31 October 2023


Piet Mondrian was a Dutch artist. Born in 1872. , he died in New York City in 1944. He is generally known for his early contributions to abstract art but his beginnings were very much in natural, representational work

He painted a farm near Duivendrecht  at least twenty times. Above you can see it  in pale winter light perhaps at the end of the day though it might be early morning. I find the patterns of interlocking branches in the trees not only appealing but they seem to herald some of the abstract work that was to follow in the 1920's. This particular scene evidences Mondrian's keen awareness of subtle nuances in  light and shadow. It was painted in 1916 in the middle of World War One.

There is a quiet stillness about the canvas and I think you sense that the artist is less interested in creating a naturalistic image of the farm than in observing how the different elements connect with each other. Colouring is as subdued as the ethereal lighting.
Mondrian in New York in 1942

In 1911, Mondrian had visited an early Cubist exhibition of paintings by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso and this led to much experimentation as he began to embrace modernism, leaving his comfort zone far behind. He once said this of his later work - "Every true artist has been inspired more by the beauty of lines and color and the relationships between them than by the concrete subject of the picture."

Below is Mondrian's "Die Ideale" which is housed in the municipal art gallery of Den Haag in The Netherlands. I am not sure when exactly it was painted but he created many canvases like this and it is  perhaps typical of his later work - like a trademark style. Simple lines, boxes and blocks of colour creating a mysterious, stripped down beauty.

30 October 2023



Once Great Britain 

As castles crumble ivy creeps around
Where battles were fought we hear no sound
Just imagined echoes of clashing swords
And the rumble of hooves moving towards
Victories upon famed battlefields
Banners raised high as the enemy yields
Now crows peck there where went the plough
And barley waves in silence now.
All along these leafy lanes
That hummed the summer long
You could hear the jaunty whistling
Of soldier boys in song
Of bravery and parted love
And the manliness of war
All hideousness was hidden
In the days that went before.
Recrimination suppurates
As bulbous tumours grow
This cannot be the land
Our forebears used to know
And yet the way the lane still bends
To the church with its ancient yew
Harks back to all our yesterdays
And the glories that we knew.
Enter stage right those hollow men
With empty lines that whine when
Delivered to the gods on high
Hypocrisy to make you cry.
I wandered lonely as a clown
For years after the fair left town
And trudged up streets on rising slopes
Where townsfolk forged their secret hopes.
Among these dark satanic mills
You could hear lone cuckoos sing
As swifts above yon rolling hills
Cavorted on the wing.
Rooks quarrel in the churchyard
Where old St Faith’s once stood
New burials there have long been barred
Like the bones of  grave falsehood.
Please please me oh yeah like I please you…
Carved in stone the endless names
Love me forever and I’ll be true
What on earth are we going to do?
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
To whom shall we sing our timeworn songs
Now that there’s no one else?


Let me introduce you to Rodney. Rodney is a pygmy shrew and as such he belongs to the smallest mammalian species in The British Isles. When fully grown, a  pygmy shrew will measure around two inches in length - excluding the tail which is about 1.4 inches in length.

The life of a healthy pygmy shrew is quite short - on average fifteen months or so. In that time, a normal female may successfully bear five litters - containing two to eight young.

Rodney eats seeds and small insects and lives in a burrow under an old tree stump. The burrow was created by another rodent a couple of years ago. Rodney's sleeping habits are different from our own. He will be busily active for twenty minutes and then asleep for the next twenty minutes. This pattern continues throughout the day. He has a very high metabolic rate.

Though not as common as the common shrew which is significantly bigger, pygmy shrews are believed to be quite widespread in The British Isles though they have never been spotted in either The Shetland Isles or The Scilly Isles. It should be noted that accurate assessment of pygmy shrew populations are very hard to make and summaries are often based upon assumptions and mathematical extrapolations.

In my life I have seen wild elephants, white rhinos, black bears, hoary marmots, snakes, fruit bats and killer whales but I have never seen a pygmy shrew. They may often be very close but so tiny and so well-concealed  that nearby humans just don't spot them.

