It’s a part of West Yorkshire’s industrial heritage. There’s a saying – ‘load of old rhubarb’ – meaning what nonsense. Every allotment still has at least one plant.

The stalks are chopped, cooked with sugar and ginger then a dollop of custard added on top for a lazy school pudding. It’s a certain kind of person who can consume that tart, slippery mess – a hungry one!

I’ve always had some in a garden. The leaves are good for pesticide when dunked in water. the stalks freeze rather well, but an instant crumble is best.

I’ve read a little recently about its history in Kew on a Plate with Raymond Blanc. Rhubarb comes from China (as many plants have) and Siberia. It became popular in West Yorkshire and the Victorian era, in London.

There is the tradition of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb whereby it is grown in sheds in the dark by candlelight. Certainly sparks the imagination!

‘Forced rhubarb plants are shrouded in such an aura of mystery and romance, like fragile prima donnas that have to be handled so gently,’ says Raymond.

We are all stalks in the dark sometimes, growing slowly.

Image from slowfood.org.uk 


Recycle Central – a poem

In Yorkshire there’s a saying – where’s there’s muck there’s brass. It’s a county which has always been very good at recycling, dealing with rubbish and finding a way to make a living from it. Rag and bone men, the horse and cart, salvage yards, vintage shops – all are rooted in this old industrial place and have thrived for decades. Trends come and go. But nothing is as certain as mekin somat outta nowt.

Recycle central

Industrial landscape

Long gone

Rattling refuse

Bottles vodka

Cans coke

Being revived

Bulk movement

Thundering ground

Scrapyard thriving

Snickets, ginnels

Blossom pavements

Willow screens

Silent beck

In ancient pollution

The beautiful game played


A conveyor belt of metal

Humans in cans

Oblivious to sound

Shunt by




A weekend at Haworth SteamPunk – 20th -22nd November 2015

If I was to be asked where home was, I would say Haworth. I’m sure many people know about the village  and what its connections are to the literary world.  I also love me a bit of SteamPunk – again the literature – Nine Novels that defined SteamPunk, and the scene of event-making around the whole genre and era of Victorian steam. DSCF0296

It would of course be right to catch the steam train in to Haworth. ( The journey from Keighley to Haworth used to be my  meditative ride home from a difficult day’s work in crisis intervention in the 1990’s).  The carriages are warm and there was a bar offering local beers and hot drinks on board. Even better. A slow chug along the line is just enough time to forget the twenty-first century and to head back to another time and place.

I arrived at  my destination in time for performances by Roses (all women group of steampunkery gypsy cross-cultural belly-dancing) and the photo shoot of the weekend’s dressed up SteamPunkers outside the station doors.


There was a tiny bit of snow around, enough to generate the perfect magical atmosphere of the cobbled village tucked away in the Pennines. I hung around the station watching, observing, chatting and taking photos. They’re a friendly bunch of folk. Jovial. Polite. Clearly having plenty of fun, as was I.


DSCF0312DSCF0320The walk up to the top of Haworth from the station is a vertical one! A steep-sided valley that was once the hub of the wool industry has evolved in to a visitors centre with some delightful places to walk to and stop off at. I took a break in The Fleece with my favourite local beer – Golden Best by Taylor’s.  Main Street was busyDSCF0323 of course. Shopkeepers, cafe and pub staff entering in to the spirit of the weekend.

I meandered through the crowd and in to halls where everything SteamPunk was available to try on, take home and put on your mantel piece or just peruse and have a cuppa and slice of cake with the WI.

The weekend event is organised by a team of volunteers headed by Michael Young. It’s a fundraiser for the local hospice, Manorlands.

DSCF0316Events include a masquerade ball, local bands on in great venues, a fashion show and more. Ancient machinery is displayed courtesy of local manufacturers. All that is missing is the Time Machine! But if you go along, be sure to know, that you will be transported back in time and will be greeted by friendly faces and happy people.

As for the outfits. Some very dapper folk strutting the cobbles!

Haworth SteamPunk