30 November 2023


Rosette of spear thistle with frost at Windgather Rocks

Let me say straight away that this blogpost has absolutely nothing to do with pornography. Until I came to this keyboard, the title was going to be simply "Cold" but mischievously I thought - no, let's see what happens when I use an instantly more controversial title.

Yeah, so "Cold". It was cold enough yesterday when I  parked up in Kettleshulme and strode out into frosty fields under the clear blue of an anticyclone but this morning it was much colder. Nearby pavements and road surfaces were white with hoar frost and our car windscreens (American: windshields) were iced up. Poor Clint was shivering like an arctic monkey. The grass in our back garden (American: yard) looked as if it had had tubs of icing sugar sprinkled liberally upon it.

This is the first proper frost we have had since last winter so we can have little cause for complaint. Besides, it is possible to enjoy sharp, frosty weather. It can be invigorating. However, for those who struggle financially,  minus centigrade temperatures always stir up these fundamental  questions: "Should I put my heating on?" and "Can I afford to heat my home?"

Shirley and I both grew up in cold houses without central heating or double glazing. Wintry mornings were about leaping out of bed and  getting your day clothes on as soon as possible. I remember lying in bed listening to my father raking out and preparing our coal fire in the room below. If I timed it right, the fire would be emitting warmth when I got downstairs.

My children's generation were to a large extent sheltered from the cold with double glazing, improved insulation and draught-proofing as well as domestic gas boilers pumping hot water through heating pipes. But in the last few years fuel prices have increased dramatically and now there are of course big issues with supplies of gas and electricity. We can't take it all for granted any more.

When it's cold, wise people wear warmer clothing in their homes in wintertime. Woolly jumpers come out and shorts are put away for the springtime. By wearing warmer clothes you can reduce the amount of time you need to have your heating on.

For my seventieth birthday or was it last Christmas - I can't remember, my son Ian gave me a gift that I was not at all sure about. Was it really me? It seemed unlikely. It was a gilet by Barbour - in fact a Langdale gilet costing £80. 

A month ago, I thought that I would give it a try and ever since I have not looked back. I am wearing it now as I type these words and I have worn it around the house  all day. In fact, I have been converted to the gilet cult. It seems an eminently sensible item of apparel to don in the cool of autumn or the cold of winter. Here I am below in my Barbour Langdale gilet looking devilishly handsome - rather like a porn star on his day off...

29 November 2023


By Side End Lane

Kettleshulme is a village in Cheshire, close to that county's border with Derbyshire. This morning, Clint drove me over there to undertake another pre-planned circular walk. The weather forecast was  good - clear and sunny but frosty  cold.

Sheffield to Hathersage to Winnats Pass to Rushup Edge to Chapel-en-le-Frith to Whaley Bridge and thence to Kettleshulme. I parked Clint on Paddock Lane and got togged up - including fingerless gloves and bright red thermal hat and at eleven o'clock on the dot I set off.

Icy puddle

I expected the highlights of this walk to be the evocatively named Windgather Rocks and an isolated church called Jenkin Chapel though a hundred and fifty years ago it was known as St John the Baptist's Church. There would also be two or three ruinous farms. 

Ruinous Redfern Farm

Almost exactly four hours after leaving my sleek silver steed, I  unlocked his boot (American: trunk) ready to change into my driving shoes. The best of the day had already gone and lengthening shadows  announced that night would arrive in an hour or so.

But there was just enough time to drive back home in daylight. It had been a glorious walk, navigated without any problems. I drank hot coffee and ate a slice of banana bread while sitting on the old stone steps of Jenkin Chapel. Finally, I would like to share with you the name of a property I passed through - it was the best name on today's walk - Hollowcowhey Farm. How it acquired that name is a mystery to me.

"Hello Mary Moon!" (at Hollowcowhey Farm)

At Windgather Rocks

Jenkin Chapel, Saltersford

28 November 2023


I galloped through "Walking Home" by Simon Armitage, beginning it on the train down to London on Friday and finishing it this very afternoon. I guess that it was my kind of book, all about walking in the countryside and written by one of our country's best known living poets.

