Tuesday, February 28, 2012


A lot of my good thinking takes place during my morning walk. At this time of year, in the middle of the week, it's just me and Jasper the Spaniel. In reality you cannot really count him because, once we are walking along the Longdendale Trail, he is usually off on his own, sniffing things and peeing on them. Oh, don't get me wrong, he does like to know that I am around and he will stop every now and then to check that I am still with him, but he enjoys the chance to walk out on his own. We went along the trail this morning, not terrible far really, about 3 miles. 

The Longdendale Trail is one of those ex-railway lines that you find all over the place. Most have a footpath, some have a cycle path and ours also has a Bridleway. However, in late February, occasional rain, occasional splashes of blue sky, today, we just about had it to ourselves. Nice. I walk along behind Jasper, muffled up in my coat and hat, plugged into my iPod. Off in a world of my own. So where does the Serendipity come in, well here, actually.

When I'm walking I usually listen to a talking book. I tend to have the same book on my iPod as I have on my Kindle. So while I am out walking I am also reading the book that I read on the Kindle in the house. However, the book that I have been reading has rather lost me at the moment. I've been reading a Stella Rimmington Spy thriller just lately, "Dead Line" and I regret to say that just over half way through the book it has lost me. I just cannot be bothered to read on. So here is the first bit of serendipity. The thing that I love about the Kindle is that you can carry a pile of books in one hand, that in real life you would not be able to balance. I think that I have more than 60 books on my Kindle at the moment. If I fall out of love with one of them I can just delete it and start reading another. So "Dead Line" has just lost out in the race for life that is storyland. The Serendipity comes from Amazon's Daily Deal. Every day on Amazon they sell a Kindle Book for 99p for one day only. Yesterday I checked out the website, expecting that the daily book would not catch my attention, but it did. So maybe the thought of starting to read a new book helped me to decide to stop reading the book that was no longer satisfying my needs.

Serendipity means "The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident." So I had stopped reading the old book, The new book does not have an unabridged version available on Audible to download, so I guess that this one I will be reading the old fashioned way. That means that I didn't have a book to listen to this morning. That lead to me listening to music, for once, on my iPod. I adore my iPod, it is so simple and the quality of sound is so good. I love the way that you can tell it to play songs at random. Up comes a little message "3796 music tracks, selecting ....." and away you go.

I've been a fan of folk music since I went to College in the late 60's. I did History and Geography at A level, but didn't enjoy the Geography very much. When I applied for a place at Didsbury College in Manchester, back in 1968, I looked through the list of courses and decided to give a course called "American Studies" a chance. The first time I got to choose an optional unit, I picked something called "Protest Music - The Music of the People" as an option. And, unlike the usual route into Folk Music in England at that time, Sandy Denny, Fotheringay and the Strawbs - I came to Folk Music through the American connection. So I first fell in love with Phil Ochs, Arlo Guthrie, Tom Paxton and the divine Bob Dylan.

So there I was, today, walking all alone, except for my spaniel companion, listening to a serendipitous collection of songs that have come to define the times I have lived through. Mixed in with a leavening of a much older tradition of English Folk. So I had some Kate Rusby, some June Tabor, something melodious from Clannad - it might even have been the lilting and disturbing "Harry's Game" - I don't remember. Paxton's "There goes the Mountain" segued gently into " Virginia by Bob Fox and then, out of nowhere, serendipitously as you might say, the tempo picked up and we are into Joan Baez version of Bob Dylan's "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts." Eight and a half minutes of sublime poetry. You know I just had to stop. There was a seat there, overlooking the Reservoir, and I just sat for a quarter of a hour and listened to that song, then played it again because I enjoyed it so much.

The photograph comes from after that 15 minutes of bliss. Jasper was quite happy wandering around sniffing. I was quite happy sitting on the bench in the background, overlooking the Reservoir that you cannot really see. Even Joan didn't complain about the fact that I made her sing it twice. Bob Dylan's words are sheer poetry. That quarter of an hour has made my day.

