Sunday, 22 October 2017

Bosham...

Had a walk around Bosham yesterday afternoon, at high tide, with the wind whipping up the waves and whistling through the tension wires of sailing boats bobbing up and down on their moorings. Had a pint in the Anchor Bleu pub (pretentious? moi?), as water seeped through the floorboards. Had another walk this morning, at low tide - getting plenty of pix - before tea and a bacon sarnie at the Breeze Café…

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Beyond satire...

It’s getting harder for satirists to make a living. Trump’s in the White House, and today I hear that President Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been made a ‘goodwill ambassador’ by the World Health Organization, to promote health causes, despite everything he has done, over the years, to undermine the country’s system of healthcare…

Pray?


Friday, 20 October 2017

Toad in the Hole...

As a fan of pub games - darts, pool, dominoes, etc - I’m sad to see so many of them disappearing. So I’ve enjoyed finding some regional games which seem to be thriving, such as quoits - outdoors - in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, and pubs with skittle alleys. I’ve just discovered another game, called Toad in the Hole, traditionally played in pubs in East Sussex. The object of the game is simple: toss small metal discs onto a small, low table with a hole in the top (from the same distance as when playing darts). The scoring is simple: one point for a disc landing - and staying - on the table top, and two points for getting the ‘toad’ down the hole.

I watched three guys playing the game, with a skill that comes from regular practice. One guy dropped all four of his discs down the hole: a feat I might replicate once in a thousand attempts. He retrieved his discs by opening up a little drawer in the table…


Thursday, 19 October 2017

Uckfield...

Stayed in Uckfield last night, the well-known anagram, and had a writing day…

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

A bit of bother...

I was in a pub yesterday, and witnessed a little scene. It was only 7pm but a young East European man was drunk and making a nuisance of himself. The barman had to eject him (making me glad I didn’t have to take on this particular task). “I wait for you”, the young guy said in broken English, pointing at the door and beyond, “and I keel you”. He left as the barman started to phone the police…

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Brightling...

The parish church in Brightling has a pyramid in the churchyard, the handiwork and final resting place of one ‘Mad Jack' Fuller (although he preferred to be called ‘Honest John’ Fuller). Mad Jack (1757-1834) was the village squire, well-known as a philanthropist, patron of the arts and a builder of follies… though he blotted his copybook with his support of slavery…


Monday, 16 October 2017

Storm Ophelia...

The weather on the south coast is mild and balmy, but I’m catching the news about all the places in the south-west of Ireland I explored a month ago, and the damage being done by the tail-end of Storm Ophelia…

The 17th Sunday after Trinity: a big date in the church calendar...

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Dungeness...

Spent the morning taking pix around Dungeness. It’s a bit like Hebden Bridge (in the way that locals seem to be competing as to who can surround their dwellings with the most junk), except the mostly wooden dwellings are spread over a few square miles of Kent shingle. I saw some bird-watchers training their spotting scopes on the garden of one shack. What was I missing? A Radde's Warbler, apparently. “It looks like a fat Chiffchaff”, one birder said. It was around yesterday, but hadn’t shown up today…

Twitchers wondering where the Radde's Warbler has gone...

























They won't find a Radde's Warbler in here...


Friday, 13 October 2017

Heading south...

Had a couple of days with sister Kari in Hampshire, before heading south to the coast. My immediate aim is to get 20,000 pix online by the end of the year, and to crack on with the book…

Monday, 9 October 2017

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Lacock...

Saturday socialising in Taunton, Sunday taking pix around some pretty villages…






Friday, 6 October 2017

Castle Combe...

Had a productive day with my camera, first at Lacock then at Castle Combe…

The Castle Inn, Castle Combe...

Selfie, Castle Combe...


Bede House...

The Bede House in Lyddington, Leicestershire...


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Postie in Boxford...

In Marlborough this evening, after a productive day taking pix…


Hallaton

I didn’t think I had anything in common with fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, until I read yesterday that she only has a bath once a week…

The buttercross in the village of Hallaton, Leicestershire...


Thursday, 28 September 2017

Rothwell...

Had an enjoyable day, exploring some of the villages in Leicestershire and Rutland. They’re built of honey-coloured stone, which makes even a row of terraced houses look special. I dusted down my camera and got plenty of shots. Parked up this evening in a big square, in the small town of Rothwell, overlooked by the floodlit parish church…

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Women drivers...

