Thanks, Mancs and Diolch, Cymru

I missed the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on account of not being born yet. The Coronation of King Charles III was on TV in the background while I was doing other things, such as writing and looking out of the window and making coffee. I didn’t really go out and buy a hat as previously suggested. But Liesel and Jyoti went out shopping and missed most of the so-called Event of the Year.

King Charles and Queen Camilla on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

Liesel collected her new prescription sunglasses from Didsbury, and while they were in the village, she and Jyoti bought treats for me (and for themselves). So we had scones for breakfast on Sunday morning, with clotted cream and jam and no arguments about which to put on first.

Our walk through Kenworthy Lane Woods on Saturday afternoon was uneventful, no moose nor bear encounters.

Jyoti and the scone

No matter how careful you are, you (or is it just me?) always end up with sticky fingers after eating anything where jam is involved.

With our energy levels suitably boosted, we took a bus into Manchester. And yes, of course we saw the back end of a bus disappear up the road as soon as we turned the corner, walking towards the bus stop. Yesterday, when Liesel and Jyoti walked to the village, I said I’d catch up and, for the first time ever, a bus arrived at the bus stop just as I got there, so I boarded it, overtook the ladies, travelled as far as the next stop, disembarked and met them.

Liesel and I enjoyed showing Jyoti the sights of Manchester including the Central Library, although it seemed to be closed. So we mooched around the Art Gallery for a while.

Golden Monkey

You can just see Jyoti’s reflection to the left of the golden monkey, who sits on top of a large urn made by top artist Grayson Perry, and he wasn’t afraid of incorporating images of his own face throughout the design.

In a few galleries, several objects are on display as if they are in storage, still in crates, and grouped together in unorthodox ways, such as by material, by object type, by size, rather than by country of origin or by artist.

Just bung them in here for a minute

Some works of art make us laugh for the wrong reason. For instance, this pot of kitchen utensils is very similar to one we have at home.

Work of art and Liesel’s version at home

One of the coolest items was a dress make up from 43 kg of dress pins.

One dress, many pins

I tried to count the pins, but someone interrupted and I lost count at about 13,000 and I wasn’t even up to the waist.

By accident, we ended up at Gooey, a cake and cookie shop that Liesel was aware of and which she’s been lusting after for a long time. We bought doughnuts and after enjoying mine, overflowing with raspberry jam, I vowed never to look at a Krispy Kreme donut again. And yes, my fingers were sticky.

We paid a quick visit to the Cathedral where we witnessed a small band rehearsing, including a harp player. I’ve never been that close to a harp but I resisted the temptation to wander over and have a pluck. I don’t think Liesel would have let me, anyway, never mind the harpist.

Harp and musicians

We walked towards Castlefield Viaduct, passing a few places of interest, such as what’s left of the old Roman Wall. Rather than sit on this historical artefact, Jyoti chose to sit on the sheep. A premonition, maybe.

Jyoti and the sheep

It was a first visit to the Viaduct for Liesel and Jyoti, and I hadn’t visited since I went with Pauline and Andrew last Summer. It has matured since then, many of the plants are now in full bloom and some of the beds are even overgrown.

Selfie of the day

As you leave, you’re surprised to see yourself in a reflective surface. You’re supposed to reflect on what you’ve seen, the flowers, the local communities and groups that have contributed to the project, the plight of the world what with climate change and all that, but all I could think of was, I look a bit distorted in that mirror.

A quick pitstop at the Museum of Science and Industry was followed by the slog back to the bus stop. Our pedometers confirmed that we’d far exceeded our 10,000 steps today, so the sit down on the bus back to Northenden was very welcome. We dined out at Chennai Dosa before making our way home.

I had a few little admin jobs to do on the computer before packing for a few days away. We d drove off and on a long section of road, we watched as several thousand vehicles were returning from their long weekend away, it was a bank holiday, and they may have all gone to Wales to escape the Coronation. Yes, Wales, that’s where we went, Snowdonia to be precise. Liesel had booked a National Trust Cottage just up the road from Craflwyn Hall. Why this area? Many years ago, Liesel and I enjoyed a Bicycle Beano cycling holiday there during the course of which I undoubtedly had a whinge about the hills. Especially the ones that go up.

Bwthyn Mai is a cute little cottage: most of the pictures on the walls are William Morris prints from an old exhibition at The Victoria and Albert Museum, the bedrooms are on the top floor, the bathroom on the middle floor, the living room and kitchen down below. Yes, it was built on a hill, a long, long time ago. The doors and floorboards squeak a symphony as you walk around.

And outside, we can watch the sheep as they upturn furniture, take shelter under the picnic table, rub their bums against the fences and gate posts, we can witness the lambs barging into their mums for a quick feed, and generally gambol like sheep do. Jyoti took many, many pictures of sheep. And I took a couple too.

A sheep

The only downside to this accommodation, to the wider area as we discovered, is that there is no 4G coverage, and our cottage has no WiFi either. Not a problem, I thought, but as time went on, we all realised how dependent we’d become on having access to the internet. Someone had left me a WhatsApp message but I was unable to acknowledge it for a couple of days. We couldn’t quickly check the weather forecast. When faced with a problem or a question, the first thing we think is, I’ll just Google it. Can’t do that. When reading a book on my Kindle, if I want to look up a new word, I just click on it and it tells me via a dictionary or via Wikipedia. Similarly if I want to remind myself about a certain character, just touch the name and it tells me. Not now I’m out in the sticks. What’s the news? Probably the same old depressing nonsense  but we shall remain in blissful ignorance.

From my point of view, the worst thing was the possibility of losing my winning streaks on a couple of puzzles that I do every day. This really is a ridiculous first-world problem I know, but this is how tangled our lives have become with the many tentacles of the internet. And I haven’t even mentioned Twitter, Instagram and email yet. Who’s been communicating with me?

On the other hand, what a great opportunity to get away from the modern e-world for a few days. Except, everywhere we go, we’re checking for a 4G or even a 3G signal, and whether shops, cafés, galleries have WiFi.

Chessboard

I asked Liesel whether she fancied a game of chess on this board in the gardens of Craflwyn Hall but she politely declined, which is fair enough: she doesn’t know how to play.

Liesel and Jyoti set off for a walk and I followed a little later. The path was steep, rocky and damp, it had rained a lot overnight.

Steep path

After lunch, Liesel drove us to Rhyd Ddu from where there is a trail leading to the summit of Yr Wyddfa which is the new (old original) name for Snowdon. It started off as a well made path, no water running down this one, and yes, of course, walking up a mountain, it’s going to be steep. Liesel and Jyoti climbed a lot further than I did because, annoyingly, I had to stop due to my old shortness-of-breath issue. Maybe I should have trained longer and harder up hills, not the flat plains of Northenden. Maybe I should have persevered on an inclined treadmill at the gym. In any case, I had to stop and sit on a rock for a while, soak up some sunshine and convince my body that it can manage.

Liesel and Jyoti lead the way

It was a beautiful day, though, no complaints there. I walked back to the car park, slowly: it took a ridiculous amount of time before my breathing was back to normal.

Rhyd Ddu is a station on the railway line between Caernarfon and Porthmadog. While pottering about, listening to the birds, I heard the whistle from a train in the distance. I also saw a red dragon on the platform.

Welsh dragon

Eventually, the train that had been tooting arrived at Rhyd Ddu and I took a few pictures of the engine.

The Harbourmaster

At which point, my phone died. No internet and now, no phone, no camera, no more pictures today, then. So I missed getting photos of the second train as it arrived from the opposite direction. Many people disembarked maybe with the intent of hiking some of the way up to the summit of the mountain. No pictures of them either, some dressed like me, in t-shirt and shorts, some with several layers of waterproofs and a full backpack including a tent.

