30 April 2024


Walker resting at Great Tor with Ladybower Reservoir in the valley

Today, Tuesday April 30th, it felt as though the last vestiges of winter had been stored away till late autumn. I woke to a blue sky and a deliveryman hammering on our front door with a large cardboard box under his arm. It was some framing that Shirley had ordered for our vegetable plot.

Breakfast, tea, computer time and a shower and soon I was tootling off to Bamford Edge some five miles west of here. Clint had a belly full of petrol (American: gas) and he was in a racing mood. "Whoaa boy!" I exclaimed, reining him in as we reached the 30mph zone at Ringinglow.

I was pleased to find a space at the roadside pull-in where the path to Bamford Edge commences. There was no rush. Apart from anything else, I was again testing out my left heel that continues to give me occasional  gyp. Before setting off I smeared sun cream on my face for the first time this year,

Bamford Edge looks down upon the valley of The River Derwent and the village of Bamford. Across that valley is the distinctive shape of Win Hill that in ancient times was used as a hill fort. The valley itself contains three big reservoirs that save water mostly for the English Midlands - Derby, Nottingham and Leicester for example.

There were quite a few people out and about on the rocky edge - including two groups of young Asians. That was nice to witness as rambling and exploring the countryside have tended to be the preserve of white members of what is often called "the host community". Most days you tend to see no brown or black faces in "the great outdoors". I was also aware of a Dutch family walking along - no doubt on holiday.

After almost three hours Clint carried me back to Sheffield and I confess that I had an urge for a late lunch at McDonalds on Archer Road so that's what I did - Big Mac with medium fries and a latte. As John Gray would say about mischievous snacks - Bloody Lovely!
Looking down on Bamford
View across the valley to Win Hill
Another view of Ladybower Reservoir
Finally, heading back to New Road where Clint was parked. He is second from the left 
and beyond him there's  High Leas Farm and the green fields of The Hope Valley.

29 April 2024


David Attenborough - a national treasure

When I say "presenters", I am thinking specifically about television presenters - from news programmes to documentaries and quizzes. Perhaps it is just me but what I find is that some regular presenters are very likeable and others make me bristle with annoyance. 

Of course the presenters I am about to comment upon all appear on British TV channels but visitors who dwell in other lands may be able to relate to this issue as they reflect upon the presenters that are familiar to them.

One of Britain's best known presenters is David Attenborough who generally narrates nature programmes. He will be 98 years old next Monday so I suppose that his presenting days are almost over. What he brings to his work is an enduring passion for wildlife, curiosity, authenticity and humility too. Like most British TV viewers  I greatly respect him and I completely trust his accounts  and the views he occasionally espouses. He is one of the best.

On the other hand there's slimy Michael Portillo, a former Tory Member of Parliament, who has carved himself a very comfortable niche as a presenter of programmes about railways all over the world. This is a subject that greatly appeals to me but because Portillo presents them I have never watched one of them from beginning to end. Snake-like, vain and insincere, Portillo's ego is like a puffed up balloon. 

Victoria Derbyshire

One of my favourite current affairs programmes is "Newsnight". Recruited in the last few months, there is a presenter called Victoria Derbyshire who I like very much. She seems so genuine as she explains situations and quizzes politicians and others. She listens but she also challenges, sometimes quite insistently. Any ego she has is suppressed as she just gets on with the job of nailing the truth on behalf on the watching public.

This very evening I was watching a documentary series that takes viewers to some far flung corners of The Pacific Ocean.. It is called "Islands of the Pacfic" and its presenter is an actor called Martin Clunes. He seems so supercilious and his curiosity about most things is rather luke warm. I find him pretty irritating which is a shame because the film footage is excellent Tonight he was in Guam and Palau in Micronesia. I wonder who picked him for this role when there are so many potential presenters who could have done a far better job.

Perhaps it is impossible to pick presenters that will please everybody but in my view a presenter can make or break a programme. In general, I  think presenters should be honest, bright and rather unpretentious people you feel comfortable with whose presenting styles do not detract from the subject matter but enhance it. And if there are conversations to be had they should show keen listening skills - not ignoring or talking over others.

