Goosebumps and chicken skin

Salford Lads’ Club is a place that has escaped our attention until recently. I joined Liesel, some other WI members and a large group of others on a tour of the place. We met the guide outside the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester and we walked briskly to our destination.

Salford Lads’ Club

Its story is over 100 years old and many local lads have made themselves at home here. In particular, they are very proud of Allan Clarke and Graham Nash from the Hollies and Morrissey from The Smiths. Boxing and gymnastics have been popular over the years too.

Boxing ring

Liesel declined my invitation to go for three rounds in the ring, even though this was the first time either of us had been in the presence of such an opportunity.

Moz Mosaic by Mark Kennedy

This world-famous mosaic is arguably the highlight of The Smiths Room: it was previously located at Affleck’s Palace in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, another venue that has escaped my attention until now. But this is what’s exciting about getting to know a new city and a new neighbourhood.

Mick in a hat

Here’s a picture of Mick following Conservative government policy: rules are for other people.

We walked back into Manchester and then on the way home, we stopped off at Sainsbury’s. I had a quick look at the laptops in John Lewis but again couldn’t see what I was looking for, whatever that is. None of them come with CD players any more. Maybe I’m clinging to the past. But I’m not asking for a floppy disk drive or a punch card reader, just a CD or DVD reader.

The highlight of the week was William’s birthday party. This was the first time we’d met up with the wider family in nearly two years. We had a good time and more importantly, so did the birthday boy.

Alright William?
Bike, balloon and Batman birthday boy

It was good to see the other grandparents but I probably didn’t need to see the scars on Uncle Paul’s recently broken but now healing arm. Nothing personal, but that sort of thing is the reason I am not a doctor.

Superwings cake

We sang Happy Birthday and cheered as William blew the candles out in one go. Then we sat waiting expectantly for a slice of the cake. Martha came over giggling and presented me with the smallest sliver you can imagine. The other grandfather, Papa didn’t fare any better. What a swizz! We did receive a proper, decent slice in the end, but you can go off people, you know.

Another highlight of the week was meeting up with Jenny for a coffee one day. It’s been so long since we’ve spent time together, on our own, without children around. Let’s not wait another two years, Jenny!

Knowing the weather was about to get much colder, Liesel and I went out for a long walk along the river, towards Chorlton on a bright and sunny but noticeably cooler day.

Trees by the river

We saw a robin then we saw a man with a big zoom lens taking pictures of a different robin. He told us there were goosanders around the bend, and indeed we did see a couple of what I thought were mergansers.

Goosander or merganser?

Well it’s confusing because the Latin name for Goosander is Mergus merganser and my ornithological knowledge is as rubbish as my botanical expertise. Last week for example, I referred to our flowering plant as a Christmas cactus. Thanks to Ann, we now know it’s actually a Michaelmas or Thanksgiving cactus. In which case, its timing is spot on. How is it doing now, you ask?

Blooming marvellous

It’s very pretty, but while it looks sunny here, the temperature outside is hovering around 0° and it feels much colder thanks to Storm Arwen. Speaking of which, we must have had a mini whirlwind in the communal car park overnight, because the fallen leaves had all been blown into a nice tidy heap behind a neighbour’s car.

Arwen tidies up the leaves

So much for leave blowers. In fact, I’ve just decided my new years’ resolution. Next time I hear a leaf blower, I’m going to go out and reverse its polarity so it sucks instead. Much more useful.

Anyway, it’s Thanksgiving and once again, Liesel pulled out all the stops and gave us all a pretty substantial and very tasty Thanksgiving meal. This was after we’d picked Martha and William up from school and, as a treat, let them pick litter on the walk home.

Little pickles / Litter pickers

Yes, it’s a City of Manchester binbag and we’re picking litter in Cheadle Hulme, which is in Stockport, but I don’t think the authorities will mind too much.

Martha was very impressed with Oma’s peppermint pie, possibly because of its Peppa Pig pink colour. But it was very nice, and minty, and very different to the pumpkin pie that we’re still enjoying a couple of days later.

