At the Speed of Sound

Our first day out this week was a return visit to Dunham Massey. It was cloudy but it wasn’t supposed to rain until well after the end of our nice long walk. We wandered around the garden, no longer having to follow a one-way system. Yes, another tangible sign that things are opening up. We still tried not to get too close to other people, but it was very pleasant. And it was interesting to see plants that we’ve not been able to view for a long time.

Purple fircones (not to be confused with the 1970s prog rock group)

I wish I knew what this thing is, with its purple fircones. One day I’ll go back through this blog and insert all the proper names of plants and birds but don’t hold your breath.

Silver birches

These birch trees make us both happy, they always remind me of those paintings by Teri Lindseth that we saw in Anchorage. That was a long two and a half years ago now: I had to check my sums there. But what was nice too was hearing the birds singing their little hearts out.

Where’s Liesel?

The rhododendrons are blooming brilliant, and this one has a strange rose in its midst.

We decided to have a coffee before setting off for another jaunt, this time through the deer park. I don’t know what possessed me but I picked up a Mars bar to have with my coffee. Definitely a spur-of-the-moment, impulse buy. Apart from the small bitesize ones you get in a box of Celebrations, I haven’t eaten a Mars bar for several years. Today, I was reminded exactly why this is the case. Far too sweet and sickly and gooey, I could feel the caramel and nougat dissolving the enamel from my teeth. It made my cheek muscles ache. Luckily, the coffee washed away most of the sugar and I came home with pretty much the full set of gnashers. But, lesson learnt, stay away from Mars bars. Such a shame, because I have happy memories of Dad bringing them home from work, for my sister and me, on a Thursday evening along with the latest edition of Radio Times. Those were the days.

We watched some deer in the deer park, but I missed a great photo opp of one on its back legs reaching up to a nice juicy leafy tree.

Deer, deer

In fact, there was quite a lot of wildlife: deer, squirrels, Canada geese, ducks, moorhens, humans and dogs. So a cacophony of quacks, honks, barks and complaints about the state of everything.

It slowly got darker and darker, then we felt the first few spots of rain. It won’t last, we told ourselves. But it did. And as we were at the furthest point along the path, the rain became torrential. It even hailed for a couple of minutes.

Rain on the water (fire in the sky?)

My waterproof anorak isn’t as waterproof as I thought, but this was its toughest test to date. Liesel’s umbrella did the job though. Two very wet people sat in the car for a few minutes before setting off home. It had been raining hard for maybe half an hour or so, but already, the roads were flooded. We drove through several puddles and would have drenched any passing pedestrians if we’d encountered any.

The splash of water

There’s a nice picture of a water splash, including the bonus reflection of one of my knobbly knees.

And then, just ten minutes down the road, nothing. It hadn’t been raining here at all, we realised. Definitely a case of unfortunately being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I usually have cereal for breakfast, sometimes toast and occasionally both. Many years ago, Liesel couldn’t stand the smell of fried eggs. Now, she is kind enough to fry me a couple of eggs every now and then. Anyway, on this fateful day, I began salivating as I poured out some muesli into the bowl, added a Weetabix and then topped it all off with a couple of handfuls of Shreddies. I poured on the milk, and sat down in my usual spot on the sofa to enjoy my breakfast while watching a recording of the previous day’s stage of the Giro d’Italia. The first spoonful had barely entered the orifice before it was violently expelled across the room. The milk was off. Sour. Putrid. Vile. What’s the ‘best before’ date? Well, today. How did it know that today was the day to turn rancid? And why didn’t the smell warn me? And why were there no giveaway globules of fat floating around? Disbloomingusting. To take the taste away required black tea and toothpaste and I was tempted to gnaw on a raw onion. Yuck, yuck and thrice yuck. In unrelated news, if you need someone to provide a pebbledashing service, I am waiting for your call. Small projects only.

A quick walk around the streets of Northenden and we saw our old friend lurking.

Where’s the heron?

It’s good to see the playground full of little children again, squealing, screaming and laughing, it’s been a while. One day, we’ll be in there having a good time with our William and Martha.

Our second proper day out this week, to a place beyond Northenden, was a return visit to Lyme Park. I may have been overdoing it by very nearly walking 10,000 steps most days, but my old body wasn’t having it on this occasion. From the car park, there’s a slope to walk up to reach the house and the gardens. At the top, I had to stop to catch my breath. My heart rate was 105 according to the app. I thought my breathlessness issue had pretty much gone away, but no, like a really bad, annoying penny, it came right back to remind me who’s boss. Sometimes I wish I smoked 50 fags a day just so that I’d have something to give up.

Anyway, I recovered, and we walked around the gardens, but not the long route around the park which I’d mentally set myself up for. Oh well. At least we didn’t get rained on today.

There’s a nice Italianate garden here and lots of rhododendron bushes in flower, but one thing that caught our attention was this holly bush growing out of a crack in a brick wall.


There are many more goslings here than during our previous visit, and most of them look pretty healthy, but there was one poor wee chap who toppled over after every few steps taken.

I stood still near the bird feeder in vain for far too long, waiting for the coal (or great?) tit to return. I even hid behind a tree watching through my phone. But Liesel thinks my bright blue t-shirt might have been a deterrent.

We’ve notice several piles of dead trees around Lyme Park, but we don’t know why. Has there been some fatal disease? Or is this part of the general management of the park? There were quite a few gardeners around today, but we didn’t want to approach any of them to ask. A sign I suppose that even though we’ve been inoculated, we’re not 100% comfortable with too much social non-distancing.

Our third day out this week (yes, third, how exciting!) was to Sale Water Park where we met Jenny and William. He scooted (scootered?) all the way around the lake, a distance of 2.1 miles according to my pedometer.

William the scooterer
Danger overhead fishing lines

There were quite a few people fishing here, away from the power cables. A few had big tents to hide in while their three rods did all the hard work for them. But the thought of eating fish from this particular body of water (if I ate fish at all) was not appealing.

Squirrel in a bin

We were all amused by seeing this squirrel in the bin, but we couldn’t understand why somebody would want to throw it away.

Jenny asked William what this structure was…


Surely he doesn’t know the word ‘pylon’, does he? No. ‘It’s an Eiffel Tower’. His teachers are going to love him when he starts school!

He wore his helmet while scootering (scooting?) so when he took it off, his hair was a bit of a mess. Which he laughed at when he saw his reflection in the water.

William and Mummy

Today it was Jenny’s birthday, so we gave her something nice, which she unwrapped so that William could see, but he’s not interested in gin at the moment, maybe it was too early in the day. We gathered up everyone we could find in the park, and we gave Jenny a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday.

Martha was at school today but we hope to catch up with her at some point during the two-week long half-term holiday. Two weeks? It’s a northern thing, apparently.