It’s hard not to give a muted cheer on learning that, from June next year, women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive. It’s equally hard to account for the fact that this change is taking place in the 21st century… rather than the early years of the 20th. In terms of gender equality, Islamic countries are lagging so far behind.

As Christopher Hitchens said, "The cure for poverty has a name: it's called the empowerment of women. If you give women some control over the rate at which they reproduce, if you give them some say, take them off the animal cycle of reproduction to which nature and some religious doctrines condemn them, and then if you'll throw in a handful of seeds, perhaps some credit, the floor of everything in that village, not just poverty, but education, health, and optimism will increase. It doesn't matter; try it in Bangladesh, try it in Bolivia. It works every time. Name me one religion that stands for that, or ever has”…

Monday, 25 September 2017

Scrappage...

Saleable stock photography is ‘emblematic’: the kind of pic which can slot into an article and make (or amplify) a point in a simple visual way. This shot of an old car in a skip (“we paid £12 for it”, the guy in the showroom said; I’m sure the skip cost more) will hopefully sell when someone searches for ‘car scrappage’.

The sum of £6,000 sounds good, until you notice the qualifier. 'Up to' suggests that other, lower figures may apply to your particular car... going right down to £12 or, indeed, 'fuck all'... 


Atheism...

A few more quotes… about atheism…

“Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious” (Sam Harris).

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further” (Richard Dawkins).

“Jews, Chrstians and Muslims claim that their scriptures are so prescient of humanity’s needs that they could only have been written under the direction of an omniscient deity. An atheist is simply a person who has considered this claim, read the books and found the claim to be ridiculous” (Sam Harris).

“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more” (Ayaan Hirsi Ali).

“I see Atheists are fighting and killing each other again, over who doesn't believe in any God the most. Oh, no..wait.. that never happens” (Ricky Gervais)…

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Science...

Science has long been in conflict with religion, certainly since Galileo discovered that the earth revolves around the sun (and not the other way round). A few more quotes…

“The core of science is not controlled experiment or mathematical modelling; it is intellectual honesty” (Sam Harris).

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it” (Neil deGrasse Tyson).

“There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority; and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works” (Stephen Hawking).

“It’s okay to reserve judgement until the evidence is in” (Carl Sagan).

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use” (Galileo).

“Religion is to science as superstition is to reason” (Jerry A Coyne).

“Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cosy indoor warmth of traditional humanising myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigour, and the great spaces have a slendour of their own” (Bertrand Russell).

“When the evidence disagrees with the scientific proposition, the proposition is discarded. When the evidence disagrees with a religious proposition, the evidence is discarded” (Victor Stenger)…

Friday, 22 September 2017

Beer with breakfast...

It's a familiar start to a nomad's day: emailing a magazine article while I enjoy a Wetherspoons breakfast. People around me are ordering pints of beer with their breakfast, while the barmaid refrains from asking "Is that wise?"

Some quotes by skeptics and atheists are played for laughs; that doesn’t necessarily make then any less perceptive…

“Heaven, as conventionally conceived, is a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that no one has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the seaside” (George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman).

“It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it” (G K Chesterton). Islam fails the test, I think.

“The proper response to religious folly is not outrage but amused contempt” (S T Joshi, in the Introduction to H L Mencken’s book, On Religion).

“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions” (Thomas Jefferson).

“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled” (Mark Twain).

“Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure” (George Carlin).

“We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart” (H L Mencken)…

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Keeping order...

Many commentators have noticed how the powerful make use of religion to keep the riff-raff in their place. More quotes…

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful” (Seneca).

“Since the masses of the people are inconstant, full of unruly desires, passionate, and reckless of consequences, they must be filled with fears to keep them in order. The ancients did well, therefore, to invent gods, and the belief in punishment after death” (Polybius).

“Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich” (Napoleon).

“I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ” (Mother Theresa)…

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Belief...

A few more quotes… about the way that religious faith can persuade people to be their less charitable selves…

“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion” (Steven Weinberg).

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” (Voltaire).

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction” (Blaise Pascal).

“Cruel men believe in a cruel God and use their belief to excuse their cruelty. Only kindly men believe in a kindly God, and they would be kindly in any case” (Bertrand Russell)…

All you can eat...

Had an evening out with Helen in Halifax, and tried out a local, ‘buffet style’ curry house. No need to read a menu, or catch the waiter’s eye, or make an order, or decide how many popadums to have. We just took a plate into an adjacent room and helped ourselves from a range of tureens: curries from hot to mild, rice, chips, bhajis, samosas, salad, etc. We finished off with ice cream. All very tasty and - at £11 for all you could eat - good value. I’ll be back…

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Faith...