Sunset collection

We’ve had some pretty sunsets and we even spotted Jupiter one night. Saturn would have been visible if it wasn’t for the trees in between. Spot the odd pic out. Three are here in Northenden and the other is from Australia’s Blue Mountains: thanks, Helen, wish we were there with you!

Another highlight of the week was enjoying my first massage in nearly two years. The bones creaked, the muscles popped, the ligaments groaned, the second toe complained, but even my goosebumps had goosebumps at times. I’d forgotten just good it feels to be well and truly straightened out and stretched and poked and pummelled.

On a philosophical note: if there are numerous highlights in a short period of time, are any of them, in fact, highlights? Or do I just accept that I’ve had a very good week, thanks, even if the cold weather is now giving me chicken skin. And why is ‘goosebumps’ one word while ‘chicken skin’ is two words?

Let’s Dance! This was the title of my Radio Northenden show this week. Catch up here. It’s extra long this week because there were just too many good tunes to leave any out. A bargain for so-called Black Friday. Wythenshawe Radio WFM 97.2 will get the usual two hours. Proof that Radio Northenden is much better value.

The Last of the Summer?

For the second year in a row, our Christmas cactus has leapt into bloom a few weeks early, brightening the kitchen with a wonderful display of almost fluorescent pink flowers.

The pinkest pink

Sadly we had to leave it behind when we went away for a few days. Yes, way down south to  Exeter to see our friend Sarah. It’s a long way but bizarrely, it’s a much easier drive to Exeter from Northenden than it is from Chessington. Motorways most of the way, M6 and M5 take us to within a stone’s throw of Sarah’s place.


Naturally, on passing this sign, for a brief moment, I wished we were driving towards Wellington, New Zealand, especially now they’re heading into Summer. But we’ll be back one day, and meanwhile, we can enjoy everything that Exeter has to offer.

On arrival, we threw a stone at Sarah’s place and she showed us to the car park where we parked up and didn’t even think about the car until it was time to depart.

Sarah hasn’t changed a bit since we last saw her nearly two years ago and I think she was very happy to accept the blanket hand-crafted by Liesel.

Sarah and Liesel, blanket buddies

We went for a nice walk through the town, down to the river and the canal, and it was very pleasant even if the Sun had long since disappeared below the horizon.

St Leonard’s

This church spire is prominent, you can see it from most of the town so it acts as a good landmark.

While Sarah visited someone the following day, Liesel and I joined a guided tour of Exeter and we retraced some of our steps from the night before. The guide, Mike, was interesting and gave us a quick history of the town: Romans, wool, textiles, imports, exports plus some stuff he made up, probably. There are lots of old warehouses, all now being used for other purposes, most notably, coffee shops.

Abseiling tower

The abseiling tower is under-utilised, which is a shame. But no, we didn’t volunteer to have a go, either.

Exe and weir

The river Exe is no longer tidal in Exeter but the old chain ferry is still in operation across the river, just not this time of year. So that’s 50p each we’ve saved.


No, not really,  but this part of town stood in for Liverpool in the old TV series The Onedin Line. Filming was done carefully. Ships had the sails fully hoisted in some shots purely to conceal the gasometers over the river. These have now been dismantled.

And what a gorgeous day. The weather app said it was 13° today, but it felt much warmer than that to me. Even so, people were walking around wearing three or four layers of clothing. Me? Just a shirt and shorts. I got some admiring glances from the locals*. I got some funny looks from the locals*. *Delete as you see fit. All I can say is, I have a great metabolism which doesn’t complain about the temperature unless it is extreme. 

We walked around the town for a while and met up with Sarah later. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the museum was most enjoyable, with some terrific pictures and a few that were a bit distressing.

Keep Looking

I think if I had to pick a favourite, it would be this one of a lion through the grass. It was taken by Greg du Toit, from South Africa, in a reserve in Botswana. He wished to convey the feeling of standing on the edge of a wilderness, looking in through a dividing curtain. One day, Liesel and I hope to visit Botswana and see this for ourselves.

