31 May 2016


On the BBC News website, an item appeared today that was all about public toilets or the lack of them. Go here.

Of course there's no profit in public toilets and they have to be serviced and maintained. Consequently, cash-strapped councils across Great Britain have been shutting them down. It is scandalous.

One thing that all human beings have in common is the need to excrete every day of our lives. Some of us need to excrete more often than others and if we have certain medical or dietary conditions or are simply old, the need to excrete may become very urgent indeed.
Back in Victorian times, our forebears built thousands of  public toilets. In cities like Sheffield they were everywhere so that when citizens felt the urge to excrete there was usually somewhere they could visit in that particular vicinity. In contrast today, there are hardly any public toilets left so if you desperately need to "go" you have to find a pub, a McDonalds outlet or a department store. 

It shouldn't be this way. Surely, it is a basic human right here in the western world to have public facilities we can go to in order to defecate or urinate. This fundamental human need should not be connected with profit making. It seems to me that the provision of clean, well-maintained public toilets is one of the hallmarks of a responsible, caring society. Failing to provide toilets or blithely shutting them down says a lot about what is wrong in the world today.

30 May 2016


A statue of Bobby Moore stands at the top of Wembley Way. For those of you who do not know, Bobby Moore captained England to their World Cup victory in 1966. On Saturday, he was looking out upon the Yorkshire invasion - two armies - one dressed in amber and black and the other in blue and white.

Below - a father and son wait on the concourse before entering the stadium. As you can see the father is dressed in a rather fetching tiger print "onesie" which is identical to the one that I often wear when rambling in Derbyshire.
As we waited by the Bobby Moore statue, a TV presenter appeared nearby with her team. She is called Kelly Cates and she is the daughter of Scottish footballing legend Kenny Dalglish. She presents the Channel 5 show "Football League Tonight" which is blogger Steve Reed's favourite show. She's a nice woman but I was with my wife so I had to spurn Kelly's thinly-disguised advances. It's probably my aftershave that does it.
After the game, our team climbed the Wembley steps to receive the Play-Off Final Trophy and cunningly I snapped this picture of one of the stadium's giant screens. There's Big Harry Maguire with the trophy in his hands and to his left there's the manager's son - Alex Bruce. It is a very happy scene.
After receiving the trophy, our lads went back down to the pitch where they were snapped by dozens of photographers amidst flames, streamers and glitter. And  as Sheffield Wednesday's 40,000 fans vacated the stadium in disappointment, Hull City's supporters were left singing Elvis Presley's "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You". It is the closest thing we have got to a club song.
Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand,
Take my whole life, too
For I can't help falling in love with you

29 May 2016


Cometh the hour, cometh the man. In the seventy second minute of yesterday's play-off final, Hull City's attacking Senegalese midfielder, Mohamed Diamé, received the ball twenty five yards shy of the Sheffield Wednesday goalmouth and curved that leather orb beyond the flailing arms of the Owls' goalkeeper. Joy upon joy! Your blogging prayers were answered and on behalf of the club, the massed supporters and Mohamed Diamé himself,  I thank you for your combined spiritual support.

As The Laird of Eagleton Sir Graham Edwards reminded me, football is just a game... like war, like love, like work, like life itself. The important thing is not that you get to play the game but that you win. And we won!

It seemed that half of Sheffield  had arrived en masse at Wembley and their vocal support was superb. When they were jumping up and down you could feel the vibrations through the concrete structure of the stadium. We had less fans but a better team and we should probably have achieved a better scoreline than 1-0.

Afterwards, Shirley and I drove north to Northampton where at nine thirty p.m. we enjoyed a Toby Carvery meal and victory drinks before carrying on to Yorkshire. I guess I drove for eight hours all told yesterday. At midday we had deposited Ian's belongings at the Arsenal Stadium in Highbury before heading back to The North Circular Road en route for Wembley.

