Monday, January 31, 2005

Caption (s) ?
Is Pop Music Killing Music ?

Music teachers report a vast downturn in the numbers of pupils wanting to learn a musical instrument. The charts are filled with singers, boy bands and ‘groups’ without an instrument between them.

The music industry has become the fast food industry. Burgers are easy to make, galantine of chicken rather less so. Singers can be churned out by the dozen, guitarists, violinists and cellists take years to perfect their art.

I have always been a huge fan of music. That is to say, I have always been a fan of original music. Cover versions of course have their place, Siouxsie And The Banshees putting a new twist on Helter Skelter, Muse brilliantly changing the pace of the Origin of Symmetry album with Feeling Good, and Metallica’s various homages to the bands that inspired them, these are all good examples of what a cover version can be.

Why though do kids go crazy over ‘artists’ that build their entire careers on cover versions ? You don’t eat regurgitated food, why listen to pre-digested pop ?

I have a particular problem with the image obsessed, bling bling, money loving, misogynistic world of rap. When rap first came about it was a breath of fresh air. As punk exposed the shortcomings of the behemoths of rock, so rap tore up the rulebooks of pop.

Suddenly it was ok to discuss social issues again, poor, disadvantaged, repressed black youth found a new voice. Rap became the new blues, NWA, Run DMC, Cypress Hill and dozens of others stood up and said ‘This is our reality, this is how we are forced to live, this is what is happening to us.”

Rap was vital, alive, vibrant and relevant. Fast forward to today and US rap in particular has become a bloated corporate whore, thriving on the very excesses it once deplored and railed against. The vast majority of modern rap has nothing more to say than “Look at me, I’m famous, I’m important.”

I have news for you Jay-Z, 50 Cent and a hundred other muppets, politicians are important (for good or bad), so are surgeons and policemen, teachers and nurses, midwives and soldiers. If 50 Cent vanishes up his own arse (and we can only hope!) who would really care ? If my dustbins don’t get emptied for a month, that bother me.

Jay-Z though doesn’t know one end of a guitar from the other, Blazing Squad wouldn’t know a viola if it fell on them, and what exactly is the DJ in Slipknot there for ?

Original music won’t die out, despite the best efforts of Simon Cowell. It is a shame though, that alongside many aspects of our modern society we always seem to be choosing the quick and easy over the interesting and demanding.

PS. Should you fancy making a really special dinner, here is a recipe for Galantine de poulard.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Caption (s) ?
Walking Yorkshire - Pateley Bridge

There is no point me spending much time at work at the moment when I'm paying wages, it's so quiet, there isn't enough work for two of us, so I went rambling again. I didn't fancy struggling up Pennyghent, and the cloud base was even lower than earlier in the week so I went for two walks out from Pateley Bridge.

The first walk (6 miles) I went north then east along Ashfold Side Beck, following the Nidderdale Way. It was cool and breezy but not unpleasent.

This little chap is an early arrival, he's got some bad weather and harsh nights to face yet.

The abandoned mine workings at Ashfold Side Beck.

I don't know what this was part of, it juts up from a sealed shaft.

Prevailing wind on Sun Side, despite the name there is a strong wind and a fair amount of rain.

They don't like moles in these parts, but why is the farmer saving them ? Mole curry, mole au vin, or my mexican favourite, mole mole ?

The rain had stopped when I got back to Pateley Bridge, so I though I would walk up to Gouthwaite reservoir, across the dam and back on the Nidderdale Way again. I was foiled, some swine has locked all the gates and topped them with barbed wire.

I can either go back the way I came, or go for a walk around the reservoir, a five mile walk has turned into a nine mile walk. The rain really sets in as I trudge north along the side of Gouthwaite, bloody great.

Gouthwaite near the northern end, you can't see the cold, biting rain in this picture, but I assure you it was there.

The church of St. Mary the Virgin at Ramsgill, with sheepfold in front. Next service two weeks on Sunday, all welcome (except sheep).

Geese in the fields at Covill Grange Farm.

It's late in the afternoon, I've walked along the left side of Gouthwaite as seen in the picture, now I'm walking along the right hand side, legs aching, rain at my back, wishing I'd cut the walk short at the dam. I get back to Pateley Bridge just before dark having done over 15 miles on the day. Back home for a hot bath then.