And here we go with the last bit of serendipity. I have a sort of life on Twitter, I go on it about twice a day and use it as a means of keeping up with what various people are doing. It is funny how things can link up. My user name on Twitter is kwhall and today I found that I had received a message from some gentleman who lives in Chicago, Illinois. He had posted a picture of himself cuddling up to kwhall. Needless to say it was not! This kwhall is a 60 year old retired, bald, bloke with a Spaniel fetish, whereas the person being cuddled by whoever he was was definitely of a more female persuasion. I looked up @kwhall on Twitter, as you can do, and think it was probably kwhall45 that he was cuddling, since she also lives in Chicago which suggests that she is a closer neighbour than me. Anyway, I cannot see him wanting to cuddle me, if he tried he would also get a very muddy spaniel jumping all over him as well.

Hmmmm. Missed the point there. Didn't mean to go on as long as that about a random stranger. On Twitter, I have also come up against one Stephen Waters. He is retired like me, and a freemason like me, but unlike me he is also an ex Anglican Priest. He put up a tweet which mentioned his Blog, called "Get On With It" and so I looked it up. Really glad that I did for he is a very readable writer and I enjoyed very much his writing. Reminiscences, I guess, but very worth reading. I shall recommend him to you. You can find his blog at http://stephen-waters.blogspot.com  Let's face it, if you've read this drivel up to here, read Stephen's Blog as well, you might enjoy it.

See you soon.

Monday, February 27, 2012


I received an email yesterday evening from my friend Tony. The gist of his email was that he enjoyed reading my blog (Cor Luvvaduck) but as he works on a computer from home, he rather regards his computer as work, so he doesn't read my blog on it. Sounds like an impasse to me. He mentioned that he had recently obtained a Kindle and suggested that I consider publishing my Blog on the Kindle as well. He even provided me with a web address for the Kindle Blog.

So I looked it up. There was a form to fill in, and it asked for a link to the blog. So I gave it this address thinking that Google and Amazon being in a similar line of business, the Kindle probably won't work with Google Blogs. But to my surprise it did! Well, I never. Sacre Bleu! (That's for Danielle). So I am now signed up as an author on Kindle Blogs but will still only have to write the one Blog. What's more, they will pay me. They charge 99p to subscribe to a Blog, and promised to give me 10% (or nine pence) and as they will automatically pay my taxes for me (20% of 9p, let's see, let's round it up to 2p. So I stand to gain 7p per subscription (assuming anyone ever subscribes to these random ramblings. I am not going to get rich very quickly, am I?

And that will do me for this evening. I shall retire and mindlessly watch some television. I haven't even got a photo to brighten up the page today, but I'll see what I can do tomorrow. Have a good night and I'll be back in the afternoon tomorrow. Depend on it!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Off New Shaw Lane in February

A glimpse of sunshine can lift the spirits!

It is so easy to lose impetus, especially at this time of year. The light is drab, it is miserably damp and there always seem to be a million other jobs that need to be done. Last blog was last Sunday. I knew that I had missed a day or two, but I didn't realise it was nearly a week.

(They have done something to Blogger. They have changed the settings and suddenly it is trying to correct my perfectly good spelling of English words because I'm not spelling them the 'murican way. If it does not stop telling me to spell ise words with a z I am going to put a boot through the screen. As a friend of mine says "This computer may be able to beat me at Chess but it won't win at kick boxing!")

Right, having been distracted by that minor annoyance, let us try to get back to the flow of things.

The weather this week has been strange. On Monday there was still a lot of frozen ice that was once snow about on the pavements and especially on the lanes that I, and Jasper, walk along. Since Monday, the weather has become warmer day by day, I think today it must be up to about 6 degrees. However, along with the improving temperature has come drizzly rain that leaves you feeling quite put upon by the Universe in general.

It is a grey time of year here in the North of England, well, I think that it is! And it's my blog so you can take your opinion and ............. I don't mean literally grey, but the grass is a dull green, the sky is usually a dull grey, the trees are still leafless and look quite lifeless. But things can take a turn for the better so easily. This photograph was actually yesterday morning. I took the phone, not the camera, because I was only planning to do our usual 4 mile walk and it looked grey and likely to rain. All the way round the walk, almost to the end, it was the same. Then, just as we were crossing the grassy area between New Shaw Lane and Green Lane (a misnomer if there ever was one. Better to call it concrete and brick lane, but maybe it was green once) a patch of blue sky appeared a little bit of God's good sunlight illuminated a pool in the stream that runs across the grass. And that is all it takes to brighten things up and make me feel a bit happier.

