We had a slow start to the day despite Liesel’s best efforts. She had the washing in the machine soon after 7.30 and one very long cycle later, we hung it up. Indoors. Because it was raining. I think they call it mizzle around here, a great word, somewhere between mist and drizzle.
The short drive to John O’Groats was spectacular. The views towards and over the sea are a continual reminder of what a big country this is. And of course photos, especially those taken with a phone, can never do justice to the vista.
No, this isn’t a realistic animal at all, is it, but it greeted us on arrival at John O’Groats. In the background, you can see the Orkney Islands. We’re missing them out this time, but they’re on the (growing) list of places to go back to one day.
Of course, we had to take a photo with The Sign. Just as I did 30 years ago at the end of a three-week bike ride from Lands End. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that? Yes, over 100 of us were in that group, and Liesel was delighted to see the field that we all camped in that night. The books that ‘end-to-enders’ sign are all in storage right now, but it is hoped they’ll be put on display soon, and maybe even digitised. It’ll be fun to see my 30-year old signature.
There’s a lot more here than I remembered, much more than just a hotel and a gift shop which is what I think I was expecting.
Dunnet Head is the most northerly point on the mainland of Great Britain. It’s a fabulous place for bird watching. Wild rock doves, they claim, are the wild ancestors of domestic pigeons. Well, I think the place has just been invaded by plain ordinary pigeons, they look the same to me!
There are plenty of other seabirds to choose from though, fulmars, gulls, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes but of course what everyone wants to see are the puffins. And we did! First puffins we’ve seen in the wild. We don’t know why they should be thought of as more cute than the other species, but they really are. Today for once, I did experience lens envy. The bloke with the three-foot long zoom lens undoubtedly achieved better photos than I did with my phone.
Dunnet Head lighthouse is off limits to the public, but I’m sure the view from the top would be stunning. There is a path leading to a 360° viewpoint, and you can see for miles out to sea and around the coastline.
Passing through John O’Groats for a coffee was a sad occasion. There will now be a two-paragraph silence in memory of the hat I lost in John O’Groats today.
Why do I keep losing apparel in this tiny place? The last time I was here, I managed to lose one of my cycle mitts. Anyway, we drove to Duncansby Head for another walk and a chance to see more seabirds.
It’s a very sandy place, and there are sheep living here. Just like Dunnet Head, there’s a lighthouse that we’re not allowed to visit. There’s also a trig point at both locations, without which our OS maps would be much less accurate.
The beach here looks very inviting, but nobody was taking advantage of it. Hang on, you’re thinking, I thought you lost your hat? I did. This is my number 2 hat, the waterproof one.
The path took us much closer to the nesting birds here. So close, we could smell them. A bit fishy, a bit ammoniacal, probably because of all the guano. There were a few puffins here as well, but mostly I think they’re fulmars. And pigeons. Oops, I mean wild rock doves.
We had a fun long walk here, it was nice and hilly, and you get used to the stench of wildlife after a while. We could see The Old Man of Hoy way over in the distance, another seastack. I said to Liesel, ‘Well, I can’t climb it again today, but maybe I can take its picture’. ‘You’ve climbed it?’ No, of course not. Turns out, I couldn’t take its picture today either, it was just too far away and too hazy.
Back at our place, we listened to James Taylor and Mary Hopkin while reading and writing and eating. A very nice way to end the day, thank you Liesel xx
I woke up at ten past four which was perfect. This was the time for sunrise and I was hoping to see the Sun emerge from the icy depths of the North Sea. But it rose more to the north-east, from behind a hill rather then the sea. It was still a pretty sight to see, but I think we’ll have to come back to Helmsdale in about September for optimum sunrise over the ocean opportunities.
I went back to bed of course: what a ridiculous time of day! We said goodbye to Ruth and before we left, I took down details of the place next door, which is ripe for development.
The asking price is a mere £95,000 but I suspect you’d need that much again to make it habitable.
Helmsdale harbour was all about fishing, which is why the place exists in the first, really.
We spent some time in the museum here, known as Timespan. Some folks had a hard time. Especially the women whose job it was to cut the heads off and remove guts from herrings. They could process up to 60 a minute. Yet in the census, they were just referred to as a fish-wife, the wife of a fisherman.
Also here, we saw a small, insignificant stone that was taken into space in 2019 by Scotland’s first astronaut, David MacKay.
We are now well on our way on the NC 500 tour, the 500 miles that takes visitors around the north of Scotland. The main road, the A9 goes up and down, more or less following the coast. It’s quite steep in a few places, so much so that there are emergency escape lanes. I can’t believe that 30 years ago, I was fit enough to cycle along this road, from Helmsdale to Wick. The views were stunning, on both sides: the sea and the mountains.
