Yorkshire


I commented last weekend about the increase of traffic on the road on the other side of our village park. After that I read about increasing traffic in the Yorkshire Dales and about the abuse one policewoman had to suffer from some drivers when she pointed out the error of their ways.

Fines, way too low

I think the fine, the level of a parking ticket, is far too lenient. In my closest city, Bradford, probably the city with the highest incidence of uninsured drivers in the UK and with the worst driving anywhere in the world from my experience, would not deter many in their go faster Subarus or enhanced Range Rovers.

Human rights, etc

I am fed up of people prattling on about ‘liberty’ and ‘human rights’ in this situation. What about my ‘human right’ simply to live, which they are endangering?

Realistic ‘punishments’

I’d like to see the fines replaced with at least 6 penalty points on a first offence, and removal of their driving licence on the second. As far as ignoring the instructions, or bending them, the fine should be enough to hurt, £1,000 minimum.

A better idea would be to ram wide tubes down their throats and force them to breath through that for a few weeks, as many of those in intensive care have to do, but without anaesthetic or induced sleep.

I’ve never believed in unnatural exercise; the thought of going to a gym with all those horrific torture machines could give me nightmares, let alone paying to use them.

I’ve never run for a bus!

Hanging from wall bars in the school gym, or attempting to leap over the ‘horse’, are memories I try to keep out of my head. Even running, or jogging, for no good reason has seemed to me a ridiculous activity (I’ve never run for a bus or train – there’s always another – though I’ve rarely missed one as I’m outrageously punctual!), especially as it’s likely to ruin your knees. So when, at school, we were sent on a run because the ground was too hard for rugby, I rapidly found a culvert near to the start in which to hide till the runners came back, meanwhile having a fag or two (an addiction I shed many, many years ago).

Rugby

Despite my aversion to running, I enjoyed running as a winger for rugby as I was able to run faster for short distances than most of my fellows and had the exhilaration of diving over the line with the ball in my hands.

Walking

On the other hand, as a tyke I’ve been walking for most of my life, mostly on the Yorkshire moors or in the Romanian mountains. It began at three years old with my grandmother (who always brought an apple, a bar of Terry’s bitter chocolate and a wedge of Wensleydale cheese as refreshment). Until about six years ago I thought little of doing up to 30 miles in a day. Then those walks had to cease due to health and since then I was able to do only up to a couple of miles on the flat, rarely, on a good day. Nevertheless, Petronela and I walked as much as I was able.

Cycling

I once (1995 or ‘96) cycled across northern Romania, from Maramureș to Suceava city, on a cobbled together bike, having not been on a bike for about 40 years. It included 26 consecutive hairpins to climb over one of the passes.

Romanians thought I was crazy; I enjoyed it but it confirmed my view that walking was better. I didn’t see one other biker; there are many now. I did see a lot of dogs, most of which attacked me, met many fascinating people, and received three proposals of marriage!

Confinement

So, confined to our flat on the instructions of both our medical consultants, we miss the walks, close to home where we have many beautiful walks or, with a short car ride, further afield. We were also aware that just sitting about was not good. So, for the first time I’ve taken up some ‘unnatural exercise’.

Back and forth across our sitting room fifty times is 1km. That’s enough for me in one go though just meandering about the flat, cooking etc, probably adds another kilometre. Petronela is way ahead: she’s on 8km in a day at the moment! I can hardly believe that because she is not a ‘walker’, complaining continuously when I once took her on a 3 mile walk along the Leeds Liverpool canal to Shipley (one of my childhood playgrounds).

Another thing I never thought I’d do was exercise with dumbbells, but Petronela has two of 1.5kg. So I’ve joined her in using those!

Odd behaviour for me, but thank heavens we are now able to stop keeping two metres between us. Now that was really odd!

I was waiting impatiently for the BBC to release its series ‘Spooks’ on iPlayer and they did that just in time for it to become one of my principal entertainments during the time my wife and myself are confined to our flat for 12 weeks, at least.