Just at lunch time today I was staring out through the window from the Kitchen into the back garden, wondering when this drizzle would stop, and my darling wife pointed out the snowdrops growing at the bottom of the garden, just below the Acer. All through that snow they have been hiding, waiting for things to improve, and today, up they have popped. Delightful.

My neighbour, Graham, was clearing the snow from his garden this morning and throwing it onto his driveway. What, two weeks ago he was digging it off the driveway and piling it up on the garden. I berated him gently for making work for himself, but I think he is just that way inclined. Can't sit still and enjoy the gentle sound of the snow melting. But melt it has. A day of miserable drizzle is the best way of clearing away the remnants of the snow. Remember the picture of the snowman I put up on here several posts ago, well the poor thing did not survive. "Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis" as we Classicists say!
Probably a misquote, but I have to give my detractors something to detract.

Had an excellent Evening yesterday. It was the February meeting of my Masonic Lodge and we brought a new member into the Lodge. I know that the world seems to be full of people who believe that we Masons are taking over and that we run the infrastructure, Legal and administrative sections of the entire world, but I don't know how we do it with a basically declining membership. So a new member, an excellent young man, is a good sign. We had a wonderful evening with the ceremony worked by a group of, mostly, young Masons. What a superb job they did, an excellent sign that the future of my Lodge, now 223 years old, is in safe hands. A very enjoyable meal, (Yes, Danielle, Roast Beef again) and pleasant companionship was a superb end to the day. What really impressed me a great deal was the fact that our new member's friend, who has been close to him since they were 8, and who is a Mason down in Hampshire, flew up to Manchester specially for the ceremony. Not bad going John!

Mind you, I have not done much today, and won't be doing much more today. So with that exciting thought I will love you all and leave you for today.

Faites des beaux reves! (I bet I've got that wrong as well!)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Still freezing after all these years

It isn't easy, at the moment, either getting decent photographs to put in the blog, or even enjoy a different walk out with the hound.

This morning the temperature is still very low, for the north of Derbyshire that is (I'm sure that this would be a balmy summer's day if we lived somewhere like Ekaterinburg, but for Glossop it is still very cold.

The result of that is the snow, which fell about a week ago has continued to lie on the ground. There have been short periods of thaw but they have had a very bad effect. The roads were cleared very quickly, for Derbyshire, but there has been no attempt to do anything with the pavements. 

So the pavement on Newshaw Lane, and the paths that I tend to follow with Jasper, have snow that has been beaten down to about three cms of really hard frozen ice. The short thaws managed to turn the surface to water which froze again almost immediately. Leaving the footpaths and the paths that I use as slippery as anything that I can imagine.

Yesterday morning it took the doggle and me about half as long again to do a short walk as it should have done. Even he with his miracle four leg drive had trouble keeping his feet in places and me, well that is me plus walking pole. equals sort of three feet slipping and sliding everywhere.

So why don't I take more photos. Well, at the moment I need one hand for the dog lead, one hand for the walking pole and two hands for the big camera. See the problem, two hands short. So to take a photo I must drop the dog lead, the dog runs away, drop the walking pole, I fall over and the camera slides across the ice. No, all things considered, till the weather gets better I shall stick to taking the odd photograph on my phone, and spend more time looking at other people's photographs on the internet.

If anyone other than me and Danielle bother to read this at the moment, then my persoinal favourites at the moment are these pictures on Flickr. Go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/57524039@N02/sets/72157625558552671/with/5324686648/ and have a look at some real winter photographs. (You don't need to look Danielle, I have already told you about these.) I do fully appreciate the fact that in order to take these photographs they have had a lot harder time in Slovenia than we have had in Glossopdale. But thank you very much Sedge, for uploading some wonderful photographs.

Right then, I must get going as I have a busy day this morning. The good lady is going to Church and I am skiving off to look after Jasper and take him a walk. Then we are going for Sunday Lunch to the Lodge of Hadfield. I'm looking forward to Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. I can hear Danielle groaning from here. The one time that we dared to give Danielle Roast Beef she was very disappointed by the way that we overcooked the beef. I did try to point out that in this part of England it is not enough to put the oven onto very high then walk in front of it with the beef without actually putting it in the oven. I know, we overcook everything, if we were French we would eat more raw meat and probably live longer. But then I'm an old, unreconstructed Lakelander at heart and I prefer my meat well cooked, that way I know that it is dead.