Liesel, Jyoti and I met up and compared notes, especially regarding tired aching calves. After dinner, we turned the TV on and Jyoti and I watched the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Conest. The whole event is new to Jyoti and semi-finals are a new experience for me. A good nights sleep should have been a dead cert.

The weather didn’t look so good in the morning. Aches and pains determined that we should therefore have a bit of a rest day. Last night, a sheep had a fight with one of the benches outside. The bench lost, and we found it with its legs in the air. One of the sheep was limping and we wondered whether he was the one who beat up the furniture.

We drove to the nearest town, Beddgelert, where we resisted the temptation to have an ice cream. We did buy postcards and stamps and other cards and pottered about a bit. Outside the church, St Mary’s, we saw a well-preserved gravestone for a William Parry and I wondered whether he was a local hero of some description.

William Parry

Many scenes for the film Inn of the Sixth Happiness, starring Ingrid Bergman, Curt Jurgens and Burt Kwouk were filmed in the area in 1958. I wonder if this explains the presence of this Chinese dragon which is stylistically very different to Welsh dragons.

Chinese dragon
Bridge over the river Colwyn in Beddgelert

There was a touch of mizzle in the air and at one point Jyoti commented that she couldn’t understand why I didn’t put a coat on. Well, it wasn’t raining that hard and I didn’t feel cold. I said that, equally, I couldn’t understand how she could keep taking her coat off and putting it back on every time the temperature changes by a degree or two!

We’d been through Betws-y-Coed before, on the occasion of our cycling holiday, so we knew it was a (relatively) big, busy place. Liesel came up with the idea of parking outside the town and walking in. And what a great decision that was because we saw a wonderful heron down by the riverside.

Ooh a heron

We found a place to eat by the railway station and looked forward to using their WiFi to catch up with some totally unimportant stuff. So imagine the heart-wrenching disappointment when we saw this on the wall.

No WiFi here

The food was great though, especially the Victoria sponge. On this beautiful day, we should maybe have done a tour of the the local waterfalls, since they are so well signposted.

Waterfalls

Liesel confessed to her love of bridges, so we walked to Sappers Suspension Bridge, but it’s not open to the public at the moment. Further along the road, (and who would have guessed that we’d ever be walking along the A5?) we saw Waterloo Bridge, a small edifice compared with its namesake in London, but so called because it was first built in the same year as the Battle of Waterloo, 1815.

Waterloo Bridge

Even though this was supposed to be more of a rest day following the exertions of all the climbing yesterday, we still did a lot of walking.

Deciding where to visit on our final whole day in Wales was hard, so much depends on the weather and of course, we can’t look up a weather forecast because we have no internet. In the end, we drove to Beddgelert Forest where we planned to walk to around a lake. Well, we never did find the lake. The trail was marked but somehow all three of us, I think, missed a vital pointer so we ended up well off course. But it doesn’t matter, we enjoyed the walk, the views, the weather, the fresh air, the birdsong and the fact that there were very few other hikers, cyclists and no horseriders at all. The forest itself is very lush, so many different greens from olive to almost dayglow.

50 shades of green

Once we realised we were off course, we decided instead to follow the trail into Beddgelert itself. It was a much more pleasant experience than one of our earlier plans which was to walk from the Forest car park to the village along the road, with no footpath. We lost count of the number of streams and rivulets. It’s a very wet forest but today, we were lucky to be out in the sunshine, and the threatening grey clouds never came too close.

Snowdon aka Yr Wyddfa under the clouds

We’ve been wondering which peak was in fact Snowdon, Yr Wyddfa, and today a very helpful sign showed us. What a shame the actual summit was shrouded in cloud!

We had lunch at the Prince Llewelyn public house in Beddgelert, grateful for the opportunity to sit down for a while after quite a long walk. Oh, and they weren’t afraid to let us use their WiFi so I caught up on a few things, nothing of any importance of course.

Before setting off for the car, retracing our steps, we had an ice cream. What a joy to be sitting in warm sunshine eating an ice cream.

I heard a dog barking and a man telling it to be quiet. Round the corner, and we saw a flock of sheep in the road.

A flock of sheep

The man had two dogs that very skilfully herded the sheep through a gate. I thought it was unusual to hear a sheep dog being so vocal, though.

Finding another cute little bridge, I thought it would be rude not to take a picture of it for Liesel. So here she is, with Jyoti, about to walk across it.

Bridge with bonus Liesel and Jyoti

By the time we found our car in the car park, we had walked over 20,000 steps, so probably between 8 and 9 miles. Very good training for what we’ll be doing next week. My body behaved much better than yesterday. I found my rhythm and walked up a very long hill and was hardly out of breath when I got to the top, a totally different sensation to the shortness-of-breath episode I’d had yesterday.

Back at our cottage, we had some coffee then supper and in the evening, Jyoti and I enjoyed the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest. I now realise what I’ve been missing for several years!

A good night’s sleep was interrupted by a very early rise and an early departure. One aspect of the cottage that I didn’t mention was the beam in the room.

The offending beam

I must have banged my head on it a thousand times over the course of four days, thus keeping Liesel fully entertained. How I can bang my head, utter ‘ouch’, glance down, forget the beam’s there, stand up and bang my head again so many times is a question that will only be answered by the pathologist who dissects my brain post mortem.

The day back at home was quiet, I worked on a radio show, processed the week’s accumulated mail (one item) and in the evening, we met up with the family for dinner at a pub called The Pointing Dog. Martha was but a small baby when she last met Jyoti but what a fab reunion.

Jyoti, Martha, William and Liesel

As mentioned a couple of times, this is Eurovision Song Contest week, and the competition is being held in Liverpool, on behalf of Ukraine, last year’s winner, and we’ve had a lot of coverage on TV and radio. So of course, my own show on Wythenshawe Radio has a Eurovision theme, and you can catch up with it here.

Oh and by the way, I didn’t lose my winning streaks on the puzzles that I do every day, just because there was no internet access. It seems that if you don’t or can’t attempt the puzzle one day, that doesn’t count against you. Phew, I am so relieved.

And, as I discovered after we returned home, the Wikipedia entry on the Welsh Red Dragon is a fascinating read. Highly recommended.

I could find no evidence that the William Parry whose gravestone we found was a celebrity in any way. But Parry is a very common name in the Beddgelert area, certainly in the graveyard.

Rodents

‘Two coffees please. I’m sitting over there and he’s sitting over there.’

It’s not that Liesel and I weren’t talking to each other, it’s just that Liesel was sitting over there with the ladies, and I’m not a member of the Women’s Institute. So after enjoying my coffee, I walked home from Didsbury, in the sunshine, a perfect, colourful Autumn wander.

Autumn colours

At home, I am still in battle with Google. All I want to do is close or delete the account and sever all Google’s tentacles that inveigle their way into far too many aspects of my online life.  But, according to one site:

“… That said, Google Photos app has its quirks. Apart from not providing a satisfactory user interface for device folders (other albums in the gallery), it’s difficult to delete photos. Sure, you can just press the delete button, but that removes the photo from everywhere, the phone as well as the cloud storage.”

Which is exactly what I’ve been worried about. So to avoid this, I have to move the photos on my phone to a secret new folder that Google doesn’t know about. And make an external backup. Plus, you can’t ‘just press the delete button’ because there isn’t one, not in an obvious place anyway.

It’s reminiscent of my 30-year battle with bindweed. You have to get rid of every molecule or it just comes back. Trying to delete a Google account is also like an annoying game of whack-a-mole. Just as you think you have a handle on the situation, up pops another message saying what else will be affected. Or, more prominently, if you want more storage, it will cost so much per month. I don’t. I don’t even want the 15 GB free storage I seem to have acquired. Please release me, let me go.

