24 November 2017


I had a dream.

We were carrying children and the elderly through lapping waves to the tenders bobbing in deeper water.

Out there in the bay off  Kolatoi Beach three great ocean liners were waiting to greet them. One of these huge ships was the "MS Harmony of the Seas" - the biggest ocean liner in the world. Requisitioned by The United Nations, it had sped from The Bahamas to The Bay of Bengal in record fast time.

On Kolatoi Beach, the people waited patiently. They had little energy and many were traumatised. They had seen so much. So much horror. The rapes. The slicing of machetes. The cruel swinging of babies. Their heads smashed into trees or concrete.

Those who survived had to leave. They had no option. They took whatever they could carry and fled.

In my dream, we gathered them all from the beach and followed them to the ocean liners where other volunteers awaited them. Teams of medics, psychiatrists, counsellors, cooks and waiters. There was clean water, proper bathroom facilities and clean clothes. We guided the survivors to their cabins and witnessed some of them  cry tears of joy. An old woman with thin, bony fingers clutched my hand and held it tight. 

They were safe.

Where the displaced Rohingya would go after this humanitarian operation we did not know. Surely they could never go back to Burma (Myanmar) could they? Not after what had happened.

Later, standing on the beach, we watched the liners steam away over the horizon to a new future...We had done our bit.

And then I woke up...

22 November 2017


It used to be that I didn't give a monkey's about mugs I drank from. As long as the vessel was clean and big enough then it was okay - no problem. However, over the years, I have become more and more particular about the mugs I drink from. Of course I could drink from any mugs but I feel much happier and more comfortable drinking from what have become my preferred mugs.

To illustrate my mug obsession, I just went in our kitchen to snap the following four photographs.

This is the big mug that I drink from at the start of the day. A big mug of hot tea. A small mug just won't do. I need a pint of tea each morning:-
During the day, I often decide to have a mug of coffee and this is my coffee mug. Originally, it belonged to our daughter. It came from Birmingham Southern College in Alabama. It used to have the symbol of her sorority - Alpha Omicron Pi printed on it but that was gradually washed off in our dishwasher many months ago.I
 Before bedtime I will occasionally make myself a mug of hot chocolate and this is my preferred hot chocolate mug:-
During the day, if I am at home, I will have several more mugs of tea but I never want to use the "big mug" that I favour in the morning. No, during the rest of the day I like to drink my tea from one of my Hull City mugs - four of which are pictured below:-
 If I don't have my drinks from the vessels pictured above I feel a little restless or glum. Other mugs just aren't right.

So have I got Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? I undertook an online survey to determine my OCD level but there were no questions about mugs. Instead they asked questions like this one:-
Obviously, my response was negative even though I have deliberately poisoned dozens of dinner guests and the overall survey conclusion was that I was "highly unlikely" to be an OCD sufferer but I am still concerned about my mug mania. How about you? Have you got any quirky obsessions?

21 November 2017


War memorial in Danesmoor
Recent Yorkshire Pudding posts have looked out to the world beyond my obscure little life, looked out to matters that concern me but  over which I have no influence or control. There's been Robert Trump and Donald Mugabe, plastics in our oceans, the plight of refugees and of course Jesus as a sausage roll courtesy of Greggs.
Shop in Clay Cross
Perhaps, like  a hermit crab on Henderson Island, it's time to return to my plastic shell and post about ordinary goings-on in The Land of the Rising Yorkshire Pudding. First of all, a big shout out for our lovely son Ian. He was on BBC Radio 4's "Food Programme" on Sunday - in a magazine item all about veganism and plant-based diets. Both he and his Bosh! colleague Henry came across really well. We are so proud of their Bosh! journey so far and it really seems that there's a long way to go yet.
Oakedge Farm
We listened to that radio show whilst out and about in the heart of Derbyshire as I was taking yet more pictures for the geograph project. For once, Shirley came too. We began in the former coal mining village of Clay Cross south of Chesterfield. She had never been there before and we had a good ramble round it in the sunshine, finding it far less downtrodden than its post-industrial reputation suggests.
Indian-Nepalese restaurant in Clay Cross
Then we moved westwards to the Amber Valley stopping here and there and taking short walks. Again, it was part of Derbyshire that Shirley had not seen before and she oohed and aahed about the countryside as we tootled along. Sunshine brings out the best in places.
Whitelea Lane
To get home we headed towards Darley Dale and then through the Chatsworth Estate to the village of Baslow where we had a light lunch in the bustling "Wheatsheaf" pub-restaurant before resuming our homeward journey. It had been a grand day out and yet it was only 2,30pm when we made it back to our palatial mansion.
Calf in a barn - Woodhead Farm
Eddlestow Hall Farm

20 November 2017


A hermit crab on Henderson Island
Last night on "Blue Planet II", David Attenborough bewailed the presence of plastics  in our oceans. He pointed out that a hundred years ago there was absolutely no plastic there. Furthermore, he alluded to the damage that plastic is causing to our precious sealife.