In the evening, we walked down into town again because we had tickets for a very special show. Count Arthur Strong and the team recorded not one but two Christmas Specials, which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 sometime. Probably around Christmas, come to think of it. One show this year and one next year.

Count Arthur String In the hat) and cast

On our final day down south (for now), Liesel and Sarah enjoyed a shopping expedition while I wandered aimlessly around town. I did look at the laptops on offer at John Lewis, but there wasn’t much choice here. I know there’s a worldwide shortage of microchips, but even so, what a disappointment. I walked around the town, back to the river, and beyond.

None Here

Steve McCraken has decorated the town liberally with these attractive birds. No idea why he uses the name ‘None Here’. And what a shame someone feels the need to spoil it with their own tag.

Grim Reaper?

An unusual feature to have on a shop front, and it’s not even an undertakers’ premises.

1988/89 was designated The Year of the Pedestrian. To mark the occasion, Devon County Council commissioned this statue.

Family of pedestrians by Carole Vincent

It’s good to see that local folks are still able to enhance this work of art. I think we all need googly eyes and coconut shell hats, that would cheer us all up. I think this ‘vandalism’ is more acceptable than boring old tagging because at least it’s creative and quite funny.

The drive home was long and uneventful. Lots of cones on the motorways, but I suppose they have to be stored somewhere.

And at home, we had a medical week. I went to the dentist, as did Liesel, but she also visited the physiotherapist and the beautician.

The Wednesday Walk in Northenden was good, we went along the river to Simon’s Bridge and back. Just a couple of muddy patches on the path.

In the evening, we attended a concert. This time, we saw Seth Lakeman at Stoller Hall in Manchester. He’s celebrating the 15th anniversary of the release of his album Freedom Fields. He and the band performed the whole album in the second half of the show, but before that, they also sang some songs from his new album. No, I didn’t buy the new CD. I would have, but when I went on my interval wander, I left my coat behind on the seat and my phone was in the pocket. And I rarely carry cash these days, of course, pretty much everything is contactless payment.

Seth Lakeman and band

Thursday is our childminding day. William came out of school as usual full of energy: he probably ran a mile by the time Martha came out and another by the time we got home.  This week, Martha told us about Grace Darling, a hero that Mr Price told me about at primary school a few years decades ago.

After some craftwork and playing, we ate dinner with Jenny and Liam. We asked William a question, and he didn’t answer immediately. Instead he started tapping his head with his forefinger declaring, “I’m thinking”. He carried on thinking until he reached that ‘aha’ moment at which point he did the head exploding sign.

A phantasm approached me, shimmering in the moonlight, almost glowing, in an unknown colour somewhere between white and gold. She spoke to me in hushed tones and I wondered where she came from.
“Are you a tooth fairy?” I wondered.
“Oh no, I’ve been promoted” said the ethereal being. “I have come before you on this momentous day, dear Mick, marvellous Mick, to grant you three wishes.”
“Three wishes?” I repeated. “And presumably I can’t use one of those wishes to ask for three more?”
“That is correct. Now think carefully.” So I gave it a great deal of thought. This might be my only opportunity to end world hunger. To stop all the wars. To finally end the climate crisis. But no: surely these things have been wished for a million times efore?
“Please, oh wonderful and exalted being,” I effused, “please arrange for the foliage fallen from our favourite oak tree, just outside, to be picked up and taken away before it blows around and blocks up our the drains.” A million leaves were in our communal car park, and it would be good to see them put to good use in someone’s garden.

And lo, in the morning, I beheld a wondrous sight. A flatbed truck in our car park and two men picking up the leaves. One was raking them into piles and the other was picking them up with the aid of a pair of outsize plastic grabbing gloves. They had several large bags of leaves and I thought they were doing a brilliant job. I silently thanked my nebulous visitor and again wondered why I’d been chosen to have these wishes granted.

Picking up leaves

I sat there enjoying a brew, listening to the radio and congratulating myself on a brilliant choice of first wish. I should have known better. The universe shattered like an old plate and I heard the dreaded noise that should not be named. The ubiquitous sound of a leaf blower. There, I said it. Yes, one of my heroes was down there blowing the last few thousand leaves off the hard surface and into the bushes. So disappointing. That tip I gave them? I felt like going down and asking for it back. If I’d given them one.

