29 September 2023


Eleven years ago, I was walking near Pilsley in Derbyshire. As I recall, it was a lovely day at the very end of September. Sunny spells played tag with the clouds and all seemed well with the world. As usual, I plotted a circular course, unsure of what sights I might see. Like a technicolour feature film without a plot. Just a beginning and an end.

When rambling, I am always drawn to abandoned farm buildings. They add a melancholy beauty to the landscape. Like old churches, they speak poetically of past times and of the now silent rural workers who once plodded along the same lanes.
Recently, I have been somewhat incapacitated - confined to barracks as they say so there has been a hiatus in my walking activity. In such circumstances, it is such a tonic to look upon the "inward eye" that is "the bliss of solitude" and recall past walks with the assistance of photo folders stored here on this aging personal computer.
Above, a man in a blue sweater walks up the lane towards Pilsley passing a stone cowshed with warped roof timbers. When it was constructed all of the materials would have been sourced close by and no building inspectors would have come along to stamp their  official approval.

Before too long, I will be out there again finding new paths to plod while relishing the gifts that walking provides. It's so simple. One foot in front of the other and I shall do it for as long as I am able.

28 September 2023


Trump mini-speaker

I swear that I am not making this up. There really is an online store where you can order stuff that pays homage to the American demagogue and no doubt  help to pay his spiralling legal bills.

There was a time when such an idea would have been unthinkable. Serious politicians are meant to focus on the onerous responsibility of running countries not upon souvenir merchandise sales.  But Trump spotted a business opportunity.

At the Trumpstore you can purchase all manner of apparel from T-shirts to baseball caps and from hoodies to golfwear. Mostly these items bear a single word and that is "Trump". It is as if he is some sort of religious leader - a mast to pin your allegiances to.

Leaving the clothing aside, here are some of the other bizarre items you can purchase via Trumpstore 

Lady's clutch bag $84

Trump gummy bears

Mar-A-Lago and Trump jet models - sold as a set for $205

Dog collar

Beach ball and bucket set

Trump cheese knives $44

Perfume, hi-ball glasses, bandanas, flasks, umbrellas, socks and many other Trump items may be bought from the Trumpstore. But here are some things that they don't sell - Integrity, Honesty, Kindness, Humility, Intelligence, Fairness and  Truth. Of course these things do not sit well with Donald J. Trump. And they do not seem to matter much to his deluded followers either.

27 September 2023


Katie in "The Job of Songs"

Lying in bed this very morning half-listening to the "Today" programme on BBC Radio 4, I was surprised to hear the dulcet tones of my niece Katie warbling "I Remember You Singing This Song Ma". There then followed an interview led by the presenter Martha Carney with our Katie plus an American documentary film maker called Lila Schmitz.

Schmitz has created a film called "The Job of Songs". Focused upon Doolin in County Clare, Ireland, I understand that the film explores the tension between the quiet solitude of the west of Ireland and the vibrancy of traditional music sessions. Apparently, Katie has a lead role in the documentary which I have not yet managed to see.

Katie features in the film trailer...

And then this very evening, I learnt that our son Ian featured in today's edition of "The Evening Standard" down in London. It is our capital's most widely read paper and during the week you will find it stacked at every tube station entrance.

Ian starred in a regular mid-week item where "celebrities" give insights into their particular neighbourhoods. For Ian, it was the Fulham district...

Such family fame and publicity! In contrast, the faceless author of this humble Yorkshire blog has reached the end of his course of antibiotics. Still feeling rather nauseous and not quite myself I did very little all day - only venturing out in the Clint rocket ship  to do some grocery shopping at half past eight in the evening.  

Now that my difficult love affair with  nitrofurantoin is over, I hope to become myself again and fully able to drive over to Hull on Saturday to watch my beloved Tigers play Plymouth Argyle in the English Championship.

But to recap, I guess this was a pretty momentous day for my family - my only niece on Radio 4 and my only son in "The Evening Standard". I am not jealous - not one little bit for I am content to bask in the reflected glow of their achievements.

26 September 2023


The nights are drawing in and autumn seems to have ousted summer. It wasn't so long ago that it was still light at 9pm but now it's getting dark by 7pm. There's a definite chill in the air.

At this time of year, in many British communities, people still give thanks for harvest time - in schools and churches. For me, growing up in a village that was surrounded by productive farmland, the idea of harvest festivals seemed perhaps more pertinent than it might have done to city dwellers. We saw combine harvesters scything the wheat and we helped to pick the potatoes and the peas. We knew for certain that our food came to us from the very earth that we walked upon.