Dunbeath is a cute little place. We parked up by an old mill and went for a long walk by the side of a burn.
We walked across a pedestrian suspension bridge, designed by Thomas Telford. It was a bit wobbly, and it has been tethered to the banks presumably to remedy this.
The path alternated between grass and stones, some shingle, a few steep parts too, which were mostly OK, but next time, I’ll put trainers on rather than retain my sandals. Well, I didn’t think we were going to walk as far as we did! There was evidence of sheep but no rabbits, strangely. We investigated the remains of a broch, an old structure that was originally nine metres tall, with really thick walls and an entryway that you have to stoop to walk through.
We passed the remains of an old monastery too, saw a few standing stones and a now overgrown cairn. Best of all, we found a bench to sit on for a while.
It looks as though it would be too lumpy to sit on. But no. I think the time we spent here was the best half hour of the day. What could be more pleasant than spending time with the one you love, outside, on a beautiful day, in the middle of nowhere. The only sounds were small birds singing, some bees buzzing around, the leaves rustling in the trees and the water burbling and gurgling over the stones in the burn. This is what peace and serenity feels like, totally at ease with the world, away from people and everyday problems.
The walk back to the car was somehow easier and quicker Our picnic lunch today was enjoyed outside by the mill, not in the car! I was walking behind Liesel most of the time, and I stopped to make a new friend, so I was delayed.
She was very chatty and I think was protecting a chick in the bushes.
Before continuing our journey north, we stopped off at Dunbeath Harbour. The breakwater is comprised of hundreds of concrete cuboids, laid out as though it were a work of art. Another striking image was this sculpture.
Next stop: Whaligoe Steps. We didn’t know whether we’d follow in the footsteps of those hardy women who carried empty barrels down the 330+ steps, gutted herrings all day, then carried the barrels back up, now full of fish. Weights of up to 100 lb have been suggested. Well, the best laid plans of Mick and Liesel gang aft a-gley, as they say in these parts (I don’t think they do, really). The steps and the café were closed, disappointing us and several other visitors, one of whom may have jumped over the barrier when he thought nobody was watching.
We saw seabirds, gulls and possibly oystercatchers, making their homes in the cliff face. But no, we didn’t bother walking about thirty feet back to fetch the binoculars!
And so, we reached Wick, where we will stay near the airport industrial estate for a few nights. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound very inviting at first, but it’s a nice house, and the fact that the industrial estate and the council dump are close by, well that’s the yang to yesterday’s yin, the lovely view over the sea.
The place is called Wick, the coffee shop is called Wicker’s World, a play on the name of an old TV series in which Alan Whicker reported from all around the world. In Twickenham, there used to be a travel agent called Twicker’s World, so it’s a well-used pun.
Tonight, we listened to the soundtrack from the film Brave, Wynton Marsalis’s album Joe Cool’s Blues and some Scottish music from Eddi Reader, live in concert in Japan a few years ago.
Before we left home, we had a discussion about how to play the music from my phone. If we go alphabetically by artist, then we get all the Beatles songs together, for instance, and each day will be different but not very varied. We tried playing tracks in alphabetical order on a previous trip, and that ensures you hear everything, but you’ll hear, for example, four versions of Life on Mars? in a row. So, random shuffle is the best bet, you’d think. Except that it’s not totally random. Some tracks are repeated as if on heavy rotation, while others are totally ignored. The compromise so far has been to choose specific albums or artists each night. What a conundrum. As I think I said, if this is the worst problem we have to deal with, then we are very lucky people indeed.
What else has gone wrong? Nothing really, just a few more bug bites. Mick is obviously more tasty than Liesel, she hasn’t reported any bites so far, not even a tickle. It’s not nice being bitten, but it’s still sad to see so few insects around. We were talking about how, in bygone Summers, you’d arrive at your destination with a windscreen caked in dry, squished bugs. You’d have to scrape them off with a hammer and chisel.
The first exciting port of call after leaving our Inverness b&b was, wait for it… Aldi. Yes, already, we had food shopping to do. But it was nice to meet Dorothy, our host, just as we were leaving. She’s hoping for more guests later in the year as Covid restrictions are lifted.
Aldi, yes. The less said, the better, as the song goes.
We drove over a couple of bridges today that I cycled over way back in ’91. Kessock Bridge out of Inverness and Dornoch Firth Bridge. The latter was opened in 1991 by HM The Queen Mother, but two or three weeks before that, a group of us cycled over it on our way to John O’Groats from Lands End. We felt very privileged: I think it would have been a 60 mile detour without that bridge!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Kessock Bridge was longer than I remembered and soon after the crossing, we stopped for a short walk. Path to North Kessock, the sign said, 100m. I hoped it was 100 metres rather than 100 miles, and so it was. Down steps. 146 of ’em, that we had to walk back up again.