Though the pygmy shrew is the smallest mammal in Britain, the smallest known mammal in the world is about half the size of the pygmy shrew. It is the bumblebee bat which is also known as the Kitti's Hog-Nosed Bat. Weighing in at 0.07 ounces the tiny species can be found in the borderland territory between Thailand and Burma.

28 October 2023


I must share this with you before I forget it. 

On Thursday morning, Shirley brought Little Phoebe back to our house before I was even up. I heard her downstairs so donned my dressing gown (American: robe) and descended the stairs.

She was in the front room checking out her Gruffalo jigsaw. There are sixteen big pieces  but that's surely enough of a challenge for a small girl who is just two years and nine months old.

I decided to provide a bit of help and successfully clicked in another piece.

Seeing what I had done, Phoebe clapped her hands with glee and cried "Good girl Grandpa! Well done!"

She hears that particular praise quite often but sent my way all I could do was laugh.

Amongst the things I received on the occasion of my birthday was a helium balloon with "Happy 70th Birthday!"printed upon it. Phoebe was the one chosen to present me with it, saying, "There you go Grandpa!".

The balloon is still inflated after three weeks. The helium hasn't entirely leaked away. Since my birthday  Phoebe has been to our house a further seven or eight times and each time she has found that balloon and brought it to me saying, "There you go Grandpa!"

In other Phoebe news, two weeks ago after Sunday dinner she had a big drawing pad on the table. She drew a rough circle with a marker pen and I said to her, "Do two eyes!" and she made two little marks in the middle of the face. Then I said, "Do a nose!" so she did. Next I asked her to do a mouth and she did.

Mum, Dad, Grandpa and Grandpa all praised her with "Good girl Phoebe! Well done!" You should have seen the resulting look upon her little face. She was positively beaming with pride.

It's amazing how far she has come in two years and nine months. And now she waits for her sibling who will change her little life a lot. The baby's due date was last Sunday but apparently nobody told him... or her. Phoebe was "late" too.

26 October 2023



Hidden in plain sight, they were monsters. Self-centred, they used their privileged positions to satisfy their carnal lusts by preying on the young and the vulnerable in the egotistical belief that they would never be caught. One was Jimmy Savile and the other was Peter Jaconelli  and they were friends if indeed such men could ever know what true friendship means.

At the top you can see an inset picture of the actor Steve Coogan alongside another more chilling picture of him in the role of Jimmy Savile as seen in a recent four episode BBC drama called "The Reckoning". In my opinion this was excellent and Steve Coogan played the challenging role quite brilliantly. It is believed that disc jockey and showman Savile sexually abused hundreds of people - many of whom were children.

He had two main homes - both in Yorkshire. One was in Leeds and the other was beside the sea in Scarborough. That is where he associated with the local ice cream magnate - Peter Jaconelli who was the mayor of the seaside town back in the seventies. Jaconelli had a penchant for boys and when his horrible legacy was first unveiled in the media, thirty two men came forward to air historical grievances concerning abuse and sexual assault.
Peter Jaconelli

I met Savile at St James's Palace in London when I was sixteen. He was a television legend and I got his autograph. We were both at a special event that commemorated some milestone or other in the history of The National Association of Youth Clubs. I was representing East Yorkshire youth clubs and he was there, presumably, to offer his support though looking back - a man like that should have had absolutely nothing to do with the youth club movement.

"The Reckoning"  touched upon Savile's relationship with Jaconelli and after a little while I  had a light bulb moment. I had also met Jaconelli! This was at an interview for Head of English at The Graham School in Scarborough around 1990 or 1991. He was the chair of the school governors. A big, pasty-faced barrel of a man, he seemed to dominate the room. He asked me an awkward question and my response began with, "I think that everyone in Yorkshire knows that the name Jaconelli is synonymous with Scarborough and..." but after thirty years I cannot remember what I said next.

