A stormy relationship with the Yorkshire Dales

I thought I’d better post my latest blog before the current storm blows my roof off and leaves me homeless. I already have some loose slates (no personal quips, please, I’m talking about my house) so a few more hefty gusts and the whole lot could go. The recent bombardment of stormy winds, sleet, snow and oodles of rain has not put me off living in the Dales though. The Three Peaks are continually changing their tops. Some days, I’ve not been able to see those tops except for tantalising glimpses as low cloud brushes by, other times they’ve been covered in frost, snow and even sunshine.

Peak 1: Yes, we even had sunshine over Penyghent.

Too much of our lives is spent on Twitter, Facebook or whatever virtual way of life floats your boat. I’ve been trying to cut back on digital time recently. The Dales have always provided me with a better means of escape; they remind me that Nature drives forward and doesn’t look back. Wildlife – plants, and animals other than humans – tackle the next challenge regardless of opinions. We’re supposed to be more advanced and superior, but plants and other animals have been around much longer than us, have learned to survive better than us, and I reckon they’ll be around long after we’ve tried our damnedest to wreck the lives of other humans – and our planet.

Peak 2: Whernside looks a lot bigger from this angle; looking over Ingleton.
Peak 3: Moody (and cold) around Ingleborough as seen from the nature reserve.

Here in Ribblesdale, I’ve enjoyed seeing the steam train specials back on the Settle-Carlisle line. They create great theatre and are a welcome addition to the attraction of the Dales. While waiting on a freezing late afternoon at Ribblehead for a Dalesman steam special the other day, I thought about how the few inhabitants of this isolated part of Upper Ribblesdale might have felt when their land was being sliced through by Victorian entrepreneurs eager to build the line and make some money.

A dramatic entrance at Langcliffe.


Today, we have HS2 constructors churning up ancient woodland, wrecking wildlife habitats, ruining people’s personal spaces and blighting properties for the sake of knocking a few minutes off journeys to and from London. It’s an extremely expensive vanity project through a country in which some inhabitants are having to use food-banks to feed their children. The money could be spent on social housing and creating a better local transport network – for example, making better use of structures already in existence such as the Settle-Carlisle line.
I don’t suppose I’ll be around when (if) the HS2 route reaches Leeds. If I am, no doubt it’ll still take me longer to get from Langcliffe to Leeds or Manchester than the rest of the journey to London, so I’ll stick to shuffling up and down Ribblesdale in a storm-powered wheelchair.

Alberta returning to Settle over Ribblehead Viaduct.

I read recently that many Londoners, fed up with paying a fortune for a tea in the capital have ‘discovered’ that it’s cheaper to live up t’ North. Well, who’d-a thowt it? A little warning to anyone thinking of moving to my spot in Ribblesdale: you can’t always get a mobile signal here and you’ll need a big coat.

Settle after the first storm.
Late pitch inspection at Settle United FC.
Some waterfalls are rarely seen except after or during storms – this one at Lower Winskill seems to be wanting to get back up the hill.

Some might find this a strange thing to say, but I have no problem with businesses and factories setting up in the Dales. They bring employment and revenue into our small towns and villages; they help fill our properties and bring families into the area. But what I don’t like is when those businesses don’t respect the surroundings or neighbours, or have complete disregard for landscape and wildlife …

PS: When I die, I want the Huddersfield Town FC team to lower me into my grave so they can let me down one last time.

There are now 136 names in my Yorkshire Surnames file – see if your name appears here

The decades come and go but the Dales remain the same

Yorkshire Dales photography

I’ve just realised that tomorrow (barring some monumental mishap during New Year’s Eve celebrations) I will be witnessing my eighth decade. Hell, that makes me feel old. From the 1950s to the 2020s each decade has been different on a personal and also on a wider level. How quickly those ten-year blocks of time have passed by.

Yorkshire Dales photography
Moody around Ribblehead in early December


I wonder if living in the Dales makes you feel as though times have not changed as much as if you had spent most of your days in a big city? The landscape around here hasn’t altered a great deal throughout those decades. Generations of sheep have chomped away at the Dales pastures and kept it looking pretty much as it was a century ago. There’s been some new building here and there, but overall the face of the Dales has aged a lot better than my own.