For some light relief, I dipped into the news. You’ll be the first to know when it’s my turn to be Prime Minister for fifteen minutes. Or I could take a leaf out of the government’s handbook and blame everything on Putin’s war in Ukraine.

In other news. Helen has been allowed to donate blood in Australia at last. They’ve not wanted English blood for decades because of mad cow disease. The reward was crisps and gluten-free crackers. I much prefer our custard creams and bourbons and shortbread biscuits. Her new pad is slowly taking shape, building furniture, shopping at Costco with a friend, what an adventure!

For October it’s been quite warm, which makes it easier to get up and go out for a walk around the neighbourhood. We joined two well-being walks this week.

Northenden bus stop

This advert caught my eye and made me chuckle but I probably won’t be shopping there any time soon.

Liesel and I collected Martha and William from school later than usual this week. William had been at After School Club while Martha was studying Performing Arts. Ironic then that at home, it was William who took to the stage to perform a couple of songs using Makaton signs.

William the performer

No, it’s not really a stage, it’s just the coffee table that he’s not meant to stand on.

Mummy and Daddy went out so we fed the children, and tried our best to make sure they were in bed and asleep at a reasonable time. It was a real pleasure reading to them, something we haven’t done for a long time. And really fun to watch William making up a story that involved the fate of his mouse. Poor old mouse. As he moved around William’s bedroom, the mouse had to fight off the fox that threatened to eat him for dinner. Then after climbing the door, the Gruffalo threatened to eat the mouse for dinner. Mouse escaped, thank goodness, only to be eaten by the snake who was carefully concealed under a blanket.

Not a good day for mouses really, as I found a lost Mickey in Wythenshawe.

Mickey Mouse

Well, strictly speaking, it’s probably a young child who’s gone missing, we know exactly where Mickey ended up.

Here’s a tip. If you want to meet someone in Wythenshawe Forum, agree to meet under the clock. It’s just as iconic as the clock at Waterloo Station.

Forum clock

While I was in the Forum, Liesel was walking around Wythenshawe Park with her WI buddies. I’m so glad she shot some wildlife.

Squirrel
Autumn colours

The radio show this week is about Honey and bees and for some reason, it took a lot longer than it should have to edit to the right length. Got there in the end though!

Final week in England

16th century beer was often strengthened by mixing it with lant (stale urine). So says a wall in one of the lavatories at Little Moreton Hall. Liesel and I took Leslie for a short walk here, and a small wander around the small house. I’d forgotten just how wonky the building is, with sloping floors and crooked windows. The National Trust check it every so often and they think it’s safe, it’s not going to topple over any time soon.

Little Moreton Hall

In the courtyard, one of the guides gave a brief history of the place. He was dressed for the part and he noticed that we, and many others, had gathered in the small area illuminated by the Sun.

Liesel and Leslie in the garden

We sat in Mrs Dale’s tea room for a cuppa before setting off for home. Briefly, we thought we were in France: we passed by a field full of sunflowers reaching for the sky.

I’ve mentioned Slitherlink a few times and this weekend, for the first time, I succeeded in completing one of the hard, huge, square Slitherlink puzzles in less time than the ‘median’ time they claim it takes. I shall add that to my list of personal achievements for 2022.

A couple of days later found us escaping coverage of the Queen’s funeral on TV. After ten days of mourning, the UK was in danger of returning to some degree of normality.

We drove to Alderley Edge having arranged to meet up up with Jenny and the family. Yes, Martha and William had the day off school. We thought we’d have the place to ourselves. Huh. Everybody else thought the same.

I tested myself by walking ahead and down a long. long hill, knowing I’d have to walk back up. I managed ok, thanks, no shortness of breath on this occasion. Martha and William showed me their new trick: jumping over a rift in the rocks.

The Veteran Tree

As requested, I took a careful look at this veteran tree and I memorised the text on a nearby sign.

A veteran tree has the same characteristics as an ancient tree, but these are caused by natural damage or by the tree’s environment, rather than its age.

The characteristics are:

► A low, wide and squat shape because the crown has reduced
► A broader trunk than those of the same species at the same age
► Evidence of decay, such as a hollow trunk, the presence of fungi known to cause wood decay, or rot holes where limbs have fallen off or the bark is damaged

Why are veteran trees important?

Veteran trees are habitats for many rare and specialised species of wildlife and fungi. Looking after these trees is a vital part of our conservation work. Tree branches and limbs which have dropped to the ground are kept, as they help protect the roots of the tree. Veteran trees that have fallen over are generally not removed, as they are still habitats and may even continue to grow, making them ‘phoenix’ trees.

I don’t recall what species of tree this is, though.

It was a beautifully clear day, but I was still surprised when I saw Manchester way over there in the distance.

Manchester

William probably walked twice as many steps as the rest of us. Well, ran, mostly. It was quite hard to find him a couple of times.

William in the den

Liam filmed Martha as she walked carefully along a fallen tree.

Martha on a balance b

I thought about suggesting she perform a forward roll on the log, like she does at gym, but I kept quiet: she probably would have taken up the challenge.

Liesel, Leslie and I joined the Wednesday well-being walk in Northenden. On this occasion, they went through the woods again, while I joined the group that walked a little further afield, along the river towards Didsbury and back. We spotted the heron, not in his usual place on the weir, which was unusually dry, but hiding under the bank. He was very still, just like the cardboard one that Liesel and I saw near Hampton Court that time, many years ago!

Heron on the Mersey

Later that day, Liesel and I collected Martha and William from school again and took them home to play. William wanted to join in with the craftwork, but he didn’t really move beyond cutting up pieces of paper with the many different pairs of scissors we have at our disposal. Pizza for supper with home made salad: it all went down very well. And it was then time for Martha and William to say their farewells to Great Oma, who would soon be flying home to Anchorage. I’m really glad they’ve met at last but I can’t help feeling sad that Klaus never spent time with our grandgchildren.

We haven’t been into Stockport for a long time, so I’m tempted to give you twenty questions in which to work out why we visited on this occasion. But that won’t work, because I don’t know when you’ll be reading this, and I certainly can’t think how to reply to your twenty questions in a timely manner. So I’ll just tell you: Leslie wanted to buy some locally distilled gin to take home for Aaron and Jodi, so we drove over to Stockport Gin. Leslie bought a bottle and some small bottles for Liesel and me.

Record shop

Of course I checked the window display of this record shop, and found the David Bowie t-shirt. So my theory is still looking good: Every still existing record shop has, in its window display, either a David Bowie record or some other David Bowie merchandise.

On Friday, Liesel and I were a little late for the well-being walk in Wythenshawe, but we soon caught up with the group. We tried hard to persuade, cajole, convince Leslie to join us, but she put her foot down and declined the invitation.

And then, in a fit of madness, after we’d had coffee, Liesel and I joined the gym. I know, I know, I said ‘never again’ after the last time. But we feel we should make more of a concerted effort to build up strength, stamina, and all that malarkey. We’ll see how it works out over the next few weeks and months.

The radio show this week had the theme of Photographs. Wythenshawe Radio however transmitted an old show, the wrong one. Oh well. But you can hear a couple of hours of photographic music right here on Mixcloud.

Leslie packed a huuuge case, which weighed in at 23 kg, so heavy, it nearly fell through the floor. Liesel and I packed our bags, 7 kg each.

In the evening we drove over to Castleton for a concert. I’d booked tickets for Eddi Reader a long, long time ago and I was able to purchase a third ticket for Leslie too. The car park at Peak Cavern was incredibly full. I was hoping we’d be amongst the earliest arrivals so we’d have a choice of seats.

