Friday, 30 March 2012

Mother Shipton: England's Nostradamus

I often pass by Knaresborough in North Yorkshire, but seldom go through or to it. To many people the REAL HORROR in Knaresborough is the traffic, only a small town but it can take ¾ of an hour to get from one side to the other ! However ready for Aprils Ghoul’s Day I’ll keep to Knaresborough’s most famous legend Mother Shipton.
I’ve read a lot on the internet and in books and rewrote it in to this.

Mother Shiptons Cave. Pic from Google

Knaresborough was first mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086/7 as "the Manor of Chenaresburg"

However, the site has an even older claim to fame as described mainly by Gareth Evans
: In a small cave, an unmarried 16-year-old died in childbirth. It was a common event in those days, but the baby girl she produced would grow to be both feared and revered in her own time and remembered over the centuries as England's greatest prophetess Old Mother Shipton, the English Nostradamus.

There are many versions of how Mother Shipton -- Ursula Southeil -- was born and spent her childhood. It is generally accepted that she was born one night in the summer of 1488, to the young Agatha Southeil who was just 16 years old.
According to some this birth was accompanied by "strange and terrible noises." The woman who acted as midwife is said to have reported a great crack of thunder and a pungent smell of brimstone at the moment Ursula appeared into the world.
In most versions of the story, Agatha dies in childbirth, her body being found the next day beside the new-born Ursula, whom was described as grotesquely deformed. Her head was too large, with "goggling" eyes that glowed like embers; her cheeks were sunken; her teeth what ? teeth ! protruded like the tusks of a boar; and her limbs were twisted and ill-formed.

A local woman took in this poor child, but
at times she might have had wondered why. Most of the earliest tales of Ursula herself tell of the strange events that are said to have plagued the cottage as the child grew up. Like the furniture rearranging itself, plates be flung about and food vanish before the eyes of mealtime guests.
A quick, bright girl, Ursula was forced to endure merciless cruel taunts from the local children over her appearance. Ursula married. a carpenter by the name of Toby Shipton in 1512
Ursula had already a reputation as a soothsayer. This reputation extended beyond her local area -- people travelled to Knaresborough from some distance around to see her. When this sadly deformed creature made such a good marital "catch", the inevitable tale developed that she had used a love-potion to bewitch her hapless suitor.
In addition to her redoubtable powers of prophecy, Ursula Southeil, now the respectably married "Mother" Shipton, was clearly also a witch. The real reason that Toby married her is probably, rather like her father's identity, far less exotic. Possibly Toby saw the truth in the old adage about the shallow veneer of physical beauty.

She seems to have been particularly successful in solving the sort of disputes that were as common then as now and not many appeals for help from wronged folk went unresolved. This seems to have started early in her married life and continued until she died. Thieves would often return stolen goods, apologising to the wronged owners for their sin.
It is easy to see how she might have used an insider's knowledge of her neighbours -- and perhaps a measure of coercion -- to bring about these results and maybe even predict the future within the confines of her own town. For a clever woman, as she undoubtedly was, the signs are always there to see. However, some of her prophesies can’t be explained so readily, although her way of making them in riddles, just like her close contemporary Nostradamus did, does rather leave some of them open to a degree of "interpretation". Nevertheless, her words are said to have foretold much of the future history of England, including
Drake's defeat of the Spanish Armada
The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots
The succession of James VI of Scotland ( I of England) and union between the two countries
Over 105 years after her death,
Great Fire of London began and the ravages of the Great Plague,
It also said that she predicted the time of her own death to the very day and hour.
The Ruin of Cardinal Wolsey
Inevitably, in a time of enormous religious turbulence, when the accusation of heresy was tantamount to a death sentence and witchcraft feared by high and low born alike,
Mother Shipton gained enemies as well as followers. Probably the most famous of these was Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII's Chancellor and prime architect of the dissolution of the monasteries
She prophesied the Cardinal's downfall, just as she had the Mayor of York before him.
With the Pope holding firm, Wolsey, who was probably already fearful of his own future, can hardly have welcomed the gloomy prediction that, although he was Archbishop of York, he would never enter the city.
He retaliated by threatening that when he did come to York, he would have Mother Shipton publicly burned at the stake as a witch.
Sometime later, Wolsey arrived at Cawood, a village a few miles outside of York, his last stop before entering the city. He is said to have climbed the tower at Cawood Castle in an attempt to see his destination in the distance in defiance of the prophecy. He forgot, however, that Mother Shipton had not said that he would never see York, only that he should never reach it. Nor did he; he was arrested on a charge of treason by the Earl of Northumberland, took ill on the journey south, and died.
Mother Shipton is credited with predicting many aspects of everyday life that would have seemed outrageous and inconceivable in her time -- motor-cars and trains (4), iron ships (5), submarines (6), aircraft (7), and telegraphy (8), and possibly by extension, even the Internet. However, it is now widely accepted that many of these apparently prophetic writings were the work of a man by the name of Hindley, writing in 1871, which does somewhat change their apparently "visionary" nature. In addition, as crowds celebrated 1 January 2000 across the globe, her most portentous prediction of all -- the end of the world -- was shown to be wrong.
With a character as colourful as hers, and in days long before comprehensive written records, discerning fact from fiction is always challenging. Many other parts of Britain have tried to claim her as their own over the years, including Melrose, Winslow-cum-Shipton in Buckinghamshire, and Great Yarmouth. Some accounts suggest she died in 1651, but since this would have made her 163 years old, it is probably simply a juxtaposition of the more usually accepted date of 1561. The first written record of her life was in a pamphlet written in 1641, which associated her with York, or possibly Yorkshire.
Mother Shipton was said to have been buried in consecrated ground somewhere in the outskirts of York, possibly between the villages of Clifton and Shipton. A stone monument was supposed to have been erected on the site, bearing the inscription "Here ly's she who never ly'd, Whose skill often has been try'd, Her prophecies shall still survive, And ever keep her name alive." Sometime later, according to local folk lore, the stone was removed to a museum in York, from where it subsequently disappeared. Its whereabouts today are unknown.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Bear Pit Leeds

