Overseas visitors to this humble Yorkshire blog may be unaware that Great Britain has got yet another unelected prime minister. I will give you two picture clues so that you can possibly guess his name...
"O God, I could be bounded in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams." - Hamlet Act II scene ii
31 October 2022
30 October 2022
29 October 2022
In that bright light
when the sky glows
with the promise of a rising sun;
when the air is cool
and the dew lies heavy on the ground -
Then come the weavers,
threading their strands thro' the grass,
so that in the evening
when the sun is low
it shines through silken threads
that shimmer in the fading light
a field of gossamer.
28 October 2022
Today, I returned to a place I had not visited since July 2018 - out on the moors west of Sheffield. It's called The Head Stone and it can be seen very easily from The A57 Snake Pass road that weaves its way to my adopted city from Glossop and Manchester.
I blogged about The Head Stone after my last visit. Go here. In the intervening four years, I have not been able to find out any more about it, except that in past times it had different names including Stump John, The Priestley Stone and The Cock Crowing Stone.
When you are there, you notice the rising ground and the other rocks that surround The Head Stone - many hidden by bracken and heather. Having visited many ancient sites, I am pretty sure that the location is not only interesting because of its geology but because of the long ago secrets it cannot speak. I have no idea if it has ever received the close attention of skilled archaeologists.
I walked for over two hours this afternoon, leaving Clint at the Wyming Brook car park by Redmires Road. From there, the track descends to the Rivelin Reservoirs along a track established by Sheffield Council in the early twentieth century - for both leisure and forestry. Some people were collecting sweet chestnuts but their husks are so prickly you need work gloves to deal with them. I understand that all sweet chestnut trees on this island owe their existence to The Romans. They occupied most of Britain between AD43 and AD410 - almost four hundred years. That is of course a long time. They left their mark here in lots of ways.
Here's a picture I took on Wyming Brook Drive with beech leaves carpeting the roadway:-
27 October 2022
I was looking at a list of the hundred top singles of 1969. It was perhaps surprising how many of them I could remember but back then I was quite obsessed with music and kept up with the charts and latest releases even though I much preferred full albums.
Anyway, for nostalgic entertainment purposes, I decided to pick just three of my favourite songs from the list to share here with you - in no particular order. Maybe next week I will do the same for 1970. Enjoy!
Peter Sarstedt - "Where Do You Go To My Lovely?":-
26 October 2022
Two evenings a week I visit our closest "Lidl" supermarket. I was there again last night, stocking up on vital supplies. My trolley wasn't even half full so it was a bit of a surprise when the checkout lady announced that my bill was £90.79
"Hell! The cost of things really is going up isn't it?" I muttered.
Amongst other items, I had picked up two bottles of wine, a bottle of vintage English cider, four cans of IPA beer and some salmon so perhaps these more pricey items had pushed the bill up beyond normal expectations. That's what I was thinking as Clint whisked me home.
I put the shopping away and then marched down to the local pub to see my old mate Bert. It was only when I got home and plonked myself in this swivelling computer chair that I decided to check my till receipt. Nowadays many shoppers don't bother with till receipts but this little tale should act as a useful warning to them.
Everything on the till receipt seemed to be in order until I reached the very last item. I had bought a bag of cherry tomatoes priced most acceptably at £1.09. I had to do a double take at that point as the receipt indicated that I had bought not one but thirty five bags of cherry tomatoes - coming in at a colossal £38.15 (US$44.36)
In an instant it became very clear why my total bill had taken me aback earlier on Tuesday night.
This morning I drove back to "Lidl" with the bag of cherry tomatoes and my till receipt. The two members of staff I spoke with were most obliging and not for a single moment was there any suspicion that I might have actually put thirty five bags of cherry tomatoes in my trolley.
I was refunded but it bothers me slightly that no gesture was made in relation to my inconvenience and the unplanned drive back to "Lidl". A voucher for say £10 would have been a nice touch. Anyway, the moral of this story is: check your supermarket receipts - unless of course you happen to be a millionaire!
