The Wheels on the bus go round and round

The wheels on the bus was a very popular song for my children and their generation.In fact it seems equally loved by the next generation , as our our prime minister during electioneering for his current post some 6 months ago decided to do a quick verse of it when visiting a primary school in a vote garnering exercise.

Three important lessons – one: only sing a song if you know the words; two: only sing if you can sing and three: (the relevant bit now) …be careful what you wish for. Boris, did you really want to become Prime Minister? To be fair, he probably thought the worst demons he would have to face would be Brexit (both the remainders and the leavers), angry Northern Ireland Unionists and even more angry Scottish Nationalists.

He most definitely didn’t get the memo saying there would be a pandemic.

Boris actually has quite a history with buses. Being a keen cyclist he got rid of bendy buses when he was mayor of London, and then had a new jump on, jump on bus designed to replace the old iconic routemasters that had the open platforms. Very convenient but not very high on health safety…or warmth.Anyway, back to the wheels on the bus……We live quite near a senior school and we see the school buses trundling by at the beginning and end of each day and it reminds me of my school days…or at least the travel to and from.I was fairly ambivalent about school, not really falling into either camp of ‘best days of my life’ or ‘worst days of my life’, but I did enjoy going on the school bus.The school bus was the place where you caught up with homework on the way there; caught up with the gossip, used it as a taxi service to get you to other places you wanted to be after school such as friends houses, shops or wherever.Homebound it was generally a journey where you let off steam and had fun, be that playing stupid games, flirting (actually, that perhaps also was in the stupid games category) , or even fell in love. I went to a catholic secondary so many of the pupils were from Glasgow’s large Italian community, and being an impressionable 13 year old boy with an eye for the girls, my heart was broken a few times by the blossoming beauties in my midst…but just for the record Francesca, I’ve got over you now!In the UK we don’ t generally have the specific purpose built school buses, normally yellow in colour, that are common place in the US, Canada and some other countries, but would just get any vehicle that a local bus opertor could provide.When I say any vehicle, I really mean that!Somewhat unusually, my secondary school was completely newly and opened with an intake year one and therefore only 1 years worth of pupils initially, we only needed one coach from my local area.The contract was awarded to a ‘one man and dog ‘ operation with an ancient coach, but a very personable driver Henry Crawford (aka the owner of the company).The bus didn’t even have radio, but after Henry learnt the hard way from a few noisy journeys that a radio would drown out the noise of the pupils, he found an old car radio and fitted it to the charabanc.Designed for a car , it needed amplification so he rigged up an old record player loudspeaker in the bus to assist in amplification.As the school added a new intake each year, so did demand for the buses and Henry grew his business to become a sizeable and respected Bus and Coach hire company .Many years later, I remember seeing a sleek, modern, very new , state of the art coach parked on London’s Park Lane opposite the Dorchester Hotel bearing his name….I am sure Henry is no longer with us, but it seems the next generation have really developed the business to a new level.Conversely, my own children have a habit of seeing their school buses in unexpected places. One of the more unusual locations was high up a mountain in the Austrian Alps when it pulled into the car park alongside our car!It is a small world!

I’ll send you a postcard…

At one time sending a postcard was an integral part of the holiday routine.

Smart phones and instant messaging have played a big part in the demise of this activity. Nowadays entire holidays are captured on Instagram and Facebook with intermittent updates also available by text, e-mail or Instant messaging .

It was therefore quite a surprise earlier in the week to have an actual postcard drop through the letterbox. It seems postcards are now specialised enough to be designed for a target audience………….In our house however we don’t do things ‘half measure’ and actually as well as having our in laws dogs whilst they travelled, we took a third dog into our care for some of that time as well. Dogs of this size come rain or shine need and enjoy a lot of exercise.…and yes, for those of you reading this who live in this part of the uk (Yorkshire) will be very aware that some of the last few days have been somewhat wet! Don’t be fooled by these photos I took a week or so back at the start of their visit……Anyway back to the subject of postcards.I am hoping the next one I get reads….’Thanks for looking after the Porshe Cayenne “……I live in hope!

The biggest gift, the lowest price

This is not my first post about Parkrun, and normally I might be a little wary about focussing on this personal interest of mine too frequently ..but for this particular post..I make no apologies.

Parkrun, for those not in the know is a weekly timed run in literally hundreds of locations across the UK and beyond where those of every ability from first timer to experienced athlete can walk or run a 5k timed event in their local park and measure their personal progress week on week. It also has a huge band of volunteers and provides a unique opportunity for particiption and social interaction. Unlike a race which has only one winner, in this event everyone achieves from it.

My local Parkrun in Huddersfield, Yorkshire also from time to time acts as a platform for other organisations to spread the word on what they do. Yesterday my own running club were providing volunteers for the event

and we were joined by a group from Organ Donation who help promote this vital service.

This wasn’t a PR person doing a recruitment campaign..we were honoured to have several people with first hand experience of how life changing organ donation is.

We had the personal story of Lydia Beckett. Lydia shared with us how a literally life changing decision made by somebody else changed her life and that of her family.

Click on the hyperlink highlighted to read her story..but don’t just read it, please commit to being an organ donor and most importantly tell your family. The UK moves to an opt out system from 2020 so this means it is even more important to make your family aware of your wishes to ensure these are fulfilled.

The greatest gift anyone can give is life…I sincerely hope that none of you reading this will end life prematurely….but one day for all of us life will end, and before this happens we can commit ‘at no cost to us’ to give the greatest gift of all when our time is over.

If you only ever share or repost one of my blogs…please make it this one. Not for its artistic style, prose or any such reason, but that this one single action could change somebody’s life. See links to social media at the bottom of the page.

Your action in encouraging others to sign up could change a life. Now how wonderful a thing is that to be able to do today!