Leaf blower

And yes, of course, by the following morning, the leaves had found their way back onto the wider parking area. I realised that this wish-granting business is a bit of a con. I probably won’t bother with the other two.

Liesel went to CostCo and while I appreciate the invitation to join her, I decided instead to join the usual Friday Wythenshawe Walk. I just missed a bus, so rather than get off halfway and walk the rest of the way like I usually do, I thought I’d stay on the bus all the way. Big mistake. It goes all round the houses and waits in the bus station for several minutes. It really would have been quicker to get off and walk.

On arrival at the Lifestyle Centre, the start of the walk, I was surprised to see nobody else waiting, even though I was, in the end, only a couple of minutes late. I remember Chantel saying that the Wythenshawe Walk was cancelled next week, but I got to thinking, maybe I’d misremembered, and it was this week’s walk that was not taking place. It was such a nice day, I decided to walk around the circuit anyway and then have a cup of coffee. So off  I set for Painswick Park, around the lake, chatting with the geese and the moorhens.


Then I saw some familiar faces ahead. Yes, it was the gang of Wythenshawe walkers. I caught up and walked the rest of the way with them. Being British, of course I commented on how lovely the weather was, and how I wouldn’t complain if our whole Winter was like this. Then I received the devastating news that snow is forecast for next week. I now wish I hadn’t given away my last two wishes. It’s funny old waether: Autumnal, yet we’d be happy to have days this warm in the middle of Summer. Maybe colder days are a-coming.

I walked home, taking advantage of the nice weather and couldn’t help but notice this poster:

Turn and face the change

It’s very nearly a David Bowie lyric, after all.

The radio show this week is based on the theme of Dinosaurs, in honour of William’s upcoming birthday. No, he’s not a dinosaur, but he is a big fan of the old beasties. Listen back here or listen to the repeats on Wythenshaw FM 97.2 at 7pm Wednesday and again 2pm next Friday.

All day yesterday, every time I stood up from the sofa, Liesel’s started laughing. I could have taken it personally, but it wasn’t my fault. Apart from all the usual CostCo purchases, Liesel had bought me a new pair of shoes. I was trying them on for comfort, walking round the house. Comfortable, yes, but they squeak. The left one is especially loud, but the right one didn’t like being left out and soon joined in the chorus. So I squeak my way to the kitchen and to the radio studio. Squeak squeak squeak squeak. It reminds of of dear old Mrs Winters, the cleaner in our hall of residence, all those years decades ago. Her squeaky shoes were a good early warning to make ourselves decent before she came into the room. By my reckoning, she is now about 140 years old.

Double double W

Liesel met up with her WI mates in Didsbury for a coffee. I accompanied her to the venue, walking along the river for part of the route. We weren’t particularly aware of any strong winds recently, but one tree had blown down and was lying across the path.

Is this why Americans call Autumn ‘Fall’?

But despite the recent rain, the path wasn’t too muddy. Which is nice when you’re wearing your Sunday best shoes to meet the ladies of the WI. After depositing Liesel at the selected venue, I carried on to Withington, where I planned to have a coffee. Unfortunately, my chosen café wasn’t open on this occasion, so I waited until I’d walked all the way back to Northenden for my fix. Here are some of the unusual things I saw in Withington and beyond.

Big bird mural, Withington
Higher class of graffiti
Marcus Rashford without the messages of support

So that’s Withington. Next up, Worsley. We went there to follow a suggested walk from our book. And what a delightful place that is. We walked towards and along Bridgewater Canal and yes, we have visited other stretches of this canal in the past.

Bridgewater Canal

We followed directions to Worsley Delph, not knowing what such a thing was. It’s the entrance to the Duke of Bridgewater’s underground mines, and marked by a strange object which probably had some use in the past.

Worsley Delph

After a mile or so of the canal, we crossed the bridge and walked back, through Worsley Woods, to complete the circuit.