To walk either of these routes you need OS Explorer 298. The first walk has a few small hills, the second walk is largely flat, but on a shabby wintery day was a bit dull and uninspiring. I've walked around Gouthwaite in the summer and it is beautiful, teeming with birdlife, the sun sparkling from it's small waves.

Walking in the rain isn't that much fun, but if you didn't walk in the rain in Yorkshire, you'd never walk.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Live Strong 4

An e-mail from Joe Chrisite at e-bay.....

Thank you for taking the time to write to eBay.

I have reviewed the listing you have brought to our attention and taken appropriate action. I would also like to explain eBay's policy with respect to reports likeyours.

eBay is not in a position to make judgements about the authenticity orauthorised nature of listings, except in the most extreme circumstances.This may mean that we cannot remove the item about which you contacted us, particularly when it is not blatantly clear from the item itself that it is in some way infringing.

Although you may be extremely knowledgeable about these types of items,we often cannot remove items upon the representations of third partieswhose credentials we cannot verify, unless of course the alleged infringement is obvious on its face. That is why we strongly urge youto notify the rights holder of the suspected infringement and encourage them to join our Verified Rights Owners (VeRO) Program.

This program enables them to request the ending of allegedly infringing listings.I appreciate your vigilance in helping us to keep inappropriate listings off eBay.

If we can be of any further assistance, please let us know.Thank you for being part of the eBay community.

Kind regards,
Joe Chrisite
eBay Customer Support"

I hae forwarded Joe's e-mail to Whitney Bell at the LAF and forwarded Whitney's earlier e-mail to Joe at e-bay, I think that's about as far as I can take this.

A few final points....................

Nike or Live Strong wristbands are made only in yellow.

All other coloured wristbands are fakes, the LAF confirm this.

By purchasing any coloured wristband other than yellow you are buying a fake item, the charity is not benefitting from your generosity.

By purchasing Live Strong wristbands from e-bay there is a good chance that someone else is making a profit and the LAF are receiving no extra funds.

Buy the wristbands direct from the Lance Armstrong Foundation

The daily captions are.......
By 'eck, twas a busy day on Yorkshiresoul yesterday, 500 folk dropped by for a gawk at the site, what are they coming for ? The grockles want to see...........

1) The Olson twins naked
2) Angelina Jolie naked
3) Hilary Duff naked
4) Nora Foster
5) Kylie Minogue naked
6) Nike Live Strong wristbands
7) Boil 'em, mash 'em, put 'em in a stew
8) Nancy Dell'Olio pictures
9) Britney spears naked
10) Cavalera's 2005 Fall/Winter Collection, ok, I am baffled by this one.

And who sends all these good folk my way ? Well, search engines account for a large percentage of traffic with over 46% of total traffic, the rest of my traffic comes from other websites, here are the top ten blog referrers to Yorkshiresoul.....

1) Never A Toss
2) Snowbabies
3) Yorkshire Snowman
4) Blogjam
5) Counting Sheep
6) Saeri
7) Spiceblog
8) Eleanor, I don't know if I'm allowed to put up a link Eleanor ?
9) Larkinesque
10) Yorkshire Ranter

Just out of the top ten are Kennamatic, Mustardcats, Aftergrog and Tilesy's, all can be found in the sidebar.

A tree against the late afternoon sun, Ingleborough. All the moorland trees grow like this, you can always tell the direction of the prevailing wind by seeing which way a tree grows.
Wine Review - Amarone Della Valpolicella classico '01, Guiseppe Campagnola*****

Chefette has been making me some nice dinners as part of her ongoing training. Last night we had grilled tournedos of venison with roasted red pepper sauce, baked potatoes stuffed with mushrooms and onions, chantanay carrots and roast parsnips.

To go with a serious dinner I thought I had better raid the cellar and have a serious wine. This rich, smooth 15% abv beast of a wine qualifies as serious.

For those who don't know, the grapes used in amarone are air dried on mats before being crushed, this means each grape produces only a tiny amount a liquid but masses of flavour, this also makes Amarone rather expensive.

This is a rich, deeply flavoured, super smooth wine. It has a warm and open nose leading to a complex wine with hints of dark cherries and raisins and a slight note of almonds. It's fantastic.
I would recommend it with any game, steak or mature cheddar/parmesan.

The tannins are supple and the wine is drinkable now, I am told that the wine will cellar for quite some time, with that abv I'm not surprised.