Yorkshire Dales Photography
Looking over Kingsdale to Ingleborough.


Waterfalls here in Ribblesdale continue to cascade as they always have, holding my attention as much today as they did fifty years ago. I stare at the majesty of the Three Peaks in wonder as much now as I did when I first saw them as a youngster. I walk the same paths – which, like me, are a bit more eroded and weather-worn. And I enjoy the changing Dales as the seasons pass by; spring, summer, autumn and winter all displaying their unique qualities on the landscape.

steam trains on the Settle-Carlisle
Flying Scotsman making a flying visit to Horton-in-Ribblesdale.


Since my last blog in November, we seem to have had all four seasons here in Ribblesdale. I hope my photos give you a flavour of what we’ve witnessed.

Ingleborough with Falls Foot landslip clearly visible.

I’d actually written a wordy rant for this month, covering my feelings about the state of the country, its political leaders and those unelected (British) right-wingers who are taking over. But I decided to keep my thoughts bottled up, and instead to take a step back, enjoy the Dales a bit more and watch The Repair Shop as often as possible. They are such nice, polite people aren’t they? I’m voting for them in the next election.

Sunrise in Langcliffe when the snow made a fleeting visit.
sunset Dales
There have been a few spectacular sunsets this month.
St Andrew’s in Dent.

I recently read a leaflet that stated it’s okay to have sex at 65. So if you’ll excuse me now, I’m just popping round to number 65 …

How long before Dales landmarks disappear?

Garth House Dales

Future generations of visitors to the Yorkshire Dales may well miss out on seeing typical buildings like Garth House near Horton (above). Its roof is caving in and the walls are feeling the strain of facing up to centuries of rough moorland weather. I don’t know how long it’s been left to crumble (or if there are any plans for it), but I read that within living memory haymakers would swim in the nearby Ribble after a hard day working in the fields around Garth House.


There are hundreds of similar irreplaceable abandoned vernacular buildings scattered around the Dales, left to go to ruin because farmers have no use for them or can’t afford their upkeep; and planning restrictions often mean they can’t be developed for residential use.

Mind you, anyone wanting to renovate Garth House will need to be railway enthusiasts as the Settle-Carlisle line runs just a few yards away. I walked by the building recently on my way to see Flying Scotsman (below) tootle past. Garth House was there long before the railway was built in the 1870s but I don’t suppose the Victorians cared a jot about spoiling anyone’s peaceful Dales existence.

Flying Scotsman Dales

Ribble days

Ribblesdale - Dales
Vibrant view down Ribblesdale from Selside


There have been some cracking days by the Ribble since my last blog and I haven’t needed to travel very far from home to capture some stunning Dales scenery…

Penyghent from Selside
No apologies for having so much sky in this photo of Penyghent
Fluffy clouds again in this view from Langcliffe Lock towards Stainforth Scar
Stainforth Scar - Dales
Close-up of Stainforth Scar, a much under-rated feature of Ribblesdale
Path between Langcliffe and Stainforth
Evening sunshine at St John’s, Langcliffe
Ingleborough in the Dales
A short drive up to Chapel-le-Dale was worth it for this evening view of Ingleborough
There are many fabulous gardens around Langcliffe – too many for me to show here – but this is a favourite down by the lock.
Synchronised (well, almost) swimming on the mill pond
If only all railway stations put as much effort into their appearance as at Settle…
Dark clouds looming but it remains bright at the station. London not far enough away as far as I’m concerned
Flying Scotsman passes through Settle on its homeward journey

Dales for work and play

Thousands of visitors head to the Yorkshire Dales as an escape from their workplace and urban life. It’s easy to forget that the Dales is actually an industrial area too. There are many relics of industry scattered around the hills and valleys, such as lead mines and limekilns. There is still large-scale quarrying being carried out just up the road from me here in Ribblesdale. Agriculture is an industry, too – and so is tourism.
More Dales folk are involved in tourism than anything else today. Shops, pubs and accommodation providers not only benefit the visitors but offer employment and opportunities for locals too.

