Locked in, we get our entertainment where we can. Radio and TV of course but also puzzles, crochet, exercise, books and food. Yes, even the vegetables are keeping us amused at this strange time.
I wonder how many books there’ll be, ‘when this is all over’ titled something like Life in the Time of CoViD-19. How are we all coping? What lessons have we learned? How will life change from now on? You want more entertainment? The man over the road doesn’t have a car (as far as we know) but he objected to the cat sitting right in the middle of his drive. So he opened his living room window, attempted to squirt water at the cat, missed, spilt water indoors and knocked some pot plants off his window sill.
We’re still allowed out for exercise each day, but we’re limited to the local neighbourhood for our strolls. I don’t know why graveyards are so appealing, somewhere different, I suppose. Someone pulled back the layer of grass, the turf, from a hidden grave stone. I think this could be a new artform.
It’s good to see that in general, people are avoiding each other out in the streets, by stepping out into the road where necessary, or crossing over where possible.
It’s not always possible to keep six feet, or two metres from the next person. The worst offenders are runners who won’t deviate from their puffing and panting and sweaty course for anyone. And when you’re walking slowly along a narrow path, keeping several yards behind another walker, it doesn’t help when they decide to turn round and walk back towards you, passing within inches as you struggle to hold your breath for the next ten minutes.
Some good news though: we managed to place an order on Ocado as they consider Liesel a special case. We won’t get the delivery for a couple of weeks, but at least we got to the front of the queue.
On what would have been my parents’ 66th wedding anniversary, I looked out to watch the ISS, International Space Station, fly overhead, finding its way between a thin crescent Moon and Venus. Sorry, my photos were all nbg.
As can be seen here, the weather was gorgeous. But just a couple of days later, we adjusted the clocks for British Summer Time and this was the cue for cold north winds to return. It’s easier to stay indoors when it’s not so warm outside, but I think we were hoping for a longer Spring this year!
The local children are keeping us entertained with gorgeous rainbows in their windows.
Liesel was messing about one morning, maybe a bit fed-up with just the two of us being confined together, so she decided to get a pet.
Speaking of tigers, one documentry series I enjoyed on TV was Tiger King. Spoiler alert: there are some strange people in America. Actually, ‘enjoyed’ probably isn’t the right word, but it is a fascinating and scary story.
We often find lost gloves and shoes on our walks, but hats are rarer.
Yes, we’re all waiting until ‘this is all over’ after which we will go through a long period of recovery.
Meanwhile, I’ll occasionally be on the bike, going nowhere fast.
Yes, it does look like the aspect ratio is wrong but that’s because I’m pedalling so fast, the effects of relativity are coming into play.
Thanks again to all the generous sponsors for my Walk All Over Cancer challenge, which only has a couple of days to go. If you are the Anonymous donor, thank you very much and please reveal yourself to me in private so I can lace daisies in your hair. I am very grateful, thank you.
A Mermaid greeted us when we went to look after William this week. Of course, it was Martha, not a real mermaid, and it was a shame she had to change into her uniform to go to nursery!
We endured a foggy drive to Chester Zoo this time, but unusually, on arrival, there wasn’t a cold wind in the car park. William set the pace as we walked around, often hanging around in the same area, especially when it entailed standing in the mud. He was as excited to watch a squirrel scurry by on the fence as he was to see the elephants.
The monorail is now being demolished, which is a shame: that was always a good way to pass some time, queueing up for a ride.
We did feel sorry for the penguins, though: someone’s taken the plug out of their pool and they were plodding around, looking a bit forlorn.
William slept in the car in both directions and as soon as we dropped him off at home, Liesel and I went home. We had plans, things to do, places to be.
After waiting for a bus for too long and witnessing several going by in the wrong direction, we decided to drive into Manchester instead. We’d like to use public transport but it’s just not a good or reliable enough service in Manchester.
We enjoyed a burrito at Listo Burrito, infamous for its burritos, apparently.
A Bowie Celebration brings together several musicians who have worked with David Bowie at some point, whether playing live or on record. The Bowie Alumni Band was brought together by Mike Garson, who performed with Bowie over a thousand times. Tonight, the band played at Manchester’s O2 Ritz. Doors opened at 7pm. We arrived in very good time, to join a long line of even more eager people, all hoping to snare one of the few seats available. It’s an old dance hall, really, so it’s pretty much all standing around.
O2, the telcommunication company, obviously provide the wifi at this venue. But I got a better signal from Gorilla, a place over the road. We tried not to stare too much at the fellow audience members, some even older than me, many wearing Bowie t-shirts from his numerous incarnations. There were a few young people too but we saw nobody with the red Ziggy hairstyle or the Aladdin Sane lightning flash on their face.
Inside, we went upstairs and stood at the front of the balcony, overlooking the stage and the dancefloor below. We watched as the venue filled while listening to a Mike Garson record: Bowie Variations, which I can highly recommend.
Even though we were standing, we were able to lean on the barrier and we resisted being squeezed out by other people. Sadly, we’ll never see David Bowie live in concert again, but this would be a good second best. We’ll never see Beethoven in action either, but we still enjoy his music being played live, though not necessarily by people he actually performed with.