Turtles get caught up in fishing lines. Fish ingest .small pieces of plastic. Seabirds are garroted by it and mother whales' milk is badly affected by it. It's a modern day horror story. Some of the plastic waste is so small that you can only see it with the aid of microscopes. 
It all brought to mind Henderson Island in the southern Pacific Ocean. That island is a powerful symbol of the effects of modern day living and the way we abuse our planet.

Though a few Polynesians once lived there, it has been uninhabited for hundreds of years. Undoubtedly, the Polynesians lived in harmony with Nature and had almost no effect whatsoever upon Henderson Island's delicate eco-systems.

Earlier this year, a study of Henderson Island was completed by The University of Tasmania in partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Together, they estimated that there are currently 38 million plastic items on the island\s beaches - weighing approximately 17.6 tonnes. Very obviously this plastic flotsam has had a big and bad effect on marine life upon and around Henderson Island which I remind you has been uninhabited for very many years and should be a pristine atoll. The plastic has drifted there across the seven seas.
Plastic bottles, supermarket bags, packaging material, bits of fishing nets, bottle tops, cartons, trays, takeaway containers, discarded fishing line, plastic detritus - all speaking eloquently about the relationship between human societies and our beautiful planet.

We have been living in a throwaway, careless world. Surely it is nigh time to do something bold and brave about waste plastics. We owe it to our children and to our children's children's children and to the incredible creatures that inhabit our oceans. Henderson Island and "Blue Planet II" prove that.  But who is really listening?

18 November 2017


As I write this post, our television is showing live images of happy people in the streets of Harare, Zimbabwe. They feel they are on the threshold of a new era as they urge Robert Mugabe to do the right thing and go.

Undoubtedly, he played a big part in helping Zimbabwe to secure its independence but the past thirty seven years of his leadership have seen trying times of internecine struggle, economic incompetence,  malnutrition, graft, waste and intolerance. What was once the bread basket of Africa has become one of that great continent's basket cases.

At present, it does not appear that Mugabe has many supporters left who are prepared to fight for the continuation of his presidency. He has abused his power, amassing a huge personal fortune and the typical trappings of a multi-millionaire - while his people have suffered abysmally under his stewardship.

I am sure that we all hope that the next period of Zimbabwe's history will not be blighted by in-fighting and bloodshed. It would be so wonderful if the country could move peacefully to better times, underpinned by free and fair elections that create a new leadership  which seeks to help the ordinary people to make Zimbabwe successful again, leaving the Mugabe years behind. 

On this happy day, as Zimbabweans dance in the streets, I wish the whole country the best of luck as it steps forward into the bright unknown of the post-Mugabe years. I can hear a voice on the the radio singing: "There may be trouble ahead" but on this optimistic Saturday in the middle of November 2017 - Let freedom ring!
Enough is enough
Harare today.

17 November 2017


First there was Chaucer, then Shakespeare and Wordsworth, Shelley and Tennyson, Thomas Hardy and Ted Hughes. Now English poetry brings you Yorkshire Pudding! (Not the re-hydrating fellow in the picture below but the author of the sensitive and well-crafted ode beneath it).

Ode to Donald Trump

I would like to thump
Donald Trump
Drop the chump in the city dump
With a bump
From a battered pick-up truck
Cos who gives a flying fig
About that big ugly lump
Inflated with a hot air pump?
- Those who like Trump
Will now have the hump!
I have said enough.
New "Spitting Image" version of Trump

16 November 2017


In promoting their scrummy advent calendar, high street bakers Greggs have recently attracted a lot of criticism. Most of the complaints have come from religious groups.

You see, in creating their unique nativity scene, Greggs chose to replace  the baby Jesus with a sausage roll - as you can see in the picture above. It's sacrilegious! It's a disgrace! One complainant pointed out that Jesus was a Jew so the connection with pig products seems particularly insensitive.

Personally, I have no problem with Jesus's replacement. After all, sausage rolls are perfectly capable of walking on water and other miracles such as turning a skinny man into a sumo wrestler. As for the three wise men from the east, it is surprising that Greggs didn't replace them with meat pies or doughnuts (American: donuts)

Disclaimer: There is no known connection between "The Fish Guy" - Mr Gregg Barlow from South Carolina, USA and Greggs - Britain's favourite high street bakers.