Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The Ashes...

I listened to commentary from the women’s T20 game against the Aussies: a good win even if they couldn’t reclaim the Ashes (and I wish they could inaugurate a new trophy; the Ashes it ain’t!). It put me in the mood for the men’s Ashes, which begins tomorrow night. I’ll be wide awake in some lay-by or market square, listening to the first ball from the Gabba… hopefully drifting in and out of consciousness as England pile on the runs...

Monday, 20 November 2017

The Whalebone...

Felt dog rough these past few days. If there was any resale value in mucus, I could go into production. Wound up in Hull, parked next to the marina, and got a lot of writing done. There’s a special satisfaction in getting the words down even when my head is spinning. And I got pix of Hull, as I walked out of the city, keeping as close as possible to the tidal mudbanks of the River Hull. In the middle of this post-industrial wasteland - all graffiti, razor wire and alsatians - I found a wonderfully welcoming pub, the Whalebone. I sat next to a woodburning stove, nursing a pint, feeling that life wasn't so bad after all…

Friday, 17 November 2017

Hebden Bridge...

Back in Hebden Bridge: always a bittersweet experience. When I moved here, years ago, I thought I’d found my place. The good times were very good indeed, but the bad times were horrible… and it’s the bad times that I recall most strongly as I take a stroll. I still have no idea why some people in town accused me of being a paedophile (I’m writing now about the dangers of believing things without good evidence, and this episode was a classic example).

I remember sitting on the bottom step of the stairs, surrounded by broken glass, realising that having a mouth that tasted of ashes was more than a metaphor. I knew the craziness was unlikely to end. It might have died down, after a few months, or years, but there would never be any genuine resolution. I locked myself away, then, a few weeks later, left…

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Knaresborough...

The snug, Blind Jack's...


Mother Shipton, gazing into the future, with Blind Jack's in the background...


Sunday, 12 November 2017

Fairburn Ings...

I spent a few hours wandering around Fairburn Ings, an RSPB reserve created from old colliary tips, wedged between motorways, bordered on one side by the River Aire and overlooked by Ferrybridge power station. It’s an unlikely spot for a bird reserve, but birds don’t share our sense of the aesthetic. If they can find a territory, sources of food and nesting sites, they’re happy to ignore the grot.

I saw plenty of ducks: tufted duck, pochard, wigeon, shoveler and shelduck, also gooseander and some great crested grebes (including one still in breeding plumage). A pair of little grebes, so tiny they’d fit in the palm of your hand, were ducking and diving. Best of all was a pair of goldeneye, a handsome little diving duck...

A visitor to one of the hides at Fairburn Ings...



Cyclists at Fairburn Ings...

Friday, 10 November 2017

Blacktoft Sands...

Called in at Blacktoft Sands, an RSPB reserve just south of the Humber. No great numbers of waders, but still one or two surprises: redshank, spotted redshank, dunlin, snipe, ruff and black tailed godwit. Ducks: shoveler, shelduck, wigeon and teal. A couple of marsh harriers quartered over the reedbeds; I watched a little egret catching fish and a bird-watcher eating his sandwiches…