Worsley Woods*

*Blimey, this picture looked OK on my phone. Screw your eyes up and pretend it’s an impressionist painting, OK?

It will be interesting to see this place at a different time of year. We heard a few birds but saw even fewer: maybe there were just too many people around. The fresh air was welcome of course, but the fumes from the passing Environment Agency van were a bit strong.

One squirrel

Autumn colours, brown and yellow were definitely prominent today, so this splash of red from an acer was a surprise. Hard to miss, really.


After completing the 5-mile loop, we returned to The Horsebox which we’d seen on the way out. It really is a converted horsebox, selling coffee, tea and in our case today, the best hot chocolate we’ve had for ages.

As if that wasn’t enough adventure for one day, on the way home, we acquired a flat tyre. On the M60. We pulled off at the first opportunity and called our breakdown service. But within five minutes, a man on a motorbike stopped and offered to help. After 10 minutes, he’d swapped the driver’s wheel for the half-size spare. 10 minutes. Things like that make me feel useless. Last time I changed a wheel, it took me well over half an hour. Unfortunately, neither of us had cash, so we were unable to buy a pint for this Good Samaritan.

To warn other approaching drivers of our hazardously parked vehicle, I moved some cones out into the road: thank goodness they’d been left behind by someone.

We often see a squirrel on or close to the oak tree outside our flat, but there was a whole herd of them when I returned from a walk with the Northenden group of walkers.

Three squirrels

I usually stay for a coffee with this group after the walk, but on this occasion, I didn’t: Liesel and I had plans to visit Windermere, about 1½ hours north. Only 85 miles north but much, much closer to the north pole if the temperature difference is anything to go by. I was excited to see the first Christmas tree of the year, outside the local branch of Lakeland. Actually, it’s also the headquarters of the company. Liesel bought a couple of small items while I inspected the facilities.

Christmas tree

We set off for a walk down to the lakeside and on towards Bowness. We stayed on a path by the lake, in the woods, for as long as possible, but we had to walk through a sheep field with all the usual hazards therein. The terrain was varied and much more hilly than Northenden, of course. Good exercise, and a beautiful part of the world.

Public jetty on Windermere

It’s always good to see young people smoking pot at the end of a jetty. A small child asked her Daddy if there were fish in the lake. Yes. Fish you can eat? Yes, some of them.

We didn’t go into the Windermere Jetty Museum because by the time we got there, we had to return, otherwise we’d be out after sunset and if that happens, we turn into pumpkins, or something. We always keep a lookout for wildlife of course, and Liesel spotted this pole cat.

Pole cat

As we passed by the Bowness Bowling Club, I briefly thought we should take up that sport again. Again? We gave it a go in Chessington and the guy said I was ‘a natural’. A natural what, he didn’t elaborate.

And so, we found ourselves back in Windermere and guess who we bumped into? Helen and Steve from Chessington, that’s right, how did you know? We’d arranged to meet them here for a meal at The Smith. A nice place with a menu limited to only 8 kinds of pizza. So we had pizza. There were rock’roll artefacts on the wall and I think when it grows up, this place will be a Hard Rock Café.

Walls inside The Smith

It was nice to catch up with these southerners: they’d mainly come up to the Arctic Circle to visit Helen’s Godmother. Our drive home in the dark was uneventful, and we were aware of passing the spot where we’d got the puncture earlier in the week.

Well, I say uneventful, but we stopped for a break on the motorway and I bought some Minstrels for Liesel and some Liquorice Torpedoes for myself. I used to like those when I was young. Sticky lump of liquorice coated in a thin sugar-based candy shell. You could suck the colour off or crunch them and enjoy the burst of liquoricy, aniseedy flavour. I’ve not eaten them for decades believing them not to be vegetarian. Well, this packet assured me they were suitable for freaks such as me. The torpedoes were bigger than I remembered, but the same shape. And hard. They were coated in coloured concrete rather than the thin candy shell like you get with Smarties or even M&Ms. These old choppers of mine struggled to crush the outer layer, but when enough had dissolved and I could crush the item, I did enjoy the liquorice taste. Liesel agreed they’re not your teeth’s best friend. I forced myself to finish this packet over the next few days, but I won’t be buying Liquorice Torpedoes again. Along with Mars Bars and Irn Bru, that’s three childhood delicacies that I can no loner enjoy. What a shame.