As an erstwhile  choirboy in Holy Trinity Church, I knew the harvest hymns by heart and watched small children bringing baskets of produce to the altar. It was a time of celebration.

For decades, a BBC TV Sunday institution has been a programme called "Songs of Praise". The format is quite simple really. The cameras visit different churches to record congregations singing hymns in unison. Of course, unlike ordinary Sundays,  the pews are always filled and people are always nicely attired. They are clearly told to ignore the cameras.

I now invite you to sing along to "We Plough The Fields And Scatter" - Britain's favourite harvest-time hymn (written by a German). And while you are singing along please observe the multicultural nature of the congregation - like a beautiful rainbow pattern... See Michael Caine at 2:22 - he has been putting away the pies.

25 September 2023


Jonathan Pie is just a character played by actor and comedian Tom Walker. Pie has become a bit of a cult figure over here in Britain and a thorn in the establishment's side. The idea is that he's a news reporter but he often bitterly disagrees with the version of the news he is asked to tell and when he's "off air" he rants about political truths he's not allowed to broadcast on his imaginary mainstream TV channel.

Last week our current Tory Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, sought to distance himself from established green policies and to slow down the pace of change in that critical area. This is all about him appealing to the lowest common denominator in order to win votes in the forthcoming General Election. Currently The Tories (Conservative Party) are in for a trouncing and Sunak is desperately looking to change gear, even making stuff up about proposed green measures.

Once again, Jonathan Pie has seen through the bullshit:-

Health Update
Your faithful correspondent survived the weekend and the poorliness caused by a) a urinary tract infection and b) a disagreeable course of antibiotic capsules is now in remission. Though still far from top form, I did manage to stroll down to the local post office today to purchase a birthday card for our beloved daughter Frances. Unbelievably - she will be thirty five tomorrow.

24 September 2023


On Schoch Street in Mbabane, the de facto capital of Eswatini, a schoolgirl walks home. She is walking in a westerly direction so I know that it is the afternoon or early evening. Eswatini used to be known as Swaziland but in 2018 King Mswati III decided to change the name - partly to mark fifty years of independence from Britain and also because the old name sounded too much like Switzerland! Eswatini simply means "Land of the Swazis" - by far the little country's largest ethnic group.

Located in south eastern Africa, Eswatini has a population of 1,236,000. Life expectancy is low at just 58 years and this is partly because the country continues to suffer an HIV/AIDS epidemic with 28% of the population being HIV positive. The country's median age is 22 years compared with say  Japan where the median age is 49 years.
Above - the amusingly named End Street is in the spacious low rise suburbs of  Mbabane. Looking around the city via Google Streetview you do not see obvious signs of dire poverty. On the surface at least, it seems like a reasonably prosperous place where citizens take pride in their homes and surroundings.

This is the flag of Eswatini. It was designed by King Sobhuza II and has been the country's flag since full independence was achieved in 1968. The spears and shield remind the Swazi people of their military history. The hide shield is black and white to suggest that black and white people can live in harmony together.
Though I have never been to Eswatini, back in 1973 an old school friend flew out there for a year to teach in a high school under the auspices of Voluntary Service Overseas. He had a great year and coincidentally in 1974 joined me at The University of Stirling where he also pursued the joint honours course in English Studies and Education.

His name was Andy Monkman and he always seemed like a happy, solid kind of bloke but a few years ago I was horrified to learn that he had killed himself. Try as I might I failed to unearth any details - like why, when and where. He is one person I wish I had stayed in touch with. It is possible that somebody else who knew Andy might stumble across this blogpost and be able to fill in some details. I would be most grateful.

23 September 2023


Last night was awful. I am sure I was experiencing side-effects from the antibiotics. I don't believe I have ever been given nitroturantoin before. Because of the unpleasant reaction, it is hard to tell if my urine infection is being effectively targeted. I just feel rotten. I will spare you the gruesome details of what transpired last night but it involved several visits to the bathroom

Again I did not feel like eating anything but this morning I had a small bowl of porridge - simply so that I could take the first capsule of the day with food. It was the same in the evening when I had a cheese sandwich. That's all I have had to eat today.