I have seen isolated episodes in the past but now I’ve been enjoying ‘binge watching’ the series, particularly as my favourite actor, Nicola Walker, features in so many episodes (I’ve mentioned her in the past for her roles in ‘Split’ and ‘Last Tango in Halifax’).

I saw a report that the creator of the Spooks series, David Wolstencroft, is suggesting some new episodes. If that happens I hope that although the series so far is of course fantasy, the number of love affairs – ‘adulterous’, ‘illicit’, etc, – is reduced considerably; they are indeed ‘fantastic’ (in its true meaning) to the point of being boring.

Leaves of Grass

Prompted by the most recent blog from my blogger friend Gray, who is an NHS staff nurse in Wales, I’ve downloaded Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’ from the Gutenberg Project. It’s years since I read it and even then I doubt I read it all.

Gray is of course fighting on the front line in the current war – it’s certainly that – against coronavirus.

I guess I’ll buy the next in the series of Jack Reacher novels as some light relief.

Twelve weeks isolation

When I’m asked if the 12 weeks confinement to our small flat (3 weeks completed this coming weekend) I have to say that it’s not so bad. I’m old enough to remember the whole family sleeping in a cage (Morrison shelter?). I think this was close to the Fleet Air Arm base at Sandbanks, Dorset, where my grandfather was some high-ranking officer. The shelter was in the cellar (my maternal grandmother refused to sleep in it, remaining outside of it).  Also, seeing rows of houses without their front walls, revealing the lives of the former residents like dolls’ houses with their fronts open except the baths were hanging down on the lead drainage pipes. That was somewhere nearby. I remember few details but those images have remained clearly in my memory. I was probably about 3 years old!

Wharfe Valley

Mind you, we are lucky. Our sitting room window overlooks a park. Our kitchen and bedroom windows look over Yorkshire’s Wharfe Valley to the hills beyond.

The dawn chorus is now unspoiled by passing motor vehicles or planes from the nearby airport, and the air coming through the open widows is noticeably cleaner.

Writing

Of course I’m continuing to write, for the fortnightly virtual meeting of our writers’ club, for no reason at all other than I enjoy it, blog posts and attempting to get nearer to finishing my ‘novella‘.

So, what are you watching, reading or writing?

 

 

 

A Yorkshire tea tin, a beer mat from a Yorkshire brewery, Timothy Taylors in Keighly, and a Royal Doulton ‘Yorkshire Rose’ cup and saucer.

Some might say the Yorkshire Rose china, from Royal Doulton, is too fine for Yorkshire tea, but we can be posh tha knows

This is the first Yorkshire Day (today) for several years for which I’ve been in Yorkshire. I and Petronela have been in Romania, specifically in or on the way to the Romanian Bucovina.  My ‘heart’ is divided between the two, so much so that I have said that when the time comes I want half of my ashes scattered in each place.

It’s odd to me that although quite a few of my short stories and ‘poems’ are set in or inspired by Yorkshire, my first attempt at a longer tale is set in London, but a London of over a half a century ago. My most recent visit to London was several years ago and the experience resolved me never to go again.

I’m in no way a patriot. I’ve never felt a strong urge to say I’m English, nor British, though I do have some satisfaction in being able to say I’m a tyke. I drink Yorkshire tea or Yorkshire beer and although I’m not a ‘city person’ I enjoy an occasional visit to its largest city – Leeds. I think the Yorkshire moors are heaven on earth and appreciate the dry humour of Yorkshire folk.

So , today, here’s a toast – to me, in true tyke fashion:

Eres t’ me ‘n my wife’s ‘usban’,
Not forgettin’ missen

and a motto

Eat all, sup all, pay nowt
‘ear all, see all, say nowt.
Un if tha iver does owt fo nowt
allus do it fo thissen

My spelling of the dialect.