The Bear Pit, Cardigan Road, Leeds U.K. was once part of Leeds Zoological and Botanical Gardens which opened in 1840. Victorian visitors could climb the spiral staircases in the stone towers to a viewing platform on which to safely observe the brown bear in the circular pit below.
As well as a bear there were swans, an eagle, a raccoon, a fox, some monkeys and tortoises.

Pic From Google
 The gardens were laid out with ornamental shrubberies and flower beds with winding paths, two ponds with islands and a fountain. A conservatory also displayed exotic and tropical plants.

Despite many events held such as band concerts, exhibitions, fireworks and hot air balloon ascensions. They had financial difficulties and the gardens did not remain open for very long as people could have been put off by the entrance fee of 6d for adults and 3d (Old money) for children, and they were stopped from opening until late afternoon on Sundays so that people were not distracted from visiting local churches and chapels.

Pic From Google

In 1848 the gardens were sold to entrepreneur, Thomas Clapham and he re-sold them for building plots ten years later in 1858.

Now rubble and debris lay around as part of the structure is damaged.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Orange for a head

One day, a girl was walking along when she spotted, on the other side of the road, a strange man with an orange for a head! So, since she was curious, she crossed over the road to speak to him.

"Excuse me," she asked, "I hope you don't mind me asking, but why do you have an orange for a head?"

The man with the orange for a head replied, "Well, it's a sad story, and many people ask, but I'll tell you if you like. One day, I was in my attic looking through some old boxes, when I came across this old lamp. It was old and dusty, so I gave it a rub to clean it - and to my amazement, a genie appeared, and granted me three wishes!"

The girl was staggered. "Wow! What did you ask for?" The man went on... "Well, first of all, I asked the obvious thing - I asked him for all the money I could ever need!"

"Amazing!" exclaimed the girl, "Did he grant your wish?"

"Yes" replied the man. "He produced an enormous wooden chest, full of banknotes! There must be millions of pounds in it!"

The girl could scarcely believe what she was hearing. "What did you ask for your second wish?"

"For my second wish, I asked him if he could make every beautiful woman in the world attracted to me. This also came true - the next day was the best day of my life!"

"That's incredible!" the girl responded. "So did you go back and ask for your third wish?" The man nodded. "Wow!" said the girl. "What did you wish for?"

"I asked if I could have an orange for a head"

I can't remember who sent me this, but thanks anyway

Monday, 26 March 2012

1981 & 2005 are two interesting years:

My good friend Mike sent me this, hope you like it. I did.

York Minster
1.     Prince Charles got married
2.     Liverpool crowned soccer champions of Europe
3.     Australia lost the Ashes.
4.     The Pope died.