My son, fed up with zero-hours contract jobs, and extremely reluctant to head to the dole office, decided to go it alone and start a care-taking and cleaning business. The venture is growing and he in turn is now providing employment for cleaners wanting work in this part of the Dales. http://www.cravencleaningservices.co.uk

There are problems though, as with many rural areas, such as poor broadband and mobile networks and a lack of affordable start-up units.

Top shot shows Ingleborough in evening light. Above, steaming through the Dales over Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle line http://www.settle-carlisle.co.uk

Happy birthday Dalesman

Last week I also visited the village where another successful business began – Clapham, the original home of Dalesman, my former employer. The magazine celebrates its 80th ‘birthday’ this month and it amazes me to think it was only 54 years old when I joined. Working for the publisher helped cement my love of the Dales landscape, its people and traditions. I wish Dalesman every success for the future in what is a changing marketplace. http://www.dalesman.co.uk

Cyclist heading down towards Hellifield with rain clouds gathering over Penyghent
Stop the world from spinning … slanty pic of Penyghent

I’ve not posted many pictures over the last month on the blog or on Facebook and Twitter, even though the camera’s been well used. I had a flick through what I’ve taken, choosing what I thought might be of interest. I selected more than fifty so I’ve had to whittle the selection down even further. Hope you enjoy this short trip around Ribblesdale.

This week a peewit (tewit, lapwing – whatever you want to call the bird) swirled around just above my head as I walked through the disused quarry which is now part of the nature reserve at Ribblehead. It screeched at me for being too close to its nest. Not my fault the daft bird built the blooming thing so close to the permitted path.

The memorial fountain in Langcliffe has been having a spruce-up. Before and after pics. Good job done in my humble opinion.

Hot iron

There’s some tremendous architectural work on Hellifield Railway Station if you look closely enough.

The visiting engines aren’t too shabby either.

Light fantastic

Sunny evening in Langcliffe seen from St John’s (pictured below).

The blossom came early and disappeared quickly in some strong wind.

Lamb basting

When you’re just too hot and fed up with posing for stupid photographers.

What does tha think’s on t’ other side o’ yon ‘ill?
Mum sez it’s Lankisher an’ Ah must nivver go theer.

Dales snow: make the most of it – 14 photos

Dales

The Dales wrapped in a white winter coat – a rarer sight than it once was. I wonder if today’s youngest generation will one day be telling their grandchildren about the time they witnessed the final snowfall in the region. Climate change is definitely happening.

‘Experts’ might disagree over the causes, and certain trumped-up heads of state might be in denial over it, but I’ve seen it happening in my lifetime. That’s not just through misty reminiscences of harsh winters – such as in 1962/3 when as a child I recall enormous ice-slides and endless sledging – but also through my work.

When editor of Countryman http://www.countrymanmagazine.co.uk/ I received hundreds of articles concerned with changes in animal behaviour, the disappearance of species, alterations to landscape, unusual flooding and strange seasonal variations etc. Left alone, Nature will take its course – the trouble is, humans are not always in line with Nature’s wider picture.

I received hundreds of articles concerned with changes in animal behaviour, the disappearance of species, alterations to landscape, unusual flooding and strange seasonal variations etc. Left alone, Nature will take its course – the trouble is, humans are not always in line with Nature’s wider picture.

Dales Whernside
Whernside and Ribblehead Viaduct

Changing times

This month’s photos show how different the weather has been over the last few weeks . One minute it’s green and warm, fooling spring flowers into poking through; the next minute the same plants are battling temperatures of -6C.

Seeing all the snow reminds me of some of the old Dales sayings I’ve come across over the years. Farmers up in Swaledale might say: “Snaw’s fair stourin’”, which means a strong wind is blowing snow strongly.
If it is tewtlin’, it means the snow is falling gently and settling. In one of his many books, Bill Mitchell talks of farmers teeavin’ (wading) their way through snowdrifts to rescue sheep. Small 4x4s can help nowadays but hill-farming is still a very arduous job (with scant financial reward) when the Dales are in the grip of winter.

Penyghent from Horton-in-Ribblesdale

Penyghent – in fact, all the Three Peaks – display an air of majesty in the snow. Lovely to look at but their ascent should be tackled only by the fit and well-equipped. I did the Three Peaks this week – by car and photographically, needless to say – to capture the scene from some of my favourite locations:

What do you mean?

