Tag Archives: yorkshire

Things I stole from Sylvia.


My daughter and I went to visit Sylvia Plath’s grave again in Heptonstall, West Yorkshire at the weekend. (I know, it’s just one thrill ride after another at our house.)

It was a stunningly sunny day and I took the liberty of stealing a couple of leaves from her grave as a memento.

Now, some people might consider that tantamount to desecration.

I must add, however, that if you look at the picture I took of her grave back in March versus the one I took last Saturday, you could argue that I was merely ‘pruning’.

31st March 2021
17th July 2021

Whatever side of the felonious fence you sit upon, here’s a photo of Exhibit A.

Anyhoo, after sticking the leaves in my sketchbook and pondering them for a while, I decided to write a poem about them.

So, here it is

Lady Lazarus

by David Milligan-Croft.

A leaf stolen

from Sylvia Plath’s grave.

I wonder if the atoms

from her decaying, mortal flesh

have permeated terra firma?

Her nutrient-rich essence

seeping into the soil

absorbed by the roots,

rising up through the stem,

branching out into the veins.

Verdant leaves vignette to aubergine,

unfurl to the scintilating light,

as though – with eyes closed –

she stretches out her slender arms

to the glorious, morning sun.

5 Comments

Filed under Art, Children, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Literature, love, mental health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing

Reflections on Lockdown #3


Hello again.

Welcome to the third instalment of Reflections on Lockdown. Today, I’ll be focussing on nature and photography.

One of the things my children and I have been doing a lot more of during lockdown is getting out into the beautiful countryside that is on our doorstep. In the early days of lockdown, we’d just drive around and not get out of the car. More recently, we’ll go for a wander making sure to wear masks and social distance. Not that we see any bugger else where we go.

Where I live in the North West of England is on the edge of the Peak District, East Cheshire and the Yorkshire Dales. We’re truly blessed to have such stunning scenery so close by.

So, this post is as much about the benefits of being in and around nature as it is about art. The art aspect is the photographs I take along the journey. (And yes, I saturate the bejaysus out of them when I get home.) In my defence, manipulating the images only brings out what is already there in nature. It just needs teasing out.

Apparently, spending two hours per week is scientifically, (yes, scientifically), proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormone levels and boost the immune system. (Amongst other things.) A bit of old vitamin D from the sun can’t hurt either.

We’re lucky in that we have a car. But you don’t have to go miles to get your daily dose of nature. There are plenty of parks and urban green spaces to get your fix. Take a few snaps on your phone, or even take a sketch pad with you.

Here are a few shots I’ve taken over the last few months. I’ll try to put where they are if I can remember.

St Stephen’s church in Macclesfield Forest, East Cheshire.
I think this is Rishworth Moor, Ripponden, West Yorkshire.
Tegg’s Nose, Macclesfield, East Cheshire.
Macclesfield Forest reservoir, East Cheshire.
Baslow, Derbyshire, Peak District.
Saltersford, East Cheshire.
Snake Pass, Peak District.
St Thomas’ church, Higher Hillgate, Stockport.
Wildboarclough, East Cheshire.
River Wye, Bakewell, Derbyshire.
Goyt Valley, East Cheshire.
Goyt Valley, East Cheshire.
Goyt Valley, East Cheshire.
Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.
Somewhere near Halifax, West Yorkshire.
Hebden Bridge (sort of), West Yorkshire.
Near Haworth-ish, West Yorkshire.
To be fair, this could be anywhere.
No idea. On the way to Buxton, Derbyshire.
Errm…
A wall. And a field.
Extreme close up of a wall somewhere in Northern England. Possibly.
A puddle.
Somewhere in the Peak District.
Winnats Pass, Speedwell Cavern, Peak District.

So, we’re starting to build a picture as to the state of my mental health during lockdown and the role that art has played in my recovery. I hope you enjoy this instalment of ‘Reflections of Lockdown’.

If you, or someone you know, are experiencing mental health issues, call your GP or self refer to your local mental health team, (usually based at your local hospital).

If things are a bit more urgent than that you can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123. Or call the NHS on 111, they will treat your illness as seriously as they do any other.

If you want to see more of my photos and artwork follow me on Instagram: @milligancroft

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Children, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, health, Ideas, Inspiration, mental health, Nature, nhs, Uncategorized

Adieu 2019.


Well, it’s been an eventful year, to say the least.

I’ve been doing a lot more visual arts this year, so I thought I’d do a month-by-month, blow-by-blow, pictorial representation of my year. (Lucky you.)

