Friday, June 30, 2006

Book Review : Bollocks To Alton Towers, Uncommonly British Days Out - Robin Halstead, Jason Hazely, Alex & Joel Morris****

I must admit, when I started this book I thought it was going to be one of those spin off lads mag type books, full of swearing and lager swilling and their usual Viz cynicism, but no, I was pleasently surprised.

The blokes who have written this guide to around four dozen of the UK's more offbeat 'tourist attractions' obviously have a passion for the off kilter, the folly and the downright weird. They manage to write with joy and real interest in and an exuberance for their subjetcs, whether it's Diggerworld, The Beckham Trail, Gnome Magic or Mother Shipton's they never fail to excite your interest.

I knew they were being passionate rather than cynical when I got to Chapter 3 : Peasholme Park, and the description of Scarborough's very own daily naval battles. Now I've seen The Naval Battle at Peasholme Park and I would thoroughly recommend spending an afternoon there. It must follow then that the other oddities contained in the book will also be well worth a visit.

Some of these you will have heard of, perhaps depending on where in the UK you live, Bletchley Park, Port Sunlight, Imber, and some will be entirely new to you, after all who can claim to know much about Mad Jack's Sugar Loaf, Christ's House (unless you live on the same Bedford street) or the Pitt Rivers Museum.

There are a wide variety of odd places here to visit, something for every (odd) taste as it were, my interest has been stoked to visit places like Tebay Motorway Services on the M6 (you'll have to read it to find out why), the bizarre sounding Willaimson Tunnels in Liverpool, South Bridge Vaults in Edinburgh and the Avebury Stone Circle in, well, Avebury. Dive in, find somewhere odd, have a day out, it's got to be better than standing amidst a million chavs in a theme park.
Assuming That The Portuguese Are Godless Heathens...

Our father who comes from Sweden

Beautiful be thy game

Thy corner kick come, thy goal will be won,

At half time as it is in Germany

Give us this day our winning score

And forgive us our fouls

As we forgive Portuguese who foul against us

Lead us not into extra time

And deliver us from penalties

For thine is the Beckham

The Gerrard and the Campbell

Lampard and Rooney

Our Sven

(Thanks to DSP Andy)
My Staff Are Great

Even though I give them a bit of stick on here from time to time, they really are the nicest, most hardworking bunch of people anyone could wish to employ.

Here's April, little sister of Clafairy, hard at work setting out the buffet that Steve and Hollie have prepared.

Steve's salmon, sorry, the picture isn't all that great, but hasn't he done a really good job on the fish, well done Steve.

The main buffet, salmon, roast topside of beef, boiled ham, six different compound salads and home baked breads.

And for dessert, dark chocolate pots with berries, or lemon tart with creme fraiche.

The giant cheeseboard. Thanks again to everyone that worked on the two buffet days for Eddisons and Bradford Blaize, you all did a sterling job.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


He might be the one of the best players in the world, but Henry's attempt to get a Spanish player sent off last night was a disgrace. Henry got elbowed in his chest, but crumpled to the floor clutching his face, France scored from the resulting free kick.

Cheat, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Who do think have been the worst cheats/divers of the tournament so far ? I thought the Ecuadorians fell over very easily against England, and the Portuguese had a tendency to tumble in the match/fight against Holland.

Women's World Cup

I have no idea what these adverts are for, I just appreciate them for their art.

Captions ?

Every Parent Should Get One ?

The cuddly Face Hugger Baby Silencer, aww cute!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

No Shit

We are watching a nature programme with Chris Packham wandering about in the Scottish uplands, he has placed various types of excrement on a rock.

"Second from the right, that's grouse shit, or Ptarmigan,ten points to me" says I.

"And here we have some Ptarmigan poo" says young Packham.

There is a pause, then Mrs YS says, "Do you realise how bloody sad you are?"

And there I was thinking she would be impressed with my in depth knowledge of bird droppings.

Monday, June 26, 2006

England Will Win The World Cup

How can we fail with talent like this ?

