply. I have watched an hour of it with half an hour to go. I shall return to this film as soon as I have pressed "Publish"... Done!

20 May 2022


It is 11.30pm  and I have just got home from babysitting duties. Little Phoebe was no trouble at all. We have been blessed with such a lovely granddaughter - now sixteen months old. When she wakes up in her cot she waves at the cuddly toys that surround her - her favourite one being Monty the Sloth. He is very soft - just like me.

I have come home to an empty house because Shirley and her sister Carolyn are away for the weekend in a big house in Quorn, Leicestershire. There they are meeting up with ten of their cousins - all women. It has become something of an annual tradition. By the way, the village's name predates the vegetarian food company "Quorn", to which it gave its name, by a few centuries. 

On Thursday afternoon my son-in-law's grandfather Brian died at the age of ninety four down in Stratford-upon-Avon. He drove his wife to the supermarket on Tuesday.  He lived in his own home.  Brian enjoyed good health all his life but in early April he was struck down by Covid and afterwards complained of feeling more tired than usual. I imagine that there was a connection between his unexpected demise and the coronavirus but this will probably never be confirmed.

Also on Thursday my Sunday quiz team reconvened in a Toby Carvery pub-restaurant on the edge of the city  to celebrate our friend Mick's sixty fifth birthday. He is our James Bond expert and also pretty hot on pop music and film dates. It was a great slap-up meal which we all savoured. It had been a long time since any of us had had a Toby Carvery because the one just up the road from us was converted to an upmarket steak house six years ago. By coincidence I had a 50% discount voucher for Thursday's meal. Yorkshiremen love to save money whenever they can.

In relation to my brother Simon, I was pleased to make contact with the East Yorkshire MacMillan nursing service this morning. In fact, I spoke to the itinerant senior nurse who will be Simon's main contact in the weeks and possibly months ahead. She sounded lovely - experienced, very caring and capable. She plans to visit Simon next week. I hope he gets on with her.

Well that's my latest blogosphere offering  finished - my 4045th blogpost of all time.  I am trying to keep  the production line churning and not miss out many days this year.

19 May 2022


Long time visitors to "Yorkshire Pudding" may recall that one of my favourite stomping grounds in the local countryside is Stanage Edge - just over the border in Derbyshire. It is a 3½ mile millstone escarpment running north to south and over the decades I have taken many photographs there.

A few years back, another photographer who used to post to the "Geograph" website referred to me as The King of Stanage Edge and that is a sobriquet that certainly meets with my approval. 

I had another walk up there on Tuesday afternoon and of course came home with yet another set of  digital images in my Sony bridge camera. The top and bottom pictures show abandoned millstones carved long ago. It is thought that the hand carving of millstones along the escarpment had ceased by World War One. The industry was at its height in the middle of the nineteenth century.
The picture above shows a stone "window" close to Robin Hood's Cave

Stanage Edge is very popular with rock climbers. In fact, it is a veritable magnet for them. When my late brother Paul was at Liverpool Polytechnic in the second half of the  nineteen sixties, he travelled  over to Stanage more than once with other members of that institution's  climbing club. It is a pursuit that has never appealed to me because of the very real possibility of falling and ending up in a wheelchair or a cemetery.

Thinking of brothers... my younger brother Simon (aged 66) has finally been told by an oncology consultant that he has no more than six months left to live. A chemotherapy regime could perhaps extend his life for up to a year but Simon has declined that treatment. I guess he is thinking: What's the point? It is highly unlikely that he will reach his sixty seventh birthday. I am his "next of kin" so of course I need to be available for him as his life ebbs away through the coming  months. We hope and expect that he will be given expert support by MacMillan cancer nurses as he travels his final journey.

18 May 2022


Our Ian and the conker tree last weekend

It was in the autumn of 1987 when a little boy and his doting father walked along a quiet lane where horse chestnut or conker trees grew. It was in The Ewden Valley in South Yorkshire. Conkers were everywhere. Some were still in their spiky seed pods and others had bounced away after hitting the ground.

The small boy and his father gathered conkers in a shopping bag and when they got home they placed one of them in a plant pot. It sprouted the following spring and a year after that they moved house without forgetting to bring the tiny conker tree with them.

That little boy was my son Ian who will be thirty eight years old this summer and of course the doting father was me.

In thirty five years that conker tree gradually increased in size to become a giant that stood forty feet off the ground. When a tree stands just a few inches tall, you never really visualise what it might become.

Today Ian's mighty tree was brought down in three hours by a small team of tree surgeons wielding chainsaws. I asked the leader how much wood they thought they'd be removing and he said between 1.5 and 2.0 tons. To think, the original conker probably weighed no more than two ounces!

Tree surgeon at work today 

Well, we have saved some of the wood - hopefully to make into bowls and chopping boards so that Ian will always have tangible souvenirs of his special tree. Also, a friend who has a log burner asked us to save him a pile of logs. In addition, I asked the fellows to leave a six foot stump that could henceforth be used as an extra bird table.