Actually, the reason behind it is to see if/how the images/moods have changed over the course of the year. And how that might correlate to my mental health.

As some of you know, I volunteer for an arts charity called Arc, (Arts for Recovery in the Community), which works with people with mental health issues. I am an ardent advocate of the arts as a medium to treat mental health, and wellbeing in general.

Many years ago, I visted the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and you could see the gradual decline in his mental health through his work.

Whilst I’m no Van Gogh, I am trying to see if there are any similar patterns to my own work.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

And before I forget; Have a Happy New Year and an absolutely spectacular 2020.

JANUARY

Oh dear… that’s not a good start.

IMG_3709

FEBRUARY

That’s a bit more positive. Birthday trip to Haworth, West Yorkshire, (home of the Brontes’), with my daughters.

1

MARCH

Pros: Part of an Arc exhibition. Cons: Became homeless.

me1

APRIL

Ee, it’s grim up north. Charcoal sketch of an L.S. Lowry.

280e494e1fba1e263087ba3c2a2a025d

MAY

“Are you sure you’re all right?”

Rehomed.

a452c463251cab353a653edf7c5d40ba

JUNE

Think I can see a pattern emerging.

cf4c350d6acd9de9ee610b3f2584b525

JULY

Rehab.

ME2

AUGUST

I guess a lot of things are obvious in hindsight.

3894104425313117579.JPG

0f0342121384651b0e812b5c54c2cb3a

me3

ME4

SEPTEMBER

The road to recovery.

IMG_20190920_170609_083

Screenshot_20191231_113747(1)

OCTOBER

Signs of improvement.

me6

IMG_20191026_143918-01

NOVEMBER

Apart from my volunteer work at Arc, I started facilitating a Creative Writing Workshop at The Wellspring homeless charity in Stockport.

IMG_20191127_134045

burst

There are always reminders.

me8

IMG_20191201_142549-01

DECEMBER

A change of outlook.

IMG_20191227_144451-01

IMG_20191227_144748-01

IMG_20191227_150053-02

IMG_20191229_112340

IMG_20191229_112352

me11

As you can see, it’s been a tumultuous year.

I feel very fortunate to be able to experience the last day of it. That would not have been possible were it not for the actions of my dear friend, Siobhan Costigan, over in Australia. Her, and my friends, family, NHS, Stepping Hill Hospital, Pathfinder, AA, The Wellspring and Arc have all played their part in saving my life and helping me to recover. And I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

As of 31/12/2019, I am 140 days abstinent. I feel completely blessed that I have been able to experience 140 days on Earth with my daughters, family and friends that I might not have been able to. I am truly a lucky man.

I wish you all a magnificent 2020; may the forthcoming decade bring you everything that you hope and dream for.

 

Addendum.

If you, or a loved one, are going through a difficult time, there are organisations out there who can help. Reaching out isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength that you have managed to hold on this far. And remember, if things get so bad, go to your nearest A&E dept., they will take care of you just like any other patient.

The Samaritans call 116 123

NHS call 111 or 999

Alcoholics Anonymous call 0800 917 7650

17 Comments

Filed under Art, Children, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, health, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Literature, love, Medicine, mental health, Nature, nhs, Philosophy, Photography, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing

Happy 200th birthday, Emily.


Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Emily Bronte.

Haworth, where the Brontes lived, holds a special place in my, (and my children’s), hearts.

We visit the place as often as we can.

Here’s a little haiku I penned after a walk on the Moors with my daughters a couple of years back.

IMG_4373

Knee deep in heather,

Bright red sock wavers aloft,

Boot stuck in peat bog.

Brontë Parsonage Museum

Brontë Parsonage Museum

 

Brontë dining room

Brontë dining room

This is the room where, Emily, Anne and Charlotte did most of their writing. And that is the actual sofa in the background that Emily died on aged just 30. (I didn’t pass that information on to my children.)

Patrick Brontë's study

Patrick Brontë’s study

If you haven’t read Wuthering Heights yet, I urge you to do so. I promise you, it’s like nothing you have ever read before. It’s a complex and staggeringly passionate tale of unrequited love and dastardly deeds, set amidst the bleak and rugged Yorkshire Moors.

And, if you get the chance, watch the recent film adaptation by Andrea Arnold. It’s a pretty radical take on the book and one of the best interpretations I’ve seen to date. (See trailer below.)

wuthering-heightsIt’s not just the collective brilliance of the Brontë siblings that I find inspiring, but the whole beautifully barren backdrop of the moors. That, coupled with the picturesque cobbled streets of Haworth itself, makes perfect for a day out.