He is Simon Armitage, the current Poet Laureate who hails from Marsden near Huddersfield - just thirty miles from this keyboard. Back in around 2010, he conceived a plan to walk England's most gruelling long distance footpath - The Pennine Way. Almost 270 miles in length, it runs from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm at the Scottish border - but being a contrary sort of fellow Simon Armitage chose to attempt it the other way round.

He also had the idea that he would give poetry readings at venues along the way. With the help of his website, his friend Caroline  and others, arrangements were duly made and lodgings were also secured including breakfasts and evening meals. Plus - he needed volunteers to transport his bulky main rucksack between staging posts. He referred to it as "The Tombstone".

It was an arduous journey of sixteen days and though attempted in summer, the weather rarely played ball. He was not at all sure that he could fulfil his plan. Many before him have given up the walk after a day or two. It invariably involves moorland, rain, mist, boggy terrain, emptiness, map-reading skills, lost paths and self-doubt. As I say, not everybody makes it and most have to carry everything they require.

On page 249, Simon Armitage refers to the farm in the middle of the M62 motorway. He calls it Scott Hall Farm and earlier today this caused me to write an e-mail message to him via his literary agent:

Dear Simon,
I have just finished reading the paperback version of "Walking Home". It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and not at all as "high brow" as I half anticipated. However, I wish to point out a niggling error that occurs on page 249. Here you are referring to the farm in the middle of the M62 near Booth Wood Reservoir. You call it Scott Hall Farm but it is in fact Stott Hall Farm with a "t" where a "c" appears in the text. I make this observation in the name of accuracy and hopefully not because I enjoy nitpicking. Earlier this year, I walked under the M62 and crossed the strange "island" on which Stott Hall Farm stands. 
Best wishes,
Yorkshire Pudding (Mr)

This evening I had a reply from the literary agent, saying that they had already forwarded my message to Simon Armitage. Some of you may recall my walk past Stott Hall Farm in February. Go here.

I don't suppose "Walking Home" would be everyone's cup of tea but mostly I loved it. My main reservation  is that within five miles of Edale - a place I know well - he decided to abort the walk. It wasn't because he had run out of steam or had become physically incapable and it wasn't because of the weather either. It was hard to understand his motive but he was rather like an American anarchist, raising his middle finger and walking away. Refusing to do the expected thing. Over a decade later, I wonder if he sometimes regrets that strange choice.
Simon Armitage

27 November 2023


Zach under blanket knitted by Shirley

Fields pass by. St Pancras appears. Tube to West Brompton. Red bus to Fulham. Through the grey door. There's Sarah. There's Zach. Four weeks old. Inquisitive dark eyes. Hugs. Tramping along Dawes Road. Waitrose bag in hand. Preparing food. Bedtime arrives. Attic futon. Awake in darkness. Heathrow flight path. Vivid dreams. Up at nine. Pushchair to Bishop's Park. Old Father Thames riding high. Tide turning. Lattes in The Tea House. Home-baked Madeleines. Bright, bright sunshiny day. Home. Chinese ordered. Leather-clad lady biker. Code number 56. Bus stop rat. 74 to Queen's Gate. Natural History Museum. Lit in lilac. Ten minute walk. Royal Albert Hall. High up in The Rausing Circle. Jools Holland. Dexterous keyboard hands on big screen. Ruby Turner: "Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think". 74 bus back. 10.55 in "The Rylston". Beer refusal. Great! Cup of tea. "Match of the Day". Too little sleep  again. Shirley gets up.  Sleep some more. There's Zach again. Singing him songs. An almost smile. A nearly smile. Cold outside. Grey. Mazy terraced streets. Lilyville-Clonmel-Homestead. "The Brown Cow". Sunday roast. Tasty. Back.  Premier League match on SKY. Garnacho overhead goal. Everton 0 Man United 3. Ten o'clock. Ian home from Amsterdam. Bed. Sleep better.  Rolling off the futon. Like a walrus. Breakfast. Bye-bye. Bus to West Brompton. Wrong tube train. Silly me. French woman, Algerian man rescue us. From ourselves. St Pancras. Coffee and almond croissants. "Pret-a-Manger". Train north. 12.32. Reading. All's well to Chesterfield. Guard announces landslip ahead. Detour. One hour late. Sheffield Midland Station. 88 bus. Home.