While writing my book on belief, I’m aware that much of the ground is already well-trodden. Some writers - with Christopher Hitchens to the fore - have summed up a point so compellingly, and with such brevity, that it seems sensible just to quote their words (with attributions, of course). Here are a few favourites, on faith…

“What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” (Christopher Hitchens).

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (Carl Sagan)

“Faith is believing what you know ain’t so” (Mark Twain).

“In religion faith is a virtue; in science it’s a vice” (Jerry Coyne)

“Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has” (Martin Luther)…

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Paul, Hebrews 11:1).

“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jesus to Doubting Thomas, John 22, 29)…

Harold Wilson in a hurry, Huddersfield...


Monday, 18 September 2017

Laundry...

When I’ve changed my clothes half a dozen times, I have to find a laundrette. Having got a service wash in Otley, I returned this morning to pick up a plastic bag full of clean, carefully folded washing, and paid less than if I’d sat in a laundrette for an hour, watching my clothes spin round and round. The Otley laundrette will be added to an informal list of amenities which are useful to a nomad. The list includes leisure centres where they spurn my offer to pay, and let me have a shower for free, and my favourite campsite in the Yorkshire Dales, where I’m staying this evening…


Sunday, 17 September 2017

Being alone...

This quote from Krishnamurti arrived in my inbox this morning...

"You see, you are not educated to be alone. Do you ever go out for a walk by yourself? It is very important to go out alone, to sit under a tree—not with a book, not with a companion, but by yourself—and observe the falling of a leaf, hear the lapping of the water, the fishermen’s song, watch the flight of a bird, and of your own thoughts as they chase each other across the space of your mind. If you are able to be alone and watch these things, then you will discover extraordinary riches which no government can tax, no human agency can corrupt, and which can never be destroyed"...

Trying not to drop Oliver, the latest addition to the Redhead clan...

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Battered Mars bar...

A staple of Scottish chip shops... now available in West Yorkshire...


Brighouse...

Kipped in Brighouse last night, where a signpost directs visitors to to the town’s most interesting attractions. There are just two: the bus station and train station, both ways of getting out of Brighouse…

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Hartley Wintney...

Spent a few days with sister Kari, as she approaches the halfway point of her chemotherapy regime. Leaving this morning, now that I've run through my repertoire of recipes, and heading north.

I enjoyed this description of Henry Blofeld, in the Guardian today: “the kind of Englishman you’d concoct in your head if all you had to work with was the collected works of PG Wodehouse”...

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Henry Blofeld...

I’ve just listened to Henry Blofeld’s last commentary stint, as England wrapped up the Lords test match within three days. To the other commentators, pundits and members of the Twitterati, he’s “the guvnor”, apparently, but I can’t say I was a big fan. With his wearisome catchphrase “my dear old thing”, his bow-ties and his pathological need to point out buses, cranes and pigeons, he was a bit too mannered for my taste. 

For me, the doyen of cricket commentators was John Arlott. He didn’t make a fuss about retiring. In 1980, at the end of his time behind the microphone, he described the last ball of an over, said “After Trevor Bailey it will be Christopher Martin-Jenkins”, and was gone… back to Alderney, and his wine cellar, and into retirement.

As for Geoffrey Boycott, I can’t listen to him any more…

Friday, 8 September 2017

Blighty...

I looked at the rain, and I looked at the weather forecast: more rain. Then I went online and booked a ferry ticket. I drove east, back to Rosslare, and got a late ferry. Not as late as last time; I was driving into Pembroke Dock just after midnight. This morning I drove through Wales, without stopping, and now I’m back in Blighty. Still raining, though…

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Kilrush...

There are very few reasons why a young woman of twenty would be talking to an old guy like me, so I was naturally suspicious when she hailed me from across the road, in a little town called Kilrush. I’ll call her Clare, because I’m in Co Clare. But she talked about me, not herself: where was I from, what was I doing, what did I think about Ireland, etc. I told her I was travelling in a campervan, so we talked about that. I eventually turned the conversation round to her, as she sat down on a doorstep. She’d been over in England; Birmingham, she said, but hadn’t liked it. Now she was back in Ireland. She had family in a nearby town, just seven miles up the road, but, for whatever reason, didn’t want to contact them. I wondered if she was staying with friends. No, she said, and mentioned the Catholic church just round the corner. I assumed she meant she was sleeping inside church property. But no, she was sleeping outside. After a few more minutes talking, I gave her ten euros and walked back to the van.

