23 June 2017


I know that several old codgers visit this blog. Not all of them are as adept at computer usage as young whippersnappers like me. In an effort to boost computer literacy in the blogosphere, I am considering producing a series of instructional articles. This post is designed to simply test the market as it were. A feasibility study.

Okay. Now my computer platform was kindly designed by dwarves and nerds under the kindly guidance of billionaire William Gates in Seattle USA. Currently, I use Windows 10 but what I am about to tell you is also relevant to earlier versions of Windows. My apologies to members of the mysterious Apple Clan who may wish to exit this post immediately. Perhaps go and cut your toenails instead or bake an apple pie. It's likely that Apple have a similar facility.

Look to the top righthand corner of your Windows page. Go to the end of the top bar just below the little cross. You should see this or something like it:-
Now those three dots are not decorative. Click on them and a dropdown menu will appear. It should look like this:-
Halfway down  the list you will see the word "Find..". Click on it and a little search box should appear. It's like this:-
I typed in the word "banana". Afterwards, quite faintly you can see this written - "0 of 0". That means that on the page of writing I had open at the time, the word "banana" was not present.

Then I accessed a BBC News article about the Duke of Edinburgh's most recent hospital visit. This time I put the word "hospital" in the search box:-

Now in the bat of an eyelid, the search box is telling me  that the word "hospital" is used seven times in the article. Here's the beginning of the news item. Helpfully, the computer has highlighted all occurrences of the word "hospital":-
Do you get it?

This "Find" facility can be very useful in lots of situations. An example might be when you have accessed a long page of writing on the internet and you are looking for someone's name in the text. Another example might be that you yourself have produced a lengthy document and you are looking for a reference to say "2014" or "accident". You don't have to plough through the whole document as "Find" will do that for you.

Here endeth the lesson. You can take the teacher out of the classroom but you can't take the classroom out of the teacher... err, something like that anyway. 

22 June 2017


In times when the news is bad, it's nice to think of nice things. Be it the bonfire of a block of flats, the suicide of a sixteen year old girl, the stupidity of a hapless prime minister or the cowardice of urban terrorists - it's easy to get sick and tired of all the bad stuff. Better to think of nice things.

So I am going back to the many photographs I snapped last week up there on the North Yorkshire coast in order to find a bunch of random pictures to share with you. Nice pictures of nice things untainted by the bad stuff. Sometimes I wonder why I keep on tuning into the news. Invariably, it just fills us with despair.
Me with my family
Seagull at Redcar
England Coastal Path
On Saltburn Pier
Purple orchids on Easby Moor
Saltburn Pier

21 June 2017


Shirley has lots of cousins. They mostly reside in north Lincolnshire and north Nottinghamshire, staying close to their agricultural origins. One of her cousins had four children but in the early hours of yesterday morning that number was reduced to three. Her sixteen year old daughter had disappeared into nearby woods where she hanged herself from a tree.

She was found at daybreak. Some people from the village had been combing the area with several police officers right through the night but it was all to little avail. Maisie was dead. On the Nottinghamshire Police Facebook page, a school friend wrote this:-

You left us far too early Maisie, you had so much more to give and you will 
be so sorely missed. What is our loss is God's gain. Fly high sweetheart, 
I hope you are now at peace.

To die like that at the age of sixteen - it is of course so very tragic. Those left behind will be torturing themselves with thoughts about what they might have done and why they didn't notice the signs that were flashing - pointing to suicide.

She was in the middle of important exams and rumour has it that she was sometimes the victim of bullies but who knows what was going on her head as she tied that rope to the overhanging branch and slid the noose over her head? What a terrible, terrible waste.

I believe that everybody contemplates suicide at some point in their lives. I know that I did when I was a teenager but thankfully most of us successfully banish those terminal thoughts from our minds, climb out of the darkness of our self-pity and seek happiness once more. It's like a learning phase. You weigh things up. You realise that life is a much better option than death. 

But now it's too late for Maisie. She's lying in a mortuary awaiting her funeral and the tears that will fall in puddles and the flowers and the failure to understand. Kisses and embraces. "Sorry for your loss". A wreath from the school. Biblical verses from the vicar. "The Lord's My Shepherd". Shiny black cars. Grim faces. A buffet in the village hall. Tea cups and sausage rolls.

She squandered the precious gift of life but I guess that it was her right to do so. It's only three weeks since we saw her at an afternoon family birthday party in Pudsey near Leeds. She was holding her big sister's new baby lovingly and swaying to the music.