Tonight, the band played the whole of the Diamond Dogs album, sharing the vocals between three great but very different vocalists: Mr Hudson, Corey Glover and Sass Jordan.
It was loud, but very faithful to the original album. I sang along of course, and noticed a couple of faux pas on the part of the professionals. It should be ‘fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats’, even I know that!
I remember buying and playing Diamond Dogs for the very first time, in 1974, amazed that after Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane, Bowie could still come up with some fantastic lyrics and wonderful tunes. Tonight we were both reminded just how much his music has a jazz influence, especially with Mike Garson in the mix.
What a shame George Orwell’s widow didn’t allow Bowie to turn 1984 into a musical, the original idea. Diamond Dogs is a mix between that and his own perception of some future dystopia: but not too far in the future.
We thought there’d be an interval after Diamond Dogs, but no, they kept going. Space Oddity next. By now, I had a slightly sore throat from singing along and my tinnitus had been turned up to 11, but it was worth it, such an emotional show for me, and for many others, no doubt.
Suffragette City was very exciting, and if you’ve never heard 1500 people in unison shriek ‘wham bam, thank you ma’am’, well, it’s very therapeutic!
Rock’n’roll Suicide always brings a tear to the eye.
Everyone sang along to Heroes, another opportunity for the lacrimal glands to kick into gear.
Two hours and twenty minutes of wallowing in the past, fantastic. A good review and more photos can be seen here.
It was a most enjoyable show. But for the sake of us old codgers: a seated venue might be better. And please turn down the bass a tad because we’re already losing the higher frequencies, thanks!
I don’t know. We don’t go out in the evening for a while and then we go out twice within a few days! The 2020 HSBC UK National Track Cycling Championships finals took place at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester this weekend. We attended one session, on Saturday evening, and we undoubtedly witnessed some cycling stars of the future. My favourite cycling team is now Team Terminator: they’ll be back.
The commentary was pretty good, if a little cheesey at times. But there was no ‘turning the screw’, nor ‘putting down the hammer’, nor ‘ lighting the afterburners’ but as Liesel pointed out, these clichés usually apply to road races. One of tonight’s races did ‘go down to the wire’, so anyone playing ‘cycling commentary bingo’ didn’t totally waste their time. Proud to have been part of an ‘awsome audience’, though.
In years to come, we’ll be looking out for the new British Men’s Points Race Champion, ‘the Welshman from Wales’, Rhys Britton. I don’t know the name of the model sporting this rather delightful bobble hat, quite a distraction from the racing, to be honest.
Other names to look out for are Lauren Bell who won the Keirin, Hamish Turnbull, the new Sprint champ and Ella Barnwell, the new Scratch Race champion, taking over from Laura Kenny, who wasn’t here to defend her title on this occasion. I was watching the Derny bike rider leading the Keirin races and I thought, I could do that. If I were looking for a job.
It was an exciting night but next time, I think I’ll take my real camera, the medal ceremonies were just too far away for good pics. The music and the roar of the crowd weren’t too loud today and the tinnitus was not affected, you’ll be pleased to know.
In a change to normal programming, we looked after Martha and William on Sunday while their parents went on a secret mission.
The Ice Cream Farm was very busy today, the water was in full flow thanks to the numerous older children ready and eager to turn on the taps, use the Archimedes screw, open the sluices and generally send water to places it’s not supposed to be.
We played in the sand for a while too. Not ‘we’, I mean ‘they’, of course. Any sandcastle I might have built was soon demolished by William.
The children wore themselves out in the softplay area. Here is Martha carrying the balls to some small cannons, from which she was able to shoot across the play area, trying to hit the targets while missing the other children, mostly.
We drove home and despite the extreme state of exhaustion, sleep eluded us all. And indoors, Martha used Liesel’s crochet hook to demolish a skein of yarn.
Jenny and Liam joined us for dinner on their return, and afterwards, Liesel and I spent over 12 hours untangling the yarn. Next time, we’ll make sure Martha untangles her own tangles.
Two bits of good news. My replacement bluetooth keyboard has arrived, and it works perfectly so, once again, I’ll be able to write blogs and other nonsense while away from home and not in a library or internet café! Plus, my first toad-in-the-hole in the new luxury apartment came out very well. Very nice, very tasty, as they say.
But it didn’t prepare us for what occurred the following morning. There I was, still in bed, Liesel came in, threw back the curtains and said I had to see this.
‘What, rain?’ I asked.
‘No, snow,’ she replied. Lo and behold, it was snowing. I said I wasn’t going anywhere today, thank you very much. Well, the snow didn’t last long and didn’t settle, but when I did go out for a walk later on in the sunshine, I was surprised at how cold it still was outside. I didn’t walk very far today. Brrr.
I’ll try not to mention it again, but it has rained all week. There are flood warnings in many local areas. One of our gutters leaks and I had to spend several minutes out in the rain showing a man which one was channeling Niagara Falls.
There aren’t enough pictures of cats in this blog, said absolutely nobody, so here is one.
This is Liesels’ parents’ cat, Petra, the tip of whose tail I’ve briefly glimpsed as she darts under the bed. She seldom ventures into the public arena so this is a very rare shot.