I spent the night in Kilkee, on the coast, hearing the rain drumming on the roof of the van, debating with myself whether I could have done more to help Clare. The answer seemed pretty obvious, so this morning I drove back to Kilrush to see if I could find her. I wandered the streets for three hours in the usual drizzle, before bumping into her, and a female friend, in the main square in town. We went to a little café round the corner for breakfast. Apparently they had slept behind the grotto next to the church, where a statue of the Virgin Mary gazes down from her niche in the wall. That can’t have been much fun in the rain. However, the good news was that they’d found a hostel in another town, not too far away, which could offer them a room. With a fixed address they would now be able to start claiming the jobseeker’s allowance and look for work.

“Are you Protestant or Catholic?”, Clare asked: a question that doesn’t invite a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. “Neither”, I said, but that conversation would have to wait, as the bus was about to leave. I gave them money for the bus and food, and said goodbye. I hope things work out for them both…

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Lost...

The welcome in Ireland has been consistently warm, sometimes effusive. But one thing has surprised me: the height barriers at the entrance to all municipal car parks, which seem designed specificaly to exclude me and other motorhome owners. Not so, insisted a man I talked to yesterday; according to him the barriers are to keep out the travellers.

After three years the satnav lady and I get along pretty well. Except for yesterday. I spent half the morning ‘exploring’ narrow roads, with grass growing up the middle, while the satnav lady kept suggesting even narrower alternatives. She was lost, but she wouldn’t admit it. Without villages or signs I’d entirely lost my bearings too - almost doing a full circle to arrive back where I started from…

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Clancy's Bar...

Enjoyed a musical evening in Miltown Malbay (which sounds like a character from one of my little books). I started out in a bar, sitting next to an old guy (old? I found out he was just a year older than me!) who was up for a chat. After a few minutes he reached for his penny whistle, which was artfully concealed inside the Guinness dispenser on the bar, and played a couple of tunes for an appreciative audience of one.

I moved a couple of doors down the street, to Clancy’s bar, where there was a bit of a session: three fiddlers, a woman on a squeezebox, a guy playing the penny whistle and a young lad trying to find his way round the fretboard of a banjo. They’re really only playing one tune, but what a tune! The circle of life… in musical notation…


Sunday, 3 September 2017

Walter Becker...

So sad to hear that Walter Becker has died. I loved Steely Dan from their first album, Can’t Buy a Thrill. Their music had a cynical edge - no songs about puppy love - and obscure literary references (they picked up the band’s name from a dildo mentioned in William Borroughs’ Naked Lunch). Joy once bought me an album, and so nearly got it right; unfortunately it was Steeleye Span.

I stayed on board as Steely Dan’s music got jazzier, more complex and enigmatic. After peaking with Aja and Gaucho, the band split. Everyone thought that Donald Fagen was the band’s creative force, but Becker put out some fine solo albums too. Book of Liars would be one of my desert island discs…

In a village of small, unpretentious cottages, this stood out like the proverbial sore thumb...

Shannon...

The swifts are gone, the martins too, and the swallows - always the last - are gathering on the telephone wires. The weather is more like November than September. I haven’t seen many birds in Ireland, but, then I haven’t been looking very hard.

Spent last night parked up in a little town called Glin, on the Shannon Estuary, ready to take the ferry…

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Local delicacies...

After two days in a campsite I feel a bit 'stir crazy'. But I've managed to edit, upload and keyword a big backlog of pix. They can't make any £££ if they're not on sale. And the moment I finish, the rain starts again.

Even if some of the Irish brand names are familiar, they’re not always what they seem. Harpic, for example, is an intimate deodorant, while Mr Kipling makes (exceedingly good) cough linctus. Let the buyer beware. I eat local produce whenever I can, so gave these crisps a try. Shamrock tastes good. Who knew?…


Friday, 1 September 2017

Killarney...

The sun came out - finally - and I've got some pix. Saleable... but nothing special. I'm now in a campsite just outside Killarney: editing new pix and keywording a backlog of pix so they can go on sale...

Staigue Fort, a rather splendid circular building, dating to the early years AD...


Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Cricket... bloody hell...