1.     Prince Charles got married
2.     Liverpool crowned soccer champions of Europe
3.     Australia lost the Ashes.
4.     The Pope died

Lesson to be learnt: 
The next time Prince Charles gets married someone should warn the pope.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Government’s Plan to Tackle Hate Crime

March 2012
I found this on the Government website

1.9       In 2007, the police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Prison Service (now the National Offender Management Service) and other agencies that make up the criminal justice system agreed a common definition of monitored hate crime to cover five ‘strands,’ in particular – disability, gender-identity, race, religion/faith and sexual orientation. Primarily, this was to ensure a consistent working definition to allow accurate recording and monitoring

1.10    This does not mean that crimes motivated by hostility or hatred of other characteristics, such as gender, age or appearance cannot happen. The tragic murder of Sophie Lancaster, who was attacked simply because of her appearance, is a graphic illustration of this fact. Although crimes such as this may fall outside of the nationally monitored strands, they are nonetheless hate crimes, and they should therefore be treated as such. We have been very clear with local areas that they are free to include other strands in addition to the monitored five when developing their approach to hate crime. For example, some areas have included age or gender in their response to hate crime, to reflect the concerns of local citizens or in response to trends in local crime.

Better do this bit as well

ISBN 978-1-84987-721-3

© Crown copyright 2012
You may re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence.
Thanks gov

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Shadow and Cloud Pictures

I found a post on Adsils’s blog - Above the nom called Casting Shadows
It looked fun and I really liked it and thought I would have a look in my files for some Shadow Pictures so here they are
In a garden in Menston
Snow clouds blowing in at Leyburn 2008
Horton in Ribblesdale
Summer Solstice 2008
Bay trees in the Washburn valley
Sky over Skipton

  All pictures were taken in Yorkshire U.K.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Cock-A-Leeky Soup Recipe

Cock A Leeky Soup

When I was the Chef-de-Partie at Coylum Bridge Hotel, I was shown the old traditional way how to make Cock-A-Leeky Soup. The Head Chef, who was only ever referred to as “Chef” told me “It takes two days and three pans, to make it the Highland way “ So in honour of the man who’s name I never know, this is his recipe, We used to use ten, 6lb boiling fowls and 2 boxes of leeks, so I’ve tried to scale the amounts down for this recipe
1        Boiling Fowl about 5-6lb
4        Leeks
¼ lb   Long Grain Rice
4oz    Prunes
Salt and Pepper
Mixed Herbs, made into a Bouquet garni


Place the Boiling Fowl in a large pan, cover with water, and bring to the boil. Skim the surface. Add the bouquet garni, salt and pepper,
Simmer till the chicken is tender about 2 to 2 ½ hours
Allow too cool.
Meanwhile soak the prunes.
Wash, peel and cut the leeks into thin strips, then wash again.


Remove the bird from the stock, pull off all the meat and cut into fine strips.

Remove any fat from the top of the stock and strain into a clean pan.
Add the leeks and cook for 20 to 30 minutes.
In the third pan, lightly boil the rice, for about 13 minutes
Destone and slice the prunes
Wash the rice under cold water and drain well.
Add the chicken, rice and prunes, bring back to the boil, check the seasoning and serve in warmed bowls.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Gates in Stone Walls

I love full size gates in stone walls. I find them intriguing and compelling
On a lane in the Creskeld Hall Estate near Pool in Wharfedale, North Yorkshire
Start of footpath to Castlebergh in Settle, North Yorkshire

In a village near Darby

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Things They Don’t Teach You at Collage,

Or I Bet Alan Titchmarsh Won’t Do This
Passifflora caerulea
Signing for clients parcels
Easy enough but it’s surprising how often I do this
How to react when told your client has just died
What can I say ?
Given coffee from a dirty house
I once was given a coffee, but when I went into the house for some water and saw the state of the kitchen I felt sick ! See “Spondylosis TV Garden & Eng. Flags” blog
Acting as Clark of Works for other trades
Unusual for the Gardener to be in charge, but being the only regular tradesman at a house, other trades are often told to report to me for the job specification
Getting texted at 5am to reset a client’s alarms
It happened
Ringing gas board for clients
For the partly deaf !
Opening jars and bottles for clients
We all get old and this just reminds us of that
Reading meters for clients
Ditto the above
Picking people up, when fallen.
Ditto the above
Putting petrol in cars for clients
Ditto the above, if you can’t stand and hold the petrol nozzle

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Interviewed For The Camping and Caravanning Club Magazine

Three years ago I was interviewed by the then Club Reporter Laura Rainbow, for a feature on the people who voluntary help run their part of the Camping and Caravanning Club

Hello Alastair

Hello Laura, and thanks for considering me for this interview.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering (eg job or hobbies)?