I looked after William again this week, but we didn’t go out at all, mainly due to that which I said I wouldn’t mention again. But we had fun. Well, I did, until he told me to stop singing, that is. OK with The Grand Old Duke of York and Baa Baa Black Sheep, but Jack and Jill was a no-no. Delilah was acceptable, he wasn’t keen on clapping to Is this the way to Amarillo?
After his afternoon nap, I went to pick him up from the cot and he said, “No, Grandad, I’m asleep!” So I had a lie down on the floor next to him and ten minutes later, he was properly awake.
You can guess why Martha was collected from nursery by Jenny in the car rather than as originally planned, by me, with William in the buggy and with Martha’s scooter.
During dinner, I had cause to go into the kitchen. Cheeky Martha decided to occupy my seat.
One of my favourite things is going to a seated event and finding myself perched behind someone with a big head or a big hat.
But I think this is the biggest hair I’ve ever sat behind. The free event was at Manchester Art Gallery, a fascinating history of public transport provision in Manchester, especially buses. The story was told by Dame Barbara Castle, the Minister of Transport during late 1960s. She was instrumental in rationalising the bus networks in and around Manchester. Then in the 1980s, guess who messed up the whole thing again?
Bus Regulation: The Musical is only half an hour long, but that was probably plenty for the roller skaters going round and round, wearing various bus companies’ and transport authorities’ logos from over the years. I never saw Starlight Express in a theatre but I understand that musical also featured roller-skaters.
My planned longer walk around the streets of the city was of course abandoned. Instead, I wandered around the Gallery admiring some old works by LS Lowry and some new, anonymous works.
This is as close as I got to a selfie, today, with lace, sequins, crinoline and everything.
Liesel’s working hard in Anchorage for one more week and keeping an eye on the mountains as the snow level gets lower, day by day.
We had some sad news this week. Our friend, Nigel, with whom we stayed in July, passed away in the care home after being well looked after for several weeks. He was always kind and generous to us and we’ll miss him. Sending lots of love to Helen and her family at this very sad time.
The rain (d’oh!) didn’t enhance the Road Cycling World Championships that took place in Yorkshire this week. The men’s road race was re-routed because the bottom of the descent known as Buttertubs had turned into a lake.
Unfortunately, there was plenty more water to ride through. I watched on TV: hundreds of thousands of braver souls went and stood by the side of the roads in Harrogate and beyond, to show their support.
Babysitting with back pain is not ideal. So I followed Liesel’s advice and went for a massage the following day. Babysitting the day after that was so much easier.
On the first day, the highlight was talking to his Auntie Helen in Australia. On the other day, I took him out for a walk around Waitrose and around the park.
Next time I take him to a supermarket, I’m going to put him in and chain him to the trolley. He picked everything and anything off the lower shelves, put it back, told or asked me what it was. Repeating “Put it back” on high rotation annoyed me, never mind the other customers!
In the park, he played with sticks and mud and made friends with the trees while looking out for squirrels (unsuccessfully) and pigeons (very successfully).
He was tired when we got home but was revived with a handful of raisins.
A long, long time ago, Jasmina came round to measure up for blinds for our living/dining room. She came back with the finished items today, which is great. I now have to spend a day putting them up. Yes, it should be a quick and easy job, but I know from experience, five-minute jobs always take significantly longer than five minutes!
I walked in the sunshine for a while, taking advantage before the Autumn chill kicks in.
I’ve walked past this tree many times, but I’ve not noticed the fungus before. Either it’s sprouted overnight, or the light caught it just right today, no other possible explanation.
Walking by the River Mersey, I took a picture of the only bird I saw.
Some sort of metal cormorant, I think, but I couldn’t find an explanatory plaque.
Depending on which sign you look at, this picture of the river was taken from the Trans-Pennine Trail, National Cycle Network Route 62, Northenden Riverside Park or Manchester’s Green Corridor Route 13. The kiddies’ playground is now complete and I’m sure William and Martha will make use of it soon.
The Tour of Britain bike race finished in Manchester. They cycled 166 km from Altrincham, the long way round, through all ten of Manchester’s boroughs. Because of the circuitous route and ensuing road closures, I couldn’t decide where to go to watch the action. In the end, I watched a couple of hours on TV then caught a bus into Manchester, to be near the finishing line.
But there were some interesting sights on my indirect walk from the bus to this point, on Deansgate.
The British Cycling team has been sponsored by Sky for many years. But their sponsorship deal expired and a replacement sought. Chemical and fossil fuel company Ineos took over. This fracking awful decision hasn’t gone down well with everyone. There does seem to be some conflict here, between a supposedly ‘green’ sport, cycling, and an environmentally destructive company.
I didn’t acquire as many freebies today as we received when we saw the Tour de France grand départ in Yorkshire 5 years ago.
There was a huge crowd here in Manchester and, as seen earlier on TV, in all the other towns and villages along the route.
I looked to see whether there was a high-level viewpoint that I could access, but no. In the end, I set up camp by the 500-metres to go mark. I lost count of the cars and police motor bikes that came by at 90mph, ahead of the racers.