Moved a few miles north, from the Beara peninsular to the Ring of Kerry. In a country full of evocative place-names, can there be a village name quite as ugly as Sneem, where I’ve wound up this evening? It sounds like some slimy, unctuous creature from a tale by JRR Tolkein or Mervyn Peake. Despite the name, it’s an appealing and colourful little place. I’ve even taken a few pix. Amazingly, after gathering dust in the van for days, the camera still works.

Anyone who took a ‘sickie’ and went to Headingley will have seen the finale to a memorable test match. I hope Joe Root won’t take too much flak for declaring when he did. Sometimes the best way to win a game is to set the opposition a possible - though difficult - target, and then hope to take ten wickets during the run-chase. Kudos to the West Indies team for coming back so strongly, after being written off. Their unlikely win sets up the decider at Lord’s next week. Bring it on!

Keywording...

With the weather showing no signs of improving, I got a pitch at a no-star campsite on the Beara peninsular. Even though it’s still August, and the roads are full of motorhomes and camper vans, there’s no one else on the site; it’s like taking a cruise on the Marie Celeste. At least there was no queue for the showers this morning. I spent my time, while I had the magic combination of an electric hook-up and dependable wifi, keywording about 200 pix (none of them featuring Ireland, alas)…

Yorkshire CCC have issued a 'sick note', signed by a Dr Root, to enable ailing cricket fans to enjoy the last day of the test match at Headingley...

Monday, 28 August 2017

Kenmare...

I’m in Kenmare, County Kerry, having worked for three hours on my book. Early in the morning, when my brain is relatively nimble, the job seems do-able, not the impossible task it can look like later in the day.

The locals are friendly… almost to the point of self-parody, a cynic might say (but not me). Their greetings sound so genuine and solicitous that I’m tempted to offer a litany of ailments and complaints in return (a temptation I’ve so far resisted). Even the usual platitudes are delivered with panache, and a lip-smacking love of language.

The sun came out for a couple of minutes yesterday afternoon; I thought I was hallucinating. I haven’t come to Ireland just to drink Guinness and chat with the locals, and I’m suffering from sunlight deprivation. The camera’s in the van, gathering dust. Until I take some pix, I won’t feel my Irish jaunt has really begun.

I just called into a photographic gallery, and saw some gorgeous landscape pix, all taken within a few miles of Kenmare. The guy behind the counter was the guy who’d taken the pix. He reckoned today and tomorrow will continue to be drizzly, but that I might get a glimpse of the sun on Wednesday…

Hmmm... drugs... I might be tempted to investigate those bags on the quayside...


Sunday, 27 August 2017

Rugby...

I had a couple of beers in a bar in the town square. By chance the TV was showing the final of the Women’s Rugby World Cup, broadcast from Belfast, between England and New Zealand. The event failed to engage any of the locals in the bar, who seemed more interested in the price of fish. I don’t much care for rugby, so hadn’t followed England’s progress in the competition. But, from the moment the whistle went, I was gripped.

England women bossed the first half, and took what I thought was a winning lead. In the second half, the New Zealand women upped their game and clawed back the points one by one. With 15 minutes to go, the points were level, and New Zealand had the extra energy to go for the win.

It was a bruising contest. I saw no one duck out of a tackle, and the England team kept going for a ferocious 80 minutes. It was the first time I’d seen women’s rugby; I was impressed by the level of skill, and the ambition to play open, running rugby. I’m not sure how mobile these women will be, after a few years of playing tough, high-octane, international rugby, but I’ll be happy to watch another game some time…

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Castletownbere...

Stayed in Bantry last night. There was music in the bars, but I wasn’t in the mood. Headed west this morning, along the Beara peninsula. I passed a lot of photogenic places, but the weather’s poor: dull and grey, with the lightest of drizzle. The landscape still looks beautiful; it’s just difficult to take saleable shots without some light to ‘lift’ the scene.

I’m parked up in Castletownbere, overlooking the harbour; though the town itself is small, it’s still a busy port. There’s a fleet of fishing boats in the harbour, some with Irish names, some French. No one seems to mind me wandering around. The mist is rolling in over the hills, but, hey, this is Ireland!

I’ve been here before. Joy and I did a tour of the West of Ireland about forty years ago in my little Triumph Spitfire, the only sports car I’ve ever owned. My memories of the trip are few, and almost certainly unreliable: the cliffs of Moher, the Lakes of Killarney, the Gallarus Oratory and Castletownbere, where I was fascinated by the bars. You’d go into a barber’s or a bicycle repair shop, and there’d be a dark little bar at the back, where men - and only men - would sit and talk and drink.