Click here for UK info.

I appreciate that many readers are from outside the UK, so please check on the internet for how you can pledge in your country.

Thanks for reading my blog…

Unicorn in a big park……..my kind of art!

Sculpture was never top on my list of things to be excited about on childhood visits to museums and art galleries.

An 18th bronze reproduction of some meaningless person did nothing to excite me or generate a love of this art form.

Well fast forward 40 or more years and it’s a different story. In keeping with the tradition of ‘if you have something good on your doorstep don’t bother visiting it as it will still be there next week ‘, I had still not got around to visting the Yorkshire sculpture park despite it having been in existence for all the time I have lived in ‘God’s own county’.

A recent visit opened my eyes to this place and made me wonder, why never before?

It is 500 acres of magnificent parkland in pleasant rural West Yorkshire. Sheep are grazed on the land and they seem to successfuly co-exist with thousands of daily visitors and quite a few dogs (on leads).

The sculpture and array of other exhibits is amazing and often on a grand scale..at the moment there is a Damien Hurst exhibition on with some truly giant and slightly haunting exhibits.

Some of the images are a little haunting…this image below of the child with polio was a familiar sight in the UK in the 60′ and 70’s. A best intentioned way of trying to raise awareness and collect funds, but even so…maybe not the best approach.

You will find it hard to see everything in one visit. We combined walking in the parkland, enjoying refreshments on the outdoor terrace, and photographing this array of images ..although really you have to be there…!

It’s a definite one to return to repeatedly to see the changing exhibits and I look forward to experiencing it in different seasons. Might substitute the cold drinks with hot chocolate on our forthcoming planned winter visit!

Oh and by the way, it is completely free to visit, just a car park charge.

Just add salt…

The town of Saltaire just north of Bradford in Yorkshire was founded by philanthropist and mill owner Titus Salt.

Salt had mills in the city of Bradford but decided to build a large new textile mill, known as Salts Mill and create an entire model village on the banks of the River Aire, near Shipley.

This allowed him to provide much improved accommodation for his workers away from the slums of the city.

The name Saltaire derived from his name and the name of the local river, the River Aire.

Salt created a village of stone houses for his workers with running water, bath houses and even a hospital and an institute for recreation and education.

The village also had a school for the workers children, allotments for the families to grow fresh vegetables, almshouses and a park.

In December 2001, Saltaire was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

So what now…rather than just be a preserved relic of past Victorian ideals, Salts has a vibrant new life.

The mill is home to art by way of permanent exhibitions of Yorkshire artist David Hockney’s work, a truly amazing book shop and some other specialised retailers.

This is no ordinary bookshop..on the ground floor of the mill it has a cathedral like feel, grandeur and ambience.

On the higher floor, a more esoteric style where presentation and space is the emphasis.

Every window provides a backdrop of Salts vision..rather than a shopping mall, retail park or mundane high street.

I can’t think of many bookshops adorned with fresh lillies!

Everywhere in the building there is evidence of both Hockney and the original purpose of the building and this just adds to the magic of the place.

Salts mill draws the crowds for its history, the books, the art and even the restaurant and tea shop.

I visit regularly – its a great place on a winter sunday, a rainy summers day or whenever the mood draws you.

If you are visiting West Yorkshire it’s a “must do” visit. A great example of getting preservation just right.

Salts is very alive with many one off events and opportunities to embrace books, music and art in a wonderful setting…oh and yes it’s completely free other than special events.

Sure you have to buy books if you want to take them home..but otherwise it’s there to enjoy!

Why this blog? Click to find out more about me and why I write the blogs

Time for an embrace…take #2

We had dogs visiting and I had time for an early morning walk prior to setting off on a work trip.

Our local reservoir is a mirror of the season and looking in the mirror what I saw was waves on the water whipped up by the stiff breeze, a hint of brown on some of the leaves and a little chill in the air.

Now it’s only August, but here in the UK as we encounter global warming we see a shift with warm weather spells from as early as April or May so in some way it’s no surprise in August to get a hint of the autumn that is waiting for us when we turn the calendar page at the end of the month.

My natural response to this is to bemoan the end of summer but on this walk accompanied by my daughter I was reminded to embrace the seasons for what they are….so true, and indeed we in the UK are fortunate to live in the land of distinct seasons…even though occasionally we experience all four in one day!

Enjoy each day for what it is.

Why this blog? Click to find out what started the blogs!

A tale on the trail

When I say I am a member of a running club, you may have visions of this superbly toned, lean and hyper fit athlete. I think it is fair to say I have a little way to go on that front. But what is amazing is my running club. It is totally inclusive, warmly welcoming and embraces the abilities of all. It had fairly humble beginnings and now meets on several days per week affording lots of running opportunities. Like any organisation it relies on all to play their part in different ways and tonight I volunteered to be tail runner on our trail run. One of the joys of where we are located in West Yorkshire is that within minutes of starting from our club room we can be on rural paths, beside reservoirs, running on canal towpaths and farm land tracks.

As tail runner i.e. making sure no one is left behind, one of the benefits of this task is that you get to talk with and meet with more of your fellow runners than you normally would. Tonight was no exception and in fact proved to be an education as our run leader shared a lot of local history with me that as a ‘comer in’ (as one is described in Yorkshire when not being a local) I was unaware of. My club is actually located in a largish town, but if you move into a smaller village from outside…you can be a ‘comer in’ even after 20 years residence!

Tonight was also a first for me as tail runner as safety related duties are normally associated with keeping runners and traffic apart. We came across a very young hedgehog meandering across a road with seemingly no knowledge of the green cross code or whatever should apply to hedgehogs.

A swift bit of encouragement into some undergrowth was required and hopefully an accident avoided!

Why this blog? Click to find out more.