Amarone Classico Guiseppe Campagnola is available from Laithwaites at about £18 a bottle.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Caption (s) ?

Help Wanted

Alex over at The Yorkshire Ranter is up for a number of Best European Blogger awards, if you have time could you pop over to Fistful of Euro Awards and vote for the Yorkshire boy, cheers folks.
Walking Yorkshire - Ingleborough

I've checked the weather forecast, maximum 6 degrees, minimum 2, chance of showers but not prolonged, possible breaks in the cloud during the afternoon, I'll take the advice I gave to Jo the other day and get out onto them hills.

There it is, or not, the view from Horton-In-Ribblesdale is a couple of fields, and some sheep. Ingleborough is completely hidden from view by low cloud. Not to worry, I'm sure I can find the path.

A stile, yesterday. Sadly, the cloud layer is lowering and there's not much else to take pictures of.

A break in the mist as I get to the top end of Sulber Nick allows a fair view of the limestone pavement.

Clints and grikes.

It's teasing me now, as I get to Nick Pot and The Allotment I can see Ingleborough ahead of me, but there is a depressing amount of cloud around the summit.

Des res Ingleborough style, the shooter's hut at The Allotment. One bedroom with open plan ceiling, one utility room with goodly layer of sheep dung, some hiker vandalism, a fixer upper, beautiful views of a small patch of Yorkshire bog. When the fog lifts though (2-3 days in late August) the views are truly stunning.

A small pond in a shake hole just below the summit of Ingleborough. As I walked across the relatively flat Simon Fell Breast the wind picked up and a drizzle began, visibility on the summit is less than ten feet.

I walked around the edge of the summit plateau, occasional breaks in the mist reminded me of how dangerous it would be to walk too close to the edge of Swine Tail, The Arks or the wonderfully named Black Shiver.

After pottering around with compass in hand, I find the summit cairn and then get back off the mountain as quickly as possible, it's bloody cold up there.

The weather cleared a bit as I made my way back down, here is some sunshine on the limestone pavements with Plover Hill in the background.

Oh yes, that's right, show yourself now I'm halfway back to base. Ingleborough reveals itself in the late afternoon.

Here's my next target, Pennyghent with a little sunshine on the top. It has looked brooding and foreboding while I've walked back down Ingleborough, and while Ingleborough is a longish slog with a sharp bit at the end, Pennyghent's just a big, bloody steep thing all the way up.

You know when the contour lines on your map are so close together you can't tell them apart, that's Pennyghent Side that is.

Yorkshiresoul got from Horton to the summit of Ingleborough and back in about four hours. This is a challenging walk in winter, if you are going to try it then make sure you have the proper equipment, Explorer OL2 map and compass (and a knowledge of how to use your compass) are a necessity.

Above all, if you are doing any solo walking, especially in winter, make sure someone knows your route and what time you expect to be back, and what time to call out Mountain Rescue, have a nice time, but be safe.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Caption (s) ?

A giant metal prawn at Jameos Del Agua, Lanzarote. I have just noticed the angle of the sea, I wasn't drinking when I took this, honestly.
Another Series Win

The England cricket team have secured the first series win in South Africa since before I was born. That puts us as #2 in the world, so when we beat the Ozzies in the summer we'll be #1, that's the plan anyway.

England did a pretty good job despite giving all the fans a couple of frights in the final, truncated test, you really don't want to see your side suddenly got to 30-3 in the final session. Just for a moment terible memories began to surface, then Michael Vaughaun decided to drop anchor and ensure the series win.

Well done boys, it's another milestone for the team. The next series, versus Bangladesh isn't really a great warmup for the real test in the summer, the home Ashes series, let's just get through it with no injuries and get our bowling attack good and ready for Australia.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Live Strong 3

Whitney Bell from the Lance Armstrong Foundation wrote to me and has this to say about Live Strong wristbands....

"Dear Mike,
Thank you for contacting the Lance Armstrong Foundation in regards to the Live Strong wristbands.

There is, and will always be, only one color of Lance Armstrong Foundation wristband- yellow. That color means so much to Lance, cancer survivors and the Foundation that we will never make nor authorize anyone to make for us a different color.