Such tragic news to wake up to this morning. My heart is broken for her family 
and friends. Such a lovely young girl. Rest in peace sweetheart -
you will be greatly missed by many xxx

20 June 2017


We went to Hartlepool last week. This meant crossing The River Tees in Middlesbrough. Rather than travelling on the A19 over a modern road bridge, I decided we would cross the river on the town's famous Transporter Bridge. It opened in 1911 and there are very few bridges like it anywhere in the world. It is certainly the only one of its kind in Great Britain.
Essentially there's a very tall iron structure over the river. It was so high that any masted boat could easily pass under it. Slung from this structure was a gondola or cradle upon which a few vehicles at a time could be carried. The gondola was suspended on wires from a series of rollers that were designed to carry it to the opposite bank.

The bridge still works fine a hundred and six years after its construction. At 1pm last Friday "Clint" was the very first vehicle aboard. The ticket cost £1.30 and in less than five minutes we were on the other side. We had left NorthYorkshire and now we were in County Durham tootling northwards to Hartlepool, home of the monkey hangers.

On the way we passed the Brent Delta oil platform which spent forty years pumping oil from the bottom of The North Sea. Now it is being dismantled having reached the end of its serviceable life.

19 June 2017


If you scour this blog you will find very few pictures of me. I tend to lurk in the background like a predator or a secret agent. Out there in my beloved country, I have taken  thousands of pictures but I am always behind the lens, surveying the landscape with my eagle eye.

On Saturday night, just after eight o' clock, Shirley, Frances and I drove out into the Peak District so that I could lead them on a little walk through the bracken to Bamford Edge. Neither of them had been there before and it seemed so right to make use of the last couple of hours of such a long hot summer's day. I love this time of year for the light that stretches from half past three in the morning to half past ten at night, leaving around five hours of proper night-time.

Up to Bamford Edge as the sun began its descent into the Pennine Hills. Little did I know that behind me the beloved daughter was aiming her i-phone in my direction. I was stepping into the sunshine like a religious convert or an early man ascending from the apes, I love that picture - at the top of this post. I am Heathcliff marauding across the moors by Wuthering Heights.

We looked over Ladybower Reservoir and they were both stunned by the view which we absorbed for a few minutes. Then we descended the edge and jumped in "Clint" for a short drive to "The Anglers Rest" in Bamford. This is a pub that is operated by the local community following a buy-out from the previous commercial owners. It was nice to quench our thirsts in such a place.

18 June 2017


Roseberry Topping, North Yorkshire
Oh dear - I didn't get round to blogging yesterday. After our delightful three night stay on Coral Street in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, we headed southwards. Soon we took a detour towards Great Ayton which was the boyhood home of Captain James Cook but before we got there we pulled into the car park at Newton-under-Roseberry so that I could climb up Roseberry Topping.

It was already hot and sunny by nine thirty in the morning. Shirley didn't fancy the challenge so she headed into Great Ayton while I donned my boots and set off despite my dodgy knee. It has been holding up well of late.
View from the summit to Newton under Roseberry
I huffed and puffed up to the top of the hill. It took me about forty minutes and by the time I got there I was sweating like a Roman Catholic priest at a youth club. The route was quite steep with rough and irregular stone steps that challenged my knee but just like Edmund Hillary and Norgay Tenzing in 1953 I made it to the top.
Marcus with his three sons and dog
At the summit I met three young brothers from Middlesbrough. Their names were Thomas, Daniel and Harry. Their dad was called Marcus and their little black dog was called Bobby They were delightful boys - happy to chat and a credit to their parents. Most of the way down little Harry, who was only four, held my hand.

And then it was back home. Driving across Yorkshire is to the English what driving across Texas is to our American cousins. The only differences are we don't have gun-toting cowboys or restaurants that sell massive barbecued beef steaks and we don't say "Howdy!" - we say "Alright?"
The triangulation pillar on Roseberry Topping

16 June 2017


Above - that's the Victorian pier at Saltburn-by-the-Sea. I took this picture as Shirley and I were riding on the funicular railway to the top of the cliffs just as thousands of other visitors to this little Yorkshire seaside resort have done through the past one hundred and thirty years.

Of course we strolled along the pier. The weather was mild  and we saw sea anglers cast their rods from the very end of the iron structure. Something we did not expect was the marine-themed yarn-bombing of the local women's institute on a section of the pier's rails. I took several pictures of these quirky creations. Here are just three:-
 At the end of the pier this fisherman was doing his impression of a seal basking on some rocks or perhaps he was thinking about all the fish and all the girls that got away.
It has been very lovely up here. We have been to Staithes and Guisborough and Redcar. The people are very friendly which isn't surprising as they are all Yorkshire folk and as you probably know, Yorkshire folk are the salt of the earth.