Haworth

Haworth

"Top Withins" Emily's inspiration for Wuthering Heights. (Now a ruin.)

“Top Withens” Emily’s inspiration for Wuthering Heights. (Now a ruin.)

"Top Withens" as it would've looked back in Emily's day.

“Top Withens” as it would’ve looked back in Emily’s day.

P.S. It’d be positively churlish of me not to also include this classic by Kate Bush… whose 60th birthday it also is today. Bit of a spooky coincidence, don’t you think?

8 Comments

Filed under Art, Books, Children, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Dance, Education, Film, Haiku, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Literature, love, mental health, Music, Nature, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing

#149/365 – Pastry


And I’m not talking about the sweet kind, by gum.

b24ea6481c1b7fe2f22e1e48daed5ff0

You can take the man out of Yorkshire, but you can’t take…

I reckon you know the rest.

Where would we be without pies and pasties, eh? Well, I’ll tell you – here’s where:

4186-4135

Whether your fancy is a pork pie or a Cornish pastie, steak & ale pie or lamb samosa, you can’t beat a bit of pastry. Crusty or crumbly, flaky or filo; this manna from heaven would grace the great banqueting halls of Zeus himself, atop Mount Olympus.

d913c3a498c6f5c86aaa15a2e38bf088

1bca557a31bac0b2760d9515d471b0b3

The Everly Pregnant Brothers sum it up the best in ‘No Oven, No Pie‘, on top of the Fat Cat pub in Sheffield. (U2 have nothing on this lot.)

Thanks to Paul Kirby for alerting me to their musical talent.

2 Comments

Filed under Comedy, community, Creativity, Food, Inspiration

#60/365 Fish & Chips.


Aye, ‘appen as mebby.

You can’t beat good old fish and chips.

20070522095400!Fish,_chips_and_mushy_peas

Well, actually you can. Depending on where you buy them.

I live in sunny Stockport in the County of Cheshire on the western side of the Pennines. (The Pennines are a ridge of hills and moorland than runs pretty much from the Scottish border down the spine of England and ends in the northern tip of the Midlands. So called by the Romans, after their Apennine mountain range that runs down the centre of Italy.)

But, originally, I am from Leeds on the eastern side of the aforementioned ridge of moors. And I reckon that fish and chips east of the border are infinitely better than the ones west.

Whilst leaning against the uncomfortably hot stainless steel counter of one chippy in Pudsey, (Leeds), the proprietor informed me of his secret:

“That’s coz we fry ar fish in’t beef fat,” he grumbled. “Ovver t’border, they use vegtabel oil. Bloody useless. An’, it ‘as to be ‘addock, not cod. Nah then, see thi’, di yer fancy sum scraps on tha chips?”

To be honest, I wouldn’t have tartar sauce anywhere near my fish ‘n’ chips. (That’s just someone trying to make it look posher than it is.) Nor any fruit. Ketchup all the way. And those mushies look a bit dry for my liking. Nowt wrong with a portion of beans if you don’t fancy the peas.

11 Comments

Filed under Food, Inspiration, Nature

Things I am grateful for #27/365


Yorkshire.

The largest, (and greatest), county in England.

And the place of my birth. (Lucky me.)

And the birthplace of the last legitimate English monarch – Richard III. (Not that I would advocate a monarchy now, of course.) An independent Republic of Yorkshire, maybe.

Feast your eyes…

Beverly

Beverley

Druids temple

Druid temple

Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales

More dales

More dales

Limestone crags

Limestone crags

Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey

Middelham

Middelham

Malham Cove

Malham Cove

Whitby

Whitby

Richmond

Richmond

Even more dales

Even more dales

0815ea8501ead7709ec99c1e7b1382dd

York

York

Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey

We have a lot of dales

We have a lot of dales

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

My daughter giving Sophie Ryder’s work the once over at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Well, I'll be...

Well, I’ll be…

Knaresborough

Knaresborough

Castle Howard

Castle Howard

Ooh look, another one.

Ooh look, another one.

Staithes

Staithes

Knaresborough

Knaresborough

Haworth

Haworth

Scarborough

Scarborough

Saltaire

Saltaire

York

York

Knaresborough

Knaresborough

York

York

Not another one

Not another one

 

Ian Howard

Top Withens, Haworth. Courtesy of Ian Howard.

 

Top Withens, Haworth. Courtesy of Ian Howard.

Top Withens, Haworth. Courtesy of Ian Howard.