We are also adamantly trying to prevent people from selling the wristbands for more than a dollar. We find it highly unethical for an individual to sell them for more than the actual cost. To be honest, it is not illegal, but we most often do not receive any donation from persons who sell the wristbands. We find that the best way to combat these retailers is to keep the wristbands in stock. We are now officially off backorder and hope that will help people to buy the wristbands directly from the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

We appreciate your support in spreading the word about cancer survivorship and research by giving the wristbands away. That is the true meaning of the LiveStrong wristband. We also appreciate your support by informing people that the wristband officially sells for only $1.

Thank you for your support of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Live Strong campaign. WEAR YELLOW : LIVE STRONG

Thank you for your support of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Live Strong campaign. If you have any further questions feel free to contact me.

Whitney Bell"

So, if you spent £35 on a blue wrist band, you're a mug pal, you've mugged, ripped off, skinned. I have reported a bunch of sellers to E-bay, but the problem is, there are hundreds of them, I'll contact E-bay again and see if we can get the listings removed.

Caption (s) ?
I'm getting a bit of trolling on an article I wrote about Burley CC and the 1st team's treatment of their captain last year. However, these are not the brightest trolls on the block.

A day for sport to hang it's head in shame

They have each used three or four psuedonyms whilst pretending to be different people, what I have to say to these boys is......I can see your ISP addys, you can call yourselves Michael Vaughaun or Michael Bentine And His Potty Men and I'll still know where the message came from.

Sadly I've had to delete a couple of the most offensive comments, and issued a warning about future language, it's all got a bit silly really. What was I saying about the spirit of the game ?
Mrs YS was out last night, I stayed in and watched The Passion Of The Christ. I'm glad in a way that I didn't see it at the cinema, I was in tears twice and I don't like weeping in front of strangers.

The film requires some concentration, it is subtitled, the characters speak Aramaic and Latin (I think). I found the extended scenes of Jesus' scourging by the Romans very hard to watch, I know it's only a film but it is horrifyingly realistic.

What was the last film to reduce you to tears ? I was a bit shaky after the opening ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan and I can't watch Schindler's List without becoming angry and upset in turn.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

When we were on holiday a couple of weeks ago we had some little water balloons to throw at each other, much fun was fun, they were not as impressive as this monster balloon though .

John Prescott checks out Labour's Election Battle Bus.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

England's Injury List Grows

After a hard day in the dressing room yesterday while the rain fell mainly on Centurion Park, England suffered a number of injuries during the days (non) play.

Flintoff - hit in eye by errant tiddlywink.

Key - tripped over pork pie, sprained ankle.

Giles - dislocated finger during over exuberant game of Snap.

All the England team complained about the horrible whining noise coming from the air conditioning only to be told.....

"That's not the air conditioning you can hear, it's the South African captain."

Caption anyone ?
Distance rowed so far this year : 47 k

Pages of novel written : 80

The day when I get banned from Tesco can't be far away. I was stood in the aisle perusing the various, nay numerous, types of vaseline and asked a young member of staff if they sold the normal, standard vaseline ?

"This one is really good for dry skin, this one hydrates your skin, what do you want it for ?" she says, all smiles.

"I'm doing a lot of rowing to keep fit and I put it on my arse to stop it from getting sore," I said.

Assisstant turns bright red and vanishes, and I still don't have any ruddy vaseline, I did 14k last night and my arse feels like it's been sandpapered.
Live Strong 2

Yesterday I asked the following questions of six e-bay sellers who, in my opinion, are profiteering from the sales of Lance Armstrong charity wristbands.

"This is a charity item, how do you justify profiteering from it ?

The bands fit easily into a standard envelope and can travel under standard UK post, why are you ripping people off on the postage ?"

These are the replies from two of the sellers.....

Boxingtrade said "im sorry, and that has what to do with you!!!! ummm nowt!" Boxingtrade has started the bids for the wristbands at 99p, and is charging a whopping £2 for postage, they even advertise that the bands will be sent "Royal Mail 1st class standard", that's an extra profit of at least £1.65 per band sold then.

Boxingtrade has this in her e-bay advert, "NIKE LIVE STRONG WRISTBAND BRAND NEW ITEM
The Lance Armstrong Foundation provides support to cancer survivors and their families, as well as grants for cancer survivorship research.
Support the LAF by wearing a Nike WearYellow LIVESTRONG wristband!"

I have now asked boxingtrade this question, "How much of the extra profit that you make on this item will you be donating to the LAF ?"