Folk often ask me, ‘What does Penyghent mean?’. You’ll discover a few answers but really no one can be certain of its origin. It’s (probably) a name that’s been passed down from the days when Celtic tribes lived in the area. But as our language changed and different people moved in, translations were often corrupted or deliberately altered. Even in the last century thoughts on the name’s meaning have varied. Today we’re told it means ‘hill of the winds’, whereas in Victorian times it was translated as Pennigant (from Pen-y-Gaint), meaning ‘at the field head’ or ‘end of the plain’. Another Dales mystery.

Trains in the Dales

There was a fair old gathering of photographers braving the chilly conditions at Ribblehead yesterday. For those who need to know … it is the Mayflower (front) and British India Line pulling the Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express excursion. https://www.settle-carlisle.co.uk/

While the posse kept an eye out for the main event, I was looking the other way at the setting Sun.

Some more of the greener stuff from late January…

Stainforth Scar from Langcliffe
Ancient fields near Langcliffe, Ribblesdale
View to Ingleborough from Winskill
Penyghent Gill at Giant’s Grave
Penyghent from the road between Stainforth and Halton Gill

Check out your Yorkshire surname: http://www.jacksoneditorial.co.uk/yorkshire-surnames/

Look forward to another year in our changing Dales

Dales - Ribblesdale from Langcliffe

Another year passes by – and so quickly, too – here in the Yorkshire Dales. An outsider looking in via occasional visits might think very little changes in the Dales, and they are comforted by that thought. But those who have lived here many years have a different perspective.

Yes, there are still the beautiful rivers, waterfalls and hills (‘Nobbut gurt mounds o’ muck’ as one old Dalesman once stated), but Dales life has altered a great deal over the last few decades.

Village schools are closing at an alarming rate; local shops and businesses have gone; there are fewer jobs, bringing about the dispersal of many long-established families. Their homes are being bought by commuters, holiday-let owners and as weekend retreats (that’s not a dig at those people, by the way, as without them some villages would probably have closed down altogether).

Ancient agricultural buildings are being left to decay as farmers no longer have use for them, can’t afford their upkeep or are refused permission to sell off or develop the barns as homes. Bus and train services are poor, as is broadband in many areas.

But would I prefer to live in a large town or city? Not on your Nellie! (Apparently this expression stems from rhyming slang, originally ‘Not on your Nellie Duff’ – rhymes with puff – meaning breath of life. Your education is incomplete without this knowledge.)

Dales sunset
Top photo shows Ribblesdale from Langcliffe; above, capturing a Dales sunset.

Back in the Dales soon!


My nearest hospital is a 45-minute drive away, a journey I’ve had to make several times over the last few months for treatment on kidney stones. How something so tiny can cause so much pain and leave a person so debilitated is astounding, but hopefully I will be heading up and down the Dales again shortly.

Photos in this final blog of the year show some of the places I’ve been missing, but which I’ll be re-visiting during 2019.

Dales Horton
Memorial at Horton-in-Ribblesdale
Dales Stackhouse
Stackhouse
Dales steam train
Steaming beneath Penyghent
Dales Settle Station
Settle Station
Dales - Settle
Settle area from Giggleswick Scar
Dales - Brimham
On the rocks at Brimham
Dales - Littondale
Lovely Littondale
Dales Ingleborough
Majestic Ingleborough
Dales meadow
Thank you for reading the Dales blog during 2018. I hope you’re enjoying a merry Christmas and have a happy new year.

My Yorkshire Surnames page is updated every month. Visit http://www.jacksoneditorial.co.uk/yorkshire-surnames/

Summer: there it was – gone! (21 Dales pics)

Summer seems to pass through the Dales a little quicker each year. Since last month’s blog the landscape has changed colour, fields have been cropped, lambs have disappeared and the bulk of tourists have headed home. The Settle area where I live is a vibrant place during summer with local shows, the flowerpot festival, folk music and dancing, steam trains on the Settle-Carlisle line and much more. After all that activity it could feel like we’re already starting to batten down the hatches for a long winter – yet autumn can also be an exhilarating season, full of colour, drama and beauty and I’m looking forward to getting out and about in the Dales with the camera.
Here is a selection of photos that I’ve taken since my last blog, a reminder of summer 2018:

Top photo, above and below late summer in Ribblesdale.