I spent the entire day on our sofa watching, "Hey Duggee" and two World Cup rugby union matches plus other bits and bobs. I didn't have the energy to do much else. "Hey Duggee" was to please Little Phoebe as she is staying with us again this weekend. Her parents are attending a wedding down in Oxfordshire. I think this is the last one in their  2023 diary.

I am afraid that my granddaughter caring skills have been on ice this weekend but fortunately Shirley  has been in top form.

A little googling suggests that there can sometimes be a correlation between COVID booster vaccinations  and urinary tract infections. I had my last booster on Tuesday afternoon and by Wednesday evening I was starting to feel  somewhat queasy - and not in my usual robust health so there may be something in this idea.

And now I am off up the stairs to bed. I hope I have a better night than last night.

22 September 2023


 I don't have much to say today as for the past thirty six hours I have been suffering from a urine infection. This happens to me perhaps once every two years or so and the symptoms are unpleasantly familiar.

You feel washed out and feverish. It's a bit like being poisoned from within. My urine is cloudy and as instructed  I took a sample of it to our medical centre in the early afternoon. I have hardly had anything to eat today for my appetite vanished entirely  yesterday evening.

Fortunately, I now have a course of antibiotics that I picked up free of charge from our local pharmacy later this afternoon. No sign of any improvement yet but fingers crossed I will turn a corner tomorrow morning.

I must share this with you. At the pharmacy there was a smiley receptionist in her late fifties. When I rocked up she said, "You used to be my English teacher!"  She had left the school in question in 1982. We both bewailed the fact that it is now the location of a retail park. Such a shame. It was a great school and I had five happy years there.

21 September 2023



Above - that's Raynor Winn and her husband Moth. Back in 2020, she  had great success with her book, "The Salt Path"   . I reviewed it in November of that year. It told the true story of a long distance walk that she and Moth took along England's South West Coast Path. Having been evicted from their Welsh farmhouse and with little money, the walk was an act of self-affirmation.

Her second book is titled "The Wild Silence" and it covers the months after her initial literary success. They move into a dilapidated farm in Cornwall which they have to bring back to life with the encouragement of an understanding and supportive landlord.

In the last third of the book they venture to Iceland and undertake a challenging trek with two friends in the wild southwestern landscape of that raw island.

Claims on the book cover include: "A thrill to read!", "Extraordinary!" and "Spellbinding!" But these judgements did not match my own. In my opinion, "The Wild Silence" lacked the purpose and page turning readability of the first book.

It was certainly okay with some great passages - often concerning nature - but on the whole I felt it was probably written with the encouragement of a literary agent in cahoots with Penguin Books - to capitalise upon the success of "The Salt Path".

She has published a third book now called "Landlines" about a long distance walk down the west of Britain from the top of Scotland but I wouldn't be in a hurry to buy it. There are so many other books out there  to read aren't there?

20 September 2023


Blogging can take up quite a lot of one's time. There are blogposts to compose day after day and there are visits to make to favoured blogs, frequently leaving comments behind.

Though I am quite reliable with regard to visiting certain blogs, I can't help feeling guilty about my general failings as a blog visitor. For whatever reason I like to visit "Magnon's Meanderings" and "Shadows and Light" every morning and I am also pretty good at keeping up with "Nobody's Diary", "Going Gently" and "Northsider"but there are many great, well-maintained blogs that I only tend to visit intermittently.

There are some blogs that I hardly ever visit even though I know they are eminently readable and worthy of regular attention. To these bloggers I want to send a heartfelt "sorry". In my defence I can only say that I want to limit my blogging time and argue  that it is possible to sign up for too many blogs. 

Before you know it, the daily hours you spend on blogging could easily be doubled. You have to draw the line somewhere.

I am very grateful to the people who regularly visit "Yorkshire Pudding" even though I may not do them the honour of courtesy return visits.

Here in the blogosphere, I have encountered many wonderful people who pump out great blog content. From Mary Moon in Lloyd Florida to Andrew in Melbourne Australia and from Meike in Ludwigsburg, Germany to Bob in Camden, South Carolina. The ride so far has been marvellous but to repeat, I am sorry that I cannot spare more time to pay intimate attention to even more blogs.

19 September 2023


Have you ever ridden on a long distance bus? Where were you travelling to?

On Saturday morning, Shirley and I travelled by "National Express" coach right into the heart of London and returned on Monday afternoon via the same mode of transport. Sheffield is 170 miles from our nation's capital city. For the two of us the cost of the return fare was only £42.00 (That's US$52 or AUS$80).