So I'm going now, see you soon, I won't say tomorrow in case I don't have time. DV

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday, and they predicted snow!

Touch wood, it hasn't come as yet, so I rather hope that it will remain on the East side of the Pennines for once. I think they have had a bad time over to the East, but all we had today was quite normal and rather wet rain.

I didn't post yesterday because I had a lot of other things to do, and I am rapidly running out of time today, so I thought that I must post something, just to show that I have not run away again.

I noticed that we had a new resident in the Close this morning, so I thought that I would introduce him to you. He's very quiet, but no trouble, so far. How long he will stay around the area I am not sure, but it could be anything from a day to a week I suppose. Here he is.

I suppose that he is called Frosty, but who cares really. I have not seen a full size snowman around here for a very long time. Considering that the two girls who live in this house are now in their late teens. Mind you, it was probably their Dad who made this. A hopeless romantic and a workaholic.

The other picture that I thought I might share with you shows the Dinting Viaduct from the footpath alongside the River. You can see the top part of what was once a mill pool for the Calicoe Printing Mill, but that was long, long, long before I moved here. It is now a repository for rusty old wheelbarrows and a handy place for the local Heron to keep his fish stocks. Some ducks live on here in the summer but at the moment it is frozen solid.
This is the river bank that has been declared out of bounds by the local foam manufacturing company. That company, I shall call them Joiners,  make foam for beds and things and are an American Company. There is an enormous piece of unused land that they own, but for many years has just been used by the dog walking community as a field where we can let the dogs run. A few weeks ago signs went up all over the place announcing that it was private land, dogs must be kept on their leads and such like. Today I could hear the sound of trees being felled. And all for what. No doubt they want to turn that field into yet another housing estate. Seventy years ago I am sure that the factory management could have handily found employment somewhere in central Europe.

Sometimes I am so glad that I am not young. The world that this is turning into is not one that I really want to belong to very much. Still, here is the second photo, and, with luck, I shall see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Round the Mulberry Bush

Oh dear, I've got myself into trouble this time!

I have had a very pleasant day, all in all, but I don't have a photograph with me to show any part of what I've done. Then I noticed this photograph had fallen off the wall and I thought that I would make this the subject of today's missive.

The year is 1993 and we have just become the very proud owners of these two imps. On the left is The Duke of Monza (Rufus to you and I) and on the right is his sister Royal Georgette (or Daisy for short.) They had been with us for a few weeks, and they are awfully young. They were learning how to live with us, and vice versa. Our house is so layed out that you can run in a circle through the Living Room, The Dining Room, The kitchen, The Hall and back through the Living Room. One big race track, or circle.

Rufus and Daisy used to play this game where they chased each other round and round, having fun, but on this day Daisy had decided to enhance the game by jumping into the plant pot in the corner of the kitchen. It was a rubber plant in a big pot. There was carpet on the floor. Well, you can see the result can't you. But just look at Daisy's face. As they say, a picture can say a thousand words.

Now you know why we don't have any potted plants on thye floor in our house, even today.

You know, even today with the irrepressible presence of Jasper Spaniel to keep us occupied, I don't half miss that little girl, she was such a joy.

So anyway, today the Jasper monster and I had a walk in beautiful sunshine, but the clear skies meant that the snow from Saturday was now frozen hard. That actually made walking easier because we were walking on top of the snow. Does walking on top of frozen snow count as walking on water?

A bit later we went, with the Friends group from our Church, to have lunch together. We went into Manchester to Hollings College which is the Catering Department of the Metropolitain University. We go about twice a year. Today it was the first year students providing lunch and also providing the service. So they were dressed as waiters and waitresses, complete with white gloves, doing full silver service. Some were better at it than others, but the food was excellent. To get a full three course meal for £12.50 is rare these days, and to get one of the quality we had is even rarer.

I had a beautiful Butternut Squash soup, Chicken in a cream sauce with two kinds of potato and two veg, followed by Sticky Toffee Pudding which is always a favourite of mine. There were more elegant choices on the menu, but I very much enjoyed what I had. The company was excellent, the food was brilliant and the wine was very acceptable indeed.