Vincent van Gogh is one of our favourite artists so we had to visit an exhibition. Van Gogh Alive is set up in a marquee on the Piazza outside the BBC in Media City, Salford Quays. It’s an immersive experience. You walk through projected images of his paintings, some animated, and it’s all accompanied by very suitable music.

Popular artist, popular show
Bedroom, based on a painting
Selfie of the day

After the main event, you’re guided into a room full of sunflowers and, you’d think, that would be a great photo opportunity. But because the walls are reflective, making the room seem much bigger than it really is, you can’t get a decent picture without including people, even if those people are your own reflection.

But it is a great show, you’ll learn a lot about poor old Vincent. Five stars from Liesel and me, highly recommended.

On the way back to the car park, we stopped for a coffee. Liesel chose gingerbread latté, one of the Christmas flavours. Some strange new force in the universe messed with the wiring in my brain and I decided to have one too, only a large one. What a disappointment. Not very gingerbready, not very coffee-like, just very sweet, hot milk really, with a nondescript flavour. I won’t be having that again, thank you very much.

On TV this week, at last, we’ve caught up with the incredibly tense drama serial, Vigil. That is probably the most claustrophobic I’ve ever felt, even though I wasn’t on board the submarine myself. Good drama, but it made my palms sweat.

To complete the week’s W walks, I joined the Wythenshawe group, in Painswick Park and around, back to The Forum for a coffee.

This week, the radio show features songs requested by people from Northenden, from the rest of the UK and from all around the world: yes, I have a small but international audience. You can listen back here.

It’s been a labour of love, but the good news is, Liesel has completed another blanket via the medium of crocheting. It’s quite nice this time of year, working with a heavy, woollen blanket on your lap, but in the height of Summer, not such a pleasant experience! What a great job, Liesel. Another five star review.

The latest very colourful blanket

People of a nervous disposition should leave now.

At last, after having had it wobbled in front of our very faces for the last several weeks, Martha’s first tooth has fallen out.

Martha: she doesn’t mind the gap

She enjoyed a visit from the tooth fairy: it almost makes up for us grandparents not child-minding this week, as  we had a previous engagement with Vincent, but everything’s back to normal next week. Also, next week, we hope to visit places which begin with letters other than W.

Muddy boots

Quarry Bank Mill beckoned and we had a good walk, enjoying the sunshine and the Autumnal colours. It wasn’t too crowded, but one of the paths was just a bit too muddy, so we had to do a U-turn. We made a mental note to take our wellies out of storage ready for the next time. I take a quick photo now and then, but it was good to see a small group of people taking the time to paint a picture.


Liesel is a big fan of these red shoots. I think I remember it being known as dogwood from when I tried to solve the riddles presented in the book Masquerade, all those years ago, clues to the location of a golden hare buried somewhere in the UK. Needless to say, I didn’t find the valued item.


There were a few clusters of mushrooms, which looked jolly tasty. Uh? But we left them for other folks to enjoy. Just in case.

Selfie of the day

We stopped off at the Leisure Centre in Wythenshawe where I had my Covid booster jab. No issues this time, except a slightly tender arm. Oh, and I felt unusually cold for a couple of days, but that may have been because it had become significantly colder and it rained a lot during the course of 48 hours.

In the evening, we walked all the way up the road again to the Northenden Players’ theatre to watch some jazz. Alec Wares played tenor sax, accompanied by a keyboard player whose name I missed, despite it being announced twice. This was our third show from Northenden Arts Festival.

Alec Wares Jazz Duo

On the walk home, we saw this bloke looking a lot worse for wear, he needs to eat something fast, put some meat on those bones.

One of the neighbours

He’d disappeared the following day, I just hope he was taken indoors and wasn’t kidnapped by some local Nothendenizen ne’er-do-wells.

