I don’t manage 10,000 steps every single day but I do try. And I spent an hour pushing a dozing William, in his buggy, around Manchester, specifically around the University area, while Jenny took Martha to be experimented upon. Actually, Martha was following in my footsteps and helping a PhD student out with their research.
We had lunch then we all went to our various homes.
While Liesel’s gallivanting with Trudi et al in Anchorage, I’m going through the list of things to do while she’s away. Progress is being made, some DIY has been done by myself, correspondence has been responded to, some minor items have been crossed off the to-do list.
A momentous day for Martha: her first at Nursery. An hour on the first day, three hours the next two days then three full days a week. She was looking forward to going and enjoyed playing with the other children.
My job was to look after William while Martha was at Nursery. He’s a very funny little chap, but whereas cats like climbing into boxes, he just likes standing on them! He went down for his nap without objecting, giving me the opportunity to do some paperwork. Another tick on the to-do list.
Martha came home in time for lunch. We played with the ball for a while. Then, after packing, unpacking and repacking her backpack, we went on holiday to Australia. We went on a purple plane and she drove.
Then we went on holiday to the aquarium, again on the purple plane.
We watched the end of Disney’s Cinderella, which Martha had started before going to Nursery. She asked lots of questions about the plot, why were the step-sisters so nasty? Very hard to explain that some people just aren’t very nice.
William then chose to watch Disney’s The Lion King, the original one. He knows all the characters’ names but doesn’t yet get the farting jokes! I asked Martha if she wanted to go for a walk, but the answer was a very half-hearted ‘yes’. Instead, she fell asleep on the sofa while watching The Lion King.
When she woke up, she packed her backpack again and took us on holiday to The Lion King!
Three holidays in one day, can’t complain about that.
Oh we do like to be beside the seaside. So we took Martha and William to Formby. We were hoping for a nice day, but not so nice that everyone else would be there. The beach was fairly deserted and we had a fantastic but short time there.
There was a strong, cold wind: several layers of clothing required. William had a go at building a sandcastle. Martha wanted to walk to the sea but the tide was out. Miles out. Halfway there, fighting the gale and the sand-blasting, she said she wanted to go back to the car.
William sat down in a puddle. To pass the rest of the day, we took them back to our place for a bath, which they both enjoy, despite there being no proper toys nor bubbles.
This would be the final Grandchildren’s Day for Liesel for a while. She jetted off to the Sun. Well, to Anchorage, to see her family and friends, to start work for Amrit and to decide which of the items we sorted out last year she really wants to bring back to the UK.
Don’t worry, I can look after myself. I’ll keep the piles of laundry and dishes separate so it’s easier for her to catch up on the domestic chores when she returns.
Her trip didn’t get off to a good start though. Manchester Airport was an awful experience. But things improved later. She met up with Holly briefly in Seattle then, on the final flight into Anchorage, she had a row of three seats to herself.
Meanwhile, I went to Specsavers for another hearing test. It was much more thorough than the one at Boots, and the audiologist and I agreed that I don’t need hearing aids right now.
Martha’s in a new swimming group now, and again, I was amazed at what she can do. Swimming under her Mum’s legs? I couldn’t do that at 3 and I can’t do that at 93 either.
La Vuelta a España has started, the Spanish Grand Tour bike race. The first crash was when one of the team cars went around a corner too fast. I’ll watch the highlights programme each day and relay highlights of the highlights to Liesel.
Liesel spent time with Jyoti who, a couple of days later, left to spend some time with her parents before flying back to Australia.
Our lovely friend Trudi is visiting Alaska from Hawaii and I am disappointed to not be seeing her myself.
Liesel watched our nephews Asa and Gideon playing football, just as we did last year. So she’s been quite busy and with a bit of jet-lag to start with, she’s a little tired.
I got my exercise one day by taking the rest of the bikes, the tandem and the rest of the cycling paraphernalia to the storage unit.
Up and down the stairs several times, carrying awkward items out to the car, which had to be locked every trip, I was perspiring very heavily.
Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stuff in our second bedroom, grrr. But we’re getting there. Someone might be able to sleep in there soon.
My first solo Grandchildren’s Day was great. I survived, both children survived and I think we had a good time.
Apologies if this video of Martha attempting to lick her own elbow appears sideways on your screen too. Just turn your device 90°!
Martha showed me the bruises and cuts and grazes on her arms and legs, none of which were too bad, just signs of being slightly too active maybe.