A lovely day today. I shall let you know what tomorrow brings in due course. Faites des beaux reves.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Snow, Snow. Wet, Wet, Snow

I got up early this morning. There is a tendency to wake up when a 22 kilo Springer Spaniel licks your nose at 5.45 am. He does that very rarely, he never needs to go out into the garden before I get up on my own, but he was desperate. I discovered just how desperate when I opened the patio door and he bounded past me, one bounce on the patio and the next bounce onto the grass. That was a six foot jump. He was desperate!

Anyway, back to the story. The snow was still there, still about two or three inches deep, but it was raining quite gently. I had hopes that the rain would clear away the snow, but no such luck. Once I have got up and stood amid the snow in the garden at 6.00 am in early February, I have some trouble going back to bed and going back to sleep.

I spent the time profitably. My dear wife's laptop has been playing up, so I have been rebuilding it over the last day and I just needed to reinstall the Office Suite. The early morning gave me the time to do that, and I caught up on an episode of Top Gear from last night while I did so.

I opened the curtains at about 8 am when it was light. The rain had stopped and the snow was still there. Ah well, that's what happens when you dream of snow melting, it doesn't. Our normal walk lasted nearly 30 minutes longer than usual today. All of the paths were covered by snow that had been beaten flat into ice by the feet of dear sweet children on Sunday. They and their red plastic sledges. The paths are all up and down, that would be because it is pretty hilly round here, I guess. So our walk was extended as each step forward was accompanied by a half step sliding back. Sounds dreadful, doesn't it, but it wasn't. I always enjoy my walk, and Jasper is even more certain of that fact than I am. There is nothing like a spaniel for reminding you what life is all about.

The rest of the day I have spent doing a bit of this and a bit of that. Mostly wasting time playing silly games etc on my computer. I ought to spend my time more profitably, but I don't. I always admire people who are better organised than I am, but hey, you have to live with who you are.

The photograph. Well, our walk started under iron grey skies, so heavy that I feared that the snow might start again. It didn't. Indeed, by the time that I was almost back home again, just down the road from where I live, the sky had turned clear and blue. I was crossing a small open "green" space, not so much a park as a piece of open grass. Of course, as you can see, it was not what you would call green today, not unless you are colour blind. It is not a terribly pretty place, but the mackerel clouds, the blue sky and those two trees just looked inviting. I didn't take my camera with me today, in case I dropped it. But I did have my phone with me, and I have taken some really nice pictures on my phone. So I thought that I would have a go and see what came out. Doesn't look at all bad, does it?

Okay. Talk to you again tomorrow, if we are spared! You never quite know what tomorrow will bring!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wenceslassed - Again

If you are reading this, and I don't expect that anyone but me will read it, you'll note that I have not posted anything on the blog for just a little short of two years. I really did, do, enjoy writing a blog as it keeps my mind active, but it is so damned easy to let it slip.

I was doing something today that caused me to look at the blog and I felt a little guilty, so I thought that I would give the it another go. If I don't keep up with it this time I shall delete the whole thing.

Okay. Wenceslassed, snowed on, "deep and crisp and even". Well it actually snowed yesterday, and nothing like the depth of snow that they have suffered in the Balkans (note to me - can you remember that you have something to say about the Balkans??? I was really quite taken aback watching the BBC News which demonstrated yet again that as far as the BBC goes, England stops at Nottingham. "And in the South East they suffered dreadful snowfalls of almost 4 inches". Well what do you know?

We have had it easy this time, if the snow is four centimetres then that is about it! Still, it blows down into our corner of the close something dreadful. Being amazingly lazy today I decided to leave clearing the drive until tomorrow. It might rain tonight and save me the bother after all. My next door neighbour but one, (I really don't care for her at all and the feeling is mutual. Good job you don't read Blogs, isn't it dearie. Anyway, she spent a couple of hours this afternoon clearing snow off her drive, so that she could get the car out. About 4 pm a tractor with a snow plough turned up on our road - I've never seen a snow plough down here even when we have had three times as much snow as today. Anyway, it neatly ploughed a path down our road, and deposited the snow in a deep wall of dirty snow, right across the pathway that my neighbour but one had cleared!

Couldn't happen to a nicer girl!

I made the picture black & white not because it is an arty picture, but because I took it with my phone and it came out with a desperate blue cast. I am an awful old swine, aren't I.

Mind you, I shouldn't laugh, because the same wall of snow has neatly blocked off our little piece of the road, so it will just make more work for me tomorrow. Unless it rains, that is!

Let us see if I can make it back tomorrow. See you then.