Peak Cavern is also known as Devil’s Arse! and whoever came up with the idea of holding concerts here needs to be congratulated.

Welcome

It was quite a walk from the car park to the cave itself, but it sort of made up for the fact that we’d not paid a visit a few weeks ago when we’d been staying in Castleton. I don’t know what the capacity is, but we ended up sitting in what would have been row AZ if they’d been labelled. The benches weren’t very comfortable to be honest, I’m sure my fidgetting annoyed the people behind. Much like the big head of the tallest man in the world annoyed me when he sat down right in front of me.

Billy Big Bonce

Bats flew around while the support act, Jill Jackson told stories and sang some lovely songs. My old ears plus cavernous acoustics meant that I couldn’t really hear everything she was saying. Did I buy her CDs? Don’t tell Liesel, but yes, of course. Did I invite her onto my radio show? No, I was too intimidated by the long queue of people who also wanted a quick chat.

Jill Jackson

Eddi Reader was as gloriously entertaining as she always is. This show originally was meant to be part of her 40th anniversary of performing, but Covid ruined a lot of plans.

She sang a nice mix of songs we know and some that we’re not so familiar with. Did I buy any CDs of hers? Well, no, because we already have them, all the ones up for sale, anyway. She was joined on stage by Boo Hewerdine and her husband plus a couple of others whose names I missed. By the time Eddi appeared on stage, the bats had disappeared.

Eddi Reader

I went for a wander to try and get better photos, but actually it was much more enjoyable to just sit there, even on a hard bench, with my eyes closed and let her voice permeate my whole being. I was nudged a couple of times, allegedly for singing along too loudly. I suspect my drone has suitably enhanced the videos made by fellow audience members.

What a great way to end Leslie’s six short weeks here with us in the UK. Well, apart from having to now walk back to the car park, along a slippery path, in the dark!

Oh, and apart from getting to bed at about 11pm and having to get up again soon after 2am. But that’s another story…

Catching up at home

The rental car was returned without too much hassle. We reported the knocking sound from the back of the vehicle. The guy went straight to the rear, passenger side wheel arch to rock the car. It was almost as if he already knew about the defective shock abosrber.

Pauline, Andrew and I then took the tram into Manchester city centre where we spent the rest of the day. It was a nice day to wander around the city, through Castlefield, past Bridgewater Hall and The Midland Hotel.

Big bike at Deansgate

The most interesting site was Castlefield Viaduct. It opened to the public recently as a Sky Park. It’s a National Trust place and you’re supposed to book in advance online. But we hadn’t, of course, not even knowing the place existed before now. But we were allowed in for the tour with the 12 o’clock group.

New Life on the Viaduct

Various local communities are planting their own gardens, and the horticulture was well described by the two enthusiastic guides. Let’s hope everything thrives, and in the fullness of time, this will be a lovely, colourful sky garden. It’s a good place for views of the city too.

Tricyrtis
YHA Potato Wharf
On the Viaduct, a makeshift planter

We continued our wander and ate our lunch by the remains of a Roman Fort, enjoying the saxophone player’s busking.

Roman Fort, Castlefield

We came upon a record shop in the Northern Quarter. As I guessed, there was a David Bowie record in the window.

Record Shop

Liesel and I should spend more time exploring the Northern Quarter, or NQ to those in the know, there is some fascinating architecture and plenty of quirky shops.

Meanwhile, it was the first day back at school for Martha and William, both of whom look very smart in their uniforms.

We took the bus back home in late afternoon, it was packed of course. One cyclist on an electric bike kept pace with the bus most of the way home.

We walked to Didsbury and later went to Jenny’s place where we all had one final meal together. We watched a highlights video from the wedding weekend. The shock I felt when I realised that that old git on screen was actually me…

By coincidence, Helen and Pauline and Andrew were on the same flight out of Manchester. At Singapore, they would go their own ways to Christchurch and Sydney, according to taste.

It was a quick drop-off at the airport and the enormity of the occasion didn’t really strike until I was halfway home. I don’t know when I’ll see Pauline and Andrew again, in New Zealand but I hope it’s soon. Jenny took Helen to the airport, but I’d said my goodbyes the night before. And already, I can’t wait to visit her in her new home in Australia.

And then there were three. Just me, Liesel and Leslie in the flat now.

I prepared a radio show for broadcast on Friday. But it was never broadcast. Her Majesty the Queen passed away and the balance of the universe shifted. The important thing of course is that this show has been preserved on Mixcloud, I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out, after all.

We’ve had rain and thunderstorms so it was probably not a surprise that the tree stumps over the road have grown fungi overnight.

Tree stump fungi

Lady Heyes Touring Park is probably a good place to go for a camping or a glamping holiday. But Liesel, Leslie and I paid a visit to look at all the antiques shops.

Toby jug

Seeing a few Toby jugs or character jugs reminded me that my Mum had a huge collection. We still have a few small examples at home but the bulk of the collection has, I believe, found a happy new home. I had a quick look in the record shop here, but I will not be collecting vinyl again any time soon!

There were old stamp albums, old coins, old photogrpahs, lots of old stuff. Many years ago, I started to write an article about all the collections I’ve ever had. Maybe I should dig it out and finish it.

Easter Island Moai

This was an unexpected sculpture to find in the car park, and I’m not sure how accurate it is.

Walking around Northenden means we’re getting back to normal. Especially when you see the heron in its usual spot on the weir.

One big surprise though was finding that some trees in the woods have been cut down.

Recently cut down trees

It won’t be too long before they’re sprouting their own fungus. But back to normal is finding a fly-tipped sofa in the neighbourhood.

A Northenden sofa

It seems like a long time since we last collected Martha and William from school. But we’re now back on the rota, and this time, we took them back to our place. They were delighted to see Great Oma, Leslie, waiting for them. Spaghetti bolognese for supper was a bit risky, maybe, but I don’t think any tomato sauce ended up where it shouldn’t have.

Last Christmas, we were given a home-made voucher for a guided walk in Chester. And now was the time to cash in. The three of us drove to the Park and Ride car park next to the zoo, and we enjoyed the short bus ride into the city centre.

Liesel and I have driven through Chester in the past, on the way to Jenny’s following a week cycling in Wales. But this was the first time we’d spent any time there. All I knew about it was it was an old Roman town and it’s the birth place of Bob Mills, a comedian who presented a really good, fun show on GLR, all those years ago. Oh and that in Chester, you’re still allowed to shoot Welshmen with a bow and arrow.

East Gate clock

The three of us wandered around for a bit and found the venue for our guided tour.

The record shop didn’t have a David Bowie record in the window, so that was disappointing. But there was a David Bowie mug. So my theory has now been revised: Every existing record shop has, in its window display, either a David Bowie record or some other David Bowie merchandise.

Chester Cathedral

The Rainbow Tea Rooms were pleasant, we had a nice lunch there while, over the road, a Roman centurion was putting some children through their paces.

Roman centurion

I’m not sure about this though: a special place in the city for pigeons to gather and be fed. But we are encouraged not to feed them elsewhere in Chester.

Pigeon coop

At the appointed hour, we gathered outside the town hall for the start of the guided walk. While there, we spoke to Angela, a local journalist. She asked about our reaction to the death of Queen Elizabeth. She took my picture so there should soon be another small contribution to my fifteen minutes of fame.

I’m rubbish at names but our guide was Karen, or Mary Ann or more likely something completely different. We walked for well over the announced 90 minutes, all over Chester, in and out of the Gates in the Roman Walls. We learned about the Grosvenor family and how Chester grew over the centuries.

Small section of The Wall
Bell Tower

With all the Georgian and Tudor (real or fake) buildings around the city, it was a surprise to find this bell tower. It might be functional, and it might be keeping the weight and vibrations of several bells from damaging the cathedral itself, but I think it could do with a splash of colour.