In the evening we went out. Out out. To a proper place for a proper live music event. Our first gig since before the first lockdown. We were in a marquee at The Kings Lock in Middlewich to see Tom Hingley. While there, I interviewed him for my radio show. He was very generous with his time, and I hope I can use some of it on the show. We were seated right by the canal, with running water, and a busy road just the other side, so I hope the background noise wasn’t too bad: all I had to record on was my phone. Still, what a top bloke.

Tom Hingley

The marquee was as covid-safe as they could manage, fairly well ventilated, although the stench of cigarette smoke did waft in occasionally. Each party was seated at a table and a young lady came round every now and then to take our bar orders, which were then delivered.

The first song Tom performed was Saturn 5 which, by coincidence, was the final song that I’d played during my radio show today. Ooh my radio show. What was the theme this week? Well, I celebrated the return of Live Music, something we’ve missed quite a lot. I may have mentioned that before, actually. So this week, I played tracks from some of my favourite live albums, from concerts that I’d been to and from some that I wish I’d witnessed. You can listen back here. Just remember to pre-order your drinks, and don’t forget to chat to your friends all the way through (oops, sorry, I wasn’t going to whinge about anything this week).

Driving Rain

This weeks events, or lack thereof, were largely governed by the amount of rain we enjoyed. Well, obviously, not ‘enjoyed’. The word is more like ‘endured’. I try not to let bad weather get to me too much, but at the end of Mental Health Awareness Week, my brain was feeling the strain.

We paid a quick visit to Cheadle Hulme where we stood around Jenny’s garden in the rain for a while.

Where’s William, in the rain?

We played hide and seek making good use of the only three places we could hide in. Squatting on my haunches in the play-house put too much strain on these aged knees. But sitting on the soggy terrain is no good for other parts of the anatomy.

In the evening, I watched Wall to Wall Bowie online, marking the release of Janette Mason’s new single, Fame, featuring David McAlmont on vocals. He’s a very interesting chap. Sarah saw him perform with Bernard Butler in the late ’90s, somewhere in north London, when their song Yes was a big hit. Miles and Lynne were also in the online audience. Lynne asked if I was Mick the Postman. Yes, but retired, I told them. Oh, you’ll always be Mick the Postman to us! Janette asked how we knew each other. Miles couldn’t restrain himself from telling everyone about how he worked at GLR, and I was its most loyal listener. Recognition, at last! And, aptly, a modicum of fame.

Wall to Wall Bowie with Janette, Mick, David Mcalmont and Miles, out of the rain

You’re wondering why you can’t see my fizzog? I was using my own PC for the Zoom call, and it has no webcam. Any day now, I am going to buy myself a brand new laptop computer. I’ve been saying that for 18 months now, so don’t hold your breath.

In between showers, we had a quick walk around Northenden. Unusually, the heron was on our side of the weir.

Heron in the rain

Of course, as soon as I took a couple more steps closer, it took off. As if I don’t have enough photos of animals running off and birds flying away.

Heron in flight, in the rain

Kenworthy Lane Woods were a bit muddier than we’d anticipated, but there was far less litter than usual, which was nice.

Wild garlic in the rain

Liesel thinks this is wild garlic, but we refrained from picking any, just in case it was something else.

Monday was, unbelievably, the 20th anniversary of Sarah’s passing.

RIP Sarah, out of the rain

How did I mark the occasion? I went for a walk, in the rain, and picked some litter, in the rain. It was also the first day we were allowed to sit inside coffee shops, as things slowly open up.

Blackboard, in the rain

So I sat inside Boxx 2 Boxx and watched the torrential rain for a while. I had a nice chat with Dan, the choirmaster and sometime fellow Radio Northenden presenter, and with Jill and Shelly, the proprietors. Jill, by her own admission, isn’t yet very good at drawing a nice picture on top of a frothy latté!

Coffee inside, out of the rain

Liesel and I thought we’d go for a walk in a different place, just for a change. The Trans Pennine Trail at Reddish Vale is a nice rhyme, but it’s probably not somewhere we’ll return to. Far too many dog-walkers with their charges and their charges’ discharges. Lots of it on the path, and plenty more in bags and just left behind. If only there were proper training for dog owners and professional dog walkers.

No hunting, in the rain

I don’t know what we were expecting, to be honest, but we certainly didn’t anticipate this being a hunting venue. Rabbits and magpies, maybe?   

Harrison’s Weir, in the rain

As far as we’re concerned, this is a waterfall, but known locally as Harrison’s Weir. You can walk across the river a bit further downstream, if you don’t mind getting wet trainers. This is known as Harrison’s Ford.

Trees as far as the eye can see, in the rain

It’s lovely to see so many newly planted trees here in Reddish Vale Country Park, a rain forest of the future maybe.

My brain has been complaining about the lack of daylight. So it was time to visit the barber and have my hair cut. This was my first visit to the barbershop for eight months. I’ve enjoyed a pony tail for a couple of weeks, but it’s time for a change of style. And a tidy up. Another indoor venue, but I felt OK, and I think being vaccinated against Covid certainly helps. Sadly, when I’m out, I usually can’t refrain from visiting a coffee shop. I think that’s as close as I get to an addiction.

Hairs, out of the rain

As usual, as I walked along the damp, soggy, wet pavements of Northenden, I noticed just how bad the drainage is. Just put the drains where the puddles form, that would be my advice. But I am just a bystander, waiting to be splashed when the next vehicle goes by.

Driving to a National Trust venue that is new to us, we spotted a Möbius strip. Not a real one, just a logo on the back of a van.

Möbius strip , in the rain

I probably spent too much time trying to see whether it was a one- or a two-sided strip, when I should have been helping with the navigation. It’s still not 100% clear, is it? Even when you waste time looking at their website, it’s ambiguous. 

The rain it rained harder and harder as we approached Hare Hill. It eased off slightly, we had raincoats, we had waterproof trainers, so we decided to walk around this place, despite the weather.

Mick: If it’s too bad, we can always sit inside the coffee shop instead.
Liesel: There is no coffee shop here.
Mick: No coffee shop? What’s the point of the place then?

Hares, in the rain

It was a nice, quiet place, with a one-way system in place, and very few other visitors. Our walk was shorter than many National Trust sites, and I’m sure we’ll return, maybe with a picnic, when the weather’s less rainy.

But the displays of colour are very uplifting.

Pinky purple, in the rain
Yellowy green, in the rain
Iris, in the rain

Looking at the low clouds, almost mist, I remarked that if the Sun were out, we might see a rainbow. Trying to look on the bright side.

We sat in a bower, sheltered from the rain, waiting for it to ease. It didn’t. As we were leaving, Bob, the National Trust guy, engaged me in conversation about what I was wearing. Shorts. It’s nearly the end of May, I should be able to wear shorts and show off my tanned lallies by now, but no, when I look down, my Dad’s voice comes into my head: ‘That reminds me, I must get two pints of milk on the way home’.

We’ve booked a couple of trips for later in the year. Going by train? No, neither of us is comfortable with travel by train, yet.