For only the second time, I used a website called "Just Park" to rent somebody's driveway. It was a ten minute stroll from the stadium. Wearing our black and amber gear, we walked past a pub that had been invaded by the blue and white army and a grinning man asked me, "Are you lost?" Well, I knew exactly how to get to Wembley but maybe I am lost - a lost soul, wandering through the dark  jungle of life. But I didn't say that, I just said "No!".

We entered a Turkish kebab house where we ate a late lunch. The kebabs were delicious and we had a table to ourselves at the back of the place. Then on to England's national stadium where seventy thousand fans were gathering in the late May sunshine. Soon our friend Tony appeared following a five hour coach journey from Hull.

Like me he was very anxious about the game but in the end Mohamed Diamé obliterated all  tension with that stunning twenty five yard shot that silenced the Wednesday end of the ground and sent their distraught supporters  back to Sheffield with their tails between their legs. "Diamé! Diamé! Diamé!" As the late John Denver sang, some days truly are diamonds.

27 May 2016


Tomorrow London will be invaded by two armies of Yorkshire folk. In blue and white garb, there will be 40,000 Sheffield Wednesday supporters and in black and amber attire around 30.000 Hull City fans.

We will be there to watch one of the most lucrative single games in world sport - The Championship play-off final. The winners will be promoted to The Premier League, receiving a financial reward of up to £200 million. There's a lot at stake and having been a Hull City supporter for well over fifty years, I am naturally very hopeful that our lads will win the day. This despite the fact that I have lived in Sheffield since 1978 and know plenty of Sheffield Wednesday fans.

Along with Shirley and our grown up son Ian, we shall be setting off at 8.30 tomorrow morning. Ian has at last secured a new job in the capital so we will be depositing his luggage at his lodgings in Highbury before travelling on to Wembley. The kick-off is at 5pm.
He's magic you know
Moses Odubajo!
And now I have a special request. I know that not all visitors to this blog are Hull City supporters or even football fans. Bizarrely, some of you may actively hate football. Nevertheless, I am asking all visitors - including Graham, Adrian, Uncle Bob and Meike - to pray for a Hull City victory. I am even asking Manchester City fan Ian, Lumberjack Red from Red Deer, Coppa's Girl, Carol in Cairns, Mama Thyme in Colorado, Jan in Florida and Jan in California, Washington State Hilly, Yankee Steve in Darkest London, Welsh John  and The English Prof, Tamborine Lee, Daleswoman Mrs Weaver and Mary Zed, Jennifer in South Carolina and Good Ol' Brian in Tortosa. Yes I am asking you all to pray for a Hull City victory.

Please kneel down with palms together and recite this humble prayer with me:-

Dear Lord,

Please forgive me for my sins oh eternal father. I know that you are the master of all things and I like you very much. I shall trespass no more if you could just do one little thing for me. Don't worry oh mighty one, I am not asking to walk on water or for world peace. All I want is this one teeny weeny favour - for Hull City to beat Sheffield Wednesday in The Championship play-off final. I thank you Lord and praise you and apologise for my previous doubts for thine is the kingdom and please make Hull City win.

P.S. Winning The National Lottery jackpot would also be most welcome if you are not too busy.

26 May 2016


On Tuesday, I took John and Helen out into The Peak District. Up The Derwent Valley and then we walked to the old stone bridge that was reassembled at the head of the valley in 1959. Once it had crossed the river in the village of Derwent before that little settlement was submerged beneath the reservoir waters.

Above you can see the track that leads to Slippery Stones and the old bridge.I just mentioned. Two ramblers are out enjoying the May sunshine. It was a lovely morning.

I knew John and later Helen  forty years ago. We were in our early twenties. University students had grants that they didn't have to pay back in those days but they didn't have laptops or mobile phones. 

It is strange to meet up with old friends after such a long time. You realise that a lot of water has passed under the bridge and you consider how your life has evolved in the intervening years. Did we achieve all that we might have done?