It was fun to explore Chester, there are plenty of alleys and lanes to investigate further and I’m sure we’ll return sometime. I nearly forgot to mention that this was on Liesel’s birthday too. She’d made her own cake yesterday which we all enjoyed.

I prepared a radio show for this week, but as Wythenshawe FM is continuing to play ‘slow’, ‘respectful’, some say ‘boring’, ‘turgid’ ‘dirges’, along with most other radio stations, I again uploaded it straight to Mixcloud.

And so life in Northenden continues, until our next adventure.

To Nether Wasdale

Another big breakfast gave us the energy we needed for a relatively lazy day. Apart from anything else, it felt only fair to give Andrew a day off from driving.

Our first bus was an open-top and the commentary was supplied by Count Arthur Strong, either that or CAS has a vocal doppelganger.

Reflections on Grasmere

We spent some time in Grasmere, the village, having driven by Grasmere, the lake. I’m not saying Grasmere doesn’t welcome visitors, but I think the sign could be a little bit more prominent, maybe with a larger typeface than this embarrassment:

Grasmere Village Centre

Grasmere Parish Church is dedicated to Oswald of Northumbria, king and champion of Christianity, who is believed to have preached on this site sometime before 642AD when he died in battle.

It is a Grade One Listed building of national historic interest. The oldest parts date from around 1300AD, but it is probably the third church to have stood on this ancient site by the side of the River Rothay.

Grasmere Parish Church

It’s not really keeling over, but you knew that, didn’t you? Almost in the shadow ow the church is the so-called Grasmere Gingerbread® Shop. It’s a very small shop, so Pauline went in on her own to buy some gingerbread®. We have Sarah Nelson to thank for creating this cross between a biscuit and a cake and I wonder what the secret ingredients are?

We visited William Wordsworth’s grave as did some of his descendents, or so they claimed. I took a photo for them but didn’t think to take a picture of them with my own phone.

Wordsworth’s grave

(I recently played Taylor Swift’s song The Lakes on my radio show, which includes a nod to Wordsworth. See what you’ve been missing?) The Daffodil Garden is full of daffodils, but not at this time of year. It was interesting to walk along the path that acknowledges the hundreds of people who contributed to the garden.

Subscribers

After a pleasant wander, we took the bus back to Ambleside. You can’t help but admire the lady who put this display together in the bookshop window.

Menopausal window dressers, eh?

A third bus took us to Coniston. The driver was very patient on the narrow roads, and very skilful. I think we were all glad to let someone else do the driving for us. Some of the car drivers going in the opposite direction looked terrified, I suspect a couple of steering wheels will have been crushed, they were being gripped so tightly.

As Pauline pointed out, here’s something you don’t see very often these days:

Butterfly nets

I trust they’ve been failing to sell for a number of decades because we just don’t want to be catching butterflies any more.

Coniston Water is famous for two things. It’s where Donald Campbell died in 1967 during his attempt to break the water speed record in his boat Blue Bird. And one of its islands was the inspiration for Swallows and Amazons,
the first in a delightful series of books by Arthur Ransome that I enjoyed over fifty years ago. Time for a re-read?

Andrew, Pauline and I took advantage of our perfect timing and climbed aboard for a guided boat tour of the lake. The commentary wasn’t provided by Count Arthur Strong on this occasion. In fact, she didn’t even look like him.

Sailing on Coniston Water
Rowing on Coniston Water

After a quick cup of coffee, we walked back to town, consuming blackberries on the way, and took the bus back to Ambleside. As Crowded House might sing: Four buses in one day. We greeted a few locals, although some were a bit wary of strangers.

Ewe looking at me?

The return bus ride was less exciting, in the sense that there was far less traffic fighting the bus for space.

Our evening meal was taken sitting inside a tuk tuk in a Thai restaurant. The waiter was very apologetic about this being the only table available, but we didn’t mind at all, even if the whole edifice moved every time one of us did.

Tuk tuk

Andrew returned to driving duties and took us to the other side of the Lake District to what was our final b&b. To quell any doubts you may have, we went in the rental car, not in the tuk tuk.

Buttermere is a good place for a walk. It’s a small lake, but we didn’t walk all the way around. We did climb the hill, though Pauline and Andrew went a bit further than I did.

Up the hill forwards
Buttermere

It was fascinating to see water flowing out of the lake into a stream. We know it happens, but we’re more used to seeing streams flow into the main body of water.

Just as we thought we were making good progress, the road was blocked.

Flock of sheep

We weren’t held up for long, the sheepdogs were doing a great job of controlling and herding their charges.

The hotel in Nether Wasdale was very easy to find, after a long and beautiful drive through the mountains. I realised that after all the time spent in Ambleside, we never did get to stop at Dove Cottage, where William Wordsworth lived for a while with his sister Dorothy. But as with all tourist attractions, it’ll still be there next time.

The three of us went for a short walk in the direction of Wastwater and returned for a drink. St Michael and All Saints is a very small church, very quick and easy to explore.

Pauline stayed in the area over fifty years ago, so our mission was (partly) to track down the cottage in which she stayed. Our drive towards Wasdale Head was curtailed because there was too much traffic coming towards us and there was nowhere to park.

We ate a late lunch (picnic food again) and quaffed our drinks on a bench over the road from the hotel, enjoyed the sunshine and the quiet. Car headlights flashed us, announcing the arrival of Liesel and Leslie. Liesel had successfully completed a couple of work projects at home. On the way to Nether Wasdale today, they’d stopped at a Bobbin Mill for a break. And it was more interesting, I think, than they’d anticipated.

The big evening meal was closely followed by a big breakfast in the morning. We were well stocked up with energy for a long hike, even if we had a lot of extra weight to lug around. On this occasion, Liesel drove us to Wasdale Head, and it was a much more pleasant ride than yesterday, much less traffic.

It was hilly, gorgeous view of the mountains and, occasionally, the lake. Becks, streams, waterfalls and sheep all competed for our attention.

View from the car park
Andrew on a bridge

In fact, at one waterfall, we met a couple who were enjoying the outdoor shower, emerging as if in an old advert for shampoo. That’s what they do. The previous day, they’d showered under four waterfalls.

Ritson’s Force
Liesel and Leslie

The blackberries were bountiful. Some were bitter, sour, most were ok but some, on the sunny side of the bush, were sweet and juicy, the taste of childhood Autumns.

Funny looking blackberries

The going was tough in places, but we all kept going, with encouragement from the others. We were greeted by sheep now and then. They drew our attention to the dry stone walls which are different in style to those in Derbyshire and Yorkshire.

Spot the sheep

We tried not to worry the sheep, at least we didn’t have a dog with us. But when I mentioned in passing to one ram that Liz Truss might become our new prime minister, he looked horrified.

St Olaf’s, Wasdale Head, is England’s smallest parish church.

St Olaf’s

This one was built in about 1550 but there has been a church on the site for about 950 years. There was no need for a guided tour on this occasion.

The body and blood of Christ

On the way back to Nether Wasdale, we stopped on a beach by Wastwater for our lunch. We sat on rocks for a bit, but my sister and her partner went over to sit on the grass. Again, we consumed a few handfuls of blackberries. What a wonderful lifestyle. Perfect temperature, gorgeous scenery, no deadlines to meet, no work to complete.

More sheep

The postprandial perambulation up the hill proved too much for me and Leslie so we waited while the others conquered the mountain. Or so they claimed…

We fell asleep to the sound of people enjoying themselves over the road, as they celebrated Holly’s Dad’s 70th birthday. Did we gatecrash? No: far too knackered! Besides, we don’t know Holly nor her Dad.