I am a Self Employed Private Gardener, with  regular clients ranging from “little old ladies” at 2 hours per fortnight to what I call my “A list” which can be a full day a week.
One advantage of been Self Employed is that I can try to plan my work and be able to camp a lot. The big draw back of been a Gardener is the British weather!

I am forty-nine years old, married with 2 rescued Greyhounds, Holly and Trigger, both rescued by Tia Greyhound & Lurcher Rescue, which is My Company nominated charity.

How long have you been a PRO, why did you start?

My wife and I joined the “Club” after a try-before-you-buy week on a 5 Site and then thought we would see what this “Rally Camping” was like. Although, by postcode we were in Leeds DA. After looking in Out and About the first meet we went to was a Spen Valley DA. THS
A few more meets followed but we soon found that we were camping more and more with Spen.

Eventuality we were talked in to changing DA and then nagged into joining the committee. So at first Chris (My wife) joined, then we brought her a new car and I went to the next meeting to keep an eye on it in the car park However they (the committee) said I could sit in their room, but not join in the meeting ~”fair enough” I thought and had a few pints, Quite a few in fact ! At the end of the meeting they asked if I would join the committee and I asked if they wanted me to, it was unanimous and so I claim that I was “Shanghaied” onto the committee.

After my first year, when I became a full member I was told, “There was a nice little job” for me “All you have to do is send out about 3 letters a year”

What does your role entail? Why do you like it?  Best bit and worst bit?

It said in the PRO’s handbook at the time that a volunteer “could do as much or as little as they liked, however you always have your own standards and I cannot do half a job.
Back in the 1980’s I was involved in the local music scene and unknowingly gained a lot of experience in Promoting band etc. This was my starting point.

The first thing I started was a photo album called “Great Reasons To Camp With Spen” Next I started to write a column in the DA news letter~~ Spen ‘n’ Ink~ which I called “App’y Talking”  Then I tried unsuccessfully to get Spen in the Gunnies Book of Records. After which it was the Summer Solstices
There is still a bit of a Punk and a bit of a Hippy in me and I love the thrill of when you’ve done some thing and everybody as really enjoyed it
I like the challenge of tiring to get Spen in the press and local media.

What are the most important skills, qualifications or traits you need, and have you learned any new ones doing the job?

My biggest asset is my wife, she does all the running about with the Album and she is great talker. I like to do the emailing and the above.
Thank you

Thank you
First Published in Camping and Caravanning in June 2009

Monday, 19 March 2012


We were at a Christmas Frye when we first came across Tia’s stall. It had been six months since we’d lost our last dog, Daley a whippet type Lurcher. There were such lovely Greyhounds at the stall in a moment I was in love. The next weekend we went to the kennels and came home with Holly and Trigger. Tia holds a special place in my heart as do all Greyhounds and Lurchers.

The following is from their web site.

A little bit about TiA

Why are we needed ?

Approximately 40,000 Greyhounds are bred for racing each year in Britain and Ireland.
The majority of these are dead before their fifth birthday. Only a lucky few end up in rescue kennels where they have the chance of finding the quality of life they deserve.

TiA Greyhound and Lurcher Rescue was founded in 1997. It is an independent charity dedicated to rescuing and rehoming unwanted greyhounds and lurchers. From humble beginnings in some stables and a chicken shed TiA is now the largest organisation of it’s kind in the North of England and is able to care for up to 90 dogs at any one time. TiA finds a “forever home” for some 250 dogs a year.

None of this would be possible without the public’s generosity and our small army of volunteers. TiA’s veterinary bills alone are in excess of £50,000 per annum and it is a constant change to service the mortgage on the kennels on top of funding our day-to-day expenses’


For over ten years TiA Greyhound and Lurcher Rescue has been committed to rescuing and rehoming stray, abandoned and ex-racing greyhounds and lurchers. We have a ‘no kill’ policy believing that no animal should be put to sleep because a home cannot be found immediately or because veterinary treatment may be too expensive.
TiA is an independent not-for-profit organisation and does not receive money from the racing industry. We rely solely on the public’s generosity to provide support for dogs who have been mistreated’ traumatised’ starved or neglected and provide them with a new life.

TiA receives no money from the Greyhound Racing Industry, no lottery money or state aid.


 Registered Charity number 1105626
Based in West Yorkshire U.K.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

There’s A Tree In My Bus Stop

The bus shelter at Nawton, North Yorkshire, around the old sycamore tree
 is quite a feature of the village.
Nawton Bus Stop
 It is dedicated to David Duncombe who died aged 17 in 1927.