What do you look for in a presenter and are there any that you especially like or dislike and why?

28 April 2024




Today's quiz is all about places. You are going to see five pictures of cities followed by five pictures of countries but where are they? As usual, the answers may be found in the "Comments" attached to this blogpost.











27 April 2024


We have all heard of Confucius but that wasn't his real name. His proper name was Kong Qiu. The Latinized version of his name was coined in the sixteenth century - long after Kong Qiu lived in this world. He was born in 551 BC and died in 479 BC. If you want to learn more about him, visit his page on Wikipedia.

Most people only know the name Confucius and we are also aware that he had some wise things to say as he reflected on life. Here are three of his typical sayings...

The three above are pretty well-known sayings but here are three recently discovered and unfamiliar quotes by the great man:-

Okay, I admit - I was just jesting. Why not have a go at making up your own amusing Confucius meme and leaving it in the Comments section. Remember, Confucius he say:- "Folk who do not leave funny Confucius quotes are boring old farts!"

26 April 2024


Zachary on the left and our son Ian on the right. The photograph was taken just yesterday afternoon. Zach was six months old this week. He's coming on nicely. If you look closely you can see that his first tooth has come through. He's a pretty physical little fellow, rolling and threatening to crawl. Naturally he is the apple of his parents' eyes. 

Ian will be forty years old this summer and Sarah, Zach's mother, is not far behind. I am sure that it crossed their minds, just a couple of years ago, that they might never be parents so having Zach has been a great blessing. He is much loved and well provided for.

I was thirty when Ian was born. Witnessing his birth in the delivery room at Nether Edge Hospital was perhaps the most joyous moment of my life. To see another human being coming into the world was so overwhelming that his gender meant nothing to me and I only realised he was male when the midwife in attendance announced, "You have got a beautiful baby boy!"

For almost forty years, I believe I have been a good father to Ian. There's no guidebook. You just have to go with your instincts. Of course it helped that I have a lovely wife who  has always been a devoted, caring and capable mother. Nursing is essentially a practical job in which panicking should be avoided and Shirley brought a lot of that practicality and common sense to her mothering role.

We won't get to see Zach again  until the middle of May when my whole family will descend upon a rather luxurious Portuguese villa just a stone's throw from the sea. Of course Zach will get to see his girl cousins again - including happy Margot who was born just nine days after him.

25 April 2024


Poor Mr Trump. Spotted sleeping several times during his current trial in New York City. There he is above, faithfully captured by the court artist. Of course Mr Trump denies that he ever drifted off into dreamland and with typical infantile spite he has derided the work of the court artist who he claims has sought to ridicule him.

Ironically, Mr Trump has frequently referred to President Biden as "Sleepy Joe" but now the boot appears to be on the other foot. Dozy Donald will have to think of another name to call the president - for that is how it works with playground bullies.

I have a smidgen of sympathy for Mr Trump with regard to nodding off. There was a time when I never napped. The only time I slept was in bed - usually for an unbroken seven hours. However, now I frequently and reluctantly nod off  when I am sitting comfortably on one of our sofas in the evening. Before I know it, twenty minutes has just disappeared. I guess it's a sign of growing old.

When I sleep I dream of angels and acts of kindness, swimming towards sinking suns with a pod of dolphins or reliving childhood scenes. But what does Mr Trump dream about?  He's possibly a Roman emperor in a toga or a mega-rich business leader with a spotless record or Adolf Hitler stirring the masses from a balcony in Berlin: "Das ist ein vitch-hunt!"

Anyway, if you also refute the work of the court artist, here's another image of Mr Trump having forty winks during his trial.  This time it's a photograph and as we all know - the camera never lies. Does it? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

24 April 2024


"Crookedness". I also considered the terms "Scamming" and "Mugging" for this blogpost's title. I have written about insurance companies before and how they try to push up premiums to the max without, apparently, being brought to heel by the law. Because they seem to be able get away with it scot-free,  they continue to do it. Here are three previous posts where I bang on about the very same subject - BANG! BANG! BANG!