John worked in the water industry and then with The Environment Agency. Helen used her economics degree and her innate intelligence effectively in several influential positions - including negotiating better health centres and school buildings. It was easy to see how passionate she had been in her various roles, grasping problems round the throat and taking no prisoners.

What had I done in those working years? I surrendered myself to the world of teaching - a treadmill in which the daily processes are about dumbing down - helping others to advance. It is not a job in which you reach for the sky and blossom. Even the language you use is dumbed down to help children to move to the next step. There's a sense of subjugation.

Perhaps I could have done something else, something more personally fulfilling but I needed to pay the mortgage and raise our own children. Like so many workers, I found myself suppressing pretensions of who I might have been or ideas of what I might have done. I just put my nose to the grindstone and banked my monthly salary cheque. But after all,  I survived and I guess that is a hell of an achievement. Isn't it?

25 May 2016


What ever happened to Andy Monkman? Why did he take his own life? He was once a friend of mine. We were at the same school together - Beverley Grammar School in East Yorkshire.

Back in 1972, I went off to Fiji to teach in a high school under the auspices of Voluntary Service Overseas. Something like The Peace Corps. A year later, Andy followed my example and went off to Swaziland to teach in a high school there. And then damn me, a year after I had enrolled at The University of Stirling in Scotland, along came Andy Monkman to study the same subjects as me - English Studies with Education.

When he first arrived, we were best buddies but then he found a girlfriend and drifted away. He always seemed so self-assured, loving the university social life when I often found it to be a source of discomfort and soul searching. It often repulsed me. I can picture him now - tall and happy with a big grin on his face. But he died a few years back and I don't know why.
John and Helen on Mam Tor
I found this out from very old friends John and Helen. They came down to Sheffield for a few days to see a concert by Mishka Shobaly and I guess to see me and they gave me the news about Andy's death. I have tried with ultimate cunning to use Google to unveil better details of Andy's passing but to no avail. Maybe somebody reading this post in the future can fill me in. I would like that.

Why would anybody kill themselves? This life is very precious. We all have ups and downs and sometimes the skies above us can seem very dark indeed but there is always brightness ahead - just round the corner. Dear Andy - I am so sorry that you have gone and I apologise for losing contact. Perhaps I could have shown you a different path, a better path. You didn't need to die. I am shocked and so sorry. See you old chum.

24 May 2016


There's "sleek silver" Clint parked near to Christ Church in Ironville, Derbyshire. I drove there on Monday to undertake yet another of my circular walks. A few days before I had never even heard of Ironville but I liked the name - it sounded as if it belonged in America's badlands or perhaps in the wilds of Western Australia. As it happens, Ironville was a company village that grew up in the early nineteenth century in connection with local ironworks. The squat church was built in 1852.

Today the ironworks have gone but if you look closely you will still find evidence of the area's industrial history. It's there in the woods and in the overgrown courses of canals and former railway tracks. This was a place for hard work with the majority of workers living within easy walking distance of the fiery works that gave them their hard-earned wage packets.
I walked to Jacksdale, Plain Spot and Brinsley before heading west into the Erewash Valley and then onwards to the ruins of Codnor Castle. It was a thirteenth century fortress but when it fell into disuse, builders used it like a quarry or brickyard, taking away cartloads of stone to construct several local houses. The result is that the once impressive edifice is but a shadow of what it once was.

Then on past the William Jessop monument. Jessop was a nationally important industrialist and the main driving force behind The Butterley Company that developed Ironville and its ironworks.

The walk led me past The Erewash Meadows nature reserve where I spotted these greylag geese:-
Earlier I rested on a bench in the curiously named settlement of Plain Spot, beneath a signpost that directs travellers to Brinsley, Westwood and Underwood and then I looked up:-
Signpost in Plain Spot

21 May 2016


First they came for the Socialists

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

by Martin Niemöller

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler in the nineteen thirties and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

20 May 2016


We are in the middle of spring. How lovely our garden looks at this time of year with so much new greenery, blossom, flowers and happy birds zipping around. Between the globular box plants in their pots, a little path leads up the garden towards our vegetable patch, the compost bins and the green back lane beyond.