Nawton Bus Stop

Saturday, 17 March 2012


A couple of years ago on Holiday in the Peak District we visited Treak Cliff cavern, where Blue john Stone is mined, and crafted into jewellery, ornaments and decorative items
There were a few other mines in the Peak District, but Treak Cliff cavern was the only one to allow dogs in… So you know where my money was spent.
Holly and Trigger in 2009

We saw veins of Blue John Stone deposits inside the hill and veins across the cave roof.

The guide explained how miners in the 1750's constructed a tunnel using only hand tools to reach the Blue John Stone deposits inside the hill and pointed out fossils in the limestone rock which formed the hillside above 330 million years ago.
 We entered the mysterious Witch's Cave where even richer deposits of Blue John Stone were revealed. As the tour descended even deeper into the hill and we experienced underground limestone cave formations. Multi-coloured flowstone adorns the walls of Aladdin's Cave. Stalactites and stalagmites decorate Fairyland and the Dream Cave. The most famous formation is "The Stork" standing on one leg!

Treak Cliff Cavern is of international fame and geological importance. It has been a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest for many years by agreement with English Nature

Friday, 16 March 2012

Some Stonework in Yorkshire

All of these are in the Washburn Valley, North Yorkshire UK

Builder’s stone now a sundial, date reads 1742

A Bridge or A Spring ? by Thruscross reservoir
My Love Lane
Road name at junction of Greenhow Hill Road and My Love Lane

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Sisters of Mercy Old Photos

I’ve found these old pictures of The Sisters of Mercy. I think they’re from about 1981 and could be at The Warehouse night club in Leeds.

The Sisters of Mercy taken about 1981

In them days you could take cameras into gigs as most local back-street bands welcomed any interest shown in them. This was before the term Goth was even thought of !

The Sisters of Mercy taken about 1981

You can see the quality is really poor I think I used a Kodak 110 slim line camera ? And 30 years later I scanned them into the computer sorry.

The Sisters of Mercy taken about 1981

I was usually at least half drunk for most of the early ‘80’s so it’s lucky I even saw the bands !.
No wonder I ended up half deaf !

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Philosophy of Life

A boat is docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village.
A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
"Not very long." they answered in unison.
"Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?"
The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.
"But what do you do with the rest of your time?"
We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives.
In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs.
We have a full life."
The tourist interrupted,
"I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!
You should start by fishing longer every day.
You can then sell the extra fish you catch.
With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."
"And after that?"
"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one
and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.
Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants
and maybe even open your own plant.
You can then leave this little village and move to  Mexico City , Los Angeles , or even  New York City !
From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."
"How long would that take?"  
"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years." replied the tourist.  
"Afterwards?  Well my friend, that's when it gets really interesting," answered the tourist, laughing.
"When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!"    
"Millions?  Really?  And after that?" asked the fishermen.
"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children,
catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."  
"With all due respect sir, but that's exactly what we are doing now.  So what's the point wasting twenty-five years?"
asked the Mexicans.

And the moral of this story is:

Know where you're going in life, you may already be there!  Many times in life, money is not everything.
“Live your life before life becomes lifeless”

Sent to me from my Antie M.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Life Can Be Hard For Anything

If you think you’re got it rough, then spare a thought for this poor Snowdrop.
 The builder’s rubble was dumped in summer on the berried bulb, but it managed to push through.
I think there is a moral or something in that.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Followed by a Pheasant

This morning, at two gardens I was followed by this Pheasant
 I nearly ran it over twice with the lawn mower
 All I could think of was "Red wine sauce, Roast potates and Braised red cabbage"
Pity the seasons ended !

Sunday, 11 March 2012

First Meet 2012 Skipton

A seclection of pics from Skipton weekend
Beautiful Sky’s over Skipton on Saturday night

Some of the Spen Gang

Jane on a good night

Where did you get your boot ?

Evening meal

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Today I heard the trees creaking

No I’m not trying to write poetry, when I got out of my car after lunch I heard the trees creaking and looked into the woods and watched them blowing in the wind.

Hope you like the overcast skies around the Washburn Valley this afternoon ?
 I then looked above my car ! Whoops !!!!!

Grooving In Green + October Burns Black + Auger at Carpe Noctum, Leeds

I had looking forward to this gig ever since I knew about it, but on Saturday morning I didn`t feel up to it especially with having to wor...