Royal Albert Hall

23 November 2023


Authentic note to the principal of the J.R. Masterman School - September 29th 2016

I will be absent from this blog space over the weekend. Please accept my apologies.

Shirley and I are heading down to London on Friday morning  on a choo-choo train and we won't  be back until late Monday afternoon when I hope to blog again - assuming of course my existence continues that far.

Initially, we were mainly heading down to the capital to attend a concert at The Royal Albert Hall on Saturday night. However, Ian will be over in The Netherlands on business until Sunday night so we thought we would make a long weekend of it and support his girlfriend Sarah with our grandson little Zachary who will be one month old tomorrow.

All seems to be going well with him. He's developing nicely and putting on weight but so far the parental care he has received has very much been a joint project with Ian giving his fair share of the required attention. I sensed that Sarah would miss his input and that our presence would be appreciated. I hope I am right.

Of course, we won't be there for four hours on Saturday night but the rest of the time we'll be there for her until Ian returns on  Sunday evening. Sarah has reserved a Sunday lunch table for us in a nearby pub  and it will make a nice change for me not to be cooking. Naturally Zach will be coming too but he won't be ordering roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. However, Yorkshire Pudding will no doubt be singing to him again.

It's a lovely feeling to sing sweetly to a baby and see him or her looking up, trying to work out what the sound is and where it is coming from. I rather think that cave dwellers would have also sung to their babies thousands of years ago - to distract and to soothe them. To use a popular platitude - Some things never change.

22 November 2023


We hear platitudes all the time. They are what many people resort to when they cannot come up with an original and worthwhile remark. In this post I shall share ten common platitudes with my own rather anarchic comments attached.


"Today is the first day of the rest of your life" Well if that truly is the case what was last Friday? And what will tomorrow be?  I don't get it. It sounds like it is from the same bag of trite nonsense as "Live each day as if it was your last".  Does that mean that every day I have to order the most expensive takeaway curry I can afford? Ridiculous!

"Time is a great healer" Well, I had my front teeth knocked out when I was playing cricket in 1967. 56 years later they have not grown back so how much longer must I wait for time to do its healing?

"Love means never having to say you're sorry" By accident I peed on the toilet seat and forgot to clean it up after washing my hands. When my wife grumbled about this I reminded her of the trite saying. No I didn't! In reality, saying you're sorry to someone you love is very commendable. 

"There's no 'i' in 'team'" Okay that might be true but there are two 'i's' in "intelligence" and two in "ingenuity" and one of the words with the greatest number of 'i's' is "indivisibility" with six . Some species of spider have eight eyes.

"Tomorrow is another day" No way José ! I thought that tomorrow was in fact today! Are you sure that it's another day? How can we prove your outlandish assertion? Perhaps I will stay up all night to check your theory and buy a newspaper in the morning to doublecheck the date.

"With all due respect" In reality this means - with zero respect. I have not been listening to anything you said and now you must listen to me because my point of view is always spot on so yeah, shut up and listen you numbskull!

"What goes around comes around" That is truly amazing but I once had that very sensation when riding on a roundabout (American: carousel) at a fairground. I was, I believe, riding on a painted wooden horse called Dobbin. Also I think of this very planet. Did you know that it it spins right round every twenty four hours - it goes around and it comes around. Far out!

"God moves in mysterious ways" In other words we have no idea what God is up to  - if indeed he even exists. Random stuff happens. People die. Rivers flood. The Kardashians appear on TV. Who are we to second guess God's seemingly chaotic master plan. Never heard of blind faith?

"You can be anything that you want to be" Okay then - I want to be the President of the USA - replacing the faltering but kindly  old man who currently occupies that position while fending off the big-headed oaf in the red cap. Trouble is I can't because I wasn't born in America and that law is not going to change any time soon.  Similarly, I suspect that local man Howard who was a victim of the thalidomide scandal is never going play the Celtic harp or conduct The London Symphony Orchestra.