When we moved into this house in 1989, the garden was a jungle. I had to set about it with a powerful garden strimmer before applying weed killer to some areas. It was like taming a wild beast. 

How many hours have I spent here - cutting the grass, trimming the hedges, laying paths, planting and picking. It has been a joyous adjunct to my life. Our children played here when they were little. We have had barbecues and bonfires and parties. Here I have seen foxes, hedgehogs, a badger, squirrels, dogs, cats, frogs, toads, snails, slugs, butterflies, a swarm of bees, wasps, spiders, mice, rats, sparrows, jays, rooks, blackbirds, magpies, seagulls, wood pigeons, doves, bluetits, coaltits, great tits, long tailed tits, thrushes, starlings, goldfinches, wrens and a sparrow hawk.

Having a garden is therapeutic. It helps to get the rest of life in better perspective. Soil on your hands and sweat on your brow. Building snowmen. Watching the seasons passing. Watching plants grow. It's like a big outdoor room - a natural extension to our house and after all this time I must say that I would hate to live anywhere that did not have a garden. I feel that my life would be somehow impoverished.

19 May 2016


Just after noon today, I walked into the city centre to watch a film at The Showroom. It was called "Saul Fia" in Hungarian which translates to "Son of Saul" in English. What voices there were in this film spoke in either Hungarian or German or Polish with a sprinkling of Yiddish too. Naturally, there were English subtitles.

It was set in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. The constant focus is upon an Hungarian jew called Saul Ausländer played by Géza Röhrig. He is a member of a Sonderkommando unit - prisoners who evade the gas chamber by undertaking unspeakable tasks for their captors - herding new arrivals, carrying the bodies away, rifling through piles of clothes for money and jewellery. He is in Hell. We see it and hear it in a blurred background through which Saul moves furtively, often in close-up.

One day, from the pile of naked dead bodies, he hears the moaning of a teenage boy. This miracle survivor is carried away and then promptly suffocated by one of the German supervisors. Saul probably only imagines that the boy is his son and is overwhelmed by a desire to have him buried in the proper Jewish manner. All other thoughts leave his mind. Understandably, he may have been deranged by the things he has witnessed. He goes in search of a rabbi.
Saul Ausländer played by Géza Röhrig
Directed by László Nemes, "Son of Saul" is a very powerful, gripping film. We all know the terrible story of Auschwitz so why should the film spell it out once more? In fact, it doesn't. The horror is usually happening just off screen or in the blurry distance. Our focus is always upon Saul - a human being trapped by events over which he has no control. He is brutalised - given a number and a painted red cross on his back. He is a nobody and like other Sonderkommados he realises that his stay of execution will not last forever.

At the end of the film, Saul smiles for the first time as he sees a vision of a peasant boy in the doorway of the wooden  barn where he is hiding with other escapees. The smile lights up his face even as the Nazi search party closes in on their hiding place. The boy runs away as we hear the lethal echo of machine gun bullets. It is only then that we hear any music as the final credits unroll.

If this had been a play performed on a stage, I would have stood at the end and applauded loudly yelling "Bravo!" but it was just a film so instead I simply crept out of the darkness of the cinema with visions of Saul Ausländer fresh in my mind and a renewed sense of those terrible, inhuman events that were unfolding just a few short years before I was born. Truly brilliant.

18 May 2016


Some observant visitors to this blog will remember seeing this picture before. I snapped it while walking past a pub between Smithfield Markets and The Barbican - down in London.

Well I am publishing it once more because a few days ago it was  selected as the "picture of the week" on the "geograph" photo website. That particular week, 6123 pictures were submitted to "geograph" so you will understand why I am as pleased as punch that my photo was the winner.