While at the bottom, we had a quick chat with a couple of locals. They were saying that they used to see dolphins and seals all the time in this, the Beauly Firth. All we saw today was a man fishing. The other attraction here was a Costcutter supermarket. If only we’d known. We could have bought our shopping here instead of Aldi and lugged it all the way up 146 steps.
The first distillery we visited, Glen Ord of Singleton, was probably very interesting. We would have loved sampling the wares. But it was closed. It’s Monday. Oh well, onwards and upwards. Here’s a tip: check that places are open before you turn up unannounced.
We checked and the Glenmorangie distillery was open. And very popular. I tried one whisky and it was so smooth, we had to buy a bottle. I know, I know, we buy whisky faster than we drink it at home but, new year’s resolution: we will finish at least one bottle soon.
What is the significance of all the giraffes? There are pictures all over the place, and several models, all with extremely long necks. This distillery has the tallest stills in Scotland, which we could just see through a mesh, not ideal for taking pictures, so it’s a good job we’re not into industrial espionage.
Yes, I sampled about a quarter of a dram of whisky so of course I found it hard not to nod off in the car. The scenery is always spectacular of course, and we’re not even in the highest of highlands yet. But I’m sure I missed some beauty spots while resting my eyes. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Liesel was driving.
It wasn’t raining today, but we still ate our lunch in the car, admiring a field of barley or something like that. The seeds had spread far and wide, encroaching onto the precious space set aside for a lay-by off the A9 or wherever we were at the time.
Today’s castle was Dunrobin.
I found this one more interesting than the other two, partly helped by the fact that it was well illuminated. The Covid-inspired one-way system worked well too. Lots of stags’ heads on the walls, and lots of portraits of Dukes and Earls of Sutherland and their gorgeous wives. The portrait of Queen Victoria was I think the best I’ve ever seen of her, but not easy to take a picture of, unless you want to look up the royal nose.
The castle looks out over some well maintained gardens, and beyond those is the North Sea. We’d pay extra for an Airbnb with this view.
I’d like to say our selfie skills are improving, but this one disproves that assertion. If I lost some height or if I could persuade Liesel to wear extremely high heels, that might help. Still, we keep ourselves amused by trying.
Cups of coffee were taken here before we left for our final destination today: a cottage way up a hill, just south of Helmsdeep. No, not Helmsdeep, that was the site of a big battle in Lord of the Rings. We’re just south of Helmsdale. I was last there 30 years ago, on the same bike ride referred to earlier. We set up our tents on the beach, close to a shipwreck. In the morning, I noticed what must have been a rabbit hole between the inner and outer sheets of my tent. Do rabbits really burrow on sandy beaches?
Tonight though, after driving up the steepest road imaginable, we are indeed enjoying a beautiful view.
Over the water from left to right, there is Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium and Scotland. We can only see the last one on that list of course.
After supper, I went for a quick walk. I couldn’t get much further up the hill because the vegetation was too dense. So I walked down.
The length of that shadow! And there are still three and a half hours until sunset. This is the day of the Summer Solstice, so days start getting shorter now. It’ll soon be Winter. Yeah, I know how to bring the mood down! And yes, that lump in the middle of the road is horse manure. That horse must have had 27 pints and a huge curry last night.
The yellow of the gorse was very nearly surpassed by the purple and the white foxgloves.
Our evening music was provided by Wings, the London Town album, and by Martha Tilston, as many albums as we can fit in before bedtime. We haven’t turned the TV on anywhere except briefly so we could listen to BBC 6 Music. I finished my book last night, a detective story that was good but, I think, a bit long, just one too many false leads being followed. But we’re in Scotland now and I am looking forward to reading Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, a depiction of more historical Scottish events that we don’t learn about in school. I loved her previous novel, The Mermaid and the Bear, so I know I’m going to enjoy this one, even if the use of the Scots language slows me down a bit!
Our host Ruth has left us these treats. Well, it would be rude not to. Cheers! Slàinte Mhath!
Yesterday I expressed a desire to see a red squirrel. That wish didn’t come true, but we did see a blue one.
We saw this chap just down the road, here in Inverness, one of a series known as The Go Nuts Art Trail, raising funds for the Highlands Hospice. This one’s design is based on Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night.
Today we were tourists. Our first destination was Brodie Castle, named after the anti-hero from the American TV drama series Homeland. We saw a plume of smoke as we approached Inverness Airport and hoped it wasn’t another terrible incident on the road. No, just a harmless factory of some sort.
But nicer than that is the fact that the runways at Inverness Airport are configured to look like a snowflake when viewed from a suitable height.
Brodie Castle looks alright, so we thought we’d ruin the view by standing in front of it.