From memory, here is the transcript of a phone call I made just this morning to the big, nationwide insurance company that currently  provides my car insurance:-

CHIBUZO Hello you are through to Chibuzo . How can I help you today?
PUDDING I want to talk about my new car insurance premium.
CHIBUZO Why? What seems to be the problem?
PUDDING Well I am quite shocked that it has increased a full 20% on last year's premium so I was wondering if there was any way of reducing it?
CHIBUZO The best I can do is to reduce it to £378.07
PUDDING Well that sounds a much more reasonable figure. And the insurance details remain exactly the same?
CHIBUZO Yes. Just the same. Do you wish to accept the new offer?
PUDDING Okay, I'll take it.
CHIBUZO I will send you the revised insurance details by e-mail.
PUDDING Will the previous automatic renewal be cancelled?
CHIBUZO Yes. No problem. Is there anything else I can do for you today?
PUDDING No but thanks for dealing with my issue so swiftly.
CHIBUZO No problem. Enjoy the rest of your day.
PUDDING Goodbye!

One of the things that surprised me about this phone call was that Chibuzo must have been able to get all my details up on screen just through my phone number. I did not have to read out my policy number nor spell my name - nothing like that.

It was also surprising that there was no need for a small battle of wills. Chibuzo caved in and offered the reduced premium immediately. Making that four minute call saved me exactly £26. So that is £26 (American: $32.35) in my pocket and not in the vaults of the insurance company.

I have had this kind of experience many times now and it is all so very wrong. Undoubtedly, some "customers" will pay increased bills without querying them - perhaps naively believing that legitimate insurance companies would never rip them off.

And if you are wondering about the illustration at the top, it concerns an old English nursery rhyme:-
There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

23 April 2024


Stained glass window in St George's Hall, Liverpool

Today is St George's Day. He is the patron saint of England. I have written about him before.

As far as I am concerned, St George has nothing to do with England. He was chosen as our patron saint by King Edward III (1312-1377). Apparently,  St George seemed to represent the ideal of chivalry but even in Edward III's time he was a semi-mythical character.

He never visited England and may have been a Roman military leader, mostly based in the eastern region of modern Turkey. His life story is uncertain. There are many half-truths and theories but for the life of me I cannot understand why he gained his legendary status. He was venerated in various parts of the middle east and of course the nation of Georgia is named after him. He is also the patron saint of Catalonia in Spain.

England deserves a saint from these islands  - pure and simple. If we can have a referendum about leaving The European Union we can surely have a referendum on who should be our patron saint. My money would be on Saint Cuthbert (634 - 687). He was  a real man  who did a lot of good in his lifetime and became  The Bishop of Lindisfarne. He is buried in Durham Cathedral.

I have devised a voting slip to be printed off and posted back by English people only. We don't want any Americans, Australians, Canadians, Irish, Germans, New Zealanders, Swedes, Welsh or Scots deciding who the replacement Patron Saint of England should be:-

The United States of America do not have a proper patron saint so it is about time those folks chose one. I would like to nominate Saint Barack after the 44th president or Saint Bob after Bob Dylan. Both would surely be very acceptable but being a limey I guess it is not really my place to even make a suggestion.

22 April 2024


In relation to my "Missing" blogpost in which I focused partly on The Yorkshire Ripper's marital home in Bradford, I received the following comment from Debbie Williams:-

"In 1980 I'd just started studying at Sheffield University. I still remember the fear we felt as The Ripper had murdered a student at Leeds University. The student union organised transport to take us back to our halls of residence and my parents paid for taxis, rather than let me walk home. We were jubilant and so relieved when Peter Sutcliffe was caught, frightening close to the University campus. Looking back, I wonder if Sutcliffe would have been caught sooner if most of his victims hadn't been prostitutes?"

