All Change

Sometimes the best of intentions aren’t enough. When I last posted on this blog I was about to start National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) before resuming regular posts here. It just didn’t happen that way, for two reasons.

The first was that a major distraction entered our lives in mid-November. I was progressing well with the target of writing my fifty thousand words for NaNo then we got a new dog. When we lost poor Sally in July Liz and I decided we’d leave it a while before getting another dog, and when we did we’d get a smaller one.

Then one day when Liz was dropping some donations off at Ryedale Dog Rescue she  spotted Bruce and fell for him straight away. The day after we both went to see him and I was smitten too, so he came home with us.

In keeping with getting a smaller dog, Bruce was a five month old mongrel. He’s a mixture of labrador, whippet, collie and greyhound. He had very long legs when we got him and he’s rapidly growing into them. At eight months old he weighs 25 kilos and measures 61 centimetres at the shoulder (that’s four stone in weight and two feet tall to us old gits!). So we swapped the plan to get a smaller dog later for getting a bigger dog now.

Both our last dogs were adults when we got them, and it’s 45 years since I had a puppy, so it’s a steep learning curve for us. Bruce is a typical adolescent at the moment and has his moments. But he’s a loving, fun and lovely dog: we’re going to have a great life together as soon as he stops chewing Liz’s trainers.


Ever Watchful!

So, reason number one for my absence from this blog is our ever-loving young man. Reason number two is that I’ve been having a bit of a re-think.

If taking part in NaNoWriMo taught me one thing it’s that I’ll never be a novelist. Sure, I managed to write fifty thousand words in a month, but my draft novel will never see the light of day. Amongst all the padding and terrible dialogue there was probably a not-too-bad short story lurking.  But my twitching corpse of a novel is beyond the skill of even the most skilled editor, so I’ll let it die in peace.

Even if I have a go at the odd short story, I’ll never venture into longer stories again and besides, my interests lie elsewhere. I’ve decided that, for the time being at least, I’m going to focus on our family history project and photo-essays. In a way they hang together quite well: the family project records the past and the photo essays record the present.

I like doing the research and the photography for their own sakes, but I also want to write about them on this blog. Over the next few weeks I’ll be giving this site a bit of an overhaul and adding a few new features such as a photo gallery and an  improved comments facility. While I’m working on the overhaul I won’t be posting regularly, and my plan is to have a formal relaunch on Friday April 6th.

Until then I hope you enjoy the picture of Bruce and look out for a couple of short announcements in March.

Regards and take care


Chance Meetings

There’s only five days to go before the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo),  and I’ve been working hard to get ready for the stresses and strains of trying to write 50,000 words in a month. Last weekend I went along to the York launch event for NaNo. It was great to meet up with all the local  writers. There was a great mixture of new and old participants, writing everything from children’s short stories to regency romances, with a good smattering of fantasy in between. The enthusiasm of the group is catching, and I can’t wait to start on my book.


Gamal and the Dancing Death. My first attempt at novel writing, and I haven’t a clue what’s going to happen!

Exciting though NaNoWriMo is, it’s not the most interesting thing that’s happened this week. Some of the best things in life happen by coincidence, and this week I’ve been involved in the launch of a new collaborative project with origins in a chance meeting a few years ago.

It all started when me and my old mate John and our wives went to see a band called the Peat Bog Faeries. As befitted the music John and I were in kilts and carrying fully loaded hip flasks. Surely we’d be the only blokes in Malton in kilts that night? As it happens there was one other kilt wearer.  Andrew and his wife soon introduced themselves and we sent the night listening to the band, drinking scotch and chatting about music.

At the end of the night we exchanged emails and Andrew and I became Facebook friends, and for five years or so so we exchanged the occasional message.

Fast forward to this summer. Andrew happens to be a musician, with an interest in creating guitar based ambient music. He contacted me with an idea: if he wrote some tracks, would I be interested in adding pictures and collaborating on a YouTube channel? I love anything new, so there was no doubt about the answer.

