Rhubarb

Two Yorkshiremen are chatting down the allotment. One says to t’other,:

Seth, how’s thee rhubarb coming along this year?

The second Yorkshireman replies:

Aye, reet grand. I’ve been pourin’ hoss manure on to improve the flavour.

Oh aye?

replies the first Yorkshireman,

I find custard does the job for me.

Have a flavoursome day, won’t you!

assorted vegetables

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Two Years to the Day

Today is two years to the day since my Dad, Sunray, died suddenly.  May he rest in peace.  That’s all I have to say about his death.

Today I’m going to write about his birth.  Specifically, about his birth certificate.

In 1983 I applied for my first UK passport.  Because I was not born in the UK itself, I had to send the Passport Office a copy of Sunray’s birth certificate to prove that he was a British Citizen.

A few days after ordering from the Register Office in North Yorkshire, the certificate arrived.  Beautiful handwriting in nice fountain pen.  Just one problem.  One line in the certificate:

Sex: Girl

Amazingly enough, my mum, not famed for her sense of humour, saw the funny side.  She wrote back to the Registrar:

Please find enclosed your copy of the birth certificate of [Sunray].  Please note, I can assure you that [Sunray] was definitely born a Boy, not a Girl, as I was married to him for thirteen years, and he is the father of my three children.

One week later, a corrected birth certificate landed on our doormat, together with an apology to Sunray (and his ex-wife).

woman wearing black wrist bands holding nose

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Have an accurate day, won’t you!

Aye! I love t’Dales!

Burma!  Egypt!  Malaya!

Hang on, wrong song.  That was from Sweet Banana.  Let me start again.

Masham!  Bedale!  Leyburn!

That’s where Schatz and I were at the end of August.

It had been over a year since Schatz and I had been in England (Redcar, Saltburn and Whitby – the North York Moors area).  Now it was time to show Schatz the Yorkshire Dales.

A smooth flight from DUS to Leeds Bradford Airport, preceded by a McDonalds breakfast at DUS.  (I must admit, I do like their muffins and their coffee.  Their branch at DUS does make a useful “office” for doing paperwork.)

Our taxi picks us up on time.  We head through the country roads to our hotel in Masham.  (A point on pronunciation.  It’s “Mass ’em,” not “Mash ’em.”)  We arrive at reception.  For the first time in years, I do not have to spell my surname.  The receptionist says, “I live in that village.”

Our room: nice and cosy.  Lovely double duvet, lots of biscuit by the kettle.  By now it is 4pm.  Schatz and I have not eaten since our mid-morning McAttack.

Wir haben Hunger.

We stroll off to the market square via the local supermarket.  I stock up on Ibuprofen: 90% of the price in Germany.  (I repeat this procedure several times over the weekend.  Why pay a fiver, when you can pay 46 pence?)

The fish’n’chip restaurant is not open for another 30 minutes.  It’s a hot, rather humid day.  Schatz has been dieting successfully this year.  Nonetheless I ask if she would like an ice cream from Bah Humbugs.  Brymor ice cream.  Made from Guernsey cow’s milk.  She says yes.  I bring her a cone with two big scoops of:

  • Black cherry whim-wham
  • Rhubarb and custard

I get myself black cherry whim-wham and chocomint.  Delicious.

icecream

Normally we would eat pudding after a meal.  But needs must.

Harry’s fish and chip restaurant.  Schatz  and I chat in German while looking through the menu.  (We know already what we are going to order, anyway.)

This is what we ordered.  British food p0rn…

chips

I also ordered curry sauce and onion rings to accompany.  Our plates were clean by the time we finished.

A waddle around the Market Square and then back to our hotel via the local fruit shop to buy postcards (and to buy postage stamps – the post office had closed months before, much to the locals’ chagrin).

Back to our hotel room.  We flop out on the bed for “a quick lie-down before we go down to the bar.”

Twenty minutes later, Schatz is in her night clothes under the duvet.  I am watching The Sweeney, 1970’s cops’n’robbers show on TV.  Schatz is now comatose.  I watch another episode of The Sweeney.

  • You’re nicked!
  • Guv’nor!

etc…

I get a second wind.  (I blame the onion rings.)  Lamy fountain pen out.  Postcard to Schatz’ parents.  Another to our church organist, caring for her dad in Surrey.  Another to Grasshopper.  I get dressed.  Off to the postbox in town.  Via the supermarket for more Ibuprofen.  Leg stretch time.  I bring back Nachos and dip for Schatz, who is now awake.

We munch our Nachos.  It’s been a very pleasant day in Masham.

Have a black cherry whim-wham day, won’t you!

 

In peace – goodwill

In war – determination.

In defeat – defiance.

In victory – magnanimity.

In peace – goodwill.

Wise words from Winston Churchill.

During World War II and even up till 1948, many German prisoners of war (PW) were kept in the United Kingdom and proved to be most useful as a labour force, especially on farms, auf dem Lande.