I dedicated my radio show this week to Sarah, playing some music that means or meant a lot to us. I don’t think I could have done such a thing before, but now, yes, it’s still emotional, but I was able to cope, and I think there were just a couple of slips of the tongue. Oh, and I was also caught singing along a couple of times, when I forgot to mute the microphone. You can listen to the show here.

Thank you for your continued support, reading this blog, and here’s something we’ve never done before. Please consider buying us a cup of coffee.

Not necessarily for coffee, but to help pay for this very blog: we might have to move up to the next payment level soon and any help would be much appreciated, thank you.  It’s rewarding knowing you’re there, but we’ve been brainstorming how to make this thing sort of pay for itself.

Over 24 hours of continuous, torrential rain has resulted in the level of our River Mersey rising by over half a metre. Time to get the rainproof wellies out again, soon. Did I mention it rained a lot this week?

Wild Life

Five weeks until the Summer solstice, and we’re still waiting for some prolonged warmer weather. Liesel and I have decided that the next time we install windows (apertures that reveal the world to us, not the operating system), we’re going to get orange-tinted glass, so it’ll always look nicer and brighter outside than it really is.

Sadly, I have to start this week with some sad news. I found a lost, sad, pining Peppa Pig near the local playground.

Poor Peppa Pig

I hope she is reunited with her sad child very soon. The other thing I saw near the river was a ‘vole’. It ran out from the grass, grabbed a lump of bread that someone had thrown at the ducks, and took it back to its den. I say ‘vole’ because I hoped it was something more interesting than what it probably really was, scurrying at 60mph for a quick snack.

Our most recent attempt to visit Biddulph Grange Gardens was curtailed because of roadworks and diversion signs that didn’t really help much. This time though, we arrived safely and just a few minutes before Jenny and William. We had a nice walk together, following the one-way system.

Strawberries and cream

William bought a bucket of fish food which we shared. Well, we fed the fish and kept our fingers crossed that he wouldn’t slide down the grassy slope into the pond.

William on a slippery slope

Although, to be honest, he might have enjoyed jumping into such a large puddle.

There are climbing opportunities as you wander along the path, and William had a go at everything.

William up a greasy pole

Martha was at school. In fact, she’s been cycling to school every day, which is great, she really enjoys it. One day she even cycled to William’s nursery to bring him home, a total of two miles that day.

Back at Biddulph, we tried some bird-watching. I think the smudge in the middle of the lawn is a yellow wagtail.

Yellow wagtail, but you might need a magnifying glass

Walking along one long straight path, we asked William to count the shadows cast by the line of trees. He was getting tired and we thought this would help keep him interested and moving. And it probably would have worked if the Sun didn’t keep going behind the clouds. ‘The shadows have gone,’ he announced.

William likes to be scared and he likes to scare his Grandad, so we had fun scaring each other. Then we turned a corner and saw this.


Eek. Scary.

And who could resist going on a seesaw with their grandson?


Of course, the flowers are fabulous, a beautiful display of colour.


Liesel and I had another day out this week, we know how to have a good time. A leisurely walk at Lyme Park where it threatened to rain, but it waited until we were on our way home. We felt just a few spits and spots, I think that’s the technical term.

There were quite a few geese in the lake, including one family of very cute fluffy babies.

Italianate Garden
Rhododendron Island in the lake, plus bonus daffodils
Selfie of the day

So, what do you think of the new hat? It’s managed to deflect a few raindrops so far, plus it’s SPF 50, which I think means the Sun doesn’t come out much when I’m wearing it. I admit, it does look better than my old faithful, much loved but well-worn and floppier sunhat.

Acer or maple

I tried to get a picture of a sheep and a lamb, but they just turned their backs on me. I have plenty of photos of animals’ bottoms already, thank you.

And the birds at the feeders were just too fast for me. Not sure if they were blue tits or coal tits, but they certainly didn’t want to sit still and pose for us. Likewise, a fat robin, straight from a Christmas card, flew off as soon as I even thought about taking its picture. I think they’re telepathic.

There’s plenty of deer spoor around the park, but the only deer we saw was located inside the coffee shop.

Isn’t venison dear?

Thank you Helen for the brilliant caption!

My hair is quite long and on Sunday while out for a walk around Northenden, I thought I’d surprise Liesel by having it cut. When I reached the barbershop, the one I last visited in September, it was closed. I was a little disappointed, but mostly relieved that I didn’t have to go inside a small space with some total strangers. I think it will be a while before we feel totally comfortable doing normal things. But later in the week, Liesel did visit the big Sainsbury’s in Cheadle and felt OK, even though it was quite busy. 

We have been thinking about travelling further afield too, maybe even going away for a week or two. We’re not going overseas this year, so it will be somewhere between Cornwall and John o’Groats, between Norfolk and Pembrokeshire. With that in mind, the radio show this week had the theme of Cities. I played records about or featuring some of the world’s great cities. You can listen here and enjoy DJ William helping out a bit, thank you.

Farewell Facebook

In the last couple of weeks, Liesel has thrown in the Facebook towel. While she didn’t whinge and moan about the platform as much as I used to, she too has decided it’s outlived its usefulness. One recent event in particular didn’t help. A message received, apparently from a friend, contained a dodgy link. When Liesel clicked on it, it sent the same dodgy link to all her friends on Facebook. Surely a platform as big and popular as Facebook should have some basic checking of these messages? If it can filter out the slightest hint of a naked body, we know the technology exists. Fortunately, no damage seems to have been caused by the virus, other than annoyance and embrrassment, but it doesn’t instil confidence in Facebook.

I left Facebook nearly two years ago now and I have no regrets. Yes, I continue to miss some of the people and some of the groups, and I’m sure Liesel will too. But I don’t think she’ll miss the overall experience much . When most of the local news is crime-related, it does nothing to make us feel safe.

And yes, there are some events and concerts that only take place on Facebook, and we’ll miss those. But organisers should be aware that while many people still use it, quite a lot of us don’t.

Over the last month or so, a few people have casually asked whether I’ll ever re-join Facebook? Well, never say ‘never’, but it’s highly unlikely. Whenever Facebook turns up in the news, I invariably come away with a feeling of, ‘thank goodness I got out of that when I did.’ Similar to the way I feel whenever a negative story about the meat production industry appears. Thank goodness I stopped eating meat thirty years ago and don’t have to make that decision now.

No, I’ve seen nothing new about Facebook that is tempting me back. I came across an essay I wrote soon after I left. I suspect there are even more ‘features’ and bugs to whinge about now.

This is what I wrote in July 2019:

Why I decided to leave Facebook

After being a member of the Facebook community for an unlucky 13 years, it was time to move on. I certainly can’t compare the experience with that of Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave, but at times, I resented being trapped, being almost forced to waste so much time on such a fruitless enterprise while my data was making stacks of money for other people.

Facebook has been fun at times, informative and useful. Most of my Facebook friends are friends in real life too: there are only a couple whom I know solely through this online medium.

But, there were many, many times when I felt so frustrated by the platform that I thought about leaving, and even threatened to once or twice in public. There were many final straws over the years. But the real, final, final straw was one day a couple of weeks ago when I was seeing one advert for every post from a friend or message from one of the groups to which I’d signed up.