The result of our chance meeting all those years ago is The Aaah Project. Aaah stands for Ambient Art and Audioscape Harmony, and is a combination of ambient music and photography.  Our YouTube Channel is at, if you want to check us out.

As you might gather, I like taking photographs, and working on Aaah has opened up a whole new area for me.  There are now five tracks on the Aaah Project channel and we’re planning to add a few more over the course of the next month or so. Let me know what you think: better still subscribe to our channel and share it with your friends.

Spare a thought for me when I start novel writing next week. I’ll post an update in two weeks time. Until then, enjoy The Aaah Project. 



It’s been a long time!

Hello. Anybody out there? Ah there you are, not everyone’s disappeared off home then. I’m really sorry that I’ve been away from this blog for so long. I didn’t mean to, but I got carried away; literally.

It’s been quite a summer, and I seem to have spent most of my time travelling. First it was Italy and then I’ve been to the Lake District (three times), Rhodes and a road trip with mee old mate to the Yorkshire Dales.

It’s been quite inspirational too. We’ve seen some wonderful sights, taken hundreds of photographs and I’ve fallen in love again with the Lakes. It’s been years since I went walking on the Cumbrian Mountains and to my surprise I’m not as old and knackered as I thought. I’ll be back there soon.


View of Grasmere from Loughrigg Terrace. If it’s good enough to inspire Wordsworth, it’s good enough to inspire me!

Now autumn has properly started it’s time to get down to some work again, and I’ve got some  ambitious plans for the next few months.

Most of these involve various writing projects. I’ll be  continuing  my family history research and I’ll see what books come out of that. I’ll also be publishing some photo essays on this blog: the summer’s been a rich source of ideas, so look out for something in the next couple of weeks.

A major change, though, is in what I’m going to write. When I first started this blog I published a few short stories, but then decided I wasn’t going to write any more fiction. I can’t remember the reason why, maybe I’d just run out of ideas, but I’ve had a change of heart.

What brought it about was something I saw by chance on the internet. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)  is a scheme that started off in the US in 1999. The aim is to encourage aspiring novelists to write the first draft of a novel during the month of November. Drafts  must be at least 50,000 words long. It’s not a competition and there are no prizes: the challenge of writing to a deadline is it’s own reward.

I’ve had an idea for a novel floating round in my head and various notebooks for nearly 20 years, and it would be a crime not to  try and write it. The provisional title is Gamal and the Dancing Death, and it’s a murder mystery set in North Yorkshire just before the Norman Conquest of 1066.  Fifty thousand words in 30 days means I have to write an average of 1,677 words a day, so I don’t expect to be doing much blogging in November. I’ll probably just stick to a quick update every now and again.

From December I’ll be be publishing two posts each month on this blog, normally on the second and fourth Friday’s. The reason for reducing the number of posts is that I want to focus on slightly longer pieces, and I don’t want the quality to suffer.

If you were reading this blog last November, you might remember that I posted a short story about a dim-witted young criminal, Camel. He seemed to be quite popular and a few of you wanted to know how he’d ended up in such a mess and what happened next.

I’ve often wondered that myself until yesterday afternoon. I was mowing the lawns at home (it’s funny where inspiration strikes), and I suddenly figured out the answer. I’ve now got the outline of the sequel, Camel’s Revenge, and I’ll be posting it as part of Dave’s Christmas Cracker on 22nd December.

It’s good to be back behind the keyboard: I’m full of ideas and ready to start! I’ll be back on 27th October with a photo essay, but in the meantime, here’s a photo that Liz took when we were in holiday in Cumbria.



Laurel and Hardy

Here’s two of my comedy favourites, Laurel and Hardy. Stan Laurel, the thin one, was born in Ulverston in Cumbria, and the town has erected this statue to his memory. The fat bloke on the right is Oliver Hardy. I don’t know who the other guy was: just some tourist I guess.