"It's the thought that counts" Yup! That's why I reused a greeting card on the occasion of Uncle Eddie's birthday - just scribbled out the sender's name and wrote my own name instead. And for Christmas I gave Auntie Eileen a knitted sweater that I suspected would be far too small for her and it  certainly was but it's the thought that counts!

21 November 2023


What a happy face Phoebe had when she came home from her nursery school yesterday afternoon. You  can see the delight in her sparkly eyes. Something has been going on. Has she won the Nursery Tot of the Year Award? Has she been promised  a baby guinea pig for Christmas?

No - none of those things. She simply asked her mummy if she could have her baby sister Margot on her lap for a nice little cuddle and mummy said yes. Margot is just  seventeen days old now but she is not quite as big as the photo suggests.  That impression is I think to do with perspective. Phoebe's feet are not that massive either.

I remember taking a picture of Phoebe in the very same baby-gro suit in March 2021 when she was just two months old. Go here.

It has taken a little while but I think that Phoebe is at last getting used to the fact that she has a sister. A small and rather helpless human being who will figure in her life forever. The bond between sisters is often extra special as several sisters who visit this blog know better than anybody.

20 November 2023


Yes. I am sorry to say that that is not a fake image. 5,500 children have been killed in Gaza  and it is believed that a further 1,800 lie under the rubble presumed dead. As one regular visitor to this blog wrote: 

"I know Israel felt justifiably wronged by the HAMAS attack on 7 October, but two wrongs don't make a right and what Israel are doing to innocent people in Gaza is beyond belief."

Enough is enough. Killing only begets more  killing and besides: Is it even possible to destroy HAMAS? How many more children must die? None of them were HAMAS terrorists. They were children with their whole lives ahead of them.

19 November 2023


Today's Sunday dinner menu was:- 

Roasted chicken
Sage and onion stuffing
Cranberry sauce
Roasted potatoes
Roasted carrots
Roasted parsnips
Roasted squash
Brussels sprouts
Yorkshire puddings 
Homemade chicken gravy

For dessert Shirley had made Eve's pudding using fallen apples from our garden. We haven't had a glut of apples this year which I put down to the short window of opportunity that pollinating insects had with our apple blossom in the springtime. Too much wind, rain and cool temperatures happened just when we needed a warmer and more settled period.

Little Phoebe turned her nose up at the adult dessert and instead opted for an ice cream lolly. I noticed her messy chops and grabbed my camera, recognising that I had not snapped any pictures of her for a while. In the meantime her brand new sister Margot slept contentedly in her crib.

Here's our messy granddaughter at two years and ten months old. She met Father Christmas at Thornbridge Hall on Friday but did not quite know what to make of the beardie old  fellow in his famous red outfit.

Phoebe remains the most delightful child imaginable and it has been a rare privilege  to see her regularly and to observe her development at close quarters. For this I thank the COVID pandemic because if it hadn't happened, she would have grown up in London and her parents would still be working down there. And right now we would have only been playing a small, long distance part in her life.

18 November 2023


I took the picture shown above before I even reached Norton Disney. I had just brought Clint to a  shuddering halt outside Norton Disney Lodge which is a mile west of the village. I am looking down Newark Road - Newark being the closest significant town - after which Newark in New Jersey was named.

After donning my boots in Norton Disney I set off to the neighbouring village of Stapleford with its interesting  and remote church some distance from the village and without proper road access. It is called All Saints and it has stood by The River Witham since the eleventh century.

I crossed the river and headed towards the next village called Carlton-le-Moorland. On the way my eye was drawn to the lonesome tree that you can see in the picture above. The land around it is like a prairie devoted to grain crops from which wild Nature has more or less been banished.

Above that's a photograph of  St Mary's Church in Carlton. It also dates from the eleventh century and building probably commenced soon after the Norman Conquest. The interior was well-maintained suggesting that the church is well loved by the local community. Below there's a section of one of the stained glass windows. It's not especially old, dating from 1901 and in memory of a local woman called Mary Jalland.

The next village I plodded to  was Bassingham. I had never heard of it before planning this walk but it boasts a population of some 1,500 and rising. It is only eight miles from the city of Lincoln. Below - that is Cobblers Cottage in Bassingham. It appears that the topiary to the right is meant to suggest a boot. Well, that's my theory anyway.