Looking back over thirteen years of my own Facebook posts, I realise there is one common, perpetual thread. I have had a moan and a whinge about Facebook on numerous occasions. It just doesn’t do what I would expect it to. Yes, it works for Mark Zuckerberg, making him lots of money and it’s ‘free’ to use so why do I have the right to complain? Because it’s sold and portrayed as being a wonderful community, a way to bring people closer together, to keep people in touch with each other, to share ideas in groups with other like-minded people.

Here’s an early ‘Note’ that I made. What makes a Note different from a Post is still beyond my understanding.

Hahaha just going through my emails and found this one: Hi Mick, You haven’t been on Facebook for a few days, and a lot happened while you were away. 3 notifications Mary, Ian, Jon and 4 other friends have posted statuses, photos and more on Facebook. Go to Facebook: See all notifications

But, Dear Facebook, I can’t see all of these messages because you’ve decided what’s relevant and what isn’t. I shouldn’t have to go through all of my Friends and tell you that I wish to see ‘All’ of their Updates rather than ‘Most Updates’ or ‘Only Important’. Facebook philosophy: if it ain’t broke, break it. (2/9/11)

Yes, one of the things that annoyed me very quickly was that out of all my friends’ posts, I would only see a small subset, selected by Facebook. If I wanted to see everything someone else wrote, I had to visit their individual page. Facebook could never understand that if I felt overwhelmed by the amount of information being presented, it was my problem, to deal with in my own way. But I don’t think that’s the issue at all. They just like to exercise control. After all, there seems to be no limit to the amount of advertising I have to scroll through. Maybe they just want to make the ads more prominent by reducing the amount of what they think of as ‘background noise’.

Facebook says “Top comments is selected, so some comments may have been filtered out.”

I would like to see them all, please, then I can decide what I think the top comments is. (17/4/18)

I accept that adverts are how they make their money, and that’s how the service can be ‘free’ at the point of use. But why do they pretend the adverts are targeted? That I’ll only see those that are of interest to me?

Yes, Facebook, I really really DO want to hide EVERYTHING from Ray Ban bloody sunglasses. Really. (1/6/14)

It’s been an ongoing battle trying to make Facebook more user-friendly, so, as they requested, I passed on some of my thoughts. To no avail.

Good old Facebook (an on-going rant, I know). On the left-hand side, under ‘Messages’ there’s an ‘Other’ button. It contains dozens of messages that I never saw when they might have been of some interest. They’re well out of date now. Research shows that Facebook puts messages there from people I’m not ‘friends’ with. Such as from my daughter who was probably Friend number 1. FB. It can stand for ‘Facebook’, ‘Full of Bugs’, or ‘██████ up Beyond all usefulness’. (30/9/12)

Got to love Facebook: the more you complain about their ‘Suggested Posts’ (adverts, often verging on the fraudulent), the more they send you. (9/2/16)

Yes, Ok, let there be adverts. But why are they so irrelevant? And bad?

“The Best Gift You’ve Never Heard Of” – you might want to change that strap line since I see your advert on Facebook nearly every damn day! (1/9/17)

No software is 100% perfect. And something like Facebook doesn’t stand a chance.

<a href=”evalInSandbox:Error: Permission denied for evalInSandbox:Error: Permission denied for <; to create wrapper for object of class UnnamedClass
I beg your pardon? Not another Facebook bug, surely? (9/7/13)

And it’s not just bugs. They’ve introduced many ‘features’ that just don’t work properly or, if they do, are just plain annoying. I’m not alone in thinking Facebook was turning into bloatware and some people even tried to address the issue. An add-on initially named ‘Better Facebook’ helped tidy up the screen but, because Facebook changes its underlying code to ‘improve’ its software at least weekly, it was very difficult for this one part-time guy to keep up. Then the Facebook lawyers came along and forced him to change his software’s name anyway.

Reassuring to note that it’s not just me who thinks Facebook is a PITA these days. (21/6/13)

Full of bugs, did I say?

Holy moly, I’m locked in. Can’t log out of Facebook. Oh well, ‘Close tab’ it is. (6/8/12)

That ‘recent activity’ of mine: ‘Mick liked St John Ambulance’? It’s a lie. I wasn’t even online 30 minutes ago. I was watching Doctor Who. Facebook really is pants. (Nothing against St John Ambulance, by the way.) (22/9/12)

Good old Facebook. It’s now repeating items in the Newsfeed as I scroll down. So, Suzanne’s watched a YouTube video several times and Marko has several painful shoulders. And Baylen keeps talking about Madonna. (17/7/12)

It tried hard to be my friend, reacting to my interests and concerns. But even here, I just don’t understand why it would send me some football news and trivia when I have never shown any interest in the sport and probably only mentioned it a couple of times in passing. Unexpected pun there.

Apparently West Ham have beaten Liverpool at Anfield for the first time since September 1963! And if my Facebook feed is to be believed, nothing else happened today! (29/8/15)

It used to notice when I disappeared for a few days, or even a few minutes, and it tried to bring me up to date with lots of stuff of no interest to me.

Facebook sent an email saying:
A lot has happened on Facebook since you last logged in. Here are some notifications you’ve missed from your friends.
There are zero notifications from my friends. I only logged in 5 minutes ago. And with 1.5 billion users, I’m sure a lot has happened, but 99.99999% is of no interest to me, thanks! Just as this status is of no interest to anyone but me. (23/8/15)

Another recent complaint of mine:

Last week, Facebook was giving me one ad for every other post. (20/1/19)

Earlier today, it accused me of ticking the box that said Facebook could track my location, even when I’m not using Facebook. No I didn’t. It might be your default setting but if asked, I would never have said that was ok. Go to settings and check everything, they’re sneaky bastards. (13/4/19)

Dear Facebook, I ticked all the boxes telling you not to follow me, look at my location, track my movements. Yet you still suggest restaurants near to me wherever I am. Just stop lying about any concerns you have for my privacy. Apart from anything else, it’s Sunday and most of them are closed. Useless piece of crapp. (2/6/19)

In response to other peoples’ problems, I responded with my own tuppence-worth.

Facebook is full of bugs, each update fixes some and introduces new ones. That’s why we love it so much… (9/9/14)

To be honest, I find most Facebook ‘features’ a PITR but I’m not allowed to whinge about it any more! (27/11/17)

No, that didn’t stop me whingeing of course, although it may have slowed down the flow. Slightly. I tried to help fellow users when they had something negative to say.

I use Social Fixer. It fixes a lot of Facebook’s ‘features’, but it can’t do anything about the different subsets of posts that appear on different devices. Worth what we pay for it, I guess. (29/12/15)

This one’s almost prophetic.