In the afternoon, we went for a short walk: I had some shopping to buy. As soon as Martha saw Costa, she said she wanted a babyccino. So both she and William had a small cup of frothy milk, with chocolate sprinkles and marshmallows.
When she saw this picture, Jenny suggested I’d taken them to an unskilled facepaint artist! And yes, of course I had a coffee too, it would be rude not to.
It’s time to get political again. I attended not only my first but my second protest in Manchester, both on the same day.
Another first: I rode a tram into the city centre. When I alighted at Deansgate, I couldn’t help but notice this outsize bike, which would get you nowhere fast.
It was a bright day, perfect for protesting. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a worldwide organisation campaigning to save the planet from the climate emergency. So far, the protests have been peaceful disruption in city centres. They have set up camp in Deansgate, Manchester, for the weekend. This is the busiest, most highly polluted road in the city and now it’s blocked.
I didn’t spend too much time here because as I walked along Deansgate, the clouds darkened, the first few spots of rain fell, the first couple of umbrellas were deployed and I walked into Veggie Pret as if that had been the plan all along. A vegetarian Pret a Manger, the perfect place to hide from the rain for a while. And yes, I had a coffee, it would be rude not to!
Who says there are no good right-wing comedians? One comment I read about the XR rebels was that this is what the UK will look like after brexit, when there’s a soap shortage!
The rain began to ease off so I donned a hat and jacket and continued my walk towards Cathedral Gardens. This was the focal point of todays protest against Boris Johnson’s unprecedented long prorogation of parliament. There were all sorts of people here, labour supporters and tories, leavers and remainers, all incensed at the erosion of democracy in our country.
The crowd bearing brollies was reminiscent of the crowds protesting in Hong Kong for similar reasons.
Some of the captions on the banners were, as usual, very funny.
EU blue and gold smoke bombs were let off. Speeches were given which I couldn’t hear being right at the back. The chants were mainly “Stop the Coup” and “Boris, Boris, Boris, out, out, out”!
As I wandered round I saw a few police officers, some on horses. I came across a larger concentration of hi-vis policemen and women. They were ‘protecting’ the pro-brexit, free-Tommy protesters. About 20 of them, so more than one PC each. Their one line was “We won the vote in 2016”. No interest in the illegal actions of the Leave campaign, the lies told, the promises made about sunlit uplands, easy deals and so on. A couple of them were agitating for a fight so this was my cue to head back to XR.
Because I dawdled, the “Stop the Coup” march to Albert Square caught me up so I joined in with a vocal contribution. This was just one of over sixty such protests all around the country. And beyond: some British Consulates in Europe also witnessed protests.
Back at XR, I thought about having a coffee but decided to head home instead. It’s the end of the month so bills to pay, admin to deal with. I checked on eBay and it’s taken a few weeks but it looks like everything we put up for sale will be gone soon.
August fades to grey and September comes along to replace it, dragging leaves from trees, dropping the temperature slightly so children don’t feel so bad about going back to school.
I watched Martha and William swimming again, both doing their own stunts. I thought the dress Martha was wearing was very pretty. Turns out, it was made by Sarah, Martha’s granny, thirty-plus years ago. Wow.
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.
It’s only a few weeks since my last check-up at the optician’s, but maybe it’s time for a revisit. I saw the sign ‘Wythenshawe Park and Ride’. Is Wythenshawe really that popular? Is it a major retail centre? No, of course not. On closer inspection, the sign said ‘Wythenshawe Park and Hall’. That was handy because my destination on this afternoon’s walk was indeed Wythenshawe Park.
It’s a very popular park, lots of young families, people with dogs, folk sitting on most of the benches and the odd, very odd, individual such as moi wandering through.
Wythenshaw Hall was damaged in an arson attack in 2016 so it’s out of bounds while being restored.
This 16th-century manor house will be an interesting place to visit when we’re allowed back in: a nice, easy walk from home. And if there’s a decent café there, even better!
It is worth reporting hateful, horrible, racist people on Twitter because once in a blue moon, they do something about it.
I felt quite smug about this success, ridiculously so. For a minute or two, anyway.
Grandchildren Day saw us returning to Chester Zoo. We call it it Grandchildren Day. They call it Grandad and Oma day. That’s what they call us, Grandad and Oma. I’m sure they’ll come up with worse names for us as they get older.