On my walk, I came across this old agricultural shed beneath an autumnal oak tree. The image probably appealed to me as I am a sucker for old sheds and tumbledown farm buildings. I took a dozen pictures of this shed which of course I would never have done if there had been a roll of film in my camera.

From Bassingham I plodded through one or two muddy fields heading towards the former site of RAF Swinderby - an air force base dating back to 1940.  It closed in 1993 when the domestic part of the base became a new village called Witham St Hughs.

It was about 3.30 by the time I got there and  the cloak of night was already beginning to envelop the landscape as you can tell from the image shown below. It was time to get marching like a soldier as I still had two miles to go to get back to Norton Disney and my faithful petrol-driven steed - Sir Clint.

17 November 2023


I was up quite early today ready for a sixty mile drive to a village in south west Lincolnshire called Norton Disney. I planned to make it the starting point for a long walk but what drew me there in the first place was the village's association with the American film magnate Walt Disney. He visited Norton Disney with members of his family back in 1949.

The d'Isneys were a noble family of French origin who grew comfortable and wealthy in the parish which is still dominated by St Peter's Church where physical signs of the d'Isneys past influence remain. Walt Disney visited the church and saw the relevant tombs and engraved brass work for himself.
Walt Disney in Nottinghamshire in 1949

Below - the tower of St Peter's Church seen across fields...

In a corner of the church I spotted this faded Mothers Union banner which in past times would have been aired on church parades. Such banners are a familiar sight in English churches...

This medieval knight in his stone tomb is I believe Sir William Disney and it dates from the thirteenth century.

It was at this exact spot in the high street that I parked Clint before setting off on a four hour walk. The day was ending by the time I returned. More about that walk tomorrow.

16 November 2023


British people of my generation grew up on music. It nourished us. We followed the ups and downs of the weekly hit parades quite religiously, keeping a close eye on albums as well as singles. We were born after World War II and witnessed a society that was transitioning from old-fashioned austerity and propriety into a modern world that had colour, greater flexibility and also a world in which the young had some clout. We could dream of a better future, hopefully devoid of war.

We had money to buy singles and if we saved enough we might even buy albums. Most of us can remember the very first records we bought. My first single was "Return to Sender" by Elvis Presley (December 1962) and amongst the next few were  "Scarlet O'Hara" by Jet Harris and Tony Meehan (April 1963), "Hurdy Gurdy Man" by Donovan Leitch (May 1968)  "Both Sides Now" by Judy Collins (October 1968) and "Albatross" by Fleetwood Mac (November 1968). I know there were others from '63 to '68 but these were the first singles that sprang to my mind after all these years.

My first album, which was jointly owned with my three brothers was "With The Beatles" (November 1963). We played it over and over and I swear that even today I know nearly all of the lyrics from that record by heart:-

There were bells on a hill
But I never heard them ringing
No, I never heard them at all
'Til there was you

There were birds in the sky
But I never saw them winging
No, I never saw them at all
'Til there was you

Later I had an evening  paper round and sometimes worked on local farms to earn a few bob so I had more money to spend on albums. I bought the first four albums by Fairport Convention - an English band that zigzagged between traditional folk music and the growing transatlantic singer-songwriter movement . I also bought several of Bob Dylan's early albums but my favourites were "John Wesley Harding" and "Nashville Skyline" and of course there was Leonard Cohen and his genius compatriot - Joni Mitchell:-

Richard got married to a figure skater
And he bought her a dish washer and a coffee percolator
And he drinks at home now most nights with the TV on
And all the house lights left up bright

Since my teenage years, music has never been able to touch me as it did back then. I didn't just listen to music, I absorbed it entirely. Ultimately, it was the lyrics that fed and sometimes overwhelmed me. Every word mattered, every pause. It became a kind of life raft that I gripped on to in order to survive and make it through to adulthood. Never before nor since.
"Unhalfbricking" by Fairport Convention

15 November 2023


This afternoon, I ventured into the city centre by bus - specially to see the latest Ken Loach film - "The Old Oak" and I must say that I am very glad that I bothered. It may well be Loach's last film for he will be 88 years old next year. As a lifelong socialist, he has never sold out in his film-making - picking unusual stories that faithfully portray the working class with dignity and compassion. His characters are never caricatures.