There’s a very thick book waiting to be written about the ways in which Facebook manages to pis people off. So glad it’s free. Worth what we pay for it. (8/2/16)

Well, if not a thick book, this might well become a very long blog post. And what an embarrassing typo that was. More of my profound responses:

Yep, totally agree. Especially annoying when you’re seeing stuff that you don’t want, while other posts from people that you would love to see never appear due to Facebook’s ‘I know best’ algorithms. Grrr. (25/2/16)

Yes: also can’t post photos to other groups… it amazes me how Facebook can come up with a new bug every week… (12/4/17)

Don’t think so! But I have noticed a couple of other groups I appear to have dropped out of, so I’m leaning towards the Facebook bug theory (16/4/17)

It’s likely to be a Facebook problem: they release ‘upgrades’ every Tuesday. (28/2/19)

Sorry I can’t help. My GLW rolls her eyes every time I moan about Facebook’s bugs, inadequacies, inconsistencies. Sadly I have had to disable Social Fixer because that was screwing things up too. Still, it’s worth what we pay for it … (2/6/17)

There are so many ‘privacy options’ now, but I don’t trust them. I’m fairly confident with these internetty type things but if, say, I’ve not, in fact, ticked all the boxes to say ‘Don’t track my location’ and all its variants, then how is a less computer literate person going to get it right? I think they’ve been forced to make a show of concern for our privacy, but either they’re deliberately misleading us, or their algorithms just don’t work. As I mentioned before, if, as required and requested, it’s not tracking my location, how can it possibly suggest ‘nearby’ restaurants that I might be interested in?

There has been a lot in the news over the last few years about ‘fake news and the role that ‘social media’ plays in its promulgation. In November, 2018. I was asked whether I was voting in the General Election. My response?

Go away Facebook. It’s not the 2018 General Election. I’m not American so I can’t vote, anyway. I’m not even in America so I couldn’t vote even if I were allowed to. Which I’m not. But apart from that, congratulations on your political astuteness and your targetting algorithms. (11/18)

Why was I bothered about the location thing anyway? Because Facebook kept giving me duff information based on the wrong location.

Facebook hasn’t any idea where I am yet it keeps alerting me that friends are nearby when they’re really not! (28/3/13)

Buy and sell groups near you
Dagenham, Barking, Romford Selling & Advertising
16,564 members
No it ain’t, Facebook, it’s nowhere near me. Just stop it. (2/8/17)

This particular bugbear hasn’t bugged this particular bear for the whole time, though.

Since when did Facebook start telling me where it thinks I am? (4/12/16)

I think the first time was when it suggested, at a very early hour on a Sunday, that I was at the nearby boxing gym. I was still in bed at home.

Facebook has plenty of other things to comment on too. It spent a lot of time inveigling itself into my life.

Facebook keeps nagging me to wish you a belated happy birthday. So. Happy belated bleedin’ birthday, Pauline. (Alright, Facebook? You interfering festering pile of bloatware.) (8/11/16)

Just another example of it doing stuff I don’t need it to, when I would prefer it to just show me my friends’ posts.

It’s been a long time since I even thought about this feature. Now I’m no longer a member, I can’t check whether it’s still a thing.

OMFG (as the young people might say) Facebook comes up with another winning idea: couples’ pages eg (15/11/12)

Another daft idea:

Sorry Facebook but I won’t be paying so that my nonsense can be read by more of my friends and subscribers. But if it’s this earth-shattering, I might reconsider: (4/10/12)

Sometimes, other people’s comments chimed with my own thoughts.

Blimey, wish I knew how to find my way back to the old facebook layout. Not that I ever seem to have the time to use it much! (19/9/11)

I think I promised a while ago to stop whingeing about Facebook’s bugs and ‘features’ that mean I don’t get to see everything I’d like to. Well, I am not alone: read this exchange between George Takei and a Facebook spokesman… and especially the comments that follow.
I know, I know, Facebook is worth exactly what I pay for it, but it could be so much better. (14/6/12)

I blocked them too. Wish Facebook could do something but “freedom of speech” bla bla (17/6/16)

So, even in the early days, Facebook was changing things unnecessarily and annoying people. I’ve finally bitten the bullet and deserted a ship that is, surprisingly, not yet sinking. It’s been a long, long process of attrition. Sometimes I went literally minutes without having a whinge and a moan about Facebook.

Remember when you had to type a post into a box preceded by your own name? How quaint!

…is going to try “The New Facebook” … Whooppeeeee…. (6/8/8)

…can’t find anything on this dog’s dinner of a new facebook (15/9/8)

…is an old fart of a technophobic luddite and so is happy to have found a way back to the old facebook layout! (17/9/8)

…can’t send message in Facebook . I’ll respond to your messages just as soon as Facebook works again. Grrr. (1/11/8)

Publisher? Box? Wall? Posts? Streams? What’s on my mind? It’s a lovely sunny day and I’m sitting indoors fighting Facebook… (16/3/9)

…wants to know how he can possibly ‘Like’ everyone’s Status when he hasn’t even been on Facebook for nearly 24 hours. (1/5/9)

…is glad Facebook fixed the bug whereby I like every status. Now they just need to fix all the other bugs. (1/5/9)

Now I can have a username for my Facebook Profile. So it says. Only I can’t. It’s been “Checking Availability” for a million years and it still won’t give me my username. (20/6/9)

Why does Facebook keep telling me there are several new posts and then give me the same ones again? And again. And again. (15/7/9)

My Facebook no longer works in Firefox. Keeps telling me: “Cookies required Cookies are not enabled on your browser. Please adjust this in your security preferences before continuing.” It doesn’t tell me how often I have to enable cookies, though. Bloody computers. (16/10/9)

Oh, Mick, why didn’t you just give up on Facebook? Well, better late than never.

I see Facebook is playing up again; giving a random and different selection of ‘news’ items each time the button’s pressed. (11/12/9)

“A guide to Facebook’s home page: A simplified design provides easy access to your entire Facebook experience.” If this is ‘simplified’ then I am eternally grateful that Facebook isn’t becoming far too complicated and over-burdened with way too many ‘features’. (5/2/10)

Nice to see Facebook have introduced anti-time-wasting enhancements. Most of the ‘buttons’ no longer work. (15/3/10)

Thanks for all the birthday greetings… but where, oh where, on this latest version of Facebook, can I find the list of my friends’ imminent birthdays? It used to be on the front page, but it’s well hidden now. Or is it cos I is too old? (23/3/10)

Facebook and Adblock Plus and Firefox – major incompatibility issues. My money’s on the bugs all being Facebook’s, since I have no other problems with Firefox nor Adblock Plus. (IANAG) (17/8/10)

“People who aren’t friends with David only see some of David’s profile information. If you know David personally, Add David as a friend? on Facebook..” But unless I can see more of David’s information, how can I be sure it’s the correct David? (16/1/11)

Oh I’ve been given the new Facebook profile. Now with more ways to show and tell my story. Well, it can’t be any more bug-ridden than it was before. Can it? (18/1/11)