(Seen over at Greasy Chip Butty)
Oh No, We're Doing Quite Well, Cue Moaning

I hate our media, we have managed to win three matches from four, and have progressed to the quarter finals of the World Cup, yet our newspapers and radio stations are full of people bleating on about how poor the England football team are.

Can I point out again, WE KEEP WINNING! Ecuador beat Argentina and Brazil recently, and we beat Ecuador yesterday, surely this means we will win the World Cup ? Yes!

Are the good folk of Italy, Argentina, Portugal and Germany whinging on about how bad their teams are ? No, I'll bet they're not, although in the case of Portugal they may be having a discussion about their team's indiscipline.

Look people, it's all going to be alright, Shrek and Giraffeman will instill terror into the hearts of Portugal's defence, Lampard and Gerrard will launch numerous lighting assaults from the midfield, Becks will drop long range crosses in behind their midfield so often that they'll all crick their necks from turning round every two minutes, Joe Cole and Lennon wil nip, dart and run rings around the opposition wingers and defenders whilst at the back Ferdinand and Terry will see off all comers, none shall pass.

We will win the World Cup, oh yes, it will happen.
Thumper Meets His Doom

Now you see it.....

Now you don't....

I was out walking last month when I came aross these guys, for a split second I thought 'How cute', then I realised that the poor little buggers had come up beneath the chicken wire, they had tried to push through it and had effectively hung themselves unable to pull their heads back through.
Cold Shower Time

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Green Eagles Are Go

After watching the Birdman Challenge at Broughton Hall over the last few years I was dying to have a go, I needed someone similarly daft to go with me so Kevin has been roped in, P and Wosser are conspicuous by their abscence, next year perhaps boys ? There are two prizes for the Birdman Challenge, a gallon of Folly Ale for the longest jump/flight, and a £1,000 for anyone landing on the far bank.

Yorkshire Soul and Brother in law mk.1 Kevin robed up and ready to go, thanks for the wings Kevin.

The Green Eagles, Yorkshire Superheroes, International Men Of Mystery, bracing themselves for their forthcoming adventure with a pint of Folly Executioner.

We had no real intention of trying for the longest jump, so we ran down the hill, stopped at the end of the ramp and whirled our cloaks around ourselves in a Men of Mystery pose, then we ran away.

To much laughter from the thousands of folk watching we turned around at the foot of the ramp, ran back up and launched ourselves into the water.

By 'eck, it's cold and muddy in there, the Green Eagles emerge, daft and giggling, socks and trainers filled with assorted flora and fauna. That was great fun, we'll have to do it again next year, perhaps with a dance routine thrown in.
Give Me Wings And I'll Fly

Yes, the day has come, it's the birdman challenge at Broughton Hall, brother in law mk.1 Kevin and myself are dressing up (as what I don't know, he's made the costumes) and leaping the river. I fully expect to be a thousand pounds and a barrel of beer richer by the end of today.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mona Lisa ?

Stand back to avoid projectile vomit.
Them Crazy Catholics

The service yesterday was held at a Catholic church, which is always a laugh for non-attending Church of England sinners like myself.

Catholics like a lot of movement in the services, perhaps it's because the average age of a midday mass attendee is around 85 and any long period of sitting would make their joints lock up, but they're up, down, sit, kneel, genuflect. They also know all the response bits by heart, whereas I just respond with anything that seems appropriate, thus......

Father O'Malley - "The Lord be with you"

All congregation except YS = "And also with you"

YS - "Ta very much"

Father O'Malley - "The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you"

All congregation except YS: "Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"

YS - "And also with you, Amen!"

Father O'Malley - "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all"

All congregation except YS - "And also with you"

YS (in the style of John Motson)- "It's a Holy hat trick of blessings, he's really pulled that one out of the pontifical mitre"

Father O'Malley - "Do the heathen Protestants in the house understand what an Auto De Fe is?"

All congregation except YS - baffled silence

YS (glancing nervously around at the highly flammable pews) - "Er, as in Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition ?"

FOM - "Yes, now shut up before the vengeful hand of God burns your heretical arse"

Then it's on with the show, the priest holds up the reliquary to show how lovely it is and what a good job Mrs. Dean has done polishing it, there's a sort of pea and cup game with the silver chalices, a little door behind the alter opens (but no doves or rabbits are pulled out) and then the priest goes off stage. Moments later later he returns, and like Superman in a phonebox he has re-appeared as Super Catholicman, resplendent in his shiny red and gold tabard.