Paul Rawlinson said "it is sent via first class recorded delivery

if you win one and want the postage to be a stamp thats fine. if it goes
missing in the post thats your hard luck"

Hmm, first class recorded delivery within the UK costs 65p, Paul is charging £1.50 postage.

Although Paul's comments section on e-bay is largely complimentery, this comment and reply were interesting....

RDW123football said " poor charged over £2 for delivery and it was only 91p making money from charity."

Paul's charming reply was "Can't be bothered to abuse you so thanks."

The following is taken from the Lance Armstrong Foundation website....

"Q: Can I resell LIVESTRONG™ yellow wristbands?
A: LIVESTRONG™ wristbands may NOT be resold. They are not packaged for resale. There are significant state fundraising registration laws and tax and non-profit accounting issues that prevent their legal re-sell.

Q: I have seen them priced from $1 on up - how much are they?
A: LIVESTRONG™ wristbands sell for $1 plus sales tax. Sales tax must be charged and collected by local governments because the wristband is classified as merchandise. Official retailers of Live Strong™ wristbands may sell wristbands for $1 ONLY and not in combination with any other store promotion or policy. Abuse of this policy should be reported to the LAF.

Q: Where does the money go from the sale of the LIVESTRONG™ yellow wristbands?
A: All proceeds earned from the sale of LIVESTRONG™ wristbands will benefit the LAF. Proceeds may NOT benefit any other organization or private enterprise.

Q: Can I auction yellow wristbands to generate even more funds?
A: Please do not sell your LIVESTRONG™ wristband on eBay or any other auction Web site. It is an abuse of a valid fundraising campaign for a non-profit organization - the LAF - and, frankly, unethical. "

Friday, January 21, 2005

Live Strong

Live Strong is part of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, an American charity set up by the cyclist that aims to help cancer patients.

They sell a Live Strong wristband, in natty tour de France race leaders yellow naturally, for a dollar each to raise funds.

It seems to be becoming a bit of a fashion statement over here to wear one of these bands, quite a few of the staff have one, fair do, I'm all for supporting charities, but..........

People are selling these things on E-Bay , some sellers are obviously making a profit on the wristbands, and then charging up to £2.99 for postage and packing on each band. Let's just recap, this is really just a large rubber band, it fits easily inside a standard envelope and would go under standard letter post in the UK.

Thus some E-Bay sellers are creaming off at least £2.60 per wristband, and that's just on postage and packing. There are also a number of differently coloured wristbands for sale, and prices for these can be anything up to £11. Oddly the Lance Armstrong site claims it only makes the wristbands in yellow, so it would appear that people are willing to fork out a lot of money for a fake charity item.

I'm going to write to a few of the e-bay sellers to ask how they justify such profiteering from a charity, have they even considered the morals of making such a sale ? Do they care ?

I find it sad that when young people are prepared to support something, someone else is willing to rip them off for it.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Yorkshire Soul's Fan Pleaser #4 : The Olson Twins Naked

I havn't done one of these for ages, but I do check my hit counters from time to time, and I've noticed that the pervy end of my readership have been racking up the hits for this particular request.

You ask, I supply.......... a naked olson twin, or as good as anyway, and don't ask me which one she is as I have no idea.

Ouch, it aches. I've been back on the rowing machine after about a month off. We all said that after our week's indulgence in Lanzarote we would have to lose some weight, except DSP Andy of course, body like a Greek god when compared to those of us at the upper end of the scale.

I havn't done very well with actually dieting this week, bacon butties looked too tempting yesterday morning, but I have done sessions of rowing. I feel about as big as I've ever been, but the scales say I'm still a stone and a half lighter than my heaviest weight.

I hav set a target for weight loss, not a weight but an item of clothing. I've got a quite ridiculous and ever so slightly camp sort of skinny type, stretchy t-shirt thingy in slightly glittery material with a big ankh on the front. If I can get into it by late summer, without the ankh being half a foot in front of the rest of me, then I will be happy. Mrs YS of course will be appalled and will refuse to be seen in public with me if I'm wearing it.

Distance rowed this year : 21k

Pages of novel written so far : 75

Jameos Del Agua, Lanzarote. Looking up to the sky from the bottom of the lava tube.
It looks like Mrs YS wil be back on Friday. Dennis has been operated on, the surgeon is going to keep him in an artificial coma to prevent any further damage from occurring. The coma could last for anything up to a week a more so Mrs YS and her mother will fly back this week, there isn't a lot they can do at the moment.