Each room had its own guide, and they spoke for up to ten minutes. The tour groups were kept separate of course. But it was quite dark inside. Actually, it was pretty dismal outside too. The library was probably fascinating: I would love to have studied the children’s books in case there were any that I remembered from my own childhood, but there just wasn’t enough light.
What could beat seeing a blue squirrel? Seeing the biggest white rabbit in the whole of Scotland, of course.
The sign said to download an app that would animate this large rodent, but I couldn’t get it to work. The playgrounds on the castle site are fantastic, it would be a great place to bring children, or grandchildren, one day.
We had a nice walk around the grounds but while wandering around inside the castle itself, it started to rain. What a shame. Also, we were too late in the year to see the daffodil collection, put together by Ian Brodie after his awful experiences in the Boer and First World Wars left him with what we now know as PTSD. But if we can’t see thousands of golden daffodils, we can enjoy seeing the biggest monkey puzzle tree we’ve ever seen.
It is a truth universally acknowedged that when Mick and Liesel go travelling in the UK, it is likely to rain. It used to rain when Mick and Sarah bed and breakfasted around the country too. We’ve enjoyed so many picnic lunches inside a car, watching the rain cascade down the windscreen while the windows fog up inside. Oh well, we tell ourselves, while chewing sandwiches in a car, in a car park, again, all this rain is what makes Scotland so beautiful.
According to William Shakepeare, Macbeth, the Thane of Cawdor, resided at Cawdor Castle. Not in real life he didn’t, because the castle wasn’t built until 300 years after Macbeth died.
This isn’t the sort of caravan we anticipated seeing a lot of in Scotland. And no, nor is it our accommodation on this occasion. It’s outside Cawdor Castle, which was the next stop on our tour.
I was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, as usual, but I did have a waterproof(-ish) jacket on too. The guide in the castle accused me of being dressed inappropriately. I pointed out that I was dressed correctly, it was the weather that was behaving badly.
For a moment, I thought we’d entered an American house.
Too many firearms for one wall. This castle is occupied by one lady for half the year, and the rest of the time, it’s open to us visitors. Again, lots of historic artefacts. But again, I think I enjoyed walking around the gardens more, despite the weather.
There’s a maze in the gardens, but we’re not allowed to enter it. Maybe they’ve lost too many visitors to the minotaur in the centre. We think it’s a minotaur, but we didn’t bring our binoculars with us today. Although they would have been useful as we watched some birds from a distance, finding something tasty on the path nearby. We saw a thrush, some chaffinches and a yellow thing that was too fast to identify.
What a brilliant work of art. From this angle, the sculpture is of a Mum and her baby having a cuddle, but from the other direction, it’s a pair of hands supporting them both. Very clever.
Another record breaker was this iris.
This is the deepest purple iris we’ve ever seen, and it looks spectacular with a few drops of rain water.
On the way back to our b&b, we stopped at Culloden Battlefield. We’d been before, with Liesel’s Mom and Dad, and the place has lost none of its sense of eeriness. We know the terrible story, how many lives were lost senselessly. The grey clouds were perfectly matched the feeling of foreboding.
I went for a walk around the site, trying to avoid the other visitors. To be fair, they probably weren’t that keen on me, either. I found a couple of the memorial stones that we’d missed last time.
This headstone marks the traditional site of a grave locally believed to be the resting place of the MacDonalds who fell in action during the battle. This stone was erected by members of the Clan Donald Society ‘to honour all MacDonalds killed at Culloden and in battle elsewhere’. A sad but salutory reminder of how lucky I am that I’ve never been involved in any conflict.
A very different day today, just pootling around rather than driving a long way to reach a destination. There’s plenty of that still to come of course.
So what’s gone wrong so far? My first injury was incurred yesterday when I was bitten on the ankle by some bug or other. I’d forgotten all about it until this morning after my shower when I noticed the wound was bleeding. The second injury was caused by hard furniture. My shin detected the coffee table in our lounge. It didn’t break the skin but there is a contusion, which, given we’re in Scotland, I’m naming Robert. Robert the Bruise.
As I write, we’re listening to the golden voice of Eddi Reader, but earlier we re-played my radio show from January, the one with Scotland as its theme. The one in which my microphone wasn’t working for a long time. Lots of fabulous Scottish music, but also an embarrassing amount of dead air.
When you’re packing, for the first time in well over a year, for a trip away from home, what’s the best possible interruption? Why, a visit from a grandson of course, with his Mummy. And if he were to put on a puppet show as well, that would be terrific!
This passed a few minutes in our little car park, which is a good venue too for a quick game of ‘tag’ (without actually touching, of course) and hide & seek, even though the only places to hide really are behind the big oak tree and behind a couple of parked vehicles. The visit was prompted by the fact that Sunday is Fathers’ Day, which had totally escaped my attention this year. The card that Jenny gave me was designed and hand-drawn by William, so it is now taking pride of place on our book shelves.