25 October 2022
24 October 2022
Sooner or later -
Last bus home or
The leaves of history books say
What’s here now will slip away,
Picked up a leaf
In the autumn woods,
Observed its pigmentation -
Hints of August green
And seldom seen
Russet, copper and
She brought it to me
Like a precious gift,
Like a baby bird,
Held in her palm
Like the memory
Of a summer
Like the very march of time -
Auguring leaves that shall quiver
Far beyond this rhyme.
23 October 2022
Words are endlessly fascinating aren't they? Often I wonder where they came from or how popular they might be. There's always a bit of history behind the words we use.
Recently I used the word "flabbergasting" to describe a widespread reaction to the idea that Chubby Johnson - the man with a head of straw - might return as prime minister. By the way, I am very pleased to learn this very evening that he has squashed that idea so the path is now clear for Rishi Sunak to waltz into Number 10 Downing Street.
I like the word "flabbergasting". It rolls nicely off the tongue like "marshmallow" or "nincompoop". The root word "flabbergast" may have first arisen as a dialect word in Suffolk or Sussex. No one seems to know for sure. It seems to have entered the written language in 1772 as no other traceable appearances of the word have been found before that date. It may combine "flabby" and "aghast".
Throughout the nineteenth century, the word's use was quite rare. It was only around 1900 that "flabbergasted" and "flabbergasting" began to gain real traction, levelling off around 1940 before surging again around 1995. It's the same in America and Australia as in Great Britain.
Throughout this millennium its usage trajectory has continued steadily upwards. It seems that the majority of native English speakers are now both familiar and comfortable with the word. In "Carry On Up The Jungle" (1970), the British comic actor Frankie Howerd says: “I’m flabbergasted. My gast has never been so flabbered.”
In many contexts, "flabbergasted" is arguably more powerfully expressive than "astonished", "amazed" or "astounded". It suggests that your bottom jaw is hanging open with incredulity. Surely not! Yes. I will continue to use "flabbergasted" and "flabbergasting" from time to time to express reactions that verge on sheer disbelief and God knows there have many happenings in recent years that thoroughly merit connection with the term.
22 October 2022
21 October 2022
I should explain that "Wuthering Heights" and Emily Brontë mean a great deal to me. I studied the novel at Advanced Level when I was at secondary school. I studied it again at university and when I was a secondary school English teacher, I taught it to two cohorts of A level students.
In addition, I have visited the little Pennine town of Haworth where the Brontës lived on several occasions and I have walked over the moors to Top Withens four times. It is believed that Top Withens Farm - now a ruin - provided Emily Brontë with the idea for Wuthering Heights in the amazing novel of that name.
My daughter Frances's middle name is Emily and that is not co-incidental. There is also a character called Frances in the novel. I confess that I didn't tell Shirley about this when she said she liked the name before our beautiful baby girl was born back in 1988.
And so I came to the 2022 film with special interest. I wanted it to be good and in most ways it was good. There was a sense of bleakness in a God-fearing community and a feeling that death might be just around the corner as it was for so many in the early nineteenth century.
Of course the director and her team were not seeking historical accuracy. They had poetic licence to create an imagined version of events and how the characters might have related to each other. There is no evidence for Emily's steamy affair with the new curate William Weightman. This is made up but adds spice to the middle section of the film. The religious propriety and watchful eyes of the early-Victorian era would have restrained Emily and Weightman like invisible chains. Besides, rumour had it that he was in fact drawn to Emily's sister Anne.
20 October 2022
Wednesday October 19th
"I'm a fighter not a quitter!" says Elizabeth Truss
Thursday October 20th
Elizabeth Truss quits as prime minister.
Lasting only 45 days in the job, Elizabeth Truss now has a place in history by having had the shortest term in office of any British prime minister. Previously, the record was held by George Canning who lasted 119 days, dying in office from tuberculosis in 1827.
Now our country awaits the appointment of yet another prime minister and there are depressing rumours of a possible return for Johnson. To very many of us, this prospect is quite flabbergasting given his past conduct in office.
The political soap opera continues.
