3 December 2016


Well, I don't know how long it has been there but when creating a new blogpost one of the facilities available on the top bar in Blogger is "insert special characters".  Click on the second of the three dropdown menus there and you will find emojis. 

As I don't possess a mobile phone, I was only dimly aware of what emojis are and how they might be used. I guess they either replace words or reinforce previously expressed sentiments. It is amazing how many different notions and emotions can be suggested with these little symbols. Some of them are very clever indeed.

I have applied certain emojis to members of the blogging community - henceforth to be called blogonauts. Some days even I can be insane. I hope that Blogger don't send that white van over again today. I hate being trussed up in that canvas straitjacket...
πŸ‘°= Librarian - a German princess with secrets... and "Holzofen-Dinnede" in her Swabian belly.
πŸ™‹= Jennifer - a South Carolinian princess with dogs, a parrot and a husband.
πŸ‘¨= Terry - Hinckley's "man of the year". What an amazing accolade!
πŸ‘Ί= Steve - chief enforcer  at The American School library - "Bring em back!"
😜= John Gray - blogger extraordinaire and animal lover - no, not like that!
πŸ’†= Queen Helen from Brissy, queen of quilting and holiday planning.
πŸ‘§= My name is Sue, how do you do? "Here, there and everywhere..." - thanks to John Winston Lennon.
πŸ‘©= Mama Thyme/Mama Bear - Miss Colorado 2016 and lovely mountain lady in fur.
πŸ‘΅= Mrs Weaver, illegal Lincolnshire immigrant - aka Emma Dale.
😻= Lee on Tamborine Mountain - foxy lady and damned good cook.
πŸ˜‡= Ian Rhodes - happy halo man and king of the Sunday Round-Up.
😁= Mr Graham, Laird of Eagleton, IπŸ’—Lewis  showing off his new teeth.
πŸ™Ž= Jan Blawat, feisty no nonsense Sloughhouse chicken woman.
😊= Red - a Canadian glass half full happy chappy eskimo teacher guy.
πŸ˜‰= Chris the Newhaven Pedestrian winking at the world.
πŸ‘΄= Mr Rhymes, senior blogger and wise monitor of blogging morals.
πŸ‘ΈπŸ‘ΈπŸ‘ΈπŸ‘ΈπŸ‘ΈπŸ‘ΈπŸ‘Έ= What is the collective noun for a group of princesses? A herd? A gaggle? Here are Princesses Kylie, Coppa G, Lesley, Libby, Frances, ADDY and Alphie before they descend on their favourite downtown dive - "The Flaming Yorkshire Pudding" to guzzle down shots and dance like dervishes deep into the night.
Did I miss somebody? Oh yeah, I missed you! πŸ˜ˆ You little devil!  

1 December 2016


Andy Woodward - brave whistleblower re, sexual abuse in boys' football
Here in  Great Britain, a secret door has been pushed open. Beyond that door in the dank shadows of recent history, vile child abuse has been exposed. This awfulness happened at the behest of several perverted football coaches.. They took advantage of dozens of young boys and overpowered them with their careless lust.

We have seen ex-professional footballers on our television screens, revealing their terrible secrets. Some of them have been in tears. Such things are very hard to talk about - even when you are a grown man. How much harder it would have been to talk about such things when these tortured men were boys.

"How was the football practice Jimmy?"

"Oh fine mum but afterwards Mr Smith buggered me in the back of his Cortina."

It doesn't work that way.

I wonder if there are any other countries in the world that are as  diligent in their rooting out of past abuse as Great Britain seems to be. We keep delving into the shadows, pulling out the monsters when in so many other countries the secret door is double-locked.

I pause to wonder what turns a man into a child abuser. Surely they didn't just wake up one day stretching and yawning and thinking - "Oh I am bored. I think I will go out and abuse a child today." It would be instructive to learn about the backgrounds of these abusers and what made them so. Of course forgiveness would be absurd but it is arguably far too facile to view these predators as evil devils without stopping to consider their life journeys.. Are abusers born or made?

30 November 2016


Tuesday was a diamond day. Though our night starts to fall at around three thirty in the afternoon at this time of year, the short day we enjoyed was bathed in sharp winter sunlight as anticyclonic conditions settled over northern England. This is the kind of wintry weather we like - not the grey-damp wintry weather that eats into your bones on days when the golden orb fails to seep through thick layers of dismal cloud.

I didn't want to drive very far - just out to Hathersage, and under the railway bridge on the Grindleford road. I parked near Leadmill Bridge, laced up my trusty walking boots and set off along a public right of way that follows the course of The River Derwent all the way to Castleton.

I was in The Hope Valley. I always think that is a perfect name for a lovely green English valley. A valley filled with hope, perhaps the hope of better things to come. Maybe somewhere there are other valleys - The Hopeless Valley, The Valley of Lost Souls, Despair Valley - I can't say but The Hope Valley suits me fine. I have walked along every one of its ancient paths, filled with Hope.

Here are some of the photographs I snapped along my seven mile walk as November drew closer  to its photogenic ending...
Unclothed tree near Upper Hurst
Two pictures of Kentney Barn
Another barn - on the frosty slopes of The Hope Valley
Riverside path that follows the course of The River Derwent

29 November 2016


Like 99% of the adult female population of Great Britain, Mrs Pudding is a big fan of the BBC weekend entertainment  phenomenon, "Strictly Come Dancing". It has been running since 2004 and has been a glamorous if fleeting "feel-good" escape from the troubles of the world - both macro and micro. In "Strictly", there are sequins and smiles as each week celebrity contestants battle it out on the dance floor before an enchanted studio audience and a panel of eagle-eyed judges.