We don’t think we’ve forgotten anything important. So far. The car was packed, mostly with food that we’ll eat over the next few days. Liesel said she’d packed more stuff for this couple of weeks than she did when we went travelling for ten months!
You may be wondering where we were going. Well, the title of this post is a clue. But the first picture I took, from the car, was of a hill close to the Lake District.
We’re off to sunny Scotland for a bit of a tour. It was good to be on a motorway again. We haven’t been on one since yesterday. We stopped at Tebay Services on the M6 as we always do when this far north, because their selection of vegetarian scotch eggs is lovely. That was the basis for our evening meal on this, the first evening away from home since March 1st last year.
On this day, England were playing Scotland in the first round of a European football competition. I know there’s a lot of rivalry between supporters of these two national teams, so I told Liesel to do all the talking: her American accent is perfectly neutral.
Our first stop on this trip was Dumbarton. The local council is West Dunbartonshire. Dum and Dun. That could be confusing. I went for a quick walk in the evening, and yes, many houses were flying the flag of St Andrew. The views were great: climbing up the hill was worth it: a novelty after the flatlands of home.
The view from the cemetery was especially nice. In fact, the cemetery itself, well laid-out and tidy, was a joy to walk around.
Premier Inn will probably send a questionnaire soon asking how was our stay? Did we sleep alright? Well, I had a nightmare, but I can’t really blame them for that. But the loud man next door who turned up in the middle of the night didn’t have to shout into his phone: that sort of thing went out of fashion a long time ago when mobile phones became ubiquitous, and you no longer had to announce to everyone in the same town or train carriage that you were in possession of such a modern device. Also, I’d advise the good people of Premier Inn to give this particular guest a bigger bucket the next time he checks in, in case he needs to chunder as much as he did first thing this morning. It wouldn’t surprise me if his entrails were all over the floor.
Those sound effects didn’t put us off a nice big breakfast though, before setting off for Geilston Garden, not too far from where we stayed. Geilston, pronounced like the end of ‘congeals’, not the same as The J Geils Band, whose big hit was Centerfold, a long time ago. And, Geilston wasn’t named after the Mr Geils who once owned the place. On the contrary, he bought it because it very nearly shared his name. And we agreed that we’d probably do the same too, if we could afford it. Mick and Liesel’s Big House? Yep, we’ll have that.
The garden was nice and peaceful, the flowers were gorgeous, there’s a walled garden too, a burn to walk beside, and a house that is no longer occupied except by wee beasties, spiders and mice.
We were close to the magnificent River Clyde, and yes, I sang the song, but Liesel wasn’t impressed. Oh the river Clyde, the wonderful Clyde, the name of it thrills me and fills me with pride.
We had the pleasure of driving beside Loch Lomond and already, we’re planning our next visit. We’ll spend more time by this loch and around The Trossachs.
The drive to Inverness was long and interesting. Mostly, the road surface was a delight to drive on. But there were patches that could have been imported from Surrey County Council. And some of the potholes were of Mancunian proportions. Some of the roads were narrow, with passing places, but that’s what makes Scotland so fantastic.
We passed through one small village and were greeted by a life-size cardboard cut-out policeman holding a camera. If this encourages people to slow down a bit, then that’s fine by us! We saw a sign warning of the presence of red squirrels, but we would much rather have seen an actual red squirrel.
Every day is a learning experience. The gorse is out in force right now, the yellow colour is almost day-glo. It’s known as Scotch broom in Oregon. But it’s still not the bush to fall into when you come off your bicycle.
We passed by numerous places today that we could have visited. We were within 33 miles of Stirling Castle, probably my favourite castle in the whole world. I tried not to feel guilty about missing it out on this trip. The sign to Perth caused me to recall that that was the very first town I ever bed-and-breakfasted in, in Scotland, thank you, Mrs Gourlay.
We also drove by Loch Tay, which reminded me of a Geography lesson at school for some reason.
We listened to Nation Radio. One thing I’ve noticed recently is that I often announce to Liesel that ‘I played this song last week on my show’ or ‘I played this one recently’ or ‘I’m playing this one soon’. In the old days, I would tell Liesel ‘I’ve cycled here’ when appropriate. Well, there was a bit of that today too. As we drove north along the A9 towards Inverness, we were close to the cycle path on which I incurred my most serious cycle related injury. I fell off on the approach to Newtonmore, on a cycle path that could only be described as rubbish. I never managed to complete my second Lands End to John o’Groats bike ride because of that incident, very nearly 20 years ago now, and it still upsets me.