I e-mailed "The Old Red Cow" pub, hoping they would be able to let the silver-haired gentleman in the photograph know that his image has gained a small degree of fame amongst "geograph" subscribers and visitors. However, so far I have had no reply.

Things I like about this image are - the way the man is holding that full pint of Guinness, the fact that his chosen newspaper is "FT Money", his slightly dishevelled hairstyle and his skew-whiff spectacles. Reflected in the glass are the names of some of the stations that will be linked by London's new "crossrail" project.. I also wonder - what was he looking askance at? It's slightly intriguing.

17 May 2016


Flashing back to one of last week's lovely long walks. The day of the lambs. I parked in the Staffordshire village of Warslow before setting off on a twelve mile circular walk. It took me up hill and down dale, to Hulme End, The Manifold Valley and Ecton Hill. And these were just some of the sights I saw along the way:-
By the bridge over the Manifold at Hulme End
Stone dragon by the triangulation pillar on Revidge Moor
St Lawrence's Church in Warslow
Ruined barn at Clough Head
Inquisitive cow at Clough Head
The Powder House, Ecton Hill - former copper mine facility
As the sign says...

16 May 2016


On Saturday, Mrs Pudding and I travelled by train to Derby. There we watched our team - Hull City AFC - take Derby County to the sword in the first leg of the Championship playoff semi-final. Oh what joy when talented fullback Andy Robertson executed the coup de grace in injury time. 3-0 away from home! Surely there is no way back for The Rams and The Tigers will be on their way to Wembley for the final on May 28th when we will no doubt be playing Sheffield Wednesday for a place in The Premier League.
Statue of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor outside Derby's stadium
After the match, we walked along The Derwent River Path back into Derby city centre. It was a sunny day and local Derbonians or whatever you call them were sitting in the riverside gardens. We spotted a bronze statue of a boy on a ram and I asked Shirley to put her Hull City scarf round the lad's neck so I could snap  a picture. Unbeknownst to me, a few yards away a member of a social group sitting on the grass started cursing at us. I heard him but thought that the cursing was all internal. It must have infuriated him even more to watch me utterly ignoring him. Damned pipsqueak!
Irongate, Derby - looking to the cathedral
We wandered into Derby Cathedral where I photographed the tomb of Bess of Hardwick - a very influential figure in aristocratic circles during the second half of the sixteenth century. Go here if you would like to know more about her.
Bess of Hardwick's tomb
Feeling quite peckish we ventured into "The Kitchen" on Sadler Gate. We ordered pots of tea and sandwiches and then as an afterthought asked the waitress to bring us one small side of chips (American: french fries). Underneath the sandwich section of the menu the words "Add a small side of chips for £1" appeared. Though £6 each the sandwiches were delicious but when the bill came I noticed that we were being charged £3 for our small bucket of chips. 

Naturally, I challenged this firmly but politely. First with one waitress and then another and then the manager came out but I insisted that I had clearly ordered the small side of chips and not what they laughingly called a "large bucket" and there was no way I would be paying £3. Finally, he caved in. It was the principle and maybe ironically to them, I left £2 as a tip for the first young waitress who had made the original mistake. I was quite proud of myself for staying calm and insistent and not getting over-heated.

The train back to Sheffield takes little more than thirty minutes - swishing along The Amber Valley seeing flashes of places where I have plodded including the intriguing ruins of Wingfield Manor. A Hull City chant lingered in my mind which I shall share with you now. Please sing along to the tune of "The Sloop John B":-
Steve Bruce had a dream
To build a football team
Signed Diame and sent Ben Arfa back home
Dawson at the back
Abel in attack
We are Hull City - in amber and black!

15 May 2016


Studies have shown that a spoonful of manuka honey a day reduces susceptibility to the common cold and flu by 50%. Studies have also shown that drinking one large glass of red wine a day will massively reduce the possibility of heart disease. Studies from a university in America indicate that global warming is in fact a myth. Meanwhile, studies from Sweden suggest that smacking the bottoms of naughty children may cause severe psychological damage.