The leading group of cyclists came by at slightly less than 90mph and I thought they’d have to slow down a bit for the 90° sharp left turn into Deansgate.
It was all too fast, I couldn’t identify anyone, and photos taken with my phone camera aren’t as clear as those taken at other races with a real camera. Today’s stage and the overall race was won by Mathieu van der Poel. Matteo Trentin came 3rd today and 2nd overall. I’m pretty sure those two are in this leading group.
A few lone riders came by and then, several minutes later, a second large group. Somewhere in there was Mark Cavendish, apparently.
I walked down the road to the Science and Industry Museum because I know the café there has a good selection of cakes, and I needed to top up on energy, after all that walking about.
Many years ago, during a previous cycling Tour of Britain race, we were in Worcester, waiting on the High Street for the peloton to come through. The first cyclist we saw was the local postman, who deserved his round of applause! Today, before being allowed to cross the road after the race, we had to wait for the last few cyclists to come through, plus the lantern rouge, the ambulance and final vehicles. Then, a minute later, the real final cyclist came by.
I walked to catch my bus back home, but the road closures meant another long trek and Manchester continued to provide interesting sights.
There’s no sign telling us what this blue box is for. Maybe Royal Mail just run out of red paint that day.
I came across Manchester’s China Town, so I had a quick look.
It was good to get home, just in time to enjoy a pretty sunset.
Next morning, despite a good night’s sleep, I took ages to get going. As if my body thought it had completed a 100-mile bike ride rather then watched some other people for a few seconds. But the good news is, I didn’t give a thought to my back pain from earlier in the week!
I rode my bike for the first time in over a year and I didn’t fall off. Total distance covered: less than one mile, but it’s a start. Later in the week, longer rides were precluded by the monsoon season. A month’s worth of rain in less than a day. Thank goodness we’re on the top floor in our luxury block.
Martha and William are the highlights of the week of course. We might have a small moan when we drag ourselves out of bed early on a Sunday morning, but watching them both in the swimming pool, enjoying it and learning, is very gratifying.
We all, six of us, had brunch at The Laundrette in Chorlton. That’s a restaurant, not the place where you wash clothes, that wouldn’t be very nice, dropping crumbs on other people’s washing. Liesel and I again realised, we’d never drive as far just to eat out when we lived in Chessington.
Liam’s Dad, Alan, very kindly planed the bottom of the door leading from the hall into our living room. Just one of the unintended side-effects of having a new, thicker carpet installed last week. As part of the decluttering project in Chessington, I’d passed on my plane knowing that I wouldn’t be doing any more serious woodwork. But if I still had it, I’d be planing the door, several days later, very tentatively shaving a half a millimetre off at a time. Thank goodness for experts.
One sunny day, I took advantage and went for a long walk.
I saw and followed the sign towards St Hilda’s church. Somehow I missed it from which I can only deduce that Hilda is the patron saint of invisible churches. Or maybe I just wasn’t concentrating.
My route followed the river for a long way and I was beginning to think how relaxing it might be, out in a boat. Until, that is, I came across some very half-hearted rapids.
I kept a list of all the wildlife I encountered, ducks, rats, otters, beavers, deer, moorhens, coots, foxes, bears… and the grand total was a big fat zero. A few insectsbuzzed about, busy doing what they do and that’s it: slightly disappointing.
After so much rain recently, it looks as though this tree could no longer hang on by its root tips. It slid down the slope to a sad end in the river.
People who know me probably also know that the twelve-year old hiding within this old body often writes a certain three-letter word in the sand on beaches. Well, I am not alone, as this tag on a pillar supporting the M60, Manchester Outer Ring Road shows.
Grandchildren Day saw Oma playing with Playdough, Play-d’oh!, however it’s spelt, but she did let Martha join in a bit too.
After a nap (William and me), we took a bus into Manchester where we met Jenny for lunch. This was a bit of an experiment, really, to see how the children would cope with seeing their Mum halfway through a working day. Martha wanted to go back to work with Jenny, but other than that, we had a good time. Well, nobody was too traiumatised.
Liesel and I took the children to Manchester Museum, just down the road. Martha wanted to see the dinosaurs while William was more interested in the froggies. Taking pictures through glass in a darkened vivarium trying to avoid reflections of the few spotlights was a challenge. And we weren’t allowed to remove the frogs for photographic purposes either.
It’s fascinating to see what interests them both and I’m not sure Martha believed me when I told her she had bones inside her just like those on display, just much, much smaller.
Both grandchildren fell asleep on the way back to Jenny’s and after watching the first half of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, we went to play in the garden.
It was her Dad who threw Martha into the sky, not me, I’m not sure I could do that with someone else’s child.
And now, after a long, long break in the proceedings, it was time to finish off the VHS video digitisation project. I’d copied most of the videos onto the PC some years ago but had to make use of a professional service to copy some of the more fragile ones.
Booting up in Windows XP was a delight. Bish, bash, bosh, here’s the screen, you can do something straightaway. Not like Windows 7 or 10 where the disk thrashes about doing who knows what for a long, long time. Ooh, a bit of a rant crept in, there.
The quality of the footage is still very disappointing of course: I was reminded why I’d shelved the project for so long. Playing a newly created DVD on a proper DVD player revealed even more defects. But if I can get some stills from the videos, that will still be of value.