Ou est le soleil

Yes I’m back in Anchorage. I described the journey earlier and a couple of people have asked for the password. I wrote the previous post more in sorrow than anger, mainly for my family, with the feeling that I’d never, ever go anywhere else. Someone pointed out that I’d have to go back home sometime. Well, yeah, s’pose so. And then the travel bug will bite again. If my recent experience is as bad as it gets, at least I now know I can cope with the situation. And in the end, of course, the mechanics of the journey aren’t as important as the fact that I’m going somewhere different. But, if you would like to catch up, the password to Wows and Woes is anchorage, obvious really, all lower case of course.

The first sight of land from the plane was Greenland.

Greenland

Its stark beauty certainly helped me put all the nasty, ridiculous airport shenanigans into some sort of perspective.

And then, several hours later, was that Denali I saw way over there in the distance?

Denali (maybe)

In any case, at this point, I knew we would very soon be landing at Ted Stevens Airport, Anchorage.

A groan of disappointment made its way around the cabin as we realised how hard it was raining here. But this dismay was somewhat mitigated, for me at least, when I noticed the registration number of the aeroplane we’d flown in on.

D-ABUM, the 28-year old Boeing 767

I don’t know why the word ‘bum’ always lifts my spirits. But it does. It did a few days later in a local shop as well.

Trust the bum

Two bums for the price of one. And no, I didn’t investigate, I shall let the mystery of ‘trust the bum’ float in the air.

The house feels emptier without Klaus of course. Just Liesel and Mom and me. And, outside, the rain and a bird having a bath. Which, of course, I wasn’t quick enough to take a photo of.

The rain showed no sign of relenting, so Liesel and I walked wetly to the stadium in Kincaid Park to watch Gideon’s team play football against what seemed to be an older team. I don’t know what’s worse: walking in the rain, playing football in the rain or standing around watching people play football in the rain, in the rain. Actually, I think the last option was the least pleasant.

Football fans, soccer spectators

On the path, a couple of cyclists stopped to ask us whether we’d seen any moose. Not today, no, they’re probably all taking shelter somewhere. We did however see a million and one earthworms on the path, some very long and juicy ones. Any blackbird passing by would be spoilt for choice.

Liesel and I went to visit Jyoti for a quick cuppa. We decided against going out for a walk, we still weren’t fully wrung out from the earlier jaunt to the football game.

The shop I mentioned above? Well, we went to buy me a new, waterproof coat. I might need it but really, I’m hoping I won’t, because the rain will stop sooner rather than later.

Liesel, Leslie and I paid a visit to Costco. I’d been happy to help with the chores at home, on this occasion, shredding years and years of confidential documents, now surplus to requirements. Well, sadly, the shredder too is now surplus to requirements. It overheated, stopped shredding and never recovered. We bought a new one at Costco, and this new model completed the job beautifully within a couple of days. We bought some other stuff as well, it would have been absurd to go to a shop like Costco for just one item. In particular, we’re preparing for the party at the weekend to celebrate Klaus’s life. Another task of mine is to gather together photos of Klaus for a slide show at the party.

Mountains. We can see the mountains again, hidden until now by the rain. Look:

Mountains
I’ll bear this place in mind next time I have back issues

I was hoping the rain might ease. It did, briefly. But as far as rainfall is concerned, this is a record-breaking month in Anchorage. The average rainfall here for July is 0.06″. The record from 1981 is 0.39″. On this one day, we had 1.00″ of rain. There are flood warnings. There are floods. Aaron had left the motorhome parked up near Willow and was advised to go and move it due to the river potientially breaking its banks.

Meanwhile in the UK, they experienced record-breaking temperatures approaching 40°C, and even the long, hot Summer of ’76 was nowhere near this hot. Climate crisis? What climate crisis?

Jyoti, Liesel and I went for a walk over at Potter Marsh. The rain had stopped, but I took my new coat, just in case. We didn’t see many birds of interest, no eagles nor swifts, but we did see a baby moose and its mother. I don’t think Liesel was impresssed, they see mooses here all the time, but such a sight is still novel to me.

Mom and baby moose
Common hawker (maybe)

I want to believe this insect was just having a rest, but I fear it was an ex-dragonfly, it was defunct, demised, expired and had gone to meet its maker, it had shuffled off this mortal coil, kicked the bucket, run down the curtain and gone to join the choir invisible.

Wows and woes

You’ve probably seen this picture before, but it was undoubtedly the best photo I saw this week, the first taken by the James Webb Space Telescope and released to the public.

Gaze in awe

Galaxies 13.5 billion years old with gravitational lens effects, I couldn’t stop gawping at this picture for a very long time.  It reminds me, I still want to be a spaceman.

Closer to home, these poppies brighten up an otherwise dreary part of Northenden.

Poppies

So where else have I been this week? The dentist where again the hygienist asked the same questions about my oral hygiene regime and I reminded her that I am 145 years old and I will continue to look after my teeth and gums as well as I can.

Not sure if it’s more exciting or not, but I took the car in to have a light bulb replaced. Not a 5-minute job as you’d expect, because they had to take out the wheel arch to access it. Why do they design cars that way?

What is definitely more exciting and interesting is that the heron was not in his usual spot this week, on the weir. He was in the river, halfway to Didsbury.

Heron

I went with Jenny and William and Liam to a suit hire shop, funnily enough to hire a suit, for a future event. Later in the week, I went clothes shopping, by myself, not my favourite pastime, and came home with a pair of shirts and a pair of shoes. Not trainers but actual, Italian leather shoes.

Martha and William both enjoyed their sports day at school, and not only because all the children got an ice lolly afterwards. It was a very nice day for the event.

Liesel reported a couple of earthquakes from Anchorage. At home, three pictures fell off the walls within 24 hours. Now, I’m not saying the earthquakes caused this, but what a coincidence. One frame broke and by luck, the glass remained in tact. Another one, I think the Blu Tack just melted in the heat, same as the rest of us.

I may have mentioned my very long to-do list from a few weeks ago. Mostly quick jobs that weren’t so quick in the end for one reason or another, mostly ticked off now, and this week I succeeded in preparing, recording and editing three radio shows. That was quite a feat, and I probably won’t repeat it.

In Anchorage, Liesel has been working with Amrit and Suvan again, staying out of the scorching Alaskan sunshine. There’s a heatwave here in the UK, but Anchorage was much hotter for a while.

I enjoyed a few walks locally this week, including a couple with the well-being walking groups. And in a repeat performance from two months ago, I got up ridiculously early on Saturday morning, to take a taxi to the airport for my flight to Frankfurt and then onwards to Anchorage for a couple of weeks.

This week’s radio show is all adverts. Well, a few actual adverts but mostly songs that have been used in commercials over the years. Sing along to a couple of old favourites!

Blossom and birthday

Liesel is in Alaska until the end of the month, working from home and sometimes in an office, and spending time with her Mom and Dad both of whom are recovering well from recent surgery. But mainly, she’s enjoying the snow and the spectacular scenery while walking and hiking with friends.

Jyoti and Liesel and the mountains

Nearer home, I’m now Covid free but I did have a few days of extreme lethargy. Yes, I know I can be a bit lazy sometimes, but this was a totally different feeling. I listened to my body and did very little. And when I did do something, I became fatigued very quickly. But slowly, slowly, things are getting better.  All helped by the much more pleasant weather of course, blue skies and sunshine, even if I couldn’t take full advantage for a while.

But when I did go out for a quick walk, it’s all change in Northenden. The island in the Mersey has had a Brazilian.

The bush has gone

The vegetation on this island was quite useful: it used to catch some of the plastic whenever the river was in flood. Well, this bush has now been well and truly trimmed. And, inevitably, you can see an old discarded tyre.