Dales

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Even in August there were signs of changing colour down Ribblesdale.

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A moody evening near Cowside.

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I see the beautiful ancient tree by the rugby ground in Settle has been destroyed despite a lot of opposition. At least the chap who wanted more light in his house and garden will be happy.

 

Settle Railway Station once again looked splendid during August – as did all the stations up the Settle-Carlisle line.

 

That’s how to make an entrance.

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Ribblehead where the weather can catch out the unwary.

 

A classic Dales railway shot taken near Selside with Penyghent in the background.

Above and below, sunny evenings to remember in Ribblesdale.

Dales
I often wonder if trees get lonely. Mighty Ingleborough is its neighbour.

 

Dales
I was asked to judge the photo competition at this year’s Langcliffe Show. The standard was excellent, especially in the sunset category. I was inspired to head up to Winskill to take a few shots myself…

The main steam excursion season is over but there’s still much to see in this part of the Dales. I look forward to seeing what the next month brings.

How the Dales have changed since 76

During the long, hot summer of 1976 the Yorkshire Dales were my playground. I was 23, fit and energetic and starting to create a career in journalism. Move on some 42 years to another sunny summer, and here I am: overweight, fond of an afternoon doze and I’m a pensioner – but at least the Dales remain my playground.

While idling my time away on the slopes beside Ribblehead Viaduct one day last week, waiting to photograph a steam train crossing the mighty structure, I thought about how the place had changed since the 1970s. Yes, the topography is pretty much as it was back then but the atmosphere is very different.

Today I walked up the track towards Blea Moor alongside people who were wearing flip-flops. The recently extended car parking areas were full to the brim. A group on a sponsored Three Peaks hike ploughed through the sightseers. A small helicopter landed and took off again ten minutes later. A chap tried out his new drone (unsuccessfully).

Two noisy Chinook helicopters made their way over the Dales like annoying flies, circled over the viaduct then headed back over Cam Fell. Flashes from mobile phones greeted their arrival and departure.

I’d arrived to my spot early to find a good uninterrupted view of the viaduct with Ingleborough in the background. Two minutes before the train was due a family of four plus a loose and inquisitive dog plonked themselves right in my sight-line. The Dales were never so in the 1970s, or perhaps in those days it was me who was being the nuisance?

I’ve taken so many photos since my last blog – even a cartload of snaps from a few days in the Scottish Borders around Kirk Yetholm at the end of the Pennine Way – that I’ve had difficulty narrowing down the selection. Anyway, here I share a few. The top pic shows the view from above Buttertubs Pass back towards Ingleborough.

dales
Shades of brown, looking towards Ingleborough again, this time from Giggleswick Scar. Below, the other direction with Giggleswick School chapel dome above the trees.

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From near the same spot, a sheep shelters from the sun and the view down towards Settle.

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Not sure what happened here.

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In case the previous photo has anything to do with Trump then I’ve sussed out where to head: Hoffmann Kiln, Langcliffe.

Above, church gate decorations in Langcliffe plus two shots up Pike Lane, in the village.

Gargoyles at St Michael’s, Spennithorne near Leyburn.

The Eden Valley seen from the road to Keld.

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Stock shot down Swaledale taken while the grass was still green.

I went to get a shot of a train, well here it is at Ribblehead quarry.

What, no train photos? Fear not, train buffs, I will be putting up special page for you when I get a spare moment. Meanwhile, here’s a moody Ribblehead Station.

I’ll not bore you with my snaps of the Scottish Borders but here’s one from a garden in Yetholm Town … it’s not gnomal, is it?