Another morning in Didsbury culminated in a very late breakfast at Greens. We took on enough energy to be able to install more shelves in the flat. We unpacked several boxes of CDs. A ridiculous number of CDs. I reckon if you have CDs that you can’t remember playing at all, or even buying, you’ve almost certainly got too many!
After a month’s rainfall yesterday, we had a gorgeous sunny day today. If it turns out to have been a month’s worth of sunshine as well, well, I think we’ll all be extremely miffed and very disappointed.
Well, I woke up this mornin’, the Sun was shinin’. I said I woke up this mornin’, the Sun was shinin’. It was too early to get up, so I plugged in the earphones, turned on the phone and listened to a recent episode of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue (ISIHAC) (series 70, episode 5, to be precise). I don’t think my convulsions of laughter disturbed Liesel too much, but she did get up before me.
The chairman was Jack Dee and my mind went back over ten years to when the late, great Humphrey Lyttelton was the chairman of this antidote to panel games. He would read things out, not alway understanding the innuendo, the double meanings, the wordplay and would be surprised at the audience reaction. He was also a top jazz musician and at one time, a cartoonist (Note 1).
Humphrey Lyttelton’s father George William was the second son of the 8th Viscount Cobham, Charles Lyttelton. Charles was the son of the senior George William Lyttelton (1817-1876). He, our Humphrey’s great grandfather, was a member of the Canterbury Association, set up to encourage people to move to New Zealand, specifically, to the Canterbury Plain on South Island.
His name was later given to the Port of Lyttelton, known to the Māori as Ōhinehou.
By accident or design, it was Lyttelton that we visited today, just 20 minutes or so from Pauline’s house.
It was a gorgeous day, beautiful blue skies and fabulous, fluffy white clouds that could have been drawn by a young child.
We did not visit this pub on this occasion, but I feel I ought to out of some weird sense of loyalty to the Lyttelton dynasty (Note 4).
Pauline drove us there over the hills and we enjoyed the views and admired the many cyclists riding up the long, long and occasionally very steep gradients. In places, the road was quite narrow too and I’m sure I would have felt quite intimidated by the traffic, if I were cycling here. Or, more likely, pushing my bike.
The town was bigger than I remembered from my last visit and our first job was to walk down to the Farmers’ Market where we purchased a wide variety of veggies and apples and bread.
Lyttelton sustained serious damage in the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. The Timeball on its stone tower has only recently been restored and we enjoyed seeing it slowly sink at 1.00pm precisely. Well, I did: Pauline blinked and missed it!
We were eating our lunch at the famous Shroom Room having taken our shopping back to the car. The plan was to walk around the town and we decided to go up into the hills on this occasion rather than down to the harbourside.
We passed a school, the school’s grassy play area known as The Grassy, a children’s playground, a skatepark and a swimming pool as we ascended the foothills. And then, soon after, a cemetery.
Looking back at the view of the sea was a fine reward for all the climbing.
We walked round in a long loop, back to the car. Hilly, yes, but a really cute little place. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live up in the hills. It doesn’t snow very often here, but I wonder how many vehicles roll down the slope due to faulty brakes?
The drive back was much faster. There is a tunnel between Lyttelton and Christchurch, another remarkable feat of engineering.
In the evening, the four of us went to the movies. We saw The Children Act, at The Deluxe Cinemas back at The Tannery. The rain had held off until now, but we weren’t too wet when we sat down inside.
What a film. Emma Thompson is always great of course, but she excelled in this role, you really felt for her character, a judge. And how lucky are we that we don’t have to make such life and death decisons as part of our jobs.
Back at home, we played the doubles version of 500. It’s complex and interesting but when it goes on for a long time and you’re playing with a partner and you’re scoffing peanut butter chocolate and you’re drinking red wine and it’s well past everyone’s bedtime, it’s quite a challenge to concentrate! Suffice to say, Pauline and I came a close second to Liesel and Andrew’s victory.
A bottle of Baileys was bought at Barrington Mall on my Sunday afteroon walk. Pauline and Liesel had been out shopping earlier and returned with a very small bottle of the Irish Cream ‘by mistake’. So now we have two bottles.
I walked back via Sydenham Cemetery, where I possibly found some long-lost relations. I’ll have to check the family tree sometime when I get home.
Many of the stones and other memorials have been straightened up but not re-erected following the earthquakes seven years ago.
As the day progressed, it became sunnier and sunnier. Liesel did one load of laundry which dried satisfactorily outside. Pauline did some weeding in the garden. Andrew baked a cake. Liesel made a pasta dish for supper. So, to call it a lazy Sunday afternoon seems a bit mean, but other than my walk, it has been very relaxing!
I say, Holmes, what’s that growing in Pauline’s garden?
Note 1: Among the musicians who have played with Humphrey Lyttelton is one Tony Coe. Tony’s son, Gideon, is a good friend and a top presenter on BBC 6 Music (Note 2). I’ve seen Tony Coe play live a couple of times, once at Kingston’s Rose Theatre (Note 3) and once in the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall in London.