It’s funny how your perception changes in a short amount of time. Even a couple of days ago, a drive of 100 miles would have seemed enormous. Today, when we were still 100 miles from Inverness, I was thinking, ‘we’re nearly there, then’.
We followed these two in their really, really old Sunbeam for a while. But at least here the road was wide enough to paint white lines in the middle.
Here’s Liesel on the old Tummel Bridge, built in 1730. You can walk over it, but vehicles have to use the new, ugly bridge right next to it. Here, we were close to Loch Rannoch and Kinloch Rannoch, where we’d stayed in about 1997. Again, close, but we didn’t make the detour.
One place we did re-visit though was Dalwhinnie Distillery, which we’d taken Liesel’s Mom and Dad to on their visit all those years ago. Yes, maybe one reason it appealed was that it would have clean toilets, but we did buy a nice bottle of the hard stuff.
The sight of snow was unexpected, although we knew we were getting high . In altitude, that is, not on drugs, that would be irresponsible while driving such long distances. Only small patches of snow, but still.
Something else that we saw wasn’t so pleasant. Plumes of smoke ahead on the road, and traffic at a standstill. We hoped it was just a case of a car catching fire, but later we saw ambulances rushing to the scene.
Fortunately, it was easy enough for us to turn round and make a detour. But this incident wasn’t mentioned on traffic reports on Radio 2, nor at any of the online traffic reporting sites.
We found our accommodation in Inverness easily enough, a nice flat and the host, Dorothy, has left us so many treats: crisps, fudge, shortbread, fruit, yogurts, and this is all on top of what we’d brought with us! Sorry to report, the fudge was all gone by the time I’d finished writing this.
After dinner, rice and beans since you ask, we went for a quick walk down by the River Ness. We felt a few spots of rain but it was really pleasant.
We like a bit of nature, but we’re not so keen on wasps. So when one was posing on the outside of our kitchen window, how could I resist?
Luckily, he stayed outside. I probably could have done with the exercise, chasing him round the flat, trying to encourage him to go back outside, but he was quite happy where he was.
Meanwhile, some people in Northenden thought they could have fun polluting the river. I’m sure they had a great time, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what the ducks and geese and fish get up to in the Mersey.
Tony Bennett famously left his heart in San Francisco, but someone left theirs in the woods near us.
It was lovely to spend a sunny afternoon in the garden with William and Martha. They both seemed to like the blankets their Oma had made for them, and William wasted no time making himself comfortable!
We sat in the sunshine, enjoying a picnic lunch, we soaked up the Sun, and I was surprised that the water pistols didn’t make an appearance. I say water pistol, but William calls it a water crystal.
We played What’s the time, Mr Tod, which morphed into What’s the Time, Mr Wolf and lots of chasing ensued. Plus, both Martha and William watched the bumble bees doing their thing with the clover.
We all receive a copy of the magazine from Chester Zoo every month or two, and Martha, with Oma’s help, repurposed the current issue into headwear. She is also secretly training to be a model, none of us told her to pose this way, it just came naturally.
A couple of days later, I drove into Manchester and just like my last visit there, it was purely practical. Straight to the Blood Donation Centre, then straight home. But I was delighted with the choice of biscuits on offer this time. I had a mint Club biscuit for the first time (I think) since the 1980s. The nurses, all the medics, were very welcoming and friendly. The health check questionnaire has been revised, and now, gay men are not excluded from donating blood, something that was deemed impossible, in the 1990s.
Our world is slowly expanding. We paid a visit to Stratford upon Avon where we met up with Helen and Steve from Chessington. It was warm but overcast, a nice day to mooch around a perfectly delightful little town. Lots of touristy shops, and just about everything has a connection with Shakespeare.
On the two-hour drive, we were reminded of things that we haven’t seen for a long, long time. The M6: the roadworks seem to have largely been completed. The Pies graffiti is still there on the bridge. We actively listened to the traffic report on Radio 2, although nothing affected us today. I scored 12 points on Ken Bruce’s Pop Master, over two rounds.
The four of us went on a 45-minute cruise on the Avon. Edward Elgar was quite rude about the then new theatre when it was built, so I had to laugh when the boat crew played Nimrod. Well, I didn’t laugh, I usually cry when I hear that tune, but it seemed so out of place. Something by Shakespears Sister might have been more appropriate. And then, they played The Swan fron Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, much better suited to the situation: see the picture after the next one (sorry, spoilers).
Actually, the commentary was very informative. What happened to Shakespeare’s head after he was buried is really sad and unnecessary. Of course, it would be rude to venture out onto the Avon and not take a picture of a swan. So here it is.
We learned that swans are the heaviest flying birds in the world, and sometimes in Stratford, rather than fly, they use the locks to get from one place to another along the river and canal system.