While operating on the ruptured brain aneurysm three more were found. If Dennis recovers from this first operation he will face further surgery in the future.

Christine, Dennis and Mrs YS with the Mosel valley behind, Germany Nov '04.

We're having a slightly stressful time in the family at the moment, Mum has just started an intense course of radiotherapy for her cancer, and although I try to be positive and upbeat about it, it does worry me. Grandad was diagnosed with cancer last year, treatment for this has been pretty good, simple oral medication has done wonders. Grandad appears far frailer than he has in recent years though, but in his early 90's he's still as mentally sharp as ever and still enjoys telling a good tale.

When I need a bit of cheering up I have three things to help, Mrs YS being the first of course. Then I have two calendars, one of my Godchildren which hangs in the kitchen at work, and another of J+C's children Stephen and Natalie. It always brings a smile to my face to see Natalie covered in chocolate, or Ellie in the bath with a plastic bucket on her head.

Life goes on you see, it might be problems at one end, but it's all sunshine and laughter at the other.

Wine Review : Botham/Merrill/Willis Cabernet Sauvignon '01***

Continuing in the vein of celebrities attaching their names to wines (Cliff Richard, Sting, Mick Hucknall), Ian Botham and Bob Willis have teamed up with Australian winemaker Geoff Merrill to create this pricey Connawarra/McLaren Cabernet.

What's it like ? Oh dear, for £9 I was expecting something far better than this. If you like wood, you'll like this, it tastes like someone left the stumps and a bat or two in it (sorry, couldn't help myself). The tannins are very tight and combined with strong new oak flavours it just isn't a great drink at the moment.

There are notes of blackberry and mint on the tongue, but it's not an easy or supple wine, it will probably keep well though and might show better by about 2008 onwards.

The real problem with celebrity wines is that the celebrity needs to be paid for his/her endorsement. Therefore you are automatically going to pay more for a wine that has no added value beyond someone's name on the bottle.

I don't know how happy Geoff Merrill is with this project, he doesn't even bother to mention it on his own website.

Available for about £9 from Tesco.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Some days you feel a little down, a little depressed, there's only one thing that might cheer you up................

Pictures of Christina Aguilera naked.

I know what my readers come for, 5% come to read the blog, 95% happen by on the off chance of seeing Britney Spears breasts, Teri Hatcher's naked backside, or............

Christina Aguilera nude, butt naked, with no clothes on

If I'm still in need of cheering up on Thursday then there's a good chance of seeing Carmen Electra with her kit off, Angelina Jolie having lesbian sex or even my old standby, Avril Lavigne naked. I would post naked photos of Paris Hilton, and there certainly are enough of them available, but her face looks like somebody lamped her with a shovel.

Wine Review : Novello Nero '03, Chain Of Ponds, Adelaide Hills*****

Hugh Johnson was writing about Chain Of Ponds a couple of years ago, as I generally agree with great man's pallete I've been on the lookout some some of their vino ever since. Booths are now stocking this one, Novello Nero.

As it's name might imply, this is a dark and rich blend, made from roughly equal amounts of three grape varietes, Barbera, Sangiovese and Grenache. It has a bold, fruity nose and this leads to an abundance of soft ripe dark cherry on the tongue. Novello Nero is unoaked and so relies on it's concentrated fruit to drive the flavour. It is very supple, tannins perfect for drinking now (although I have seen claims that it will cellar up to 2008) and very, very easy to drink.

Available at the very reasonable price of £6.49 from Booths.

Food being prepared at El Diablo restaurant in Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote. The restaurant does not have a kitchen, it has this, a volcano. You can peer down into the shaft of the volcano if you wish, at the risk of losing your eyebrows.

The rock is so hot here close to the surface that tumbleweeds pushed into small caves will burst spontaneously into flame.
Good Times / Sad Times

Bad news first. Meg's uncle Dennis, who we stayed with for a week in Germany last year, has been taken ill. Meg and her mother flew out on the earliest possible flight yesterday to be with Christine. Dennis had surgery last night, the surgeon says the next three days will determine if he pulls through.

This is Dennis posing with Japanese tourists in Luxembourg, he crept up on the lady in the pink trousers, she didn't see him getting into the picture but all her friends did. I think they thought he was some some of tourist guide, as opposed to a Yorkshireman having a daft five minutes.