Note 2: We haven’t listened to as much radio from home as we would like. But this weekend, as well as ISIHAC, I’ve listened to Tom Robinson and Guy Garvey, also on BBC 6 Music. At Pauline’s house, we’ve heard a lot of National Radio New Zealand, in the background at least.
Note 3: We had tickets to see Humphrey Lyttelton at the Rose Theatre in the Summer of 2008. I got a phone call in April of that year telling me that he’d passed away and that my money would be refunded. All I was concerned with was the disappointment that he’d died, that we’d missed out on seeing him perform his legendary music. It was very sad, but the guy at the theatre seemed to be more concerned that I was happy to receive my refund, which I thought was quite sad in itself.
Note 4: The Lyttelton Arms here in Lyttelton, NZ, is not to be confused with The Lyttelton Arms at 1 Camden High Street in London. This latter one was indeed named in honour of our Humphrey, soon after the second world war. It is located opposite Mornington Crescent underground station. And as you know, Mornington Crescent is one of the most popular games played in the radio show I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. Which, as I said earlier, used to be chaired by Humphrey Lyttelton. Funny old world, innit!
Thus spake Leslie when she arrived home from work that night to see the sign and the balloon at the bottom of the drive. But the happy couple were delighted to pose for a photo. Happy Golden Wedding Anniversary, Leslie and Klaus!
On the day itself, we were all busy getting stuff ready for the Garage Sale. Liesel took me on an adventure into the crawlspace under the house. She’d left a lot of old things there when she moved to England, 13 years ago, and it’s now time to decide: keep or discard?
Busy, yes, but not too busy to decline the offer of a quick walk in Kincaid Park. One path was blocked by a female moose, but we just turned and went a different way. And, maybe I’m becoming Alaskan, but I didn’t even bother to take a picture of her.
Then, a few minutes later, we found a few people taking pictures of a big bull moose. They were standing a lot closer than I would have found comfortable.
And, no, I’m not too much of an Alaskan to take this picture. He wasn’t bothered by the people, his ears were twitching away flies and he was eating: he was a happy bunny!
We found an old, thankfully unoccupied, wasp nest too. Fascinating.
In the middle of the night, I was woken by Liesel. Preparation for the first day of the Garage Sale and Liesel needed help. 6am. I’d forgotten that such a time even existed.
It was a slow morning’s business. And cold. The coldest I’ve been since we came. I think advertising on Craigslist and one other listings site with just two days notice wasn’t good enough. Plus, it’s Labor Day weekend and many people may have gone camping.
I went with Klaus to buy and set up a couple more signs pointing people in the direction of the sale.
It was good to see some friends drop by, and we made plans to visit the Alaska State Fair. I wanted to go because it’s such a big event. Disappointingly, though, the monkeys dressed as cowboys riding dogs and herding sheep weren’t here this year.
Six of us went in Jyoti’s car with Monica driving. The setting is below Pioneer Peak in the Chugach mountains on a huge site which really becomes a small town for the duration of the Fair.
We walked miles and ate loads. It became cooler as the Sun set, but still not as cold as it had been sitting in the garage, first thing in the morning.
We saw some funny sights too:
I thought, if I can’t get a nice, close-up photo of a dragonfly, I’d borrow somebody else’s! This was one of the prize-winning photographs at the Fair. Thanks to Jonathan Snead.
Before you ask, it was not me who tampered with this rabbit’s reason for winning…
There were fireworks at about 10pm, just as we were leaving. Fireworks, even though it was still fairly light. The girls commented on the fact that they just don’t see fireworks in Anchorage in Summer, it’s just too light.
But the days are getting shorter. When we first arrived at the beginning of August, we had 17 hours of daylight. Now, it’s a mere 14 hours. And we’ll lose another 5 hours or more by the time we leave.
After dropping everyone off, Liesel and I picked up our car from Jyoti’s. By now, it was proper nighttime. I walked to the bluff, away from the city lights and, for the first time since we’ve been here, I saw stars in the sky. Nighttime and no clouds. A dark sky. I would love to have stayed stargazing for longer, but it had been a long, exciting and exhausting day so we went home.
Sunday was day two of the Garage Sale. We decided to put some items up for sale on eBay, so I prepared the descriptions and we’ll do that in a couple of weeks.
Again, very few people showed up. We packed up and when Monica arrived, she, Liesel and I walked up the road to collect our Garage Sale signs. We walked to Kaladi Bros where we met up with Jyoti and Una. They’d been on a long hike while the rest of us were slaving over a not-so-hot Garage Sale.
At Jyoti’s, we sat outside, drank tea or coffee, ate cookies and scones and I nodded off while the ladies talked several hind legs off a donkey.
We walked up to the bluff, looked out over the water, looked for sand cranes and just absorbed as much heat from the Sun as we could.
Postmen in the UK and mailmen in the USA deliver all kinds of crap. And the mooses know where to deliver their crap too:
La Vuelta continues and a Brit, Simon Yates is now in the lead, rule Brittania! He’s leading by one second.
I hope I never get bored with walking, hiking and generally welcoming the opportunity to be outside rather than indoors.
While Liesel stayed in with her Mom to start the process of ‘sorting stuff out (*)’, I accepted invitations from Liesel’s friends to join them.