I remember that time very well. I had joined a Workers Educational Association course in creative writing in The University of Sheffield's Arts Tower. There were posters on every floor urging women to take their safety seriously. Don't go home alone/Take taxis at night etc.. And this was all because  of the terror that The Ripper was causing.

It affected my wife Shirley who was a young hospital nurse at the time.  Fortunately, she had a little car to bring her home but various levels of anxiety were experienced by all female hospital workers whose shift patterns meant they often left work  at nighttime.

Throughout his deadly campaign, there had never been a known attack  here in Sheffield. Nearly all of his unfortunate victims were bludgeoned to death up in  West Yorkshire - Bradford, Leeds, Huddersfield and Halifax. He killed thirteen women and severely injured several others.  One of his survivors recalled him shouting, "Filthy prostitute!" as he struck her.

The fear  in Sheffield was pretty strong even though nobody had been attacked here but up in Bradford and Leeds  the levels of fear must have been off the scale. Female university students had been targeted in addition to prostitutes whose lives are just as precious anyway.

The Yorkshire Ripper was finally captured by accident in a dark office car park off Melbourne Avenue just  a mile and a half from this  keyboard. It was January 2nd 1981 and he had driven  24 year old Olivia Reivers  there. He had his trademark ball-pein hammer in the boot (American: trunk) of his car.  Whatever might have been about to happen was stopped by a pair of policemen slowly cruising down the avenue  in a squad car.  They did a vehicle check  and discovered that Sutcliffe's car was displaying false number plates. He was promptly arrested. 

The next day one of those police officers returned to the arrest scene and found the hammer in  bushes where The Ripper had been allowed to urinate before being taken to the local police station. Then, thankfully, the clues were joined up and after forty eight hours Sutcliffe admitted who he was.
Sutcliffe and Sonia on their wedding day in 1974

21 April 2024


Okay. It's time for another quiz with your genial host and quizmaster Mister Yorrrrrrrrkshire Pudding! (Sound of riotous applause and stomping of feet). Grinning like a Cheshire cat, he steps up to the microphone in his gold lamé suit and purple dickie bow.

"Good evening quizzers! Let's not hang about. It's time for "Quiz Time"! And for tonight's quiz, the theme is food! After all, we all eat food don't we? And looking at tonight's audience I would say that some of us eat too much of it!  (Gales of laughter) Food is something that all human beings have in common.":-


1. With which staple food do you associate these names  - basmati, arborio & jasmine?

2. No British Sunday roast is complete without a pudding made from plain flour, milk and an egg or two but after which English county is that pudding named?

3. In 2002, Donald Trump appeared in a TV commercial for a particular fast food company, but which one was it?  (a) Taco Bell    (b) KFC   or (c) McDonalds

4. Which farm animal do both Jews and Muslims refuse to eat according to their holy laws?

5. Jambalaya is made from cooked rice, vegetables and meat but with which southern American state would you mostly associate this creole/cajun dish?

6. Shaped like little wagon wheels, rotelle is a form of which staple Italian food?

7. Zwiebelkuchen is a savory onion cake made of steamed onions, diced bacon, cream, and caraway seeds on either a yeast or leavened dough but with which European country do you associate  Zwiebelkuchen?

8. What is this berry fruit called? (see picture)

9. What is the main ingredient in hummus?

10. Coq au vin is a traditional French dish from the Burgundy region. Which colour wine is nearly always used in traditional recipes for this dish?


As usual, answers are given in the Comments section. How did you do?

20 April 2024


It's easy to miss things. 

Last Friday, when I visited Bradford, I was very close to the house shown at the top of this blogpost. It was the marital home of one of Britain's most infamous mass murderers - Peter William Sutcliffe whose tabloid nickname was The Yorkshire Ripper. He killed at least thirteen women and was at large between 1969 and 1981. He terrorised the north of England until he was caught here in Sheffield in January 1981.

He married Sonia Szuma in 1974 and a few years later they were able to buy the house on Garden Lane in the Heaton district of Bradford.  I understand that Sonia  Sutcliffe, at the age of 74,  still lives in that house.  It may seem ghoulish I know but I would have liked to walk down Garden Lane to snap a picture of my own. The image at the top was snipped from Google Streetview.