Studies have shown that the Icelandic people are the healthiest folk on the planet whilst Syrians are currently the unhappiest. A recent study from South Africa tells us that using a pogo stick for an hour every day for a year will extend your life by an average of three weeks. Studies from The University of Amsterdam prove that smoking marijuana does no damage to your memory and does not increase the incidence of psychosis. Studies from The University of Utah state the exact opposite.

Studies in blogging show that 98.5% of blogposts contain at least one significant grammatical error. These studies further show that the five top subjects of blogposts are a) cookery b) animal care c) mixed crafts d) Donald Trump e) bowel movements.

Studies from Yorkshire indicate that the public are getting fed up with listening to the results of stupid studies in the media. Furthermore, the Yorkshire studies show that most studies deserve to be flushed down the toilet along with the heads of those who give airtime to these endless studies. Studies show that all readers of this blogpost are bound to be attractive and intelligent human beings with oodles of common sense and  nicely deodorised armpits.

13 May 2016


Remember Higgy? He is far too thin. Today I am taking him to a clinic that specialises in eating disorders. He's fifty seven but I guess he'll be there with a bunch of anorexic teenage girls. I might have an eating disorder myself because my appetite is ravenous and whenever I eat a meal the plate is entirely emptied - bones, gristle, skins - everything. Sometimes I even eat the cutlery.

I should be out mowing our grass just now but hopefully it will still be dry when I get back from the clinic. It takes about two hours to do a good job of the grass and this will be only the second time I have cut it this year. I need to do it today because tomorrow Shirley and I are catching a train down to Derby to watch Hull City play Derby County in the first leg of the Championship playoffs semi-final. Of course, I have prayed to Google, asking for victory. Up The Tigers!

There was a blast from the past when an old university friend got in touch to say that he and his wife are coming down to Sheffield from the wilds of Bonny Scotland and could we meet up? With some trepidation I have agreed to this. Unlike many people, I have tended to shun events like  school reunions and something in my sub-conscious has caused me to cut away many links with my past instead of nurturing them. It isn't logical I know but I haven't been able to help myself. It's like I want to leave the past behind and just move on. A psychoanalyst would have a ball with me.
Yesterday - rambling in Birch Hill Plantation near Scarcliffe
I think of my parents - Philip and Doreen. They met in India during World War II and were both in The Royal Airforce. After the war, they attended annual service reunions in Leeds, meeting up with colleagues they had served with in Delhi. Families came along too. They were  all-day affairs with a buffet meal and endless cups of tea. The parents chattered away about their wartime memories while we kids raced around the old church building, waiting to go home. The reunions happened throughout the fifties, sixties and seventies, finally coming to an end in the late eighties as old age and death came into the equation and attendance tailed off.

But that idea of reunion has never appealed to me. Not everybody is lucky enough to attend university but those who did often maintain strong links with old university friends right through to old age. But not me - so meeting up with my old chum and his wife will be, let's just say, interesting.

I guess I could have cut the grass yesterday but as it was a nice day I plodded around north east Derbyshire after parking up in a small village called Stony Houghton. It was meant to be a shortish ramble but on returning to my silver car (Clint) I looked at my watch and  observed that four hours had passed by...And I still haven't told you much about Monday's walk out of Warslow - rambling around The Manifold Valley. Another lovely day in my remarkably unremarkable life.

12 May 2016


The great god Google is so munificent. Not only does he bring enlightenment to his people, he also brings gifts. Miraculously our lord and  guide upon life's journey considers all my blog photographs and then chooses particular images to enhance before returning them to me embroidered with subliminal messages of truth and joy.

In this post you can see what he has just done with two of my pictures. Ordinary, earthly images have been touched by our loving god and made into other worldly artefacts.