I’ll investigate the bars later on. In the meantime I have some writing to do…

Friday, 25 August 2017

Good news...

I’ve been checking my emails regularly, and this morning I got the message I’ve been waiting for. Nephew Ben and partner Hem have a little baby boy: “strong, healthy and completely perfect”.

Since my usual speed of travel in the Romahome is sedate, it’s easy to adjust to the pace of life on the Wild Atlantic Way; this morning, while on the road to Bantry, I was overtaken by a bee...

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Baltimore...

It’s been a busy couple of days. I drove from the Gower to Pembroke Dock; thankfully, the postcode supplied took me straight there, to join a queue of cars, vans, lorries and motorhomes waiting for the 2.45am ferry sailing. I met a guy who’d been there for twelve hours, having missed the afternoon sailing “by two minutes”, as he said. He and his son were in good spirits, considering, and were looking forward to meeting up with family in Cork. I had a snooze, correctly assuming that someone would be round to bang on the side of the van when I needed to be on the move. In fact it was the car doors slamming which alerted me to the arrival of the ferry, gliding through the darkness to the pierhead.

I drove to the vehicle check-in. Even before I could say anything, a guy said “Mr Morrison?” When I nodded, he handed me the tickets, and I went to join the rows of cars ready for boarding. By 2.30am we were all on the ferry; from the inside it looked like a floating casino, but my only need was to get some sleep. I folded up my fleece for a pillow (making a mental note to use a proper pillow for the return trip), and woke about 7am as we were docking in Rosslare.

I decided to begin my trip at the south-west tip of Ireland, so drove, via Waterford and Cork, to Skibbereen. I had a few hours wandering round the town, trying to get my bearings. When I returned to the van for an early evening nap, I managed to sleep right though to 7am this morning! I headed for the harbour at the little town of Baltimore, to find an animated scene, with people waiting to go out on boats for either a day’s whale-watching or sea-fishing. The guy ushering people onto his whale-watching boat gave everyone such a warm welcome that I’m certain the day would be memorable, even if they didn’t see too many whales. They looked like they’d get their money’s-worth. I took plenty of pix, before heading off to explore the Mizen peninsular.

Whale watchers at Baltimore…



Hillend, on the Gower, and its campsite. “We have a shop, a café and toilets”, the owner said, with proprietorial pride, as he waved an outstretched arm in a broad arc across a once unspoiled landscape, now filled with cars…


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Gower...

Parked up on the Gower last night, overlooking the sea. Had a couple of hours, early this morning, to finish off an article, then strolled 100 yards along the prom to a café for breakfast (and wifi, so I could email the finished article). Sometimes the nomadic life works very well!

I have today to explore the Gower, before ending up at Pembroke Dock after midnight, for the night sailing to Rosslare. Tomorrow, about this time, I will either feel refreshed and ready to explore, or grumpy from lack of sleep. Either way, I've saved £30 on the price for sailing in daylight...

Ely...

  

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Hartley Wintney...

Spent a couple of days with sister Kari in Hartley Wintney, and booked a night ferry for Ireland (Pembroke to Rosslare)...

A quiet corner of Farnham...

 

Friday, 18 August 2017

To see you... nice...

So Brucie’s gone (probably winning someone a windfall in the Death Raffle, at the Wilkes Head pub, Leek). Amazing to think he first appeared on our TV screens as long ago as 1939! I remember him on Saturday Night at the London Palladium, when an affable personality, and an oft-repeated catchphrase, could take you a long way in television…

Riverside conversation, Ely...

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Ely...

Spent a couple of days at the Lynn Arms in Syderstone, North Norfolk, with Mandy and Aubrey the dog. While I was there I took some photos for the pub’s new website. Then headed south, to see more old friends this evening from my days in Peterborough. It cost me £4.70 to get a shower this morning - the same price as a swim - though that’s still cheaper than a pint of lager in Poundbury.

On the way I stopped off in Ely, and took some pix. I had a pint of lager, overlooking the river, and hit a new high water mark. £5.20! I kept my composure and paid up…

A pint at the Lynn Arms...

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Coventry...

I made my way to Coventry via Leek, where I called in at the Wilkes Head pub, to see who has won the latest ‘Death Raffle’. Congratulations to ‘Jamie’, who is £252.00 to the good for predicting the demise of actor Peter Sallis, at the age of 96.