It is tempting to wonder what drove Peter Sutcliffe to commit his terrible acts. So much has been written about him but when it comes to motivation a lot of the verbiage is pure speculation - guesswork. Sonia was a respectable primary school teacher but nearly all of The Ripper's victims were prostitutes. The couple never had any children though Sonia suffered an unknown number of miscarriages.  At some stage she was judged by health services to be impaired by paranoid schizophrenia. 

After this past Wednesday's visit to Barnsley, I realised I had missed something else and was reminded of this by blog chum Dave in County Cork, Ireland. It wasn't a murderer's house I had missed but the statue of a boy from a novel holding a kestrel.

The novel concerned is "Kes" or "A Kestrel for a Knave"  by the late Barry Hines. The hero he created in that book was a teenage boy called Billy Casper - born into an obscure and challenging life on a Barnsley social housing estate. Billy had nothing going for him but he managed to train a young kestrel. I sometimes say that if you want to understand the real England you should read "Kes". The statue is located on Cheapside in Barnsley. I must have been within twenty five yards of it.

So frustrating. I can see that another day trip to Barnsley will be required.

19 April 2024


Babies may be notorious for crying but they also love to laugh. They laugh at the silliest things and of course because they are babies that laughter is not pretentious. It's 100% genuine. 

There are plenty of compilation videos of baby laughter over at YouTube. If you are feeling down or blue and  need  a bit of cheering up, perhaps those videos would be just the ticket. Doctors could potentially stop prescribing anti-depressant tablets and just recommend laughing baby videos instead.

In this area of hilarity, babies probably have an advantage over adults in that they wear nappies (American:diapers) so that when the laughter causes temporary loss of bladder control, those babies will not be embarrassed but adults - well, that's another story.


18 April 2024


Inspired by my blogging chum Bruce Oddball in Arizona, today I am simply sharing a bunch of memes - all picked because they are just plain silly and have no serious or political undertones. Bruce  (see above) is the author of "Oddball Observations"  and every Friday he posts his "Friday Funnies" - just for laughs.  I hope you get at least one chuckle from this bunch...

That's all Folks!

17 April 2024



Barnsley is Sheffield's little brother. It is a town some fifteen miles north of Sheffield and home to 72,000 people. It was at the heart of the South Yorkshire coalfield and so it is very familiar with poverty. Barnsley people have no airs and graces. They are considered to be the salt of the earth and they call a spade a spade.

After leaving the railway station, I strolled to a large open space called Glassworks Square. I swear it wasn't there the last time I was in Barnsley town centre. My eyes were drawn to a statue on the other side of the square so I went over to investigate. 

It was unveiled at the end of 2021 in memory of those who died during the coronavirus epidemic and those who helped. The seven  figures include a little girl, an old man, a volunteer, a nurse, a carer, a police officer and a teacher. I thought it was brilliant but I wish I had hung around to take some better pictures of it than this one...

I was mostly in  Barnsley to "bag"  three specific squares for the Geograph project so I needed to move on. I had about two miles to walk. Below - market stalls in the street with the tower of Barnsley Town Hall beyond...
Barnsley has many old terraced houses in unremarkable  streets like this one - Fife Street...
Not far from Fife Street there are two large public house that would have once allowed hard-working miners and others  to slake their thirsts and spend big chunks of their wages. This is "The Shaw Inn" at the corner of Shaw Street and Racecommon Road...
Below, the date on the parapet tells us that this pub -  "The New Longcar" was opened in 1914 - possibly replacing the old "Longcar". On the side of the pub, the Barnsley Brewery Company is still advertised...
Finally, you might be wondering about the seven foot fish at the top of this blogpost. It's a salmon! It stands outside Sheffield Midland Station  and was commissioned a few years ago to mark the return of salmon to The River Don which was once terribly polluted by industry but finally, through human intervention, the fish came back.

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