Again you might blame my writers’ club colleague, Jo Campbell, for this story.

But not completely. The 17/18 years old students (at Liceul Tehnologic ‘Nicolae Nanu’, Broșteni, Neamț, Romania) of my former Romanian student, Paula, now herself a teacher of English, so liked my ‘dark’ 5th November story, which was prompted by Jo, I promised to write another for them. Unusually, I have written to the theme given for readings at today’s meeting of our club, Writing on the Wharfe.


Not in my diary

She had been meticulous as far as her diary was concerned. By ‘diary’ I mean journal, not a place to note appointments, meetings or other dates and times to be remembered.

The journal was completed over morning tea each day, relating the most important, to her, happenings of the previous day.

She had noted, on the page for 30th April, ‘St Walburger, witches’ sabbath!’. Born close to the Brocken in Germany, she had always observed this feast.

But, and it’s a big but, Richard, the name of the love of her life she has declared, has never appeared in the journal. ‘My love’, yes; ‘he’ or ‘him’, perhaps; but never the name – Richard.

Photo of the Cow&Calf

The Cow&Calf

It began one day when, as the sun was setting, she and Richard visited the famous Cow and Calf rocks on Ilkley Moor, in Yorkshire.

Not satisfied with standing on the larger ‘cow’ and admiring the superb view over the town of Ilkley and the Wharfe Valley, they descended with a mixture of runs and jumps to the ‘calf’ below. Giggling, they scrambled to the top of the smaller rock and lay out in the fading sun.

Let’s leave our names on the calf,” Richard suggested, “with today’s date. It’s a special day.”

I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. Isn’t it better to leave the rocks as nature intended?” Heidi was a keen environmentalist.

One more won’t make much difference; there are so many on all the rocks,” Richard answered as he began to scratch the rock with a knife he always carried.

3, 0, A, P, R, 2, 0, 1, 5,  H, E, I, D, I,  A, N, D,  R, I, C, H, A, R … 

he hesitated as the knife met some resistance from an inclusion harder than the surrounding rock. Exasperated, he put his whole weight behind the blade, lost his balance and tumbled down to the ground.

Eventually the air ambulance arrived – two broken legs, a broken collar bone and a dislocated neck kept him in hospital for several weeks.

The following 30th of April, 2016, early evening, found the couple wandering through the New Forest hand-in-hand in the twilight. As trees began to assume fantastic shapes in the fading light, an impressive oak, its trunk of a girth which the two lovers could not encircle with their outstretched arms, made them stop and rest, backs against the rough but somehow comfortable majesty supporting the now leafy branches above.

I’m going to carve our names here so this tree will remember us,” Richard announced.

If you do, it will remember us with pain. Don’t do it, please.”

Oh, you’re too superstitious. Trees don’t feel and anyway it can’t do any harm to one so enormous!,” Richard retorted, the irritation clear in his voice as he took the knife from his pocket and began:

3, 0, A, P, R, 2, 0, 1, 6,  H, E, I, D, I,  A, N, D,  R, I, C, H, A, R …

a large gasp broke the concentrated silence as the knife slipped to make a deep gash in his left wrist.

Blood, so much blood, fountained from the cut, obliterating the carved letters before covering Heidi’s breast. Quick thinking, she ripped off her blood-soaked shirt and applied a tourniquet.

Nevertheless, Richard lapsed into unconsciousness and the paramedics, who arrived quickly following Heidi’s desperate phone call, told her he was lucky to be alive and would not be were it not for her prompt action.

One year later, 30th April 2017, found the couple on the Brocken, following a visit to Heidi’s parents. 

They didn’t take the steam train up to the highest peak in the Harz mountains but decided to walk, though there were vestiges of snow on the peak.

About half way up they left the road, found a clearing among the pines and sat to eat their picnic. Richard lit the tiny light-weight gas stove and poured bottled water into the small pan they had brought to make a warming tea.