Meanwhile, in the suburbs of Sheffield, Little Phoebe was entranced by the autumn leaves and acorns she collected in nearby Ecclesall Woods yesterday afternoon. I realised that she was really seeing those colourful leaves for the very first time and there was something rather magical about her reactions. I captured this image of her cantering down a woodland path towards her two grandmothers:-
19 October 2022
It's nice to be able to share some of my photographs in this blog. It's also nice to receive positive feedback about those images from visitors who are not in the habit of dishing out praise just for the sake of it. Thank you to all who left encouraging remarks in relation to yesterday's pictorial blogpost - all gratefully received.
Anyway, I am afraid that I can't think of anything new to blog about this evening so instead I am just going to share another batch of photos from my trip to Romiley and the surrounding area so here goes:-
England was once a nation of churchgoers. Today that is most definitely not the case as far as Christians are concerned. In fact, most of the so-called Christians would object to that label.
In Gee Cross I took photos of two churches that once boasted large and loyal congregations. Above is Gee Cross Methodist Church. It was opened in 1882 but now it is up for sale and suffering through lack of maintenance. It's looking like this might be one for the demolition squad. Some old Methodist churches are successfully re-purposed as apartment blocks but given its location and state of disrepair, I doubt there's any future for this building though I hope that I am wrong.
Also in Gee Cross is Holy Trinity Church. See below. It opened in 1874 and under The Reverend Helen Scarisbrick it continues to attract a reasonable number of parishioners and is thus bucking the trend. As I approached from the other side of the tower, I came across a lady in her late seventies or early eighties sweeping up autumn leaves along the main church path. We chatted for a while and I asked her why the church clock had no hands. She assured me it was because the clock faces and internal workings are currently undergoing costly refurbishment and the hands will be replaced in due course.
Yesterday I showed you the bottom section of this war memorial in Werneth Low Country Park. Below - I think that that is a late blooming dahlia at Uplands Farm. You are welcome to correct me if I am wrong.
And finally below, autumn oak leaves on the pavement (American: sidewalk) that runs past Romiley Park. It seems to be the current fashion to display photos of autumn leaves on northern hemisphere blogs so why shouldn't I?
18 October 2022
Yes. I did get to Romiley and back and had a lovely, long walk in gorgeous sunshine. From the station - along Compstall Road through the suburb of Cherry Tree then along a quiet single track lane to High Benfield Farm. Through sheep pastures and up the hill to Uplands Farm. Across Werneth Low Road then passing a golf course to reach Hyde War Memorial magnificently perched on a hill overlooking the town.
Down to the district of Gee Cross and along Hyde Road for two miles to Woodley. I walked alongside that main road until I reached The Peak Forest Canal. There's a path by the side of it and it led me for a further two miles to Romiley and the railway station. As planned, I caught the 16.08 home. It was crowded but I got a seat and in an hour I was back at Dore and Totley Station in Sheffield.
You know the camera never lies, so here's my proof that this walk really happened:-
17 October 2022
I am going to Romiley tomorrow morning. My trusty motor vehicle Clint will remain at home because I will be travelling to Romiley by train. Riding on the train I will be able to read. It takes an hour to get to Romiley from Dore and Totley station. The return rail fare is £15.80 ($18 US).
"Romiley?" you ask. Where the hell is Romiley? It is in Greater Manchester - to the south east of the city and just east of Stockport. In the early nineteenth century, Romiley was an agricultural village surrounded by farmland but during the industrial revolution it was more or less gobbled up by the sprawling tentacles of Manchester. However, there are still areas of green around it.
Before I go to bed I need to print off my rail tickets as well as maps that will guide me on my long circular walk. Tomorrow evening I hope to post some of my own pictures to give you a better idea of what Romiley and the surrounding area is like.
This may seem kind of sad but I am quite excited about the planned excursion. The weather is more or less guaranteed to be wonderful tomorrow - a bright autumn day with rich colours. I will be walking in what I call virgin territory for I have never been there before. I expect I will cover eight or nine miles before catching the 16.08 train home.
As the saying goes - simple things please simple minds. However, I know that one day I will be too old and infirm to plan something like this so I will enjoy it while I can and relish every footstep and every new sight.
16 October 2022
To tell you the truth, I am rather ambivalent about dogs. As a child, we never had dogs in our family and as an adult homeowner the idea of adopting or buying a dog never occurred to me.