Had a fun-filled weekend with Chas and grandsons Lenzo and Max. This is Max engrossed in one of his favourite books: The Challenge of Islam. He's fascinated by theology, and talks about little else...


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Tadcaster...

Had a stroll along the Wharfe with son Casey, starting from the repaired river bridge; the damage to the bridge, caused by floodwater, had divided the town in two for many months. Drove through the Peak District, taking a few pix on the way, and have now parked up for the night in Leek…

Magpie Mine, Derbyshire...


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Socialising...

Good to see John, Dave and Martin in York last night, for an evening of pleasantly inconsequential conversation. We met up in the Golden Ball, a proper local beerhouse just inside the city wall. When the pub quiz started we repaired to the Black Swan, just around the corner: another little boozer with plenty of character, thankfully unimproved by progress. My spirits are lifted, though the back is still sore. I don’t think I’ll be break-dancing for a while…

Arkengarthdale...





Glen Campbell...

Heard this morning that Glen Campbell has died. Though never a great fan, I particularly remember two of his songs: Witchita Lineman and Galveston, both written by Jimmy Webb, which came out in 1968 and 1969 respectively, years when music meant a great deal to me. The words may not resonate too strongly, but if you can hear the music and the peerless voice of Glen Cambell they’ll leap off the page. Instead of adolescent angst, the lingua franca of most popular songs, both songs have a timeless quality.

We can imagine the lineman, on his own, repairing telephone lines in America’s rural south; he’s yearning for someone so strongly that he can ‘hear’ her over the telephone wires. We can imagine the conscripted soldier, in a lull in the fighting (Jimmy Webb was thinking about Vietnam, apparently), wondering if the woman he loves will still be there when - or if - he gets back home.

The sentiments are sketched, not spelt out - making it easy to identify with the ‘I’ in the songs: the essence, I think, of good song-writing. These are the kind of songs I sing as I drive along; it’s impossible for me to approach Ulverston in Cumbria without breaking into the chorus of Galveston at the top of my voice…

Witchita lineman

I am a lineman for the county and I drive the main road
Searchin' in the sun for another overload
I hear you singin' in the wire, I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line

I know I need a small vacation but it don't look like rain
And if it snows that stretch down south won't ever stand the strain
And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line…


Galveston

Galveston, oh Galveston,
I still hear your seawinds blowing;
I still see her dark eyes glowing.
She was twenty one, when I left Galveston.
Galveston, oh Galveston,
I still hear your seawaves crashin,
while I watch the cannons flashin'.
I clean my gun, and dream of Galveston.
I still see her standing by the water,
Standing there looking out to sea.
And is she waiting there for me,
On the beach where we used to run?
Galveston, oh Galveston,
I am so afraid of dying,
Before I dry the tears she's crying,
Before I watch your sea birds flying in the sun,
at Galveston, at Galveston


Rievaulx Abbey...


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Wet and dreary...

Oof… what a dreary day: leaden sky and heavy rain. Even the ‘pensioner’s special’, at a fish & chip café on the A64, failed to lift my gloomy mood. I’m due to meet some chums in York tonight, so I hope they can cheer me up…

Cottages in Hurst, an out-of-the-way community in Swaledale, with the heather coming into flower...


Monday, 7 August 2017

Helmsley...

Slept in Thirsk last night, though I didn’t get much sleep after 5.30am, when guys started putting up their market stalls. I wasn’t getting much sleep anyway, thanks to a sore back giving me gip. I spent the day shooting pix at Rievaulx Abbey - one set of pix in the morning, another set in the afternoon - and now I’m in Helmsley, yet another North Yorkshire town with an expansive market square. I’m self-medicating with summer ale, and the back seems to be responding to treatment…


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Bedale...

I parked up for the night in Bedale (spot the Romahome near the church). I'm parked in another cobbled market square today, in Thirsk. Parking is free on Sundays and the wifi, from a nearby coffee shop, is dependable, so I'm busy keywording a backlog of pix. Tedious but necessary...


Saturday, 5 August 2017

Crakehall...

The day improved, with plenty of pix of Swaledale. I ended up at Crakehall, and its eccentrically shaped cricket pitch, to find a game in progress. While it takes a hefty whack to reach the boundary with a straight drive, a clip off the legs only has to go about ten yards, because the churchyard intrudes on the pitch. Despite these eccentricities - or maybe because of them - Crakehall is village cricket at its best.