"The Old Oak" is set in a deprived former coal mining village in the north east of England. Tensions occur between longstanding residents and Syrian refugees who have come to live amongst them after fleeing from warfare and internal strife in their home country.

At the heart of the drama are two people played by actors who were plucked from obscurity by Ken Lcach himself. There's T.J. Ballantyne, the landlord of  the rundown "Old Oak" pub, played by a former fire fighter called Dave Turner and a young woman from the Syrian community called Yara played by middle school drama teacher Ebla Mari.

It is through them that the two groups come together and in spite of  mutual poverty and suspicion, hope and togetherness are born. Ultimately, there's a bright upbeat message to this emotionally genuine film which contains many moving moments that I freely admit brought tears to my eyes.

The great Ken Loach

14 November 2023


As some of you will recall, in one of my other online lives I am a keen contributor to the Geograph photo-mapping project. I have taken photographs in 14,803 different squares - the British Isles being divided into over three hundred thousand of these squares which measure 1km by 1km.

On the Geograph home page, they declare that  the project has attracted 13,815 different contributors since its inception in December 2005. However, behind that figure there lurks another story.

I joined Geograph in 2009 which was the year I retired from full time teaching here in Sheffield. That connection is clearly not uncommon. As I read it, I would say that a substantial proportion of Geograph contributors are retired folk with time on their hands to roam about with their cameras. Of course, when someone retires the next big thing in their life will be death and when a Geograph contributor dies then he or she will cease contributing images. Crazy I know - but it's true!

What you find is this. A contributor will have been uploading new pictures on a weekly basis  for years and then all of a sudden their contributions stop. Okay they may have got bored with the whole thing or maybe they've had a debilitating stroke or maybe someone stole their camera or something like that but mostly the endings are down to death.

I wonder what my very last picture will be? Here I am sharing the last images of three previously busy Geograph contributors. This was the last picture of Dr Neil Clifton who submitted 16,509 photos between December 2005 and November 15th 2018. It was taken on Fleece Street in  Rochdale, Lancashire that same month:-

John Allan made many wonderful contributions - mostly of Scottish scenery between December 2005 and May 2021. This was his very last picture of the east beach at North Berwick:-

Kate Jewell contributed 7871 images to Geograph from its inception to May 7th 2020 though her last picture of a canal lock near Cotgrave, Nottinghamshire was in fact taken in the summer of 2006:-

And if you are wondering about the picture at the top of this blogpost. It is of Elliottholme Lodge near Bakewell, Derbyshire. I snapped it just last Friday. And if I fail to wake up in the morning, following the example of my brother Paul, it is this image that will be my last gift to Geograph and the world. My swan song.  Thank you and good night. (Sound of hooting, cheers and foot stomping)

13 November 2023


I love this picture of our Little Phoebe lying in her bed three nights ago. We may have recently welcomed two new baby grandchildren into our family but Phoebe remains our special one, the first born and a star who still shines brightly in our lives.

Her Uncle Ian bought her the Buzz Lightyear figure to co-incide with the arrival of her baby sister Margot. Also in Phoebe's bed you can see Zog the Dragon, Einstein the cuddly prawn and Phoebe's special friend Monty the Sloth - named after Monteverde in Costa Rica which her parents visited three years  before she was born. I was going to say nine months but that would have been a lie.

In the picture, you get a sense of Phoebe's mischievous character. She is full of beans and has a real zest for life. Her language skills continue to progress in leaps and bounds. She can parrot just about anything you say to her. When she wants something or indeed doesn't want something, she digs her heels in like the anchor of a tug of war team.

It's hard to believe that she is not yet three years old. Her birthday will be on January 15th which of course makes her a Capricorn. If you believe in all that horoscopal nonsense, "Capricorns see everything as a task to be done, which makes them a very self-reliant and diligent personality type. They can do everything they set their minds to, regardless of how much energy it takes, as long as they have a clear objective in mind and a plan to get there."