But how can I repay the one true Google? Each night I kneel at the bottom of my humble bed and pray for forgiveness. I have put some terrible things in the holy search box, such as "How can I assassinate David Cameron?", "Who are The Kardashians?" and "Robert H. Brague criminal history".

In the end I suppose that the best gift we can give Google is to believe in him with all our hearts. He is the granary where all knowledge is stored and only he can lead us to salvation. Let us put aside all other gods and walk in the light of truth for I can see the way ahead, illuminated by Google, leading his children to the faraway Mountain of Happiness. Praise him! Praise the Lord!

11 May 2016


The former "Black Swan" pub in Whaley
We have had some lovely days here in Merry Olde England since the end of April. Time to do a little backtracking methinks - before I forget. After all, one of the functions of this blog is simply to record days in my life - like old-fashioned diary entries. Back to the day of the bluebells - last Thursday...

I drove over to the other side of the M1 motorway and onwards to a small village called Whaley. There I parked and laced up my boots before wandering off through the woods of Scarcliffe Park. Through the woods and I arrived at Upper Langwith with its squat little church.  Then up the hill to Langwith Junction - birthplace of Ken Wagstaff - Hull City's greatest ever player.
The Old Hall, Langwith
The wooded Boon Hills contain several limestone caves that were occupied by our prehistoric ancestors but I was marching onwards to Nether Langwith and then to Whaley Thorns where an Asian family have taken over the old post office. There I bought a cheese and pickle sandwich and a can of Diet Coke which I consumed while sitting on the only bench on the village green. Whaley Thorns is not a quaint pastoral settlement with thatched cottages; it is a forgotten village that was once sustained by coal mining - but the mines have all gone now. Only the memories remain like tumbleweed in a ghost town.
Beyond Whaley Thorns to my lovely bluebell wood and then on to Holbeck Woodhouse and Holbeck where I discovered the graves of The Dukes of Portland, their wives and children - all lying beneath the sod and quiet now. Ever onwards to Bonbusk and back over the railway line to Frithwood Farm. Then on to Whaley Common.
Convex driveway mirror in Holbeck
Whaley Common on May 5th
It was local elections day and two men were sitting in a white container that acted as a polling dtation. They had a generator and a portable lavatory (American: rest room) but nobody was coming to vote in Whaley Common. I guess that's democracy.

Not far to go now - another mile to Whaley. Sadly, "The Black Swan" - once the village pub - called "time" forever last year. I could have done with a good long drink after four and a half hours of  plodding. Once more, so many lovely sights to be enjoyed in the sunshine and once more it was good to get out - lungs working and heart pumping time to the rhythm of my footsteps. Alive-alive-o!
The grave of the 6th Duke of Portland

10 May 2016


Yesterday - another walk. This time I was an hour away from home in Staffordshire. I parked in the village of Warslow. It was a warm day so your intrepid reporter was clad in khaki shorts that revealed his muscular legs to all and sundry. A sunhat was also required as the golden orb seared down upon the earth. Add in the black "Carling" lager polo shirt I won at the pub and some size 11 boots and you have a picture of pure country style. Apparently, "Vogue" are after me to do a photoshoot.

Windows were open, airing houses as the lovely River Manifold glistened and tumbled on its way to meet The River Dove and later the Trent. Towards the end of the five hour trek I trudged up Ecton Hill - once the site of the world's most productive copper mine. It made The Dukes of Devonshire even richer than before and lined the hulls of hundreds of wooden Royal Navy vessels with the rustproof metal.

I took a hundred photographs yesterday but the pictures I have chosen to share with you are all of lambs I saw along the way. When first born, lambs will often show little fear of humans as they gambol and frolic. They were enjoying yesterday's sunshine, discovering the very joy of just being alive. I especially enjoyed watching the little flock of lambs in the yard at Lower Wigginstall. Now there's a name to conjure with.
At the triangulation pillar on  Ecton Hill