I feel quite sad that the tree has gone. Sometimes pigeons nested in its branches. For thirty three autumns I cleared up its fallen leaves and  in thirty three springs I watched it budding and bursting into life. It's rather like parting company with an old friend, one that I will always remember fondly.

What remains

17 May 2022


"Ribbledin" is the name that Ebenezer Elliott invented for a stream that is in reality called Black Brook. It descends from Lodge Moor to the west of Sheffield, plunging to The River Rivelin below.  It was here, in the 1830's,  that he would sit to cogitate and absorb Nature's beauty. The Scottish poet, Robbie Burns (1759-1796) is referenced in the poem. He was one of Elliott's literary heroes - another "man of the people".
Ebenezer Elliott


No name hast thou! lone streamlet
That lovest Rivilin. 
Here, if a bard may christen thee, 
I’ll call thee “Ribbledin;” 
Here, where first murmuring from thine urn, 
Thy voice deep joy expresses; 
And down the rock, like music, flows 
The wildness of thy tresses. 

Here, while beneath the umbrage 
Of Nature’s forest bower, 
Bridged o’er by many a fallen birch, 
And watch’d by many a flower, 
To meet thy cloud-descended love,
All trembling, thou retirest – 
Here will I murmur to thy waves 
The sad joy thou inspirest. 

Dim world of weeping mosses! 
A hundred years ago, 
Yon hoary-headed holly tree 
Beheld thy streamlet flow: 
See how he bends him down to hear 
The tune that ceases never! 
Old as the rocks, wild stream, he seems, 
While thou art young for ever. 

Wildest and lonest streamlet! 
Grey oaks, all lichen’d o’er! 
Rush-bristled isles! ye ivied trunks 
That marry shore to shore! 
And thou, gnarl’d dwarf of centuries, 
Whose snaked roots twist above me! 
O for the tongue or pen of Burns, 
To tell you how I love ye! 

Would that I were a river, 
To wander all alone 
Through some sweet Eden of the wild, 
In music of my own;
And bathed in bliss, and fed with dew, 
Distill’d o’er mountains hoary, 
Return unto my home in heav’n 
On wings of joy and glory! 

Or that I were the lichen, 
That, in this roofless cave, 
(The dim geranium’s lone boudoir,) 
Dwells near the shadow’d wave, 
And hears the breeze-bow’d tree-tops sigh, 
While tears below are flowing, 
For all the sad and lovely things 
That to the grave are going! 

O that I were a primrose, 
To bask in sunny air! 
Far, far from all the plagues that make 
Town-dwelling men despair! 
Then would I watch the building-birds, 
Where light and shade are moving, 
And lovers’ whisper, and love’s kiss, 
Rewards the loved and loving! 

Or that I were a skylark, 
To soar and sing above, 
Filling all hearts with joyful sounds, 
And my own soul with love! 
Then o’er the mourner and the dead, 
And o’er the good man dying, 
My song should come like buds and flowers, 
When music warbles flying. 

O that a wing of splendour,
Like yon wild cloud, were mine! 
Yon bounteous cloud, that gets to give, 
And borrows to resign! 
On that bright wing, to climes of spring 
I’d bear all wintry bosoms, 
And bid hope smile on weeping thoughts, 
Like April on her blossoms;

Or like the rainbow, laughing 
O’er Rivilin and Don,  
When misty morning calleth up 
Her mountains, one by one, 
While glistening down the golden broom, 
The gem-like dew-drop raineth, 
And round the little rocky isles 
The little wave complaineth. 

O that the truth of beauty 
Were married to my rhyme! 
That it might wear a mountain charm 
 Until the death of Time! 
Then, Ribbledin! would all the best 
Of Sorrow’s sons and daughters 
See Truth reflected in my song, 
Like beauty on thy waters. 

No longer, nameless streamlet, 
That marriest Rivilin! 
Henceforth, lone Nature’s devotees 
Would call thee “Ribbledin,” 
Whenever, listening where thy voice 
Its first wild joy expresses, 
And down the rocks all wildly flows 
The wildness of thy tresses.

16 May 2022


From observational notes made at Elliott's Rock, Black Brook...

A warm spring day post noon. I descend hesitantly down a precipitous path into the secret dell. Thankfully, gnarled roots and hunks of angular base rock extrude. Otherwise, the plunging path would have the profile of a long children's slide in a woodland adventure park. Sensibly, I take my time. Somewhere, south of the trees, a golfer yells "Fore!" and a metal bar is distantly clanked to warn of pedestrians crossing Hallamshire golf course.

Reaching the bottom, I notice a pair of blue-tits flitting around a tree hollow. Perhaps they are nesting for it is that time of year. Just below them, Black Brook weaves amidst jumbled rocks. It is as if they were cast down in a giants' game of dice.

Mayflies dance above the bubbling surface of the little stream that leaks out of Lodge Moor - moving in unison like a scud of mist. Momentarily they are illuminated in a shaft of amber sunlight  - as delicate as floating dandelion seeds.