Frances and Stew have already booked the local church hall for Phoebe's third birthday party but when Grandma and Grandpa asked if they could come along she said, "No! You can't!" 

Even though she is less than three feet tall, she can be exceedingly defiant and the word "No!" figures frequently in her communications with adult members of her family. But we wouldn't want her any other way. As she sometimes announces, "I'm Phoebe!" and that is that.

12 November 2023


The scene is set in the lounge of "The Hammer and Pincers". It is quiz night.

KATIE Are we all ready for Question 12?


KATIE Question 12...What are Americans talking about when they use the word "weenie"?

(Hushed debate amongst quiz teams. The word "penis" is heard from one corner)

Twenty minutes later. The Answers.

KATIE Question 12. What does the word "weenie" mean in America? The answer is hot dog, hot dog

YORKSHIRE PUDDING What about sausage?


KATIE Yes. I can accept sausage.

YORKSHIRE PUDDING Yeah. I bet you can!


KATIE (blushing) Question 13: The titular name of the current pope is Francis. Pope Francis.

11 November 2023


  • Why is it that when we drive by roadworks that may even necessitate the use of temporary traffic lights, nobody appears to be actually working there? Go past two days later and there's still nobody working there. In fact when does the work get done? It's a mystery.
  • When washing up a few things in the sink, why is it that when you drain away the soapy water there's always one item of cutlery left behind - normally a teaspoon?
  • Why do 43% of British adults believe in ghosts without any evidence to back up that claim and when it's clear to the rest of us that there are no such things as ghosts?
  • Why do governments print lurid health warnings on packets of cigarettes while simultaneously raking in taxes connected with tobacco products? It's another mystery.
  • In relation to reducing the world's carbon footprint, why does nobody in power seem to give a damn about the excessive use of mobile phones that require regular re-charging and contain rare metal components? And why must these phones be replaced so frequently?  Ignoring the environmental impact of personal phones seems de rigueur. Shh! Don't say anything about them.
  • Why is it that when you are a child time goes slowly but as you grow older time speeds up? When you are a child your birthdays seem to be many miles apart but as you grow older they flicker by like pages in a day calendar blown by a stiff breeze.
  • How do migratory birds travel thousands of miles without navigational aids - and this applies also to  young birds that have never made the journey before - how do they do that?
  • What happens to all the plastic we gather and take to the collection point at our local "Tesco" supermarket every month or so? Is it actually recycled or is it shipped to some third world country for "processing" (i.e. burning and polluting rivers). Why won't anybody tell us?

There are numerous other "mysteries" that gnaw away inside of me but perhaps you have got one or two of your own you would like to share with us in the comments...

10 November 2023



We have had some lovely autumn weather this week. Today, Clint propelled me over the hills to the edge of Bakewell which is perhaps the most famous town in The Peak District National Park. I was all set for a nice walk of around 2.5 to 3 hours and had planned a circular route before printing off the A4 map sheet I required.

Soon after setting off, I had to cross Bakewell Golf Course where walkers are invited  to clang a primitive bell  in order to warn nearby golfers that ramblers are around. To say that "Golf ball strikes are painful" seems like an understatement. Each year in America around 40,000 people who are hit by golfballs seek medical attention and though rare, deaths due to golf ball strikes certainly do happen.

After the golf course, I made my way up a steep and rather slippery path through Manners Wood to Calton Pastures which belong to the estate of Chatsworth House - seat of The Dukes of Devonshire. From afar I could see The Russian Cottage which I photographed a year back - go here.

I investigated a little-visited triangulation pillar before heading back into the woods and down the escarpment to Bowling Green Farm which is on the edge of the estate of ancient Haddon Hall - its boundary defined by the metal fence you can see in the image below:-

The path by The River Wye was treacherous after a very wet October so as my  invigorating walk drew to a close I headed away from the river and on to Coombs Road which is where this grand Georgian house is located. For many years, it was a residential home for the elderly but it has been empty for ages now - awaiting the magic wand swish of a housing developer.

And so I headed home with my faithful companion across a gorgeous landscape that was bathed in golden November sunlight. Every few hundred yards there was another tempting photo opportunity because of the illumination and the colour but Clint would not stop. He just kept bowling along.

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