Jyoti, Suvan and I had a nice walk in Kincaid Park, on yet another trail. Each one seems to be hillier than the previous one! We saw a moose and her baby but, other than a couple of birds, no more wildlife.
Jyoti was kind enough to offer me fried eggs and toast for lunch and I’m too much of a gentleman to decline, so…
After a chat, we walked again, this time along the road where the roadsweeper swept by in a flurry of water and gravel from what may be a quarry over the road, or. more likely, a building site.
I turned left for home, Jyoti turned right to meet up with another friend. The rest of my day involved puzzles and looking at Liesel’s ‘stuff’.
(*) When I say ‘sorting stuff out’, I mean Liesel is going through her possessions deciding what to keep and what can go. At the same time, she is hoping to encourage her folks to get rid of some of their clutter too, 50 years of it.
This whole project will be a labour of love and hard decisions. Liesel and I spent two years selling things on eBay, giving away via Freegle (formerly Freecycle) and taking to charity shops. Sadly, some items ended up in a landfill site. Liesel’s parents’ house is even more chockerblocker fuller of stuff than ours ever was.
For my next hike without Liesel, Una and Jyoti took me to another skiing venue, Hillside. The only reason I didn’t have a go at the ski jump was, there was no snow. Also, the idea of climbing up that ricketty-looking structure is even more scary than actually skiing, never mind jumping. Plus, I’m not Eddie the Eagle.
It was great to see so many other people out today, too, mountain bikers, hikers, runners and I know that most of them are probably skiers in the Wintertime.
Back at home, the pile of stuff on the landing had grown. There is talk of a garage sale at some point.
Liesel and I went out to do some errands and we later watched Gideon playing soccer. His team won by a mile – but compared with the team he played with in Fairbanks a few weeks ago, they all looked so titchy!
The football pitch must be close to the airport, judging by the number of planes that flew over. We also saw a skein of geese. Flying south for the Winter? Not yet: they landed in the pond just behind the fence.
But most excitingly, my quest to take a good photo of a dragonfly continues. It they won’t land and sit still for me, I’ll just have to capture them in flight. So here are a couple of the best pictures so far:
Liesel and I went to the gym where I spent some time on the treadmill, including a 12m37s mile. Liesel spent longer exercising here, but by the time we left, we’d both built up a good appetite.
It’s week two of the quest to acclimatise me to Japanese food. Tonight, we went to Sushi Garden. I thought I’d have a beer and asked for an IPA. I didn’t expect a bottle that big, a pint and a quarter of ice cold beer. No wonder I couldn’t finish my meal of two different vegetarian rolls. There was a lot of food there, to be honest. The first plate was enough for me but when the second plate turned up some time later, I knew then I wouldn’t complete the mission.
Then a lot of TV, more than we’d usually watch. Two early episodes of Father Brown but more interestingly, the first stage of this year’s Vuelta a España, the Spanish cycling grand tour. The commentary was cringeworthy but at least we found a way to fast forward through the adverts. And we turned off the annoying loud beeps that accompany every button press on the remote control.
When we first decided to move away from Chessington and from London, I came up with a few different ways to mark the occasion. Some were more successful projects than others.
1) While out on my daily (-ish) walks, I decided to walk along every road in Chessington, Hook and Malden Rushett one more time. This would retrace all the roads I’d walked along at least once while delivering mail over the previous ten years. The rule was, I had to start at home or finish at home; I couldn’t get a lift to some remote part of the south of the borough, walk around a small block and then get a lift home. In fact, in the end, the only time I got a lift was when Liesel dropped me off at the southern tip of Malden Rushett on her way to work and I walked all the way home, including offshoots such as Fairoaks Lane and West Road. I think in every other case, I left home, walked a few miles, at least 10,000 steps usually and then back home. I completed this project in just a few months. Easy.
2) I thought it would be interesting, challenging and fun to cycle along every road in Chessington, Hook and Malden Rushett in one go, on one single day. But after a bad experience with blood pressure medication leaving me short of breath, riding a long distance became, if not impossible, certainly something not to be attempted lightly. So, this is a fail, so far.
3) One thing I’ve always wanted to do is ride on every line on the London Underground, visiting every station at least once. I started this in 2000 when I was working in London, short rides at lunchtimes, longer ones at the end of the day. Unfortunately, Sarah died before I finished this, so I lost interest and this project was shelved. Well, 16 years later, I thought I’d start again. I did visit Brixton on the Victoria Line soon after David Bowie died, to see the mural and the flowers left by mourning fans. I rode the Victoria Line to Walthamstow at the other end. One line completed. And that’s it, I’ve not pursued this project, even though I have plenty of time. One day, maybe …
4) There are 32 London Boroughs plus the City of London. I thought it would be good to visit each one, to actually visit a destination or venue in each one, not just pass through on a bus or a train. How am I getting on? Here’s the list:
Royal Borough of Kingston – This is where we lived, worked, shopped, took children to school, so we I can definitley tick this one off
Bromley – I visited my friend Marie in Orpington a few times.