We enjoyed this actor outside the theatre. He recited a couple of speeches, from Henry V or maybe Richard III: my English teacher would be horrified if she thought I didn’t know.
We had lunch at Boston Tea Party, another branch of the place we’ve been to in Salisbury several times. A long time ago, before the pandemic, that is. What’s nice about this place, at least according to the menu, is that they use Chew Valley organic milk from happy, jaunty, loveable, huggable cows.
The menacing pink sheep took us all by surprise, just standing there, guarding a shop. No, we hadn’t been drinking.
But just when we thought we were beginning to understand Stratford upon Avon, we had to accept that, yes, it is a bit strange. As this inscription on the pavement confirms.
And something else weird is occurring in Stratford. There are two golden post boxes, painted gold to celebrate local gold medal winners from the 2012 London Olympics. Only one of these two has a plaque attached. And the other one says that James Roe won a gold medal for rowing. Really? Nominative determinism?
Stratford is a nice, quiet little town, but it could do with a few modern high-rise buildings to drag it from the 15th into the 21st century.
The most exciting part of driving home was spotting some new graffiti on one of the bridges over the M60.
I suspect this relates to the old Pies graffiti, daubed by the band of the same name over twenty years ago, maybe even longer. But what a surprisingly pleasant drive home, no traffic hold-ups at all. The car managed its longest trip in over 15 months, it didn’t complain once. Which is just as well, because we’re soon off on another adventure which is why this piece of nonsense has appeared earlier than usual this week.
Also, because we had made plans, I pre-recorded my radio show this week. You can listen live here on Friday at 2pm or catch up here soon after 4pm. The theme this week is Holidays, which is a remarkable coincidence, since we’re all going on a Summer holiday.
In a moment of cynicism as I walked up the road, I mourned the end of Summer when I saw these leaves.
Autumnal colours, I thought, how pretty, but so early in the year.
But no, we’re still good, it’s warm and pleasant outside albeit a bit cloudy which, as you’ll see later, was quite useful one day.
The good news is, our car was washed and it passed its MOT. Liesel completed another blanket and you’re thinking, whoa, that was quick, but actually, she was crocheting this one and the previous one more or less in parallel.
We’ve both been making plans for the next few weeks so we haven’t been venturing very far from home. My phone has run out of storage, so I spent (far too many) hours moving stuff to its SD card. Let’s hope that stops it nagging. There’s a lot going on in Northenden though, especially on the river.
You have to wade through the water to get there, but it’s less than knee-deep, and unless the water’s flowing really fast, quite safe, I think.
It takes some effort to place a tyre on this spot. Any normal, decent fly-tipper would just throw it in the river.
I’m sure they were having a good time, but they weren’t paddling in sync, and I waited in vain for at least one of them to fall in. Or fall out, depending on your point of view.
Nearby, the golfers were out in force, some more skilled than others, judging by some of the choice language reverberating among the trees.
But none of these players experienced the fate that befell Adam in Australia. He went to retrieve a loose ball from the bushes and was bitten by a snake. Pretty scary, and painful, but it was non-venomous. The photos are too graphic for this site.
On being told that Uncle Adam had been bitten by a snake on a golf course in Australia, Martha announced that she was never going to go to… a golf course.
I never thought I’d encounter a real life Gollum. Most of the fishermen on the Mersey have a rod. Not this chap.
He was trying to catch the fish with his bare teeth.
Meanwhile, the horses were having a good time on Northenden Village Green.
We wondered whether these were the horses that pull the hearses for the local funeral director. Horses, hearses, that’s poetry right there.
Of course, I don’t visit Northern Den or Boxx 2 Boxx every time I go out, but on one hot day, I opted for the chocolate milkshake.
The ice in it kept me going all the way to Simon’s Bridge and back which was handy, because I’d forgotten to take a bottle of water. Yep, still not fully adapted to life in hot weather.
Google was kind enough to send me its usual email at the turn of the month, showing me all the exciting places I’ve visited. I thought I’d share it.
Well, I don’t like knocking Google unnecessarily, but, yes, while that was my first visit to Middlewich, I have been to Sale before. Also, Sale and Wythenshawe have very similar looking places of interest.
Another day, another walk, another local eccentric.
I think this bloke’s panning for gold, but I don’t think he’ll have much luck, this region doesn’t have the correct geological history, as far as I can tell. Now, if he were panning for car tyres, I could have pointed him in the right direction.
The highlight of the week was the opportunity to observe a partial eclipse of the Sun. Naturally, that day, we had 100% cloud cover, but after maximum obscuration, the clouds did thin out a bit.
Then when the clouds totally cleared (briefly) I projected the image in the old-fashioned way.