Savile and Jaconelli are both long dead  and disgraced. Their gravestones in Woodlands Cemetery, Scarborough have both been removed. However, though dead, they are sadly not forgotten because victims of sexual abuse carry their private  hurt to the end of their days, their lives and their quests for happiness routinely impaired by memories of monsters and what they did.

25 October 2023


This morning I decided to venture into the city centre to see a film at The Showroom. Rather than travelling by bus, I decided to walk - for it was  a sunny morning and I had given myself plenty of time to reach the 12.15 screening. It's just over two miles from our house to The Showroom. As you can see, I took along my trusty camera.
I wandered into The General Cemetery and spotted this weather-beaten framed picture propped up against the war memorial. It's a nameless soldier of World War I - often referred to as The Great War - though what was great about it - I have no idea. The little wooden cross suggests that the soldier died in 1916 at  The Battle of the Somme where both of my grandfathers also fought but thankfully, unlike the man in the picture,  they both managed to make it home.

The film I went to see was "Killers of the Flower Moon" directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert di Niro, Lily Gladstone and Leonardo di Caprio as Ernest Burkhart shown below. I snapped that photo in the cinema.

I wanted to be captivated by the film and it certainly had its moments. So much of it was good but it was far too long in my opinion and the thing was that it didn't need to be that long - 3 hours 30 minutes. It told the true story of murders within the Osage First Nation community in Oklahoma. They had become rich on oil but like cunning sharks, white predators  stalked them.

On the way to the bus stop I walked past "The Red Lion" on Charles Street. Perhaps you already knew that "The Red Lion" is the most common pub name in England.

I also passed The Site Gallery on Brown Street. It's not the first time I have stopped to take a picture of the illuminated signage - "everything is different today". I only half agree with that sentiment because in my estimation, some things clearly stay the same.

24 October 2023


Zachary Roy Pudding
born in London this morning 
October 24th 2023
A first child for Sarah and Ian. Exceptionally handsome Zach weighed in at a healthy 7.5 pounds.  The parents hoped for a natural birth but after listening to informed medical advice, it was decided around midnight  that he would be born by c-section and he arrived at eight minutes past two this morning - which just happens to be our 42nd wedding anniversary. You couldn't ask for a better anniversary gift.

Above - there's Ian and Sarah with Zach  very soon after the birth. Ian was present the whole time. I think that the pale green sheet you can see kind of screened off what was happening in Sarah's nether regions.

Below you can see our Ian falling in love with his son

Dear Zach,

Welcome to the world! This is your Yorkshire grandpa calling. You have so much to learn in the hours, the days, the months and the years ahead. This world that we share is filled with interest, beauty and potential. Always remember that when the naysayers seek to tell you a more negative, joyless story.

To develop as a little human being you need love and you will be blessed with plenty of that. I, for one, will love you for the rest of my days and when you are older I hope to read to you and keep you safe in children's playgrounds. I will show you lambs and sheep and name birds for you and I will help you to draw and to giggle because I will sometimes tickle you!

Living down in London, they will try to make you talk like a Londoner but in the life I have left, I promise to teach you how to talk like a proper Yorkshire lad. For example, "Nah then ow's tha goin' on?" means "Hello! How are you?" and you will also become an ardent Hull City supporter just like me. Forget Chelsea, Arsenal  or Tottenham Hotspur!

Be kind to others. Treat them as you would wish to be treated. Find joy and satisfaction in learning. Live with honesty and dignity. Laugh till tears run down your cheeks. Sing. Respect Nature. Be the best version of yourself that you can be but do not be afraid to seek help or advice as your journey through the years proceeds.


Grandpa Pudding

P.S. Don't take drugs and don't get a tattoo.

23 October 2023


Though I say it myself, I think the image shown above is a good one. I have walked along that path a hundred times or more. It leads to Lenny Hill on the edge of Blacka Moor, close to the suburban village of Dore where the Laitner murders took place in 1983.

I took the photograph at around midday yesterday having decided to grab some exercise before preparing yet another Sunday dinner. Once again, I drove Clint out of the city, past Whirlow Brook Park, "The Dore Moor Inn" and the Sheffield Tigers rugby ground. Then I turned down Whitelow Lane before taking a right to the end of Shorts Lane and that's where I parked Clint. He has waited there many times.