City of London – We visited the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and more
City of Westminster – Covent Garden, Hyde Park, Tate Britain, all visited many times
Camden – Camden Market and London Zoo are just two venues
Richmond upon Thames – Richmond Park, Bushy Park, Richmond Theatre and I worked in Isleworth for a short period
Merton – Wimbledon Theatre and Wimbledon Common
Sutton – Nonsuch Park and the shops
Croydon – Fairfield Halls and the college where I had some OU tutorials and non forgetting Ikea and CostCo
Kensington and Chelsea – I went to Uni here, lived here, Holland Park, Kensington Town Hall, the old Commonwealth Institute, Biba, Kensington Market, Kensington Gardens
Hammersmith and Fulham – lived here, Shepherds Bush Empire, Bush Hall
Wandsworth – Battersea Arts Centre
Lambeth – Southbank Centre, National Theatre, Old Vic and Young Vic Theatres
Southwark – HMS Belfast, Tate Modern
Tower Hamlets – Tower of london, Tower Bridge, Royal London Hospital where Sarah trained and lived for a year
Hackney – Stoke newington Church Street: Andi’s
Islington – Union Chapel, probably our favourite venue in London
Brent – Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena
Ealing – lived in Acton for three months, and we’re staying in an Airbnb place here before we fly off to Alaska
Hounslow – Heathrow Airport from where we fly off to Alaska
Lewisham – Horniman Museum
Royal Borough of Greenwich – The National Maritime Museum, probably my favourite museum, Greenwich Observatory, the Millennium Dome (now the O2 Arena)
Bexley – Dad took me and Pauline to visit his old haunts in Welling, 50 years ago
Barking and Dagenham – I visited the Dagenham Ford Motorworks when I was at school
Newham – ExCeL Exhibition Centre, Olympic Stadium
Waltham Forest – Olympic Velopark
Haringey – visited my Dad’s Uncle Charlie before he passed away in 1979
Barnet – we visited Golders Green recently
Hillingdon – Heathrow airport spans two London boroughs and the country of Surrey, and we used to stop at Yiewsley when driving from Peterborough to Guildford, before the M25 was complete
Harrow – nothing
Enfield – nothing
Havering – nothing
Redbridge – nothing
Not too bad, then just missing out on four and I admit, some of the historical ones are a bit of a stretch!
5) Cycle on every page of the old Surrey Street Atlas. I did this once in the 1990s, a good way to force myself to go on long bike rides to the extremes of Surrey. Again, I was part way through a second pass on this when Sarah died. It would be nice to be fit enough to have another attempt but as I mentioned above, I am a bit, maybe unjustifiably, scared to attempt very long rides because of my breathlessness issues.
There are also some ideas that I discarded as being a bit too ambitious:
Ride every London bus route
Ride every Overground line, every DLR line,
Cycle the length of the Thames from the source in Gloucestershire to the estuary at Dartmouth or maybe beyond. I’ve ridden it all, in stages, from Walton on Thames to the Thames Barrier in Greenwich, plus a short section near Oxford.
We’ll miss London and Surrey and Chessington but moving away is an adventure and it will be fun coming up with similar, equally silly plans in Northenden or Manchester or Greater Manchester. Any ideas are very welcome!
London Bye Ta-ta is a song recorded by David Bowie just over 50 years ago, and, unbelievably, rejected by the record label!
The Museum of London is onre of those places we ought to visit more often. We’ve seen the Roman artefacts before, and the state coaches, but there is a lot more on offer. On one of the lower ground floor, some of the exhibits are from ouyr own lifetime. I visited the then new Post Office Tower in 1966 and I still have the brochure from that visit. It cost 2/6d. They have a copy in this museum.
The London Stone is usually hidden in a cage, at a bank in Cannon Street. While building works are taking place there, the London Stone is being exhibited at the Museum. It’s just a stone, yes, but there are so many stories round it, and it was good to see it close up.
The other ‘main attraction’ is a small sample of the famous 130-tonne fatberg excvated a couple of years ago from the sewers of London. Not at all photogenic but we were pleased that there was no assault on the olfactory senses.
I used to watch Watch With Mother with my Mum half a century or more ago, and it was great to see some of the puppets here. If I remember correctly, the schedule was:
Monday – Picture Book
Tuesday – Andy Pandy
Wednesday – Bill and Ben
Thursday – Rag, Tag and Bobtail
Friday – the Woodentops
There’s nothing like seeing your childhood in a museum to make you feel old.
But being a museum exhibit yourself is a whole new experience.
The Museum of Futures in Surbiton is currently hosting the Wheels of Time exhibion, describing the history of cycling in the Royal Borough of Kingston.
This video talks about a couple of local cycling heroes.
Liesel and Mick attended the opening night of the exhibition which was very well attended. Mick’s mugshot is on the wall with a transcript of the interview conducted a couple aof weeks ago, about his experience of using a bicycle for his job as a postman. Snippets of the interview are available to listen to too, and are as embarrassing as you would expect. So embarrassing, I didn’t want to draw attention so I took a few photos with my phone, but not using the flash.
It was interesting to learn that there used to be a couple of tracks in the area, in the very early days of cycle racing.
A second visit is on the cards, not least so I can get some better pictures. If you can, go along and have a laugh at my bits look yourself.