The buses were pretty new and clean with plenty of legroom and it was nice to let someone else do the driving as we read our books or, in Shirley's case, knitted little hats for babies. We had made sandwiches to consume halfway down the motorway and the same on the way back. We were not irritated by other passengers for there was a quiet, respectful atmosphere on board our two coaches.

When I was in my early twenties, I climbed aboard a few Greyhound buses in The States. I guess the longest journey I took was from Bloomington, Indiana - changing in Chicago before carrying on to Minneapolis. I also journeyed between New York City and Cleveland.

However such bus travel pales into insignificance when I recall the return coach journey I took in the summer of 1980 from London to Athens, Greece aboard The Magic Bus. I dimly recall that the journey took over 24 hours - so long that it seemed it would never end.

In northern Yugoslavia in the middle of the night, I opened my eyes to witness the horror of our two drivers swapping over at the wheel while travelling at seventy miles an hour along an arrow-straight road. I am sure I did not dream this.

I also took a long distance bus from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina in 2009 - right through The Andes passing close to Aconcagua  - the tallest mountain in South America. Long distance bus travel appeared to be a vital means of connection in South America where the rail "network" is patchy or non-existent.

Earlier today I was asked to complete a customer survey by National Express and I found it rather nice to score ten of ten for just about everything. We had no complaints but I guess we were also quite lucky that there were no hold-ups on the M1 motorway because of accidents, congestion or roadworks. That is pretty unusual.

18 September 2023


I have lost count of the number of times I have been to London over the years. Concerts, exhibitions, football matches, museums, art galleries, protest marches, family visits, shopping exhibitions - I have pretty much done it all. So when our Ian pipes up with, "What would you like to do while you're down here?" it's hard to think of something new.

Nonetheless, this time round I had the idea that we could drive over to Richmond Park in Ian and Sarah's brand new electric Volvo car. It's sleek and black and goes like a rocket. To be honest, they don't actually own it - they have leased it for three years. Their neighbourhood in Fulham is well-supplied with public electric charging points and of course Greater London is now an ultra low emissions zone so an electric vehicle makes sense.

The top picture was taken in Two Storm Wood in the heart of Richmond Park. This area is fenced off to prevent grazing by deer and below you can see Ian, Sarah and Shirley walking through it. Like Saturday, Sunday was a mild and pretty nice day down in our metropolis.

Here's a fallow stag I spotted in another part of Richmond Park. I guess he wanted to lock horns with me as the rutting season is just starting. By the way, at 2360 acres, Richmond Park is the biggest of London's royal parks and when you are there you may easily feel that you are in open countryside.
After our time in Richmond Park we drove on to "The Orange" in Pimlico for Sunday dinner. There was a statue of Mozart in adjacent Orange Square for he lived close by during his summer in London in 1764. He was a child at the time. 

This morning (Monday) we visited the Peter Jones department store in Sloane Square before walking to Victoria where London's main bus station is located. On the way, I paused in Hobart Place to snap this photograph of a larger than life statue funded by The Duke of Westminster and sited here in 2000. It is called: "The Lioness and Lesser Kudu" and was created by Jonathan Kenworthy. It is a powerful piece .
Ian and Sarah were in good health and good spirits as they wait to meet their first child. He's due in six weeks and we wonder if he will arrive before or after Frances and Stewart's second child - also due in six weeks. The race is on.

16 September 2023


As an international jetsetter I am always on the move and this morning we are on our way down to London to see our lovely son Ian and his equally lovely mistress - Sarah and their even more lovely but unborn babe Zach. We'll be back on Monday so no blogging until then. Of course, as an international jetsetter I will be travelling by National Express bus. All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go....

15 September 2023


"The North Star" at Flamborough

We're back home from Flamborough now. Clint took two hours and fifteen minutes to bring us back to our door. It was a lovely break from normality and had been fantastic to reacquaint myself with Flamborough Head after many years of absence. The local people talk just like me so the experience felt rather like going home.

Yesterday evening we were about to walk out to "The North Star" for our three course evening meal when I heard a man calling my name, "Neil! Neil!"

The barn had been converted into six accommodation units which are all named after birds. We were in "Nightingale" but the voice was calling from the door of "Lapwing". It belonged to a stocky man with bright blue eyes, silver hair and a silver beard. I simply did not recognise him and I told him so with an apology attached.