Having been rather unwell for a few days, I was not going to rush the circular walk which usually takes me just over an hour so I simply plodded along steadily taking occasional rests. I arrived in the hideaway hamlet of Totley Bents where I took yet another picture of "The Cricket Inn" across the council-owned recreation ground.  Sunshine was playing hide and seek with drifting cumulus clouds as you might tell from the front shadow.

Before long, I passed palatial Avenue Farm on my way to Redcar Brook. Water from Storm Babet continues to drain from the moors and Redcar Brook was racing to its meeting with Blacka Brook and thence to Limb Brook and The River Sheaf after which Sheffield was named... field by the Sheaf > Sheafeld > Sheffield.
I had snapped a picture from roughly the same spot on August 1st 2022 when the stream had totally dried up following our driest July on record...
Finally, a picture I took at the old weir on Redcar Brook near Avenue Farm. Usually, the water is no more than a trickle at that point but yesterday it was making thunder.
Even a short walk is good medicine for the soul and now I was happy to get stuck into the peeling, chopping, stirring and roasting ahead of the arrival of Princess Phoebe and her entourage.

22 October 2023


The Laitner family on the day of the wedding: Basil, Nicola, Suzanne, Richard and Avril

I know a man who was once a senior policeman here in South Yorkshire. Last week, at my birthday lunch,  he reminded me of The Dore Murders that took place forty years ago in October 1983.

Let's call him George Dixon.

Fugitive criminal, Arthur Hutchinson, was on the run. In fact, he had escaped from the court building in the Yorkshire town of Selby and then after several days he turned up in Sheffield  where he was not previously known. 

In the early hours of  October 23rd, 1983, he entered the palatial home of the Laitner family. The Laitners had three living children and the day before they had been celebrating the marriage of their older daughter Suzanne. The reception had taken place in the family home. There was a marquee in the garden.

When Hutchinson first got into the house, he mercilessly stabbed 28 year old Richard Laitner to death. Hearing a commotion, Richard's father Basil - a 59 year old solicitor - came to the top of the stairs where he was also fatally attacked with the same knife. Next 55 year old Avril Laitner was  cruelly stabbed to death in her bedroom. Unbelievably, Hutchinson then turned his attentions to the younger daughter - 18 year old Nicola. He raped her but spared her life before fleeing.

After this terrible event, South Yorkshire Police set up an inquiry base in the village using a large mobile unit. Apparently George Dixon was based there for two weeks - well into November and played a significant role in gathering evidence, interviewing possible witnesses etcetera.

I undertook some online research, trying to solve the mystery of why Hutchinson had picked that particular night at that particular house.

It has been strongly suggested that after the wedding celebrations had wound down, Nicola and some other young guests travelled to a late night bar in Sheffield city centre. There was more dancing and more drinking and when this fun was almost done, she invited everyone back to her family home and announced the address so that even revellers who had not been at the wedding could travel to Dore to keep the party going.

In her tipsy munificence, it seems that Nicola had not paid much attention if any at all to a 42 year old man with a bad knee and a north-eastern accent sitting at the end of the bar. He was Arthur Hutchinson and this was the most regrettable party invitation ever. Most official accounts of the tragedy fail to remark upon how Hutchinson came to be at the Dore house but the theory I have cited seems very plausible. I must remember to run it past George Dixon next time I see him.

Another theory is that Hutchinson had been lying low since his escape from the court building in Selby - travelling by night and sleeping by day, stealing whatever food he could along the way.He may have arrived in Dore by pure chance.

Nicola died young at the age of 48 in Greystones, Ireland. I thank Debby in Pennsylvania for guiding me to that information. For the last thirty years of her life not  a day would have gone by without her thinking of that terrible night. Meanwhile, now 82 year old Hutchinson keeps trying to appeal against his thoroughly deserved life sentence. Let's hope that the wicked bastard never succeeds.