He then points out that Protestants and other heathens can't come up front for the wine and biscuits, but does offer a quick blessing, pah, let's hope it wasn't a good vintage.

Yesterday the family carried out Dennis' last wishes and held a service of remembrance in Keighley and then scattered his ashes on the moor above the town in which he had grown up.

Mrs. YS's family had come from all over the world to honour Dennis, his wife Christine, their daughter Petra and grandaughters had come from Germany, his brother Roger made the trip from Australia, cousins and friends came from the UK, Canada and Russia.

After the service we had a wonderful buffet lunch created by the talented Maeve, in the evening we all gathered again at Ilkley Cricket Club for a rather more simple dinner, some wine, chatter and fond memories. It was a good way to remember a really good bloke.

We will be seeing the Australian branch of the family again in November when Mrs Ys and myself and her parents journey to Perth for two weeks holiday. We have also received an invitation to spend tiem with Billy and Tatiana in Canada, and I will take them up on their kind offer when time allows.

I have probably written more about Dennis in the past year than I have about the death of my Mother, but I wasn't so intimately connected to Dennis. Seeing Christine so emotional yesterday as the ashes were scattered and as she thanked her family and friends, that's still how I get when I stop and think about Mum. When I got to their house in June of last year and Dad met me at the door to tell me that she had just slipped away, the news hit me like a physical force. I was literally rocked back, I knew mum was ill but still, the end seemed to come so terribly suddenly.

That's it, I can't write any more now, tears are flowing freely at this memory. There will be a time when I can write more, but not now.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Gollum With The Pearl Earring

F**k A Duck

Yorkshire Photo Of The Day

Mallyan Spout, a 70 foot high waterfall close to the Village of Goathland in North Yorkshire.

Photo by Sayzey.
What A Day

185 booked in to dine through the day, everything is going well when the phone rings, when I answer it is one of the waitesses parents calling, you know as soon as a parent comes on the line they're only ever telling one thing, my offspring ain't working today. Get well soon Jess, hope it was nothing trivial serious.

Who needs time off anyway, 18 hour shifts are good for the, er, something or other. It was a really windy day yesterday and this slowed the golf down considerably, the later players were coming off the course over 1 1/2 hours late, thus adding this time onto the length of time we would be working and serving the buffet.

The longest day indeed.

The longest day is also my little sister's birthday, happy birthday Squirt! See you Sunday if I don't get away from work and occupation by the Germans before then.

The great Anthony Bourdain's advice on ringing in sick goes like this, "Don't ring in sick, don't even ring in dead without a week's notice, and if your Granny dies, bury her on your day off."

Today is the service for Meg's Uncle Dennis who passed away last year, the family have come from all over the world, Germany, Canada, UK, Australia, even Tatiana the mad Russian has arrived, it was like the League of Nations in our living room the other night. Tonight we are having a family party (buffet leftovers anyone ?) then Friday morning I've got to be up at 5am to let the belated Solstice golfers in, no worries, I can sleep in the winter.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Poetry In The Post

This is more like it, usually my MySpace inbox is filled with fantasy porn, nothing wrong with that, but yesterday the cultured and refined Skyler sent me some poetry.

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On the white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth-
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches broth-
A snow-drop spider, a flower like froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.
What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to apall?
If design govern in a thing so small.

-Robert Frost
Yorkshire Photo Of The Day

Another piece at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, this is in a dark room in the Longview Gallery, sadly I have forgotten it's name, it might be The Planning Board, then again, it might not.
Captions ?

That Will Be Forty Grand Please

About this blog.