Joyous June in the Dales (37 pics)


So, a month of strolling and taking pictures in the Dales has gone by without a blog from me. It’s not been easy – I’ve been dying to show off about living in such a beautiful place and the Nature I’ve seen as the Sun threw wide its arms, saying ‘come on lad, fill thi booits’.
Even the milk-bottle legs got an airing (allowing all manner of flying objects to help themselves to a Jackson blood-fest).
Within a 25-mile radius of home the Dales have provided relaxing walks and waterfalls, stunning sunsets and glorious sweet meadows to melt the senses. The camera has worked overtime and illustrates the wonderful Yorkshire Dales through pictures much better than I can with words.

Dales
Let’s start with some Three Peaks photos. Top is Ingleborough; above is Whernside seen over Ivescar Farm; below are two shots of Penyghent in Ribblesdale.

Trains in the Dales

Dales trains
Apologies for the quality. I zoomed in from the Coal Road above Dent station across a few miles to try capture this train as it left Blea Moor tunnel.

dales
I see now what I have in common with train enthusiasts: grey hair.

Littondale

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First few photos around Foxup, Cosh and Halton Gill. The last two on the way to Littondale from Stainforth showing Penyghent Gill and farm, and Fountains Fell.

Nature in the Dales

Cheeky little monkey (calf, actually) sticking its tongue out at me.

More Dales scenes

dales
Four photos from a walk along the Pennine Way around Malham and Darnbrookdale. Below a couple from around the Dentdale area.

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Aisgill Falls near Hawes, and a classic shot of Hawes church.

I also visited Appleby Horse Fair earlier in the month. Some locals complain about the annual fair while others are happy to make a bit from increased visitor spending, renting camping space and charging for parking. As a visitor I only see a snapshot of the event, of course, but it seemed well policed and had plenty of RSPCA officials on hand. I wasn’t around to clear up any mess though. For a short slideshow visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSu-Ypcw0zM

And finally…

I could have filled the blog with many more June shots but you’d have probably fallen asleep … here are three shots taken at sunset from Winskill, Ribblesdale, looking towards Ingleborough, to help you snooze.

See you next month.

A fond farewell and those frightful Dales

DalesTravelling through the Yorkshire Dales in 1724 Daniel Defoe got to Settle Bridge. In his diary he wrote: “Looking to the north-west of us we saw nothing but high mountains, which had a terrible aspect and more frightful than any in Monmouthshire or Derbyshire, especially Penigent Hill. So that having no manner of inclination to encounter them, merely for the sake of seeing a few villages and a parcel of wild people, we turned short north-east.”
You’d think that the chap who created such strong characters as Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders would have had a bit more about him than to worry about the good folk and the landscape of upper Ribblesdale. Anyway, he missed a treat.

During my own travels up this ‘frightful’ part of the Dales this week, I sat in the shade beneath a beautiful tree showing off its new spring clothes. I listened contentedly to the cackle of water over the pebbles of a low Ribble, and to the chirping of excited birds. Sheep and lambs, cows and calves mingled in a field across the river – there was no human-style dispute over who had the right to graze here.

The smell of wild garlic filled the air, and a small fish popped up briefly to cause a ripple on the shallow water – and surprise a duck and her tiny offsprings who were showing cowardly Defoe-type tendencies. The scene reminded me once again of how lucky I am not to be shackled to some hectic city street or suffering in a war-torn country.

Dales
All the above photos were taken by the Ribble near Langcliffe.

Clouds and steam

As I waited for this week’s Dalesman steam-hauled train to pass over Ribblehead Viaduct I watched wispy clouds floating aimlessly over the Dales. The mass of Whernside, seen in the panorama below, looked glorious in the midday sunshine.

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This week’s Dalesman steam excursion on the Settle-Carlisle line… with Penyghent in the background, on the way up (above) and back down (below).

Farewell for now

I’ve been blogging here every week for more than four years now. That’s well over 3,000 photos of the Dales and goodness knows how many meaningless words. It’s time to give it (and you) a rest. I’ll continue to post photos on social media and, occasionally, on here – and I’ll also update the Yorkshire surnames section of the site once a month. Thanks for taking an interest in the blog – have a great summer. My Twitter feed is @paulinribb

While at my son’s house I asked if I could borrow a newspaper. He said, “We don’t have newspapers any more Dad, get with the times – use my Ipad.”
I’ll tell you what, that annoying fly never knew what hit it!

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St John’s, Langcliffe.