Etching, St Walburger’s Night, Johann Heinrich Ramberg, 1829

Etching, St Walburger’s Night, Johann Heinrich Ramberg, 1829

This is a magical place my love; I’m so glad you brought me here.” Richard wasn’t usually so easily impressed.

You just be careful; it is a magical place but it’s witches’ magic, not fairies’ magic,” Heidi warned him.

Oh you and your superstitions. I don’t believe a word of it. Anyway, it’s beautiful. I’m going to carve our names in the dry turf here,” he finished, pulling out his knife.

Please don’t. Just leave it as nature intended,” Heidi pleaded.

But Richard had already completed her name and the first six letters of his own. Turning quickly, his elbow caught the little stove and it was on its side, setting the dry turf alight.

A forest ranger found them in a tight embrace. 

In his police report he wrote: “I don’t understand how the fire burned in a perfect circle with them at the centre, or how such a small fire could completely carbonise the two corpses. Even stranger in a way was that there was a diary lying there next to them, completely untouched by the fire. The last entry was for 30th April; it just read “This is not in my diary!”

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The inevitable 'group photo' after the performance - l to r: Jo, Sam, me, Kayla, Ruxandra, James, David, Bob, Johm, Martin and Sussi

The inevitable ‘group photo’ after the performance – l to r: Jo, Sam, me, Kayla, Ruxandra, James, David, Bob, Johm, Martin and Sussi

Youtube videos – over the past few days I’ve gained a lot of admiration for those who seem to roll them out regularly. Earlier I’d done a little editing of photos from our ‘performance’ at the Ilkley Literature Festival for my previous blog post. A doddle! But editing video is something else, for me.

Wanting to put titles, end credits, etc on the just over an hour of our writers’ club ‘performance’ at the Festival, I discovered I’d forgotten much of how to use my graphics program and video editor (2 years or more since I used them). An added complication was that one contribution to our ‘show’ (the first in order of appearance) had been entered into a competition for which rules state no previous publication or broadcast, so I had to take that out before making it ‘public’. Another cut had to be made for another reason so I had to work out how to make this not too ugly.

Superb flamenco guitar

If you appreciate superb guitar playing (Samuel Moore) it’s worth watching the video (our complete ‘performance’, with writers, lasted just about an hour).

Some good short stories

If you’re a writer you may enjoy our club writers reading their own pieces. If you want to avoid me reading mine (published in my previous post) I’m now ‘first up’ in the video as the first on the night has been cut at the writer’s request.

Of course I use only free programs, open source or those offering free basics but the possibility to pay for advanced facilities, which I do not. When in paid employment I used Adobe programs like Indesign, Photoshop and occasionally Illustrator, but I never needed to edit videos.

Scribus and NCH VideoPad

The graphics/publishing program I use now, Scribus, is excellent but rather quirky and with a steep learning (relearning) curve. Much the same can be said of the the video editor, NCH VideoPad. What I didn’t expect was the 2 hours 20 minutes to convert the VideoPad file (for a video of just over one hour) to something suitable for uploading to Youtube (.mp4). Maybe that’s down to my ancient MacBook. Even less expected was the 4+ hours to upload to Youtube (finally I went to bed and left it to it so it could have been much longer).

My post of a few days ago was about wandering a little further up the Wharfe Valley than where we live. The final picture in the gallery in that post showed Otley Chevin, at the foot of which nestles our village – Menston. Sunday turned out to be a surprisingly lovely day, fairly cold and a brisk breeze but good for a walk though rather muddy.

Just below the summit, but on the other (east) side is our local airport, the highest in England, in fact I believe the highest in the UK (though there are certainly higher airfields) – Leeds Bradford International Airport. So a walk on the Chevin means you are often ‘buzzed’ by aircraft, more usually landing. You are now often ‘buzzed’ too by that magnificent bird, the Red Kite, though yesterday he didn’t come close enough for a good picture (first pic in gallery). We often see a pair, circling over the village, from our kitchen or sitting room windows.