This blog is my attempt to help bridge the gap - the growing and potentially dangerous gap - between politicians and the public. It will show some of what I'm doing, what I'm thinking about, and what I've read, heard or seen for myself which has sparked interest or influenced my ideas. My focus will be on my ministerial priorities and I will be sticking to the ministerial rules about collective responsibility.
I will read and, as often as I can, respond to people's comments on my posts. So please use this site as a noticeboard for new thoughts.
The traditional means of contact for members of the public, MPs and journalists of course remain open. . If you want to raise a specific issue with my department, it’s generally best to contact the Defra Helpline in the first instance. And because this is a Government site I won't lapse into party ranting and I can't link to party political websites - and Defra needs to reserve the right to edit or not publish comments, for example on grounds of inappropriate language.
You'll notice that the first 50 or so posts on this blog had no comments on them. This is because I blogged for a few months within my previous department before this went live.
I don't know of a similar experiment - so let's see how it goes.
David Miliband

In Parliamentary questions, Miliband admitted that two members of his ministerial staff work almost full time on his blog, costing us poor British taxpayers £40,000 a year.

About this blog - Yorkshire Soul

I just like mucking around on the internet.

In Parliamentary questions, Yorkshire Soul admitted that he had asked a number of his female waiting staff to act as naked muses for his blog, but all had turned him down, sometimes with a slap. This was costing the British taxpayer bugger all.

On average, Yorkshire Soul seems to receive more comments then Miliband's blog, perhaps he should stick in some naked celebs and heavy metal articles ?

Monday, June 19, 2006

An Advert

But what for ?

Answer on Tuesday.

The Final Solution

The media today are trumpeting the further successes if in vitro/in womb testing for a number of conditions/diseases. Good news, now we can breed a new human race free from these type of people.

No longer will we have to live with these types of people amongst us normal folk. We won't have to pander to their requests for ramps, special toilets or braille menu's.

These sorts will have no place in our glorious new future.

No more wasting money on 'special' Olympics.

No more squandered public funds going on statues of the limbless, unless they are the glorious limbless veteran soldiers of our Oil Defence Forces.

No more explanations of the mechanics of the universe, well, we'll just have to live without that and be a little less enlightened.

But wait, if we can wipe out Cystic Fibrosis and Muscular Dystrophy, why stop there ? Surely we would all be happier without those Downs Syndrome kids plodding around ? Cleft palate ?How about ugly people ?

If we can get rid of that lot, why stop there ?

Hey hey hey, we're getting taste for this now, why stop with that lot, we could wipe out the gene that causes this lot as well.....

Place your order for Heterosexual Aryan Superkids now!
Captions ?

Tennis Is Crap, I Have Proof

Usually I would agree that all these things are in the eye of the beholder, when it comes down to arguing which sport is the best it is purely down to personal choice. It's a bit like arguing whether smoked salmon or George Michael cd's are better, different things see.*

Tennis is crap though, and I offer the following explanation.

Sky Sports have bought up all the cricket, nearly all the football (they only missed out on the World Cup when the BBC and ITV ganged up on them), the rugby (both codes), golf, hockey, volleyball, badminton and squash. They can also apparently find an audience for Aussie Rules, American Football, Gaelic Football, Lacrosse, Archery, Petanque and Kabbadi.

They don't want Wimbledon though.

Therefore if Sky can turn a profit by showing highlights of the 2005 Nordic Walking Championship and they arn't interested in tennis, then it must be rubbish, or something.

We seem to be left with all the crap sports on the TV now, horse racing (I come from a family of bookies but I can't stand equine sports), F1 - just rubbish, it's not even a sport just a hobby for the obscenely wealthy, there's a bit of athletics - fair enough, and the Boat Race.

This year's Ashes will be on Sky, thus all the fun and excitement we all had last summer as we were able to watch live on normal tv will be missing this time around, and cricket's resurgence back into mainstream popularity will fade away again.

This obviously leads onto which are the best and worst 5 sports in the world (as it's summer, I'm working too hard and lazy journalism is easier - see all tabloids).

The Best Sports In The World
1) Cricket
2) Footy
3) Athletics
4) Cycle Tour (Tour De France especially)
5) Curling

The Worst Sports In The World
1) F1
2) Golf
3) American 'Football'
4) Haggis Hurling (note, Haggis only keeps fresh for 4-5 days)
5) Synchronised Swimming / Ice Dance

*The answer is smoked salmon though.

Sunday, June 18, 2006