Did you know that from Friday, Facebook will start using your information – your ‘likes’ etc. in ads that will appear on the profile page of your contacts. It’s legal and is mentioned in the fine print when you create your account. To stop this do the following: Account, Account Settings, Then click on Facebook Ads ( tab…), choose “No one” on the drop-down menu and save changes (18/3/11)

Facebook gets on my thrupennies sometimes. Where I had a link to ‘Groups’ on my Homepage, I now have an option to ‘Create group’. I want to access my old groups, not create new ones. Any ideas? Facebook’s help is useless. Cheers. (10/4/11)

Ooh another Facebook bug. I ‘recommended’ a link a few minutes ago and on the ‘Home’ page it’s telling me I’m recommending the link I actually recommended yesterday. (4/5/11)

Facebook has changed its user settings without telling us again. Face recognition for photo tagging auto-enabled. Disable at will! http://tinyurl/&#8230; (7/6/11)

Don’t think much of this new idea from Facebook, Fred Bloggs and two other friends posted about BBC. So what? Let me decide if those posts are in any way connected. Facebook’s going the same way as MySpace did, getting too damn ‘clever’, by which I mean ‘impossible to use’. (8/8/11)

<rant> So now Facebook tells me about every new friendship one at a time instead of summarising, thus forcing other potentially interesting news items well off the bottom of the screen. Royal Mail would call this ‘modernisation’ or ‘the way forward’. I won’t say what I call it.</rant> (17/8/11)

Oh wow Facebook have actually fixed something. “Fred Bloggs is now friends with Jane Doe and 43 other people.” That’s all I need to know. There was no need to list every one individually. I’m sure there are more Facebook bugs/features on the way. (22/8/11)

Dear Facebook, please can I decide what are my ‘Top Stories’? Also, please fix the ‘Older Posts’ link at the bottom so that I can find any Posts / Stories that you’ve incorrectly relegated. Thanks. (16/9/11)

As far as I can see, in Facebook, if I subscribe to somebody, it’s like they’re my friend but I’m not theirs. I can’t see the point. Is Facebook trying to be Twitter? (3/10/11)

Just below this status box, Facebook says “19 RECENT STORIES, 2 MARKED AS TOP HIGHLIGHTED STORIES FIRST · SORT BY RECENCY”. Recency??? Never seen that word outside psychology text books. So, thanks, Facebook, for broadening my vocabulary. Now go away and fix some bugs. Please. (22/10/11)

Oh FFFFFacebook snafu stop it. (23/11/11)

Haven’t had a moan about Facebook for a while, so I’ll rectify that right now. “Tom Friendlyperson and 5 others posted about Christmas” it says, then displays these 6 postings in a clump, with no regard to the ‘Sort: Recent Stories First’ legend at the top of the screen. Funny thing is, there are other statuses that mention Christmas too, but Facebook has arbitrarily ignored those. Guess it’s worth what I paid for it. (17/12/11)

Exception in createSidebarSection: Error: Permission denied for <moz-safe-about:neterror?e=netReset&u=https%3A//> to call method HTMLDocument.createElement
Even if it was, why do I need to know? And what am I supposed to do about it? Oh, you need me to log in again. Good old Facebook, always thinking about my security. (31/1/12)

What’s on my mind, Facebook asks. I’m staring at a Facebook page which my browser thinks is ‘done’ but which is (apart from the header and the left hand column of Favourites, Groups and Apps) totally empty. Devoid of content. Bereft of reading matter. Depleted. Blank. (20/2/12)

Good old Facebook number 462: You signed up to be one of the first to get Timeline (no I didn’t) and now it’s ready to go. Learn more, watch this video. The video you requested could not be loaded. Try again later. (Thanks, I’ll give it a miss, then.) (23/2/12)

Groan. Facebook. Trending articles. (21/5/12)

Oh F-F-F-Facebook! When did it start popping up with little tabs at the bottom of the screen? And how do I stop it? If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: I wish they’d spend more time fixing bugs and giving us what we want rather than introducing new ‘features’ that we don’t want. (11/2/17)

Since my acquisition of a smart phone, I’ve been able to enjoy Facebook on two devices, on the PC and on the phone. I expected to see the same things in both places, even if what was carefully selected by Facebook’s algorithms was a mere portion of the whole. But no. The subset of posts I see on the phone is different to the subset of posts I see on the PC. So the notion that FB’s algorithm determining what is and isn’t important to me is demonstrably rubbish. It just randomly picks a few posts to throw my way. The alternative theory, that FB is deciding what to show me depending on whether I’m on a phone or on a PC is just too creepy to contemplate, and surely even Facebook wouldn’t do that?

Also, why does it bother to tell me about a post that it doesn’t want to or can’t show me? What am I supposed to do about a message like this:

This content isn’t available at the moment. When this happens, it’s usually because the owner only shared it with a small group of people or changed who can see it or it’s been deleted.

But it’s not just Facebook that annoys me. Sometimes the whole internet is ganging up on paranoid little old me.

I’m sure I used to be able to compose more than one email at a time, without the drafts being deleted. Thanks, Yahoo. So that’s Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook, AVG all ‘improving things’ and adding features that make them harder to use. (26/11/13)


The internet is breaking up before my eyes. Facebook displays a different collection of statuses every time I refresh. Twitter is displaying some tweets twice. Flickr claims to be uploading my photos but is blatantly lying. Radio Downloader is taking over 30 minutes to download a 15-minute long programme. Yahoo won’t even retrieve emails I’ve just sent to myself. Yes, I could turn it off and on again – but where’s the fun in that? (1/6/14)

In my experience, if my browser, Firefox, stops working, it’s usually Facebook causing the problem. “Firefox is not responding” crops up every now and then, for a variety of reasons. Too many tabs open, or a sudden loss of internet connection, they’re reasonable excuses. But usually, deleting the Facebook tab gets things moving again like some electronic laxative.

I’ve always been concerned about Facebook’s inconsistencies in what it deems acceptable. It seems to love right-wing hatred being perpetrated on its platform. Yet it censors photos with the slightest hint of a female nipple.

There are a few good features that I like, such as the ability to hide all those annoying games and apps that peppered the site in the early days. That’s a setting that seems to work. Not to mention the option of muting users whose posts would otherwise monopolise the Facebook page, or ‘timeline’ as my ‘wall’ is now called, at the expense of other people’s more interesting offerings.

But the best way by far to improve the look of Facebook was by implementing an add-on, ‘Social Fixer’. This gives you the ability to hide the adverts, to conceal some areas of the screen so it appears less cluttered and to more easily change some of the settings. You can even change the overall look of Facebook: for a while, I enjoyed a pink Facebook rather than the drab, default blue.

Frequent bugs, hiding stuff I’d like to see, too many ads, inappropriate ads, security settings being too difficult and dishonest, it’s just not worth my time any more.

Since leaving Facebook, I’ve seen nothing to make me regret the decision. According to various news items, it’s going to become even more bloaty and ambitious. It’s likely to implement its own e- or crypto-currency. So not only will they know where you are, they’ll know what you’re spending your money on.