21 October 2023


England rugby captain Owen Farrell scored all fifteen of  England's points

I don't feel like blogging tonight. Unusually, there's nothing much I have got to say.

Storm Babet has left South Yorkshire and the city is drying out. Those flood waters that spread across Endcliffe Park yesterday have drained back into The River Porter.

The congested headachey condition I have been experiencing for the last three days seems to be running its course now. I  bought a lateral flow test this afternoon but after self-administering  as instructed, I was relieved to see that the "test" line remained blank. I hadn't done one of those tests in over a year.

This evening, courtesy of our television, I watched the second semi-final of The Rugby Union World Cup from Paris, France. England put up a really good fight against the reigning world champions - South Africa and lost the match by a single point.  Our lads were a tad unfortunate but good luck to South Africa in next weekend's final against New Zealand. It will, I am sure, be a great game.

I am pretty confident that I will have a grandson in the middle of the week ahead. The attached obstetrician in  London has already indicated that he wants to speed the baby boy's birth along for reasons I don't fully understand. Meanwhile, up here in Sheffield, Frances and Stew's second child is fully cooked but presently showing no signs of wishing to emerge from my daughter's belly. Of course, in that baby's case the problem of the low platelet count continues to cause significant concern. My anxiety will only evaporate after the birth and mother and child are both declared to be well.

But as I said at first, I don't feel like blogging tonight.

20 October 2023


Statue of Queen Victoria in Endcliffe Park earlier today

In the last thirty hours an Atlantic storm has been sweeping across The British Isles dumping vast amounts of rain upon us. Of course, some places have been hit harder than others with the east coast of Scotland perhaps suffering the most but here in Sheffield we have had two inches of rain in twenty four hours so we have also suffered.

Earlier this year a Dutch woman visited the headquarters of her country's national weather agency and put a storm name suggestion in the appropriate box. It was her own name - Babet and that's what this current event is called - Storm Babet.

Our house is on a hillside so we can never be properly flooded. It has rained all day and it is still raining now as bedtime approaches. Sometimes the rain has battered down in a biblical manner  as if we had accidentally attracted the wrath of  Almighty God and I watched as a stream surged down our road on its way to Endcliffe Park at the bottom of the hill. Already feeling "under the weather" if you will excuse the pun, I didn't venture outside all day.

The River Porter flows through Endcliffe Park, draining water from the nearby hills. Usually, it is nothing more than a gentle stream where small children paddle in the summertime but today is was a raging torrent. Its overlapping waters surrounded the statue of Queen Victoria and covered the main field. Even Phoebe's favourite children's play area was under water.

Though our house could never be flooded because of the geography of our area, we have experienced a leak in the corner of our kitchen. The rain water has found its way between the kitchen's sloped  roof and the joint with next door's wall. We had the same problem a few years back and if we get a dry spell in the next few weeks I will be up on that roof again with more waterproof sealant.

Of course our small rain-related issue is as nothing compared with the upset that is caused when a house is truly flooded and in the past thirty hours numerous homes across this kingdom have had to be evacuated because of rising flood waters.

If your house is invaded by muddy flood water you know that you are in for weeks or months of associated hassle. The clean-up, replacement of plaster and electric wiring, throwing carpets out and finding somewhere else to live for the duration. You might also have to deal with an awkward insurance company if indeed you have sensibly taken out home insurance.

Finally, I ought to mention in passing that Storm Babet has taken at least three British  lives in the past two days. Very sad indeed.

Flood water and the children's play area

19 October 2023


Map to show location of Navarino Island, Chile

Google Streetview even got to Puerto Toro in 2015. Situated on the east coast of Navarino Island, Chile, it is the southernmost permanent settlement in the world. Okay there are a few research stations in Antarctica but these are not proper communities as their populations are forever changing with polar researchers and support staff always coming and going.

Puerto Toro is a little fishing port with a population of 36. It was established during the Tierra del Fuego Gold Rush of the 1890's but now it focuses upon the "centolla" or southern king crab. Like Longyearbyen, Puerto Toro's environment is defined as "tundra" with an average temperature of 2.7C throughout the year. However, unlike that desolate little town in Svalbard, there is a lot of greenery around Puerto Toro.