The village green continues to evolve. Where there were crocuses and snowdrops just a couple of weeks ago, the daffodils are now taking over.

Daffodils

So, having taken the plunge, I decided to join the regular organised walk in Northenden. About 10 of us walked through the woods and round the block before enjoying a coffee at a coffee shop. So this was my first time mixing with people since my Covid. Chantel had succumbed recently too, so we compared notes and symptoms.

The walking group

It was my birthday this week too. Happy birthday to me. Jenny invited me over for supper and, of course, this was the first time I’d seen the family for nearly three weeks. We had an Indian takeaway and Jenny baked a beautiful big cake for me, thank you!

Martha, William and the cake

And thank you Jenny and Helen and everyone too for my pressies: chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and beer! And a walk around the Manchester music scene.

Not only that, but the laptop I ordered has arrived. It’s a refurbished Acer with all new components, built to my specifications. So at last, I’m going to have to wean myself off Windows 7 (and Windows XP) which I still use on my old desktop PC, and get to grips with Windows 11. The laptop came fully loaded with Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Works and Yahoo GeoCities. I don’t need to take advantage of the offer from AOL of 999 free hours of internet access this month.

After a quick visit to the hospital to be wired up with a heart monitor, I thought I’d go for a walk in Wythenshawe Park.

Young jockey

I still remember the first and only time I’ve been on board a horse. I was six years old, we went to the Epsom races, and I was lifted up onto what may have been one of the actual race horses. It was very high up and it didn’t move, thank goodness, but that experience has meant that I’ve never since mounted a horse. These young people seemed to be enjoying the experience, though.

Some trees are now blossoming: I was surprised how much has changed in the 10 days that I didn’t really venture outside.

Blossom

I was sitting on the bench listening to the birds when I was chucked out. Yes, I was in the horticultural centre and they close at 4.30. I think that’s the first time I’ve been kicked out of a park. So, a quick drive home and then supper? Well, no. I couldn’t go directly home because police vehicles were blocking Church Road. I drove the long way round and decided to go for another quick walk just to see what the excitement was.

A whole section of Church Road was closed, buses were on diversion, and a white-van man was remonstrating with a PCSO because he couldn’t make his delivery. The PCSO said there had been a fatality and later on, I overheard a conversation in which it was revealed that a hit-and-run driver had killed an elderly lady. I’ve not been able to verify this. Neither have I seen anything in the news about a collision between a cyclist and a vehicle which again delayed my drive home after joining the organised walk in Wythenshawe the following day. That completes this weeks tragic news from Northenden.

It was a very pleasant walk in Wythenshawe, but whether it gave my portable ECG device anything to get excited about, I don’t know.

A nice, friendly looking tree

As I was walking through Kirkup Gardens (I think it was Kirkup Gardens) a young lady gave me something to plant in my garden. What a nice thought. She’s from Manchester Forever, the only charity that raises money to fund and support community activity right here in the Wythenshawe area. So that might be an organsation to find out more about later on.

As seen from the bathroom window

I mentioned my post-Covid lethargy earlier. This is the reason why my Wythenshawe Radio show this week was a repeat from last year. There’ll be a brand new one next time. A celebration of Spring.

As I sit here on the sofa writing, listening to last week’s Cerys Matthews show, the Sun is streaming in through the window and I’m thinking I can’t wait to post this so I can go out for a quick walk! A great sign I think that the lethargy really has gone and I just need to slowly build up my stamina again after a week or so of not doing very much at all. The lesson from this is, avoid Covid if at all possible. I’ll be wearing a mask when necessary, and keeping social gatherings to a minimum. And I’ll be getting any vaccines on offer at the earliest opportunity. The government might be acting like the pandemic’s over, but we should all carry on being cautious. Stay safe!

Blue and yellow

Well again there’s not much going on in real life in Northenden. But in my dreamworld, it’s all going on: I’m getting lost, I’m losing my bike, and sometimes I wake up feeling really good but I can’t remember why. In Anchorage, Liesel’s being arty and finding some colour.

Paint pouring

This paint pouring looks fun but very messy. We can’t wait to get the children involved. Ideally at their house of course, not ours 😉

It was rare this week, but always a joy to see the Sun even if we couldn’t really feel it. But it was cold enough for this pigeon to be frozen to the spot.

Falcon

Actually, I think this is the first falcon I’ve seen in Northenden, what a shame it’s not a real one. Maybe the buildings aren’t tall enough.

The river’s subsided significantly, but it has left a lot of debris behind, mainly trees, logs and of course the ubiquitous plastic.

Tree debris

I had an unexpected road trip. Jenny asked if I could pick her up from work as Liam was busy. Of course, I said, expecting to have to fight the rush hour at about 5 o’clock, maybe 5.30. But no, it was about 8 o’clock when I got the call. I don’t think I’ve ever driven into Mancheter in the dark before. Yes, we’ve driven home after a show but I can’t remember the last time either of us have actually set off anywhere that late in the day. What an adventure! See, I can have a good time now and then!

This Tuesday was pancake day. So I made pancakes for myself. I made the usual quantity, intending to keep some for the next day. Well, that didn’t happen. I just stuffed myself with all of them. All topped them off with the traditional fresh lemon juice and sugar.

Pancakes, first course

But, in a moment of madness, I ate them in a stack rather than rolled up. Two stacks, as it happens. I should go and consult the doctor and see if there’s anything they can do about me slowly turning American. Maybe it’s Liesel’s long-distance influence.

I didn’t visit Fletcher Moss Gardens this week, but I did start reading a book about the venue.

Fletcher Moss Gardens: Its History and Plants

It’s very informative, telling us about the plants there, some of which are quite rare. Which makes one wonder if they’re OK being inundated with flood water every year or so. I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

Child-minding day. William was dressed as the Gruffalo and Martha as Isadora Moon.

Gruffalo and Isadora Moon

When William came out of his class, I asked if he’d enjoyed International Book Day. “World Book Day” he replied, putting me in my place. It was fun seeing all the children, and teachers, dressed as some favourite literary characters.

There’s a tragedy unfolding in Ukraine right now and I’m seeing the flag everywhere I look.

School playground

Even the school playground is showing solidarity with the Ukrainian people. As usual, I’m wondering what I can do to help and I end up sending money to whichever organisations or individuals are offering practical help to the refugees.

Playroom

This week’s radio show celebrates World Women’s Day. Yes, I did that on purpose, because I can just hear William correcting me again: “International Women’s Day”. An all-female cast of performers of course. And thanks to Jenny for providing some brand new feminine jingles!

There was a power cut during the show’s first outing on Wythenshawe Radio so it dropped out for a couple of minutes. It’s being repeated on Tuesday 8th March at midday, that’s International Women’s Day, as well as on Wednesday at the exciting, brand new time of 10pm.

Northenden Village Green

And just a reminder that we are in meteorological Spring now, looking forward to the Spring equinox and Easter and we can finally forget the long, cold, wet and windy Winter.

Слава Україні!

Deers and beers

The good news is that Covid is over! Yes, the news on TV was full of football and that’s terrific: no more pandemic pandemonium. Channel 4 even showed us the 1966 World Cup Final, in colour for the first time on broadcast TV, apparently. We didn’t watch.

Dunham Massey drew our attention. This time, rather than walking around the gardens and deer park that comprise the National Trust property, we went for a walk a bit further afield. By the time we’d completed the 3.5 mile route, we’d walked over 5 miles, according to my pedometer! Maybe my baby footsteps confuse the poor little gadget.

Beware of the bull

Have no fears. We take everything the government says with a large shovel of salt.

The little village of Dunham Massey is very pretty. The Swan With Two Nicks is a strange name for a pub, but certainly memorable.