Yes, I know none of those pictures, taken with my phone, would ever win an astrophotography competition, but I felt quite happy that, despite the clouds, I was able to witness this, albeit unimportant, event.
On a scale of one to ten, the weather this week has been turned up to eleven. It’s been bright and sunny, with blue skies, a few fluffy clouds, it’s been warm, it’s been Spring-like. At last. Well worth waiting for. We love a bit of sunshine, it’s been a long time coming, after the long remix of Winter that didn’t want to leave us.
We watched the end of the bike race on TV. I know, I know, gorgeous weather outside and we’re still indoors watching TV. But it was the end of this year’s Giro d’Italia, won by Egan Bernal (from Colombia) riding for the British team Ineos Grenadiers, hooray, proud to be British. It was a fascinating race and we saw a lot of the Italian countryside. In the Sun.
Mostly. High in the mountains, in ski country, the snow was still literally feet deep.
We kept looking out of the window, just to make sure our sunshine was still there. Sorry to go on about the weather but it was welcomed by everyone. Yes of course, some folks are already saying that it’s ‘too hot’ and I’m sure I’ll be guilty of that too eventually, but for now, I’m going to lap up every British thermal unit of heat I can.
So where was our first excursion in the sunshine? Oh, just local. Two bags of litter picked and some happy memories rekindled. I haven’t seen one of these for years, decades probably.
Golden Wonder crisps. Nowadays for us it’s all about Tyrrells low- or no-salt. But I wonder how long that packet’s been lurking in the bushes? I did enjoy Golden Wonder sausage and tomato flavour crisps in the late ’70s, but I suspect I’d find them far too salty now.
I hope this branch was blown off in the last of the strong winds and wasn’t pulled off by our local heavy monkeys swinging from it. But look how bright everything is, and how sharp the shadows. Sorry to keep going on about the sunshine, but it really has been magnificent this week.
Boxx 2 Boxx provided the musical entertainment on bank holiday Monday, thanks to Angie, playing saxophone along to a backing track.
The coffee shop was the most busy I’ve ever seen it, all us pasty white locals taking full advantage of the opportunity. I think we just don’t believe the warm weather is going to last.
The best day of the week was spent at the seaside. We left very early to go to Formby, where we spent the day with William and Martha and Jenny and Liam. The tide was at its lowest, and way over there, we could see the wrecks of some ships that had apparently been scuttled during the second world war.
The beach is flat, so at low tide, the sea is a long way away. As you walk towards it, you have to wade through a couple of dips in the sand. Well, I say sand, but in places, it’s proper mud, as William discovered.
The children had a ball, we all did, really. We did comment on how popular the place was today. I think Liesel and I are just so used to having the vast expanse pretty much to ourselves.
Somehow William had learnt that you can wee in the sea. So he decided to save it. But in the end, he had to go at home before they left. It’s good that he’s now aware of such things. But as a grandad stripped from childminding duties because of the pandemic, I feel a slight loss that I won’t need to change his nappies any more. That’s progress, I suppose. Anyway, to celebrate William’s restraint, June 8th has been decreed World Ocean Day.
We ate our picnic lunch on the beach, and as I always say, you can never go hungry on the beach. Why’s that? Because of all the sand which is there. I think I read that joke in a comic about 100 years ago, and it still makes me chuckle, even when it leaves everyone else cold.
For the second week in a row, our grocery order came with the reddest, sweetest, juiciest strawberries you could wish for. They disappear too fast for a family photo, so here are the last two survivors this week.
And while we’re contemplating bright colours, here’s the blanket that Liesel completed this week, a labour of love, a million crochet stitches and if she were being paid even at minimum wage, Liesel would now be a millionaire.
What else have we been up to? Indoors, we’re watching the Danish TV series The Killing and we’re nearly at the end of the third and final series, so please don’t send any spoilers. We watched Jessica Lee Morgan not once, but twice: her own weekly show on Tuesday (subscribe here) and she also replicated her mother, Mary Hopkin’s, show from The Royal Festival Hall, 1972, a concert that of course I wish I’d been to.
And for the first time in ages, we got tickets from the BBC, to watch, online, a recording of an episode of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue. Via the medium of some magic software, they recorded our reactions, clapping, laughter, whoops, wolf whistles for Samantha and it was a very funny show. They asked us not to take pictures or record the show.
I’d love to relate some of the gags but, no spoilers here. The new series begins on June 14th, Radio 4 at 6.30, and our episode will be broadcast on July 12th.
I think I spent more time than usual this week preparing my radio show, mainly editing my chat with Tom Hingley from last week and then finding the music, most of which of course was not in our collection. Anyway, it went OK (mostly) and you can hear the result here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kenworthy Lane Woods were a bit muddier than we’d anticipated, but there was far less litter than usual, which was nice.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?