The Streetview photographer appears to have hiked around the place and in one of my chosen "snips" you can see his shadow with the camera rising from a backpack. It's funny how Streetview will sometimes throw up strange images like that one.

To be frank, there's not much to Puerto Toro. and there isn't even a road to connect the settlement with Port Williams - the largest settlement on Navarino Island. It seems like the end of the world and I suppose it is. I would love to go there but I guess that this blogpost is the closest I will ever get...

Welcome to Puerto Toro
The little Catholic church in Puerto Toro
Two hundred yards from the church - a place to sit and wonder

The fishing wharf
Shadow of the Streetview man

18 October 2023


Longyearbyen - perhaps you have heard the name before. It is the most northerly permanent settlement in the world and home to around 1700 people. It is on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard - often known as Spitzbergen - half way between the very north of mainland Norway and The North Pole.

Longyearbyen is really only a hundred and twenty years old. It grew because of coal mining and owes its name to an American mining investor called John Munro Longyear. Fishing has also been an important industry and nowadays there is some tourism with associated facilities and a scientific research centre
Svalbard Church - the most northerly church in the world

Most inhabitants of Longyearbyen are Norwegian but other residents hail from Sweden, Russia and perhaps surprisingly Thailand. Thais form the second largest ethnic group. Mostly they arrive to undertake menial jobs including cleaning and kitchen work and invariably send the money they earn back to their families in Thailand.
The North Pole Expedition Museum

Svalbard boasts a pretty hostile climate with the average annual temperature being -6.3 centigrade. It would certainly be a "cool" place to visit! Natural vegetation is of the Arctic tundra variety. Polar bears can be a nuisance at certain times of year and there is in fact a by-law that states you must carry a gun if wandering away from Longyearbyen.

Surprisingly, Google Streetview has covered the roads around the remote township. I believe this was done by a Danish man on a bicycle in June of this year. I don't know his name but I would like to thank him for dodging the polar bears and suffering the cold. I clipped my four pictures of Longyearbyen from his Streetview imagery.
The shoreline at Longyearbyen

17 October 2023


It is easy to conceive of a system that harnesses AI, stock market patterns, cryptocurrency expertise and clever algorithms to generate easy money. When I apparently stumbled upon such a system within the internet just yesterday, I was momentarily wowed. Maybe I could also get rich quick with a simple investment of £250. After all we could afford to lose that but I needed to know more.

There are so many scams out there that wise people always do their due diligence. Many times I have googled addresses, phone numbers or company titles only to find that they belonged to dirty rotten scammers. Besides, linked to the very idea of easy money there are two old sayings that we should always remember: "There's no such thing as a free lunch" and "If something seems too good to be true then it probably is."

The online "company" that captured my interest was called "Immediate Alpha" though on other days it might be called something else like "Immediate Edge" for example. Searching for true information about this scam business proved more difficult than any other search I have ever done.

It was as if they had hi-jacked the entire internet to avoid proper detection. They are not mentioned within the legitimate pages of the real Wikipedia and they get lots of back up from an alleged online news service called "Time Business News" which I had never heard of before. It is believed that  it is based in Las Vegas. Not "Times" but "Time".

There are supportive videos and rafts of other trickery including cunning reference to several well-known and trusted celebrities who appear to endorse the scam company's claims. This practice has angered many of these people including Britain's famous "money saving expert" Martin Lewis who has legally battled with Facebook over misuse of his image and his reputation.

Usually, it is pretty simple to confirm scammers - just a few intelligent clicks of your mouse and you have got them but as I say, this was very different. It was as if I was driving a car in a strange city and which ever street I turned down was blocked so I had to reverse out and try another avenue and another till I finally arrived at the damning evidence I expected to find in the first place.

If they do hook you, everything might appear to go swimmingly well at first as your investment profit margin leaps like a scalded frog but it won't be long before they are phoning you every day and applying pressure to make you shell out more cash or provide your bank details or make pretend investments on your behalf.