 

A Kestrel for a Knave

A Kestrel for a Knave

c09added30a7929aaf56069c428af185

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, community, Inspiration, Nature

A picture-perfect start to 2013


I went to one of my all-time favourite places on this, the first day, of 2013:

Haworth – home of the Brontës’.

It holds a special place in my heart as it is one of the last places I visited with my stepfather before he passed away in 2003.

The reason it was such a special day, is that it was also the first time that I took my two young daughters to visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

Brontë Parsonage Museum

Brontë Parsonage Museum

It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for ages. I thought they might find it a bit boring and stuffy. But they really seemed to enjoy looking around their home and seeing how they lived, what they wore and what they wrote.

Brontë dining room

Brontë dining room

This is the room where, Emily, Anne and Charlotte did most of their writing. And that is the actual sofa in the background that Emily died on aged just 30. (I didn’t pass that information on to my children.)

Patrick Brontë's study

Patrick Brontë’s study

If you haven’t read Wuthering Heights yet, I urge you to do so. I promise you, it’s like nothing you have ever read before. It’s a complex and staggeringly passionate tale of unrequited love and dastardly deeds, set amidst the bleak and rugged Yorkshire Moors.

And, if you get the chance, watch the recent film adaptation by Andrea Arnold. It’s a pretty radical take on the book and one of the best interpretations I’ve seen to date. (See trailer below.)

Emily Brontë

Charlotte Brontë

wuthering-heightsIt’s not just the collective brilliance of the Brontë siblings that I find inspiring, but the whole beautifully barren backdrop of the moors. That, coupled with the picturesque cobbled streets of Haworth itself, made it a perfect start to 2013 a Daddy could ever wish for.

Haworth

Haworth

"Top Withins" Emily's inspiration for Wuthering Heights. (Now a ruin.)

“Top Withens” Emily’s inspiration for Wuthering Heights. (Now a ruin.)

"Top Withens" as it would've looked back in Emily's day.

“Top Withens” as it would’ve looked back in Emily’s day.

And if you’re wondering where the hell Haworth is … ‘A’ marks the spot.

Haworth, in the gods' county of sunny West Yorkshire.

Haworth, in the gods’ county of sunny West Yorkshire.

P.S. It’d be positively churlish of me not to also include this classic by Kate Bush…

10 Comments

Filed under Art, Books, Creativity, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Literature, Poetry, Writing

New poem – Wuthering Heights – A 21st century perspective.


WUTHERING HEIGHTS

A 21st century perspective of a town on the Yorkshire Moors.

 

© David Milligan-Croft

 

This old mill town

With its rickety fences

And drystone walls;

Neon facades

Sparkling off wet cobbles.

 

Everything’s broken and wet,

Held together by chicken wire

And nylon string.

 

Plastic shopping bags

Teased on barbed wire,

Raped by the wind.

 

Pylons and turbines bolted on

To an unwilling landscape,

Like sentinels over the vanquished.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Inspiration, Poetry, Writing

Republic of Scotland – Two Nations Divided


There’s been a lot of talk of late about a referendum on Scottish independence.

Let ’em ‘ave it! is what I say.

By that, I don’t mean open up on ’em with a battery of Gatling guns. I mean, it’s their country, it’s up to them.

If it was me, I’d vote yes.

Some people say it will result in England, Wales, NornIrn and Scotland having less muscle in Europe.

Is that what independence is about – political and economic might?

I thought it was about being able to determine your own destiny.

Being Free.

But it did get me thinking about England and the proverbial divide between north and south and whether it was time for a referendum on whether we should split the country in half.

Below is a rough border of where I think England should be divided.

North / Saarf divide

Then I was wondering about what we should call these two ‘new’ countries. And I couldn’t help getting my hackles up about when the glorious House of York was duped off the throne by that pesky Henry Tudor, (who was Welsh, by the way), and his turncoat ally, Lord Stanley.

So to redress the balance, and to give Yorkshire back its rightful inheritance, I thought this might be a suitable name for the new Motherland:

The Democratic Republic of Yorkshireland

Then I started to get a bit giddy. I don’t know if it was the power going to my head, or my formative years being filled with “Guess the pink bit” on the map of the world, but I thought this iteration was a marked improvement.

The Commonwealth of Yorkshireland

Of course, we’d need a new flag as well. I was thinking of something simple…

White Rose

Anyhoo, I think it’d be a great idea. So, I’m nominating myself as the inaugural President of Yorkshireland.

All those in favour say: Aye, ‘appen as mebby.

6 Comments

Filed under Comedy, community, Cross of Iron, Economy, Ideas, Inspiration, Inventions, Politics, Strategy