We passed under the canal, which seemed to be leaking a bit. As flowing water is above us, I assume this is an aqueduct, not just an ordinary bridge?

Happy face

We spotted this happy face on the brickwork, the mark of a master craftsman, no doubt.

The towpath next to the Bridgewater Canal is very well made: if only the path by our stretch of the Mersey were as neat and tidy. This is the place to come for some peace and tranquility. We briefly discussed living here on a houseboat.

Houseboat

The route was described in a book we’ve had for a long time. Today’s wander was by way of an experiment: not too long and, if we were to get lost, we could easily find our way back. But the instructions were very good, we didn’t go wrong at all. This looks good for future, longer hikes in places new to us, a bit further away from home.

Some of the buildings we saw today were a bit old skool. Literally.

Old school

The route did take us to the ‘back door’ of the deer park and we saw more deer today than we did the whole time we were in Scotland! I guess that bloke from Location, Location, Location hasn’t been shooting them so much, here!

Hello my deer
Hello my beer

Actually, this is a pint of cider, but as a caption to the picture, it wouldn’t have rhymed with the previous image. I poured this to enjoy while watching the final of Euros 2020, England v Italy. I have to confess, I didn’t watch avidly, but it was on in the background while I was going round and round in circles with an impossible sudoku puzzle. We went to bed before the end of the match and I listened to the penalty shoot-out on Radio 5 Live. I won’t reveal the result in case you recorded it and haven’t watched yet.

Liesel visited RHS Bridgewater Garden in Salford with the ladies of the WI. A nice day, a nice walk, at least until it started raining.

Thanks to the ladies of the WI for these pictures

Meanwhile, back in Northenden, I looked at the bindweed near the river and realised I don’t have to fight it any more: not my problem!

Bindweed

Yes, that weed was my nemesis in our garden in Chessington. I suspect it’s completely taken over by now.

The heron was standing in his usual spot, on the weir. He stands so still, and then suddenly grabs something from the water. Oh, he will move if he thinks I’m about to take his picture. He’s psychic.

And what are those little things that swarm around your head whenever you sit on the bench by the river? They don’t buzz, bite or sting, they just annoy people. They don’t fly off when I get my phone out to take a picture, but I wish they would.

A swarm of something
The heron

On another occasion, the heron was on the island. I got my phone out. He knew. He took flight straightaway. He laughed. He thinks he’s a kookaburra.

Thrive Manchester organises a well-being walk each week in Northenden. It’s been on our list of things to do and places to go for quite a while, and this week, finally, we made it. Yes, we joined in an activity with half a dozen other people. It was a pleasant day for a walk which on this occasion took us along the river to Simon’s Bridge and back to The Northern Den for a cup of coffee. And we didn’t stay in one group, everyone walked at their own pace.

Single file

In places, the path was narrow, it’s a bit overgrown right now, so we had to walk in single file. Which we used to call Indian file, but I’m not sure when the change occurred. One thing I am sure about though is that in the end, when humanity has exhaled its final gasp of CO₂, nature will regenerate and recover without our meddling ways and without our help.

A miracle

This little plant is showing the way, growing out of a metal railing, possibly relying on nutrients in the mud left behind after those floods a few months ago.

The planters on Palatine Road are once again looking very pretty, thanks to the sponsorship of some local businesses.

Some colours

Lyme Park is probably the place we visit most often for a walk away from our local ‘hood. There was a film crew there today, but they didn’t need any extras. If we’d known, we too might have dressed up in period costume.

Quiet on set

We walked up the hill to The Cage, the folly that has held prisoners and banquets at various times. We must have noticed the sundial before, but today, we realised that there is a sundial on three out of the four faces. Doing the maths to locate these three elements must have been fascinating.

Three-part sundial

The stonemason got fed up with the Roman numerals, II, III, IIII, V so he finished off with Arabic ones instead, 6, 7, 8. Or maybe the gnomon’s shadow announced that it was opening time down at The Swan With Two Nicks.

Walking down the hill, we bumped into a herd of deer. All male as far as we could tell, a proper stag party. They were curious, a few backed off slowly but most held their ground. Which meant that in order to keep our distance, we had to walk all the way off the path and around a tree. Such a to-do.

More deer
Home, home on the range

On the other side of the road, we walked through the woods, over a couple of stiles and passed by very few other people. Which was quite surprising, given how full the car park was. There were some cattle who got quite excited when a tractor turned up. As they ran towards their friends in the next field, we even witnessed one of the cows jumping. What sort of a cow jumps? Well, this one was brown.

Cattle: some roaming free, some shrink-wrapped

We found ourselves at the coffee shop in the 19th century. But they were still charging 21st century prices, fnarr, fnarr!

Exciting new episode of The Bill?

Sorry, no, we didn’t find out what this production this is, and I doubt that we’ll find ourselves in the background of a key scene.

Wythenshawe Park is nice enough, but when you meet up with your daughter and grandson, it’s at least three times as much fun. Jenny and William drove over, while Liesel and I walked. William had a lot of fun, on his scooter, and in the playground. He knew that if there were too many people there, we wouldn’t go in. What a shame we have to issue such warnings.

Wythenshawe Park > Jurassic Park

We’ll bring William back when the dinosaurs have been released into the wilds of Wythenshawe Park.

Who needs steps?
Bentch

We saw some horses at the farm but only managed to smell the goats and cows and their copious output. We had ice cream as it was such a warm day and I would say less than 10% of William’s ended up on his face this time.

Liesel drove to Didsbury for her sight test but my appointment was later so I walked. It was going to be hot day – possibly the hottest of the year so far. I’d already planned to go, so after my appointment at the optician*, I walked to Withington. (*Not gonna mention the expense but, for the money, I would much rather have flown into space.)

It was no Camino de Santiago, but I wanted to make a pilgrimage to the Marcus Rashford Mural. It was defaced last week after he missed a penalty at a football game. Such a shame that after forcing our government to feed children during the school holidays, after being awarded an MBE, after writing an inspirational book for young people, You Are A Champion, after winning however many games playing for Man Utd and England and after having a mural painted in his honour, he’ll probably best be remembered as one of the black players who missed a blinkin’ penalty in a football game. Ooh, a bit of a rant there. But at the site of the mural today, there was a lot of love and appreciation on display.

Marcus Rashford MBE

I think if someone had started singing, we would have all joined in from behind the safety of our face coverings

Some of the fantastic messages

As Radio Northenden’s Sanny reported on BBC 5 Live a few nights ago, as you go higher up the wall, you notice the hand-writing improves.

Selfie of the day

It’s not like me to follow the herd, but I did today. Other families were taking selfies, so I thought, why not?

I had a coffee and a cake before I left for the long walk home. I didn’t have to, I know, but I was running out of water. The walk home was a long trudge, the whole length of Palatine Road, accompanied by the traffic. At every bus stop, I thought, should I? But no, I’ll stay off public transport for as long as I can. At home, I glanced in the mirror and a bloke with a tomato where his face used be said, ‘Been out in the Sun, eh?’ The cold shower was fabulous and very welcome!

This week’s Radio Northenden show celebrated that marvellous pastime: Clothes Shopping. Listen back here for two hours of fine tunes. What’s that, Skippy? You want more from Radio Northenden? Well why not read Katie’s new Radio Northenden blog right here.

The depiction and, usually, misrepresentation of statistical information in the mainstream media is deleterious to the general public’s understanding of scientific research and has undoubtedly led to mis-informed decisions being taken that have resulted in unnecessary suffering and even death. Well, that was the thought that I woke up with this morning, the last and only remnant from what must have been a very deep and meaningful dream. If I were Paul McCartney, I’d make a hit record out of it.