I guess that "Immediate Alpha" or whatever they are called may not approve of this blogpost and given the depths of their internet cunning, it wouldn't surprise me if they try to block or attack it. But the truth must out.

16 October 2023


The garden gate in July 2006

We have a pretty long garden - 43 metres in fact. I know that because I once measured it - from our kitchen door to the little white gate that opens onto the back lane. 43 metres is 47 yards.

In the depths of winter, when it's cold and often dark and wet, I hardly venture out into the garden at all - maybe an occasional trip up to the compost bins with kitchen waste - vegetable peelings and the like. But at other times of the year, good weather will often draw me out and I get on with jobs like cutting the grass, trimming the privet hedges, digging, weeding or just pottering about.

Two or three hours in the garden does me a world of good. I return to the house feeling somehow energised and with the satisfying knowledge  that I have done some jobs that needed doing.

Since the episode with that horrible antibiotic - nitrofurantonin, I have remained in gradual recovery mode and just have not felt magnetised by the garden even though there were jobs that needed doing. Ours is not a neat, manicured garden. I am happy that it has an obvious element of wildness though it will never be as wild and unkempt as when we moved into this house in 1989.

Our garden in June 2009

The previous owners had done nothing to the garden during the decade that they lived here. They were national "Scrabble" champions so I guess they needed to spend time checking obscure words in dictionaries rather than trimming the hedges or cutting the grass. There was no fence at the bottom and no garden gate but they had made a well-trodden path to the rotary clothes airer  that stood in the middle of their mini-savannah - an oasis for neighbourhood cats and butterflies.

You could say that I made our garden from scratch - taming and cutting back the jungle, creating borders, building a path, erecting a greenhouse, planting greenery and making a vegetable plot and a wall and a fence and the little white gate that is now in dire need of replacement. It has served us well for thirty years but nothing lasts forever.

Anyway, today I was drawn out there. I put my old fleece on and my fingerless gloves and got cracking with the right hand hedge. It will be the last time I trim it this year. One of the plus points of a Yorkshire wintertime is that grass and hedges stop growing so you can put away your lawnmower and your electric hedge trimmer till the following springtime.

Though sunny, there was a definite chill in the air today. Leaves are turning colour and starting to fall. I could detect the distant odour of a bonfire. A robin hopped around as I raked up the hedge clippings and a pair of magpies quarrelled in a nearby conifer tree - cacophonous and raspy. Yes autumn is here.

Conker tree in our garden in 2013 - since chopped down

15 October 2023


Today I had another "Picture of the Day" on the Geograph website - taken in Kent in 2016

Another Sunday dinner with Frances, Stewart, Phoebe and Shirley. I roasted pork loin and we ate its tender slices with roasted potatoes, roasted carrots, savoy cabbage, stuffing balls, homemade gravy and Yorkshire puddings with apple sauce. This was followed by Shirley's special chocolate pudding with custard.

Frances's baby is due next Sunday though as we all know, "due dates" are rarely correct. Her blood continues to shout out: "Low platelet count!" and God knows how many blood tests she has had to endure. Thank heavens we are just a ten minute drive from The Royal Hallamshire Hospital and the attached  Jessop's Maternity Wing. 

Her platelet count is so low that a drip transfusion may occur on Tuesday ahead of the impending birth. It's a worry but we still hope and expect that in a short time there will be a healthy new grandchild and a daughter whose platelet count is rapidly shooting up. We don't know if the new baby will be a boy or a girl and to be honest we don't much  care as long as he or she is okay.

Down in London, Ian's girlfriend Sarah has sailed through her pregnancy  without any real concerns and little Zachary should also arrive before the end of this month. His "due date" is  Tuesday 24th but who knows?  Again, we just hope for a healthy, "normal" baby.

At tonight's regular pub quiz we tried our best but again didn't win. Maybe we are losing our touch but we did know that Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum recently broke the world marathon record in Chicago and we also knew that the current BBC drama about sex abuser Jimmy Savile is called "The Reckoning".