This year's contest is coming to a head and the final will happen on December 17th with a new champion dancer crowned.

TV viewers are given the opportunity to apply for tickets so that they can join the studio audience. Every week for the last three years, Mrs Pudding, along with two million others, has applied for a pair of these golden tickets but to no avail. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Until yesterday that is.

She received her dream message from the BBC. She had been allocated two precious tickets for the final show! But how quickly joy can turn to exasperation. Horror upon horror - we discovered that for each show the BBC gives out eight hundred tickets when only four hundred seats are available! What the...?

On the morning of the show, she will need to join the ticket validation queue at Elstree studios very early in the morning if she is to be one of the lucky four hundred. What an absolute pain and to wit a bloody disgrace! The result of this absurd arrangement is that we will have to stay in a hotel down in Borehamwood on Friday night. All rooms in the nearby "Ibis" had already gone last night so I booked the very last room at the 5.8 rated Elstree Inn so that Mrs Pudding can scoot out at 6am to wait in the queue before the validation office opens at 9am. Even Charlie Bucket didn't have this nonsense.

In the end, it is possible that Mrs Pudding won't even get her pair of tickets but assuming she does, please don't think that I will be sitting beside her in the studio. No. That honour will fall upon our lovely daughter Frances who will take the short train journey north from London later that day.

What a cack-handed way to handle the tickets! I mean, why couldn't they just sort out the validation online instead of treating licence payers and fans like this? Making them get up before dawn, possibly in freezing conditions with rain pelting down on what should be a truly joyous day. One thing's for sure - celebrity members of the "Strictly" audience won't have to do this and they will have the prime seats. If not fuming, I am at least simmering.

27 November 2016


At the chalk quarry in South Ferriby
On the Yorkshire bank of the mighty River Humber there is a village called North Ferriby. I know it quite well. Far across the muddy waters, on the Lincolnshire side, there's a village called South Ferriby. Until yesterday I had never been there though I had seen it from the north bank.

I was on my way to watch Hull City draw with West Bromwich Albion in the English Premier League but I had factored in a midday diversion to have a stroll around South Ferriby. When I got there it was very misty. I couldn't even see The Humber.

I strolled around, up to St Nicholas's church and then along a chalk track that overlooks a massive chalk quarry which was almost invisible to me in the mist. Back in the village, I was hoping to have a drink and a sandwich in "The Nelthorpe Arms" before crossing The Humber Bridge for the match but the pub wouldn't open until 4pm. Instead, I bought a haslet and salad sandwich from the village post office along with a pint of milk. Hull City supporters require plenty of sustenance.

Near the village pond there's an information board which on clear days would look out on the wide expanse of The Humber but yesterday it looked out on a milky-white mistiness. There was a poem included on the information board. I hadn't seen it before so I took a photo of it and have now transcribed it below:-

(From South Ferriby Hill)

O Humber! I have seen thy might deep
In opalescent beauty tinged with gold,
Thy waters glimmered in a dreamless sleep
By pebbled shore and gently dipping wold
Where little ships to happy haven glide
In some sequestered, half-forgotten creek
While cargoed fleets sail out in buoyant pride
The commerce of a vaster world to seek.
Yet I have seen thy wild tumultuous rage
A million mariners have bravely fought,
Battled the waves and storms of every age
To bring their homebound treasure to port.
Withal proud mother of a myriad of streams,
I hail thee Humber! River of my dreams

By Edith Spilman Dudley
(from "Lyrics of Lovely Lincolnshire")
Two views of  the war memorial at South Ferriby

26 November 2016


Even before his inauguration, Trump said he was a brutal dictator.

Meanwhile, on the official Donald Trump website, they are promoting sales of a souvenir Christmas tree ornament - a bargain at only $149. How can any Christmas be complete without one of them dangling from one's tree? You might think I am kidding you but this is not a joke!

This is the advertising copy straight from Trump's website:-

Get in the Christmas spirit with your very own Make America Great Again Red Cap Collectible Ornament. Made of brass and finished in 24 karat gold, this ornament is sure to make any tree stand out.
You really could not make this stuff up. Imagine a political leader who happily uses "Twitter" to communicate with the world. Even if it had been available in his heyday, it is unthinkable that Fidel Castro would  have ever used it. Some philosophies need more than one hundred and forty characters. 

Here's Trump's compassionate and diplomatically sensitive tweet for today:-

25 November 2016


Sheep on the grassy western slopes of Highlow
The Peak District is England's oldest national park. Within its boundaries there are sheep farms but no wind farms. Planning legislation is pretty tough. If you own a house or cottage within the national park, you must seek special approval for any significant changes you hope to make to your home. 

The southern half of The Peak District is limestone country. In fact, it is often referred to as The White Peak. The village I visited yesterday, Earl Sterndale, is right on the edge of  The White Peak and if you look eastwards from the door of "The Quiet Wonan" you see a  typical grassy limestone hill rising above the village.

However, things are not quite as they seem because at the top of this great hill, called Highlow, there is a track that marks the boundary of the national park. To the eastern side of this track there's a mile long security fence and beyond  that there are three huge limestone quarries. Effectively, you find yourself looking over a high cliff into massive holes in the ground from which millions of tons of limestone have been extracted.

The limestone is mainly used for road building and the manufacture of cement. It is a vital resource but thank heavens The Peak Planning Authority have severely limited quarrying activity with the park's boundaries. There's a big quarry at Hope but that existed before The Peak District came into being

When I took the steep path up Highlow from Earl Sterndale I was rewarded with wonderful illumination from the west. It shone down on the quarries and I was able to snap several pictures of the surreal and slightly disturbing scenes I saw before me. Here's a sample:-