It is of course the season of Hallowe’en and Bonfire night, and I think the two have become conflated in the minds of some locals. I know I’m in danger of becoming a grumpy old Mick but I’m sure fireworks are getting louder every year.

Liesel says: Whaddya mean, ‘in danger of’?

The final Sunday of each month sees the arrival of Didsbury Craft Market. We risked walking there along the river despite the overnight downpours.

Muddy path

We did see our heron though, on our side of the river. He didn’t fly off when I got my phone out. He was stock still. I suggested it was just a cardboard cutout but no, he did move a couple of times.


That picture was taken looking towards the Sun but I knew that trying to get  a different angle would be futile.

Jenny and Liam came over to the market too, with Martha and William. We just hoped the rain would stay away, come again another day.

Martha the witch

Martha attracted some favourable comments from strangers, coming as she did dressed as a witch, complete with broomstick, wand and wellies. William was dressed as a skeleton but he’d just woken up, felt cold and had to put his coat on, hiding his very bones.

William the skeleton

We bought brownies to complement the other snacks that would last me and Liesel most of the week. The first few spots of rain were the cue for us to set off home.

In the evening, we walked all the way up the road again, this time in really heavy rain, to the Northenden Players’ theatre to watch a play and a Rat Pack Revival.

The play was Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills in which all 7 characters are children, but played by adults. It was performed very well and there was a very unexpected dark ending.

Northenden Players

We could have walked home and back again for the second show, but neither of us fancied it doing that in that rain. So we stayed glued to our seats, watching Bring on the Swing set up. They’re a large band, twelve members, and it’s quite a small stage. But what a show. Plenty of the old classics associated with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. By coincidence, they sang Have You Met Miss Jones? which Alec Wares had played the previous night.

Bring on the Swing

At least after walking home in the rain, we could climb straight into bed. But what a great weekend, five shows over four days. Let’s hope the Northenden Arts Festival becomes a regular attraction.

We haven’t been to Lyme Park for a while, so we returned for a long walk. And yes, we wore our wellington boots. It was very muddy in places, but not as bad as expected after over 24 hours continuous rain. (So much rain, that the river Mersey in Northenden rose by over 1.3 metres, covering the island and flooding part of the road that leads to Didsbury Golf Club.)

Selfie of the day

We usually stop to watch the lack of birds at the feeders but today we were quite lucky.

Coal tits

We walked up towards the folly, The Cage, and this tree caught my eye.

Lone Tree Hill

All that rain earlier in the week had thoroughly washed the air and we had a really clear view of Manchester in the distance. And it must be that time of year when fungi feel emboldened. While we saw mushrooms the other day, it was definitely toadstools we were looking at today. I don’t really know what the difference is except maybe mushrooms look edible while toadstools look poisonous. I might be doing both a disservice.


We might not have spotted these fungi if we hadn’t been walking on the grass. Yes, we walked on the grass rather than the stoney path at this point because the soles of our boots are very thin, compared with our trainers, and we could feel every little stone and pebble and grain of sand. On the other foot, when we come across a stream that’s taking a shortcut across our path rather than following its proper channel, we can just plod on through.

Stream on the path

It was really cold when we collected William and Martha from school. But that didn’t stop William from taking off his coat. We walked back a different way today to avoid the debris left behind following a very recent car crash. So recent, the car was still steaming and there was glass everywhere. The children brought some of their Hallowe’en treats with them and I guess we should be happy that William wasn’t keen on most of the sweets he’d received.

We played with dinosaurs and with the pin-art device that is so much fun, much moreso than you’d expect.

We looked after William for a couple of hours the next day too. The rain made us change our plans. Instead of taking him to the playground just round the corner from his house, we took him home where we played with dinosaurs and the pin-art device that is so attractive. We ate lunch while watching Moana, and he sat still for 90% of the film, which I’d forgotten was quite scary in parts.

It’s my sister Pauline’s birthday this weekend so that gave me the idea of a radio show based on the theme of Growing Old. You can listen back here. Happy birthday, dear sister.