Though the weather outside was lovely today - bright and sharp - I just didn't have the motivation to get outside and do something in the sunshine. Being lazy isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a dose of idleness is good for you and besides I attempted a few drawings using the new pens that Mike gave me for my birthday.

14 October 2023


Whippet - dog breed favoured by Yorkshire folk

Regarding yesterday's blogpost, BBC-newscaster-voiced Thelma in Todmorden, Yorkshire  queried why I had sought out my searching questions from an American blog. I agonised about this for several minutes and realised that Thelma had made a good point so today, after a lot of contemplation, I have come up with ten Yorkshire-themed questions for you to ponder where ever you may reside - from Washington D.C. to Adelaide and from Ludwigsburg to County Cork.

Please answer as honestly as you can so that we can all better understand who you are and what makes you tick apart from your heart pacemaker....

  1. How many eggs do you put in your Yorkshire pudding mixture?
  2. What is your whippet called?
  3. How many ferrets have you got in your shed?
  4. What is your head size if I decide to send you a traditional flat cap as a present? (a) XL (b) XXL (c) XXXL
  5. For a seaside holiday do you prefer Scarborough or Bridlington? Why?
  6. Who in your opinion is the greatest living Yorkshireman? (a) Arthur Scargill (b) Geoff Boycott (c) David Hockney. And why him?
  7. (To avoid being accused of sexism) Who is the greatest Yorkshirewoman who has ever lived? (a) Betty Boothroyd (b) Emily Brontë (c) Judi Dench (d) Hannah Hauxwell (e) Jessica Ennis-Hill (f) Barbara Hepworth. And why her?
  8. How much money have you got stashed away in your house and where exactly do you keep it?
  9. What's the biggest number of  pints of Yorkshire bitter you have guzzled in one night?
  10. What aroma of air freshener do you currently spray in your bog? (American: bathroom. Australian: dunny)
I am hoping that  Molly Stillman in North Carolina will pick up on my ten questions and post them on her lifestyle blog - a favour returned.
I blogged about Hannah before. Go here and here.

13 October 2023


For today's post I wanted to pose some questions for readers to answer. You must have seen this kind of thing before. I guess we might call them "get to know you" questions. There are many examples of these lists of questions out there in the blogosphere

Try as I might, I could not come up with any questions of my own  that I particularly wanted to ask so I sought help and ended up at a blog managed by a youngish woman called Molly Stillman based on a farm in North Carolina. Of herself she says, "I don't take myself seriously, but I do take burritos seriously. I'm just an imperfect woman chasing after a perfect Savior."

Molly had in fact come up with a list of fifty finding out questions but I narrowed them down to just ten. Here they are for you to think upon and possibly answer in the comments section.  My own responses are listed below the questions...
  1. What's your favourite scented candle?
  2. What female celebrity do you wish you were related to?
  3. What’s one thing you own that you should probably get rid of, but just can’t?
  4. Can you do a split? (English: the splits)
  5. What did you dress up as on Halloween when you were eight?
  6. Would you rather have an American accent or a British accent?
  7. What would your parents have named you if you were the opposite gender?
  8. Do you have any weird phobias?
  9. Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of bees?
  10. If you have a nickname, what is it?
  1. A plain candlewax scented one.
  2. Taylor Swift because she is so bloody rich she might give me a wad of banknotes.
  3. The well-thumbed copy of "Playboy" that I hide under our mattress.
  4. You must be joking. I would end up in hospital if I even tried.
  5. I just wore my normal clothes as we never "did" Halloween in England back then.
  6. I would rather have a Yorkshire accent - in other words, the same accent that I have now.
  7. Honeysuckle Melody Rose
  8. Yes. I am afraid of dentists so I am a dentophobic.
  9. I would rather be attacked by a big bear that is itself being attacked by that swarm of bees. I might be able to escape. Fortunately we don't have big bears in The Peak District but we have got sheep.
  10. Big Boy.

Thank you to Molly - for your inspiration.

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