All the PW’s would be dropped off at their place of work at 0700 every morning.  They would have head back to their PW camp, a converted manor house, in the evening.  Their rations for the day: a tin of corned beef, barely edible for a dog, let alone a man working in the fields.

One such PW worked on my great-grandad’s farm in the Yorkshire Dales.  I forget his name (It’s mentioned in a recent letter from my 80-year-old uncle A from Bedale.)  Let’s call him Ralph.

When his employer’s family found out that Ralph:

  1. Was not a Nazi, just another conscript, doing his job
  2. Was a motor mechanic
  3. He was a good “grafter,” full of Teutonic efficiency
  4. Had food rations thatwere not fit for purpose
  5. Was an all-round nice guy

the family pretty much adopted him.

They invited him to join them as honoured guest for lunchtime every day, including Sunday roast with gallons of gravy and Yorkshire pudding.

Finally, when Ralph was sent back to Germany in 1948, home addresses were exchanged.  Every Christmastime Christmas cards would be exchanged between t’Dales and Hamburg, Ralph’s home.

In 1964 my Uncle A was posted to the BAOR, British Army of the Rhine.  He then visited Ralph in Hamburg and had a few beers with him, also meeting his wife and children.

Uncle A and Ralph kept in contact for years even when Uncle A was posted to Northern Ireland.  Eventually the Christmas cards stopped.  Ralph had passed away.  The final correspondence was a condolence card sent to Ralph’s family some time in the 1960’s.

Aus Feind wird Freund.

Have a friendly day, won’t you!

hands people friends communication

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We got it licked…

We got it licked… but only partially.  Some of my stamps are self-adhesive.

In Germany, Deutsche Post postage rates increased on 1 July.  Were the new stamps for sale on that day?  After all, they had been telling everyone for months in advance about the new rates.  Teutonic efficiency, and all that…

No.  Nope.  Nein. Нет.

Not to worry.

British.  And less of your Johnny Foreigner nonsense!

I just took the Stückelung approach.  July 1st was also the day when new commemorative stamps came out.  Astronomy seems to be the current theme. My budget did not stretch to the 3.70€ Moon landing, however.

astro2

I decided to kill two birds with one stone.

  1. Stock up on stamps at the new rate, eg international postage starting at 1.10€ instead of 0.90€.
  2. Use the old stamps, and add some smaller-value stamps to plug the gap.
astro1

L-R: National postcard rate, international letter rate, national letter rate

If I’m going to have to pay more for postage, I may as well stick more stamps on my letters and postcards, especially as my Uncle A in Yorkshire is a born-again stamp collector.

stk1

Stamps with Stückelung: 9 stamps on an international letter – result!

stk2

A large letter: birthday card, albeit with “only” four stamps on – must try harder!

stk

Two large letters, with a nice array of postage stamps – es lebe die Stückelung!

Have a philatelic day, won’t you!

The Journey is the Destination

The Esk Valley Line: Middlesbrough to Whitby railway line.  What made me think of it?  Probably my recent article on Edale, with a train chugging through the place.  And also a train ticket that I found in my scrapbook when I was flicking through this morning.

Whitbyticket

The aforementioned ticket – bargain!

Whitby is a delightful, picturesque place.  The fish and chips, the sticky seaside rock, the stroll along the promenade, the Goth weekend, and much, much more.  Like Kaiserswerth near Düsseldorf, it’s a place you can visit any day of the year.  And people do.

But don’t forget.  It’s not just Whitby that is the destination.  The railway line itself is a good destination.  Breathtaking views of the North York Moors, rolling hills, Battersby (Junction) train station, Grosmont station with its steam trains.

arock1

Sticky Whitby seaside rock!

arock24

Grab a few sticks!

A picture describes a thousand words…

Whitby7

Whitby Abbey

Esk6

The train arriving at Danby, one of the Esk Valley stations

Esk5

What a view!

Esk3

Why not bring your bike for a spot of cycling round one of the villages?

Esk2

Rush hour among the cows

Esk1

Or you could just stroll round a local village…

Have an Esk-citing day, won’t you!

“I never get any post”

Back in 2004 I used to send, Marco, my friend in Düsseldorf, a postcard every time I’d go to the Saturday market at Masham, in the Yorkshire Dales.

It’s the only post I get these days, apart from bank statements.

I paid attention to Marco’s comment.  I resolved the following week to change this situation for him.

The United Kingdom has a lot of universities, from Aberdeen and Aberystwyth to York.  I googled “List of all British universities.”  I went through that list methodically.  It took a day or so.  I ordered Marco a prospectus from pretty much every UK university.  Every single one.

A fortnight later I rang Marco.

Marco thanked me profusely for his collection of reading material.  He had to go to his local post office to collect half of the items.  He had piled them up in his living room next to the TV.  One university had a translation and interpreting course that interested him.

He never complained about receiving very little “proper post” after this avalanche of prospectuses.  I don’t know why.

Have a voluminous day, won’t you!

brown envelopes in mail box

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