Once, when I was a relief nightwatchman in a caravan factory, I became quite attached to an Alsatian guard dog called Shane. Shirley's mother and father also had an Alsatian called Emma. She was a farm dog who slept in a kennel and was rarely allowed in the house.
Anyway, the other night a bloke I hardly know came to join me and Bert at our table in the local pub. Lord knows why, but it wasn't long before he started sounding off about the issues he has with dogs and dog ownership.
He talked of the massive amount of food that pet dogs eat in Great Britain and said that if re-processed this food would be perfectly fine for humans to consume. He also banged on about the number of car journeys that are taken because of dogs - usually to places where they can enjoy walks with their owners. He also mentioned fatal dog attacks and diseases caused by dog faeces - such as canis toxocara.
As I say, I have never given dogs much mind and have certainly never begrudged dog ownership as that man appeared to do. I know that pet dogs can bring much comfort to their owners - rather like good friends do.
However, some of his points have been swirling around in my mind these last few days and I have thought about the environmental impact that dog ownership is having upon our weeping planet. In Britain 33% of households own dogs and the dog food market is worth an estimated £1.5 billion a year. I was unable to find out how many car miles are travelled each year specifically to take dogs for walks but I imagine that it is quite a lot and of course every one of these journeys involves burning fossil fuels
I guess that this is a pretty emotive subject. Several of my favourite blogs are managed by proud dog owners and I was wondering what you and others might think about these environmental concerns surrounding dog ownership.
I am now not really sure how I feel about this matter any more and so your input would be much appreciated as I try to reach some clarity.
15 October 2022
14 October 2022
On Puffin Island, the little puffins all go to nursery school.
This is Peter Puffin. He's a nice little puffin.
13 October 2022
It's an area that has known a lot of quarrying and mining both for lead and limestone. If you know how to look, the evidence is everywhere. By the way, I have no idea who Black Harry was but I wouldn't have wished to encounter him on a dark night in bygone days. What would he have done with my plastic debit card?
I drove home via Stoney Middleton down in the valley. An information board claimed that that village's high street was once reputed to be the steepest high street in the British Isles. I guess they had never been to Staithes or Clovelly or Runswick Bay or several other coastal villages I could mention.
And now I am popping down to the local to see Bert and to slake my thirst. See you later. I will add the photos then.
12 October 2022
Cue music and let's get back to the game
If death has occurred, why must you look?
“There are no threats to the civilian population”.
He sits in his high backed leather chair
10 October 2022
In blogging, people come and people go. Favourite "go to" bloggers may fade away. Perhaps they got bored with blogging or found something better to do with their time.
For a few years, I had almost daily blogworld meetings with Jan Blawat in Sloughhouse, California. Her blog was called "Cosumne Gal" but she hasn't added any more blogposts in five and a half years so I think that it is nigh time to remove her blog link from my "Blogorama" list in the sidebar. I shall replace "Cosumne Gal" with "Drifting Through Life" by River out of Adelaide, South Australia.
Another blog that has been mothballed is called "The Autumn of My Life" by Donna out of Colorado, USA. We were very much on the same wavelength and at times she was like the big sister I never had. I know that she still calls by "Yorkshire Pudding" from time to time and so our connection will never be entirely severed. I will replace Donna with Bruce from Prescott Valley, Arizona. He is the mastermind behind "Oddball Observations" and his pen name is Catalyst.
I keep visiting both River and Catalyst's blogs without the convenience of sidebar links but tonight that is going to change.
There are one or two other blogs not listed in "Blogorama" that I keep visiting and my blog management committee are considering adding them to the side list too.
Nothing lasts forever does it? When I look back, there a number of bloggers who have departed the scene and whose presence was once meaningful to me. But time marches on and everything changes.
Welcome to River and to Catalyst!
Last night, we lay down on sunbeds and watched Mrs Moon rise like a tangerine over The Aegean Sea. To capture the beauty of the scene fa...
Chavs being chavvish. Just the other day, I spotted a male "chav" down by the local Methodist church. He was wearing a Burberrry ...
So there I was standing in the kitchen of our son's terraced house. Something caught my eye outside in his little urban garden. It was a...