We often climb up half way on ‘our side’ to the Chevin Inn but yesterday we chose to take the car to the top (5 minutes or so) and walk from there. Not a very long walk, but we were out for about two hours. The final picture is on the road descending to our village, always a welcome sight when I was working in York as I was just a few minutes from home.

Paul Hudson, for those not in the BBC ‘Look North’ tv area, is the much maligned weather forecaster. The stone probably is more reliable!

Yesterday (Tuesday) was one of those wonderful Yorkshire days which hauled itself out of the gloom of the majority of days here this winter to show a part of Yorkshire at its beautiful best. I’m lucky enough to live in the Wharfe Valley but beautiful as it is where we live a day like that cries out for a wander further afield, heading towards Upper Wharfedale.

We didn’t go far, lingering a while in the village of Appletreewick, passing Bolton Abbey, crossing the River Wharfe by the side of the Barden Tower to arrive in this wonderful traditional Yorkshire village. It has two pubs, one of which is not open so often but the other, the Craven Arms, a historic inn, has always been open when we visited and no exception today.

Excellent beer and, new to me, Appletreewick cider, brewed in the village I understand. Cider is Petronela’s usual drink so if she says it’s good it’s good. I had a taste and can back that up but I couldn’t resist one of my favourite Yorkshire beers – Theakston’s ‘Old Peculier’, a really tasty dark beer but very strong so only 1 pint if you’re driving. The food is good too and we’d usually have a soup but as the soup of the day was something with goats’ cheese, Petronela will not eat anything with goat or lamb, we passed on that this time. We had brought food with us – schnitel (chicken breast) and pork pie so no problem.

I’ve tried to put the gallery in order of time from leaving home till arriving back, taking a circular tour around part of the River Wharfe, through Ilkley to Barden, crossing the river to the north side there and traversing Appletreewick to reach Burnsall then crossing back across the river at that pretty village to return on the south side to Barden again then up over Barden moor, descending towards Skipton in Airedale before turning again to pick up the Wharfe again at Bolton Abbey till home in our village of Menston.

Bleachmill house with St George’s and Yorkshire flags flying

Bleachmill house

A perfect day to meander down to Bleachmill House, our favourite short walk from our village, Menston in the Wharfe Valley, one of Yorkshire’s beautiful dales. ‘Icing on the cake’ is a mug of tea with extraordinary friends Sue and Simon in their ‘farmhouse kitchen’ and the crazy “very free-range” chickens, picking up some “very free-range eggs” before we left.

Having baked Yorkshire teacakes earlier Sue was just about to make a lemon drizzle cake. So too early – dammit; it’s one of my favourites! No cake but the usual laughs which will last me at least a week.

No need for more words. I hope the pictures, all taken on iPad except for Petronela’s pic of me delighting in a robin singing his heart out high in a tree, say enough.

Today is going to be full of chores so it’s a good opportunity to post something about our walk yesterday, our favourite short walk around our village of Menston. Cold with a biting wind coming up the valley but a  beautiful sunny day. I had hoped to catch Petronela’s namesake but she refused to play and hid herself somewhere in the bushes.

When we arrived Sue our friend was preparing Sunday lunch so we had a wonderful ‘catchup’ sitting in her cosy farmhouse-style kitchen while she peeled potatoes. Her son and his lady have just moved in while they renovate the barn next door to be their home (it’ll take a year) so we made new friends too. P enjoyed chatting with him, also a teacher, while I enoyed chatting with his lady (who said “of course”?). My camera for some reason refused to play ball too so unfortunately no pix of Sue or her offspring (man of the house Simon had lost himself in ‘the garden’) but I must at sometime do a post on this amazing couple, who always have us laughing. P was still giggling about one episode in bed last night!

 

 

 

 

 

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