I see, from the Guardian website, that Burnley had to abandon today’s pre-season friendly - yes, friendly - against Hannover, because of crowd violence. After huge transfer fee and wages, I can only watch football now as a cultural phenomenon; I really can’t care who wins. The cricketers at Crakehall applauded the opposition batsman when he reached fifty; the crowd at Burnley were ripping up seats and throwing them…

Arkengarthdale...

























Cricket at Crakehall...


Parking ticket...

A good way to start my day is waking up to bird-song or, on a Sunday in a small market town, the peal of church bells. A bad way to wake up, as happened this morning, is to find a parking ticket stuck to the windscreen. The fine wasn’t for the lack of a ticket (I didn’t need one between 6pm and 8am); it was for the ‘improper use of a parking space’. This is the first ticket I’ve had, in three years, for kipping in a car park, and it was timed, improbably, at 6.37am. One blind was halfway down, which suggests that a particularly vigilant traffic warden, standing on tip-toes, might have glimpsed a somnolent figure inside the van…

Changeable weather over Woodnook campsite...


Friday, 4 August 2017

Yorkshire Dales...

I’m enjoying being back in the Yorkshire Dales. I called in at the Tan Hill Inn today, the highest pub in England, which is currently up for sale. There were lots of motorhomes parked there, some even smaller than mine, because there’s a mini music festival taking place over the weekend. My natural inclination is - and always has been - to avoid crowds, so I took lots of pix around Arkengarthdale and ended up in Richmond for the night…

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Strong and stable...

Heard on the radio this morning that a three-year-old Scottish girl is getting an award for comedy. Intrigued, I went on YouTube. Hilarious. Try this clip, turn the subtitles on, sit back and enjoy. And there are plenty more clips of Isla and her dad...

The church at Downholme...


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Piece Hall...

Yesterday was Yorkshire Day, when Yorkshire folk sing the praises of God's Own County (just like every other day, then). A crowd of people turned up for the re-opening of the wonderful Piece Hall, in Halifax. The council has thrown a lot of money at the project, most of it seeming to have gone on digging up the cobbles, levelling the ground and putting down flagstones...

A band played (that's Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec on percussion)...



























Tuesday, 1 August 2017

More Krishnamurti...

"Seeing the world, seeing humanity, the “me”, and the necessity of a total, radical revolution, how is it possible to bring it about? It can only be brought about when the observer no longer makes an effort to change, because he himself is part of what he tries to change. Therefore all action on the part of the observer ceases totally, and in this total inaction there is a quite different action. There is nothing mysterious or mystical about all this. It is a simple fact. I begin not at the extreme end of the problem, which is the cessation of the observer; I begin with simple things. Can I look at a flower by the wayside or in my room without all the thoughts arising, the thought that says, “It is a rose; I like the smell of it, the perfume,” and so on and so and on? Can I just observe without the observer? If you have not done this, do it, at the lowest, most simple level. It isn’t really the lowest level; if you know how to do that, you have done everything"...

The flue at Grinton lead-smelting mill, which carried the toxic fumes to a chimney at the top of the hill...


Monday, 31 July 2017

Today's post from Krishnamurti...

"We generally start with the farthest—the supreme principle, the greatest ideal, and get lost in some hazy dream of imaginative thought. But when you start very near, with the nearest, which is you, then the whole world is open, for you are the world, and the world beyond you is only nature. Nature is not imaginary: it is actual; and what is happening to you now is actual. From the actual you must begin—with what is happening now—and the now is timeless"...

The lead-smelting mill at Grinton, in Swaledale...
























Coverdale...


Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Forbidden Corner...

I met Helen, fellow Romahomer, at my favourite campsite in the Yorkshire Dales. We took a trip to the Forbidden Corner, near Middleham. I’d heard about it, but never been… and now I have. The attraction began as a private venture, creating paths, tunnels, mazes and follies within a four-acre garden, which was opened to the public in 1994.

The Forbidden Corner is a bit like a ghost train… without the train. We spend a couple of hours getting lost, being sprayed with water, opening doors that led nowhere and being harangued by spooky voices. It was fun, but claustrophobic, and, at £12 a pop, no bargain.

Yesterday, we had a wander around the lead-mining relics on Grassington Moor, which suited me better. There was more room to move, under big skies and fast-moving clouds. Then I met up with two old chums, Howard and Kev, in Leyburn for an evening like a lost episode of Last of the Summer Wine…

This way to the Forbidden Corner...


Grassington Moor...