Fresh emerald grasses, unfurling ferns and mossy green cushions costume the scene beneath soaring trees that cling tenaciously to the rugged undercliff. They provide lofty perches for an unseen orchestra of avian musicians - blackbird and speckled song thrush.

I sit beside that  sussurating  water mesmerised by tiny bubbles that jostle  in their  tinkly descent Above me, a sail full of wind stirs the treetops then resurges like an ocean wave before subsiding - leaving pure silence, birdsong and reverie behind.

It was here that Ebenezer Elliott wrote "Ribbledin": I am sure of it.

15 May 2022


Frankly, what is happening in America in relation to laws that concern abortion is simply terrible.

Pro-life Bible bashers and other right wingers are turning the clock back as they seek to prevent abortion in all circumstances. That position is both cruel and ill-considered. In my opinion, there is only one abortion slogan that is worth repetition - "A Woman's Right to Choose".

When my late grandmother Phyllis was thirty two years old, she was desperate for an abortion.  Her very survival was threatened by an unwanted pregnancy. She already had two children who she had previously  been forced to send to live with her parents. A third child would have been economically disastrous.

In her desperation, she chose the back street method that involved  knitting needles. I don't know all the gynaecological details but she nearly bled to death and afterwards she was incapable of having any more pregnancies. With legal access to  a quality abortion service, my grandmother would have probably been perfectly fine and her fertility would not have been compromised.

When I think of the pro-life brigade, my mind always drifts to Malawi, to rural India, to Bolivia and Eswatini. I think of malaria and infant mortality and of babies dying because of diarrhoea and dirty water supplies. What are the American pro-lifers doing to help babies and small children in such distant lands? They claim to care about unborn children but really they are only bothered about white American babies. When all is said and done it appears to be the birth they care about - not the life that follows.

Having an abortion is not something that anyone should seek lightly. Many potential mothers who opted for abortions live with self-recrimination till the end of their days. That's just how it is. But it is not up to me, to you nor to anyone else to hinder access to safe and legal abortions nor to stand on moral high ground passing judgement on women, often young women who have been caught. History should have taught us all that if you deny a woman  a safe, legal abortion she will be driven elsewhere.


It is the middle of the night. Sleepless in Seattle Sheffield.

Six hours ago, Clint and I drove over to Chesterfield Road to visit our closest Lidl store. There I picked up supplies for the next three days including a basted pork loin joint for Sunday dinner, a pack of nine toilet rolls, two bags of Jersey Royal new potatoes and a pint of fresh orange juice. There were no fresh eggs.

After putting the shopping away, I went up to the top of our garden, beyond the vegetable patch, ready to light a bonfire. It was the first one I have had this year. Plenty of garden material had accumulated but it was nice and dry and I was confident the rubbish would blaze. Earlier I had split the pile in two, knowing that if I had left it as one big heap the conflagration would have too big and too unruly. with angry flames leaping twenty feet high. Since next door built a large shed at the bottom of their garden, I have had to be more careful with my occasional fires, ensuring they are well-controlled.

After the bonfire had subdued itself, I came back inside and grabbed a can of cold Dutch beer from the fridge. Shirley was in the front room watching the annual Eurovision Song Contest.

It is a strange, glitzy affair that spawns terrible songs and unmemorable acts. It has never been my cup of tea. When all the songs have been sung, the voting begins with nearly all European nations participating. This year, everything was looking good for Great Britain. We were top of the leaderboard. Then my eyes became heavy and I fell asleep, waking just before the end of the show to discover that Ukraine had leapt above us to steal the crown thereby proving that war can bring unexpected benefits.

Shirley went to bed which is what I should have done but I switched over to the BBC News Channel and promptly fell asleep once more, waking an hour later. I came into the study and tackled today's "Wordle" - achieving the solution on my third guess.

By the way, it was our friend Pat's funeral on Friday afternoon. You may remember me writing a poem for him a month ago. The local crematorium was packed to overflowing and there were many heartfelt tears. One of his six brothers, Nobby, played "Going Home" from Dvorak's "New World Symphony" on the Irish bagpipes. The service was conducted by the chaplain from the hospice where he died. Pat's  daughter, Jennifer, read the eulogy and throughout  there were  no references to any kind of god or heaven. In spite or because of his strict Roman Catholic upbringing, he did not believe in all that stuff.

I climbed the stairs to bed around two o'clock. An hour later I was still wide awake, exploring memories in my head. I had no choice in the matter. With no immediate prospect of sleep, I came back downstairs to this computer keyboard.and tapped out this blogpost. Falling asleep in front of the television can be fatal! Thankfully, this does not happen to me very often. 

It now being 04.17 on May 15th, I can see that the day that will dawn before too long is already creating a pale and ghostly lightening of the eastern sky. Maybe sleep will overcome me this time round.

Kalush Orchestra (Ukraine) Eurovision winners 2022

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