Turns out his name was Grant and he had been the "senior learning mentor" in the secondary school I retired from fourteen years ago now. I had not thought of him in all that time but I remember him as a good man who did his best to support troubled schoolchildren and the learning process in general.

He wasn't a teacher. He had arrived at my old school via youth work and was part of a nationwide movement to fill gaps in education with mentoring support. It was a kind of job creation scheme. I suppose it was also a fashion because before mentoring arrived on the scene, schools were just about subject teachers and their charges - the pupils.

As I say, Shirley and I were going for dinner but Grant seemed genuinely happy to see me. He crammed the next few minutes with talk that was all about my old school and the people who had worked there. It was not a subject I was enthused about. 

I would have preferred to talk to him about Flamborough, football and the three little dogs that he had brought with him on holiday. The work life he was referring to is way behind me and I am just not interested in it any more. Tittle tattle and making mountains out of molehills. It has taken me a long time to bury those bones.

This morning we packed up early and left North Moor Farm without bumping into Grant again. I guess that some people love to meet up with old work colleagues and reflect on old times but this is not in my nature. I am not saying that I am right but my instinctive desire for distance  is just a facet of who I am and I can't help it. 

Flamborough Head Lighthouse - built in 1806 and still operational

14 September 2023


Today we visited the little seaside resort of Filey just up the coast from Flamborough.. The first thing we did when we got there was to step inside the town's small folk museum which is entirely run by volunteers.

There, mannequins have been used in a vain and rather amusing effort to  suggest the lives  of Filey residents of the past. It was once a fishing port with its own fleet of unique boats known as "cobles".

The thing about mannequins is that they are modelled upon perfect human  figures but the ordinary people who inhabited history were generally far from perfect. I have  noticed this funny contradiction before - mostly in other small museums. When money is tight you need to get creative.

Villain in the town jail...He could be Cro Magnon.

And finally this is a view of Filey's  lovely beach washed cleaned by high tides twice a day..

13 September 2023


The cafe on the cliffs above Thornwick Bay

How gorgeous it was to ramble upon chalky Flamborough Head on such a diamond day. The witch doctors of meteorology got it right.  It felt like the very last day of summer. I didn't even need to don a jacket.

This morning I set out with Tony at 9 a.m., heading north. The four mile route took in Thornwick Bay before cutting inland to Flamborough village and then back to Nightingale Cottage via the road to North Landing.

Thornwick Bay

Tony drove back to Beverley at midday. He had a bowling match this afternoon -  the last of the season.

South Landing

After lunch, Shirley and I headed south on a  longer walking route that took us to Flamborough's two lighthouses and then on to the little bay known as South Landing where the village's lifeboat  is housed, awaiting possible marine emergencies.

The old lighthouse at Flamborough - built in 1674

Then we trudged up the rising access lane that brought us into the village. We enjoyed well-deserved  cooling drinks in "The Rose and Crown" before completing the circle at our accommodation.

Prize winning fish and chips this evening from "The Lighthouse" fish and chip shop. The end of a gorgeous day.

View to Briel Nook

Signpost in the village

12 September 2023


It has been raining all day. Tomorrow will be much better. I am making a chilli for our tea. Our friend Tony will also partake of this meal as he will staying over night with us and taking a clifftop stroll in the morning. The weather boffins claim there will be no rain tomorrow and who am I to dispute that?

I am typing this on my old laptop - the one with the malfunctioning "S" key. Consequently, this blogpost is about to come to a shuddering halt. I leave you with photos of Flamborough that I took this morning on my rainy visit to the village "Co-op" stores for a few extra provisions.

11 September 2023


I am really pleased with that first picture. It was taken not long after we arrived at Flamborough this afternoon. It is over thirty years since I last descended the mighty chalk promontory known as Flamborough Head to visit that particular cove. It is called North Landing.

The North Sea was like a millpond but you could sense a change in the air. Over on the horizon, distant rain showers were slanting.
Do you see those boats pulled up on the beach? I took a picture of the side paintwork of one of them with the white rose of Yorkshire proudly displayed...
Nearby, up on the chalk promontory, there are dozens of quirky old shacks or chalets like this one. It is called "Cliff View" and I doubt that anybody has been inside it in ten years. Some of the properties are bijou homes and others are occasional holiday retreats..
But this is where we are staying - at the end of a former barn. Our unit is called  Nightingale Cottage and it is most comfortable inside. We are here for four nights.

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