We've got our fingers crossed here in Yorkshire, as will the rest of the family in Australia and New Zealand, get well soon Dennis.

On the good news front, I had a little tear of happiness in my eye last night. I was watching the Godchildren while their mum and dad went to look at a house, and, instead of me reading a story to them, Joseph read a story to me, all by himself, for the first time.

It wasn't any more complex than "Can you see it, yes I can," but he read it all, only struggling when the chick went "Cheep! Cheep!" at the end. Now he's learnt to read can I buy him his own edition of LOTR ? Or should I wait a month or two ? He's going to be a reading prodigy I tell you!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Shades at Jameos Del Agua, Lanzarote.
Yorkshire Boy Does It For England

As the 4th test against South Africa seemed doomed to be a draw, one man had another idea.

Tyke pace bowler Matthew Hoggard unleashed the best spell of bowling in his career so far. Single handedly demolishing the SA upper order, including the removal of the vital wicket of Kallis for a golden duck, Hoggard ploughed his way through a South African batting line up that has been largely impenetrable to the England attack on this tour.

The match looked all set for a dull finish in the middle of the 4th day, but England Captain Michael Vaughaun clearly had his sights set on a win. The run rate fairly rattled along pushing England's second innings total to 332, including a mighty 180 from Marcus Trescothick, and when England declared just before lunch South Africa seemed to have the fairly easy task of batting two sessions to draw the match.

With Graeme Smith not batting up the order due to a concussion suffered in practice, the south Africans opened with the on form Gibbs and De Villiers stuck up the order in a night watchman role. As Hoggard ripped through the batsmen, Smith was forced to bat with SA 118-6. Gibbs made a heroic 98 at the other end, Smith made a half century despite his head injury.

Did anyone else think that Smith was far more interested in making 50 than saving the match ? He played some odd shots and made a couple of nearly suicidal runs at the end.

In this rather unlikely, and obviously posed picture, Hoggard celebrates with an energy drink and an apple, as opposed to a tin of Tetley's and sausage butty.

Well done Matthew Hoggard, let's just hope that the rest of the England attack can contribute in the last test.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Especially for my mate Andy, Hairstyling for your nether regions, do you really need to ask if it's worksafe ?

Lobster pots on the quayside in Puerto Del Carmen harbour, Lazarote.
Levels of Ignorance

The BBC conducted a poll recently to gather information before it launched a new historical series, 'Auschwitz, the Nazi's and the Final Solution.' I was astounded to learn that, according to the poll, 45% of adults in this country claimed never to have heard of Auschwitz or to know what happened there. Amongst the under 30's this figure climbs to 60%.

I find these figures rather frightening and depressing, but believable. When I conducted a quick quiz among my staff last year I found that although they had all heard of the Holocaust, they couldn't really explain about it. More worryingly, here is a short list of recent history about which my group of bright A level students could tell me absolutely nothing.......
Suez Crisis
Northern Ireland and the Troubles
Korean War
Vietnam War
Balkan War

They could however report in depth on Big Brother, advances in mobile phone technology, current pop trends, fashion, nightclubs and boozing. Now fair enough, I had similar interests as a teenager, but I used to read the Daily Telegraph as well, and watch the Six O'Clock News.

Why is it that our young people seem to be turning away from history, politics and current affairs ? What can we do to bring them back to these vital topics.

Santayana said that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," we often say that we learn from our mistakes, but if future generations don't understand the mistakes of the past, how will they learn ?

Society in some ways seems to be cocooning itself. We live our little, busy, media filled lives and can easily shut out the things we don't want to hear. The political actions of our government have become far less important in the public eye than whether or not some MP or Minister has had an affair. Foreign politics is a lost world to us.

People moan about politics and the state of their world when they are down the pub, but then can't be bothered to use their vote on election day. They don't seem to understand that their MP is their MP. Is something worrying you ? Go and bother your MP about it, it's their job to listen. Is there something a company is doing that you don't like ? Write a letter of protest, stand outside their gates dressed as death, organise a boycott of their products. You can do this, it's what living in a free country is really about.

But it's easier isn't it, to just open a beer, put the telly on, watch Coronation Street and moan about how Tony Blair isn't doing enough for all those starving people in the countries you cannot name.