Summer’s Nearly Over

It’s been a while since I posted here, and summer’s nearly over! I’ve spent most of the last few weeks away visiting friends or camping in remote places with no wi-fi, which explains my silence. Summer might be over, but not my holiday jaunts. I’m off to to Rhodes next week and then the Lake District, via a reunion with my old college friends.

Next week I’m planning to publish a couple of posts with pictures of Rhodes, so keep an eye open for them. In the meantime, here’s a few pictures from my trips away.


Members of the Sealed Knot English Civil War re-enactment society, giving it large at Scampston Park

Little Langdale Tarn

Little Langdale Tarn in Cumbria. One of my favourite places, near one of my favourite pubs!


Here’s a long exposure picture of Semerwater in the Yorkshire Dales. me and my old mate John went on a short camera and whisky road trip to the Dales. We even managed some photography! The long exposure gives the water a smoother appearance.


Today in the Dales

We’re basking in a Yorkshire summer: a mixture of thunderstorms, heavy rain and the occasional sunny spell to keep the spirits up. Today we had a trip to the Ribblehead viaduct, on the Settle to Carlisle railway. The viaduct was built between 1870 and 1875 and it’s a testimony to the people that designed and built it. My pictures don’t do justice to how graceful and well built it is. I can only admire the skill and labour of the people that put it there. 

Here are a few of the photographs I took today. 

Here’s a picture of the whole viaduct. The piers are of stone and the arches are brick, built with a stone face. The whole viaduct flows in a graceful curve. It looks effortless, but designing and building it must have been challenging. What really strikes me is that it’s a marvel of Victorian engineering and industrialisation, yet it fits perfectly into the landscape. 

Here’s one of the regular passenger services that runs on the Settle to Carlisle line. In 1983, British Rail threatened to close the line, claiming it was uneconomical, and in danger of collapse. A group was formed to successfully fight the closure. The line now runs several passenger trains a day, regular freight runs and steam hauled trains. The viaduct is a Grade 2 listed building and the ground below it is a scheduled ancient monument because of its prehistoric field system. It was a cloudy day, and if you look closely you can see a full hazy sun in the background. 

I couldn’t resist this picture of one of the local residents. She stood in front of us and posed for several minutes. 

Yorkshire Dales Special

Hi everyone. After a few year’s absence from the field (no more bad puns I promise), we’re back out camping. It’s been a while, so we’re practising by having a few days away in the Dales.  We arrived on Tuesday night in beautiful weather, but today’s heavy rain is good evidence why this part of Yorkshire is so green. Anyhow we weathered the worst if it (OK, so I lied about the puns. Get over it), and we’re having a relaxing time. Here’s a few photos from Tuesday and Wednesday. 

First here’s two Yorkshire sheep giving us a typical Dales welcome.

Here’s our little encampment. In the distance there are some posh people in caravans. 

From today, here’s a picture of Settle railway station. Sadly there were no steam trains. 

Tomorrow we’re off to Malham. Anyone who suffered geography lessons at Glossop School in the 1970’s will have this place seared into their memories. For the rest of you, I’ll post some lively scenic pictures tomorow. 

Finally, here’s a ‘sunset from the rig’ picture from my mate John. The huge expanse of sky and sea make it look like the loneliest place in the world. 

Goodbye Sally

It’s been a strange sort of week, and for one I won’t be sorry to say goodbye to it. 

I’m very sorry to say that we had to say goodbye to our lovely dog, Sally, this week. Unfortunately her poor legs finally gave out and the kindest thing was to let her slip away. 

She was a cracking dog, and leaves a massive void in our lives. We were so lucky to share our lives with her – she enriched them so much. 

Sometime soon I’ll post a gallery of our favourite pictures, but for the time being here’s one of my recent favourites. 

Next week we’re off for a short camping trip to the Yorkshire Dales. I’ll post a ‘picture if the day’ while we’re there. 

Cheers everyone and goodbye Sally: we loved you very much.