The moderators who have to sit and view hundreds of disturbing videos and images every day are not employed by Facebook, but by a firm sub-contracted by them. They are badly treated and they can’t remove much of what they see because Facebook’s rules aren’t stringent enough.

When I downloaded ‘my’ Facebook content before closing the account, one of the things I saw was a list of adverts that I’d clicked on. Haha. I didn’t click on any of them out of interest, I just clicked so that I could ‘hide’ uninteresting, repetitive and dodgy adverts. If they count those clicks as a sign of interest, then they’re misleading the advertisers. Surely I’m not the only one who hides adverts?

I’m sure I’ll miss some of the groups I belonged to, especially the funny ones, and I’ll miss the people. Some of whom I interact with mainly on Facebook. But as I write this, three weeks on, I am glad to have thrown it away like a tatty old sock. One of the unintended side-effects is that I now have to look for other things to whinge about and that’s got to be a good thing.

—– The end —

Well, that’s the essay what I wrote, just to get it out of my system. I agree, it needs a bit of editting, but other than reformatting for this blog post, to be honest, I can’t be bothered.

I knew it was the time to leave when we returned from our travels. During that 10 months away, I’d rarely looked at Facebook, so I knew I could live without it. That’s 10 months of far more interesting posts than this one, by the way.

That last sentence though: “One of the unintended side-effects is that I now have to look for other things to whinge about and that’s got to be a good thing.” Actually, I have been trying really hard not to whinge about anything and everything. Live and let live, so to speak. But then along comes an incompetent government, full of self-serving no-good-niks, so what am I supposed to do?





The Wall

It’s Quiz Time! Yes, however long it takes you to read this post, that’s how long you have in which to guess what I did today for the first time since about 1996/7. So, not really a quiz at all, just a guessing game. And there are no prizes either. If you scroll straight to the bottom, then you are a rogue and a vagabond.

Most of the country were looking forward to the final episode of Line of Duty on TV. I even rustled up a snack for me and Liesel.


I broke into the bottle of whisky that Liesel bought for my birthday. Sorry to say my birthday chocolate was nowhere to be found, long sinced enjoyed secretly in my secret lair aka my studio.

A lot of viewers thought this final episode was an anti-climax, but I’m not so sure. There are still a lot of unanswered questions and loose threads. No spoilers here, but having watched all, yes all, of the preceding episodes during the week, it does make sense, there were clues.

Whinge of the week can be summed up in two words: the weather. Meanwhile, in NSW, they’re backburning in the bush, so Sydney catches the smoke and residents can’t breathe. On the plus side though, all that muck in the atmosphere makes for some pretty sunsets.

Sunset in Manly NSW

This is what Helen has to look at from her flat every evening. The bad news is that there are now a couple of Covid cases in NSW, with all that that implies: visits to other states may be prohibited.

Northenden continues to surprise me. I’ve been walking the same streets for a couple of years, but I’m still seeing things I’ve not noticed before. Often for the simple reason that I’ve been on the other side of the road.

Sorry Protection Sells

The outside wall of this house has been beautifully(?) decorated, I can only imagine how glamorous it is inside.

As Spring (sort of) makes progress, the leaves on the bushes on the island in the river are nicely hiding all the plastic rubbish that was caught up during the floods a few months ago. The heron has been a bit elusive this week, but he knows how to tease: I can just see him lurking behind the fence!

Foliage hiding the rubbish

Liesel was having problems with her laptop this week. It spontaneously reboots for no obvious reason. I had some ideas and so did Liam, thank you, Liam. Part of the diagnosis involved leaving a Zoom call open while doing something else on the laptop: not quite testing to destruction but trying to see if it was over-heating or something. I had installed a program to show us the temperature of the innards (sorry about the technical language). I was the other participant in Liesel’s Zoom call and I was messing around with different backgrounds.

Selfie of the day

I wasn’t really Zooming on the beach. And my hair isn’t really in a cloud of candyfloss. Have you guessed yet what did I do today for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century?

The other thing I did was turn off the laptop’s option to automatically reboot. So, if something does go wrong from now on, we should have a chance to see any error message that might pop up. And yes, of course we’ve done the first thing any decent IT support person would suggest: we’ve given the computer a jolly good talking to.

We had a lovely walk at Quarry Bank again this week, and I won’t mention the weather.

Fluffy clouds

Except to say, blue sky and fluffy clouds in one direction were very pretty. The solid grey lumps of lead in the opposite direction not so much! We felt a few spots of rain and even hail, but nothing too horrible.

Azaleas and rhododendrons

As I’ve mentioned before, we love a splash of colour, that always lifts the mood.

Pink rhododendrons

As Liesel pointed out, this rhododendron is more of a tree than a bush.

Yellow rhododendrons

And as Liesel reminded me, I don’t think we ever saw Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park at the real height of its flowering rhododendron gorgeousness. Just before and just after, yes, but not on the actual day.

It was that time again: I visited the dental hygienist. Meanwhile, Liesel visited  her beautician way over there in Gatley. But then she drove to CostCo, a trip that I missed out on. After loading up the trolley, queueing at the checkout and being invited to pay, Liesel realised that her debit card was out of date. It’s so long since we’ve been to proper shops and she’d forgotten to put the new card, received a few weeks ago, into her wallet. Fortunately, CostCo now accepts credit cards, so they didn’t force her to replace everything on the shelves.

Here’s a tip: when you go shopping for the first time after a long lockdown, make sure your payment cards have not expired.

I was feeling quite relieved about having dodged a trip to that place. But Liesel realised she’d forgotten one important item, something we can’t find anywhere else. So, as we were driving away from Quarry Bank, she asked, would I mind if we went back to CostCo to pick up the missing item? I was so shocked by this unexpected invitation, I couldn’t immediately think of a good enough reason to say ‘no way, José’. And off we went. Things are getting back to normal. I know this because we both whinged about the amount of traffic near the Trafford Centre and also the quality of some of the driving.

I thought I might as well have a quick look at the DVD players while I was there in a big warehouse, but we couldn’t find any. Neither could we find what Liesel had forgotten earlier in the week. There was none on the shelf. Yes, we were looking in the right place, there was plenty of similar stuff, but not specifically what we needed. Instead, we just bought baked potatoes for lunch, which we ate in the car, since the restaurant seating has all been removed, presumably because of Covid restrictions.

We have made a guest appearance on someone else’s blog this week. Thank you Jacob for inviting us. So here is another small contribution to our Warholian fifteen minutes of fame.

This week’s Radio Northenden show was all about The Letter Z. Jazz, pizza, ZZ Top and Iz. Catch up here if you mizzed it!

So, here it is. Did you manage to guess what I did today for the first time in nearly 25 years? Well, here’s a clue:

Long-haired yeti

Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. Then I spotted some new hair ties that Liesel had bought the other day. I couldn’t resist the temptation to tie my long lockdown locks into a pony tail. It won’t last long, though. The pony tail is, as I’m sure you’ll agree, a total delight, but the large ill-defined bald patch on top is just embarrassing. Sometime during the next couple of weeks, I should visit a barbershop and have a slight trim.

Obscured by Clouds

That light at the end of that Covid tunnel? It’s a bit brighter now, we are getting there. I decided to walk to the venue, it was a nice day after all, plus I would see parts of Wythenshawe I’d not seen close-up before. Woodhouse Park Lifestyle Centre was the destination. Yes, I was excited to be receiving the second of my two Pfizer vaccinations. I was also looking forward to accepting another chocolate biscuit, of course.

Front end of a tram

As the tram passed by, I mentally celebrated impending increased freedom. My Senior Bus Pass has arrived too, and in three weeks time, when my immunity is at its best, I’ll at least be thinking about taking a bus somewhere. Plus, trams and trains are a possibility. Our world is growing wider.

Street Market

The street market is obviously not as extensive as it used to be (yet), and again, the possibility of visiting markets outside, followed by shops indoors, is quite attractive. And I am by no means a big shopping fan, as any female in my life will confirm.

Bee in the city: Wythenshawe

I haven’t mentioned coffee for a while, but a cappuccino is a very nice cup of coffee. And for children, you can buy a babyccino, which is just warm, frothy milk. Our new coffee shop Boxx2Boxx offers beverages for dogs, a puppyccino. And you’d think that would be it. Oh no. I saw this advert and did a double take.


Carpuccino’s? I like a good pun, but this is off the scale, the wrong end of the scale. It’s not even a drink, just a daft name for a car-washing service. I know our vehicle deperately needs a clean, especially since people began asking us whether they could borrow it to grow potatoes on, but washing a car in old coffee dregs doesn’t seem right.

I arrived at the Lifestyle Centre fifteen minutes early: yes, I still walk faster than Google Maps gives me credit for. The volunteer outside said to go straight in. I was processed very quickly, being passed from volunteer to direction-giving volunteer like an extremely valuable pass-the-parcel, only instead of removing a layer of clothing each time, all I did in the end was roll up a sleeve to receive the jab. The small scratch was more noticeable this time. I’m not complaining, but I did have this image of the needle being screwed into the muscle rather than being pushed in, this time. No chocolate biscuit, but that’s alright. I now feel even more invincible than I was before.

While sitting for the required fifteen minutes in case of sudden, unexpected problems, I spoke to both Jenny and Liesel. My initial plan to walk home again was changed. Instead, Liesel collected me and we drove straight over to Jenny’s with the millionaire’s shortbread that Liesel had baked. Well, most of it.

As soon as I got out of the car, I was attacked by William and Martha. In a well-planned ambush, they both got me with their water pistols. Pistols? Water blasters, each of which semingly holds several gallons of ammunition, most of which got me with pinpoint accuracy.

William the water blaster

Yes, of course I ran away down the road like the cowardly wimp I am,  but that didn’t stop them. No, I didn’t mind getting soaked, it was a warm day, and I was feeling quite buoyant from the jab.

Martha, another water blaster

We spent some time in the garden with the children, which is always a delight. Liam was working in the shop, serving his customers, answering the helpline, taking orders and everything.

Two coffees and six doughnuts, please, Daddy

It was ridiculously nice being in a garden, lying on the grass, chewing the fat, not quite nodding off in the Sun, listening to the children playing and laughing and chatting. Still no physical contact, of course, but there is a bit more flexibility in our social distancing and interactions.

Unexpectedly, I had some annoying side-effects following the second jab. I couldn’t sleep that night, but certainly made up for it the following night. And in between, I was lethargic, achy and stiff and I had to force myself to eat. 24-hour flu? Something like that, and yes, just for one day, thank goodness. The site of the jab was sore for a few days too, compared with exactly 4 hours for the first one. 

Back in Northenden, there is colour in unexpected places. The planters on Palatine Road are a blaze of colour.

Tulips in Northenden

And the aforementioned Boxx2Boxx seems to be doing well, attracting visitors from far and wide, including one day, most of the Manchester City women’s football team. Whom I instantly recognised, of course. No. not really.

I drank water…

We had a so-called Pink Moon this week, when the Moon is closer to Earth while full. Well, as usual, we didn’t see it, too much cloud cover for a few nights.

We drove to Dunham Massey on what turned out to be a cooler day than anticipated. The wind was chilly but that didn’t put us off walking nearly 5 miles. It threatened to rain, too, but we kept going. Another visitor was feeding a deer, no idea what the food item was, but it reminded us of Nara in Japan, where the deer bow to people in expectation of being fed.

My new app, the one that tells me what birdsong I can hear, is remarkable. It listens to the sound, then tells me all the possible birds it might be, mostly ones I’ve already thought of. It’s certainly not as slick nor as accurate as Shazam is for music.

On our long walk around this National Trust venue, we witnessed young children playing football and one little girl jumping in a ‘puddle’, only there was no water in it. So not really a puddle at all, I suppose, but what do you call the muddy indentation where a puddle might form when it rains? Another one for the philosophers of the world. We saw a couple of white deer in the distance, which just goes to show how well camouflaged conventionally coloured deer are. Even those whose bottoms look like badgers’ faces.

Flower bed

In domestic news, our shower blocks up fairly often, especially with our copious, long, lockdown hair falling out. So I recently acquired a gadget which I can put down the drainage hole to grab the offending blockage and pull it out. There’s a gripper that opens when you press the button at the other end. Does it work? Not with our shower drain, no. Because of some clever design, two inches down, there’s a flat surface which covers most of the width of the pipe, so water has to drain around this disc’s edge. My new gadget isn’t flexible enough to go down and round this tight corner. So, back to chemicals it is.

Have we tried a plunger? A plunger would possibly work if we could get a good enough seal, which we can’t because of the carefully installed nobbles that hold the drainage cover in place! Stupid design details that just aren’t practical. Put the nobbles on the underside of the cover and recesses in the shower floor, then we could at least try to use a plunger.

Also, we now need a new DVD player. The old one has been reluctant to open its drawer for some time. So after threatening it yet again with replacement if it didn’t cooperate, we had to resort to violence. I inserted a plastic tool to force the drawer open. That worked, but in the process some ratchetty noise told us, or at least strongly implied, that the drawer would never again close properly. RIP, not so faithful DVD player.

Other than that, we need a new dishwasher because the old one has a door whose springs have snapped so it no longer glides gently open. When we forget, it drops to the floor and one day, the hinges are gonna snap, the door will crash on the floor, possibly with such force that it will fall off and crash through into the luxury apartment below. We’re hoping to hold out until we can afford to get the whole kitchen done, but we’ve already had to replace the washing machine.

So much for not being a fan of shopping: there are several expeditions in the pipeline by the looks of it.

I was pleased to have a guest on my Radio Northenden show this week: Rizwana from Bluebird Care here in South Manchester told us about what they do from day to day. Other than that, I played some fabulous charity records. Catch up here, or listen here on Wythenshawe Radio Wednesday at 7pm.