It was a beautiful day so, even though we arrived just after opening time, the car park was full. Despite noting that we were in the Crocodile Zone and taking a picture of the nearby tree as a landmark, I spent far too long later on trying to find the car.
Poor Martha needed to be carried the last few metres, aeroplane style, arms flapping (hers, not mine). Needless to say, Liesel and William had found the car straightaway after leaving the zoo, while Martha and I fought our way through the shop.
Martha and William are always happy to see the elephants, rhinos and lions, but this time, there was equal delight watching the native squirrel leaping from tree to tree.
Later on, at home, under the climbing frame, Martha collected nut shells that must have been dropped by a local squirrel. Probably not the same one.
We spent some time in the adventure playground with lots of other small humans.
If you’re wondering: yes, Martha is now wearing spectacles and she loves carrying the case around.
Meanwhile, William watched a slightly older boy rolling down a slope. He tried to copy but didn’t quite get the idea that you can’t roll sideways when gravity is trying to pull you downwards.
On the other hand, he had to swing on every reachable horizontal bar he could find. This is why he has very long arms.
As if the day with William and Martha wasn’t exciting and exhausting enough: back home in the evening, we had to move as much furniture out of our living/dining room as possible.
Our first new northern carpet arrived and was installed early the following morning. It’s much deeper and softer than the old, probably original one, and the best thing is, we no longer have to look at the previous occupants’ furniture’s indentations. We’ll make our own marks!
I bit the bullet, overrode my reluctance, dismissed my innate sense of incompetence, concealed my fear of the whole scary enterprise and began to install the new furniture. The so-called String System attaches to the wall. Yes, I had to drill holes in the wall and all I could think of is that the whole edifice would come tumbling down, one day. There are shelves, cupboards and a drawer unit, consisting of two drawers: yes, a pair of drawers. A phrase that always makes me snigger.
At last, 13½ months after moving in, we can unpack the last few dozen boxes of books, CDs, DVDs and all sorts of stuff. Stuff that we’ve lived without for a year but which suddenly, we can’t bear to be parted from! Too much stuff. Liesel was the chief (only) shelf filler, and I think she’s done a very good job. But yes, after a couple of years of decluttering in Chessington, we still have far too much stuff, so it’s not as minimalist as we’d hoped.
I enjoyed putting together the two cupboard units and the pair of drawers, chortle, despite the fact that one of the supplied screws could not be screwed in due to a defective head (the screw’s, not mine).
With the new storage in place, we are able to dispose of some older items. eBay is the obvious place although it’s just not as successful as it used to be. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. No, not Christmas, home. Not like, feel! It’s beginning to feel a bit like home!
We moved to Northenden thirteen months ago but have only lived here for three. Our gap year adventures are still at the forefront of our mindss but we are now, slowly, building up some sort of routine.
Despite our best efforts in Chessington, we managed to move house with things that we now realise we don’t need. In the process of unpacking, we are finding items surplus to requirements. So, we are making use of Facebook’s local marketplace, eBay and eventually, charity shops, Freegle and any other likely looking outlets.
Any excuse to leave the confines of our flat is more then welcome. We were invited to look after William one morning so we took him for a walk. We visited Oak Meadow, a small park in Cheadle Hulme.
William kept to the path, which was unexpected, he usually darts off in all directions. But he was our little David Attenborough for a few minutes pointing out ‘dog’, ‘squirrel’, ‘birdie’ and ‘pigeon’.
He fell asleep in the buggy so Liesel and I had our coffee in peace.
We’ll never use the padded cooler/picnic bag again, so that was added to the list of things to pass on to a more appreciative home. Jenny was interested so I took it into Manchester where we met up for coffee. I had another reason for being in the big city though. Last week, Sean from the Blood Transfusion Service called asking if I would like to make an appointment. If you’ll still have my blood, I said, after I’ve been overseas, visiting many exotic locations in the tropics and beyond. A long conversation later, I made an appointment, and here I was, about to give blood again, for the first time in over a year.
I met a Rebecca, a Becky and a Rob, scar tissue from previous blood-lettings was admired. Some of my plasma will be used to make drops for people with dry eyes. Who thinks up these things?
A cup of Yorkshire tea, a Mint Club biscuit and a packet of Mini Cheddars gave me enough energy to walk down the road to the Whitworth Gallery. I had a quick walk round, but Liesel and I need to spend more time here.
Thursday is grandchildren day and this week, we took Martha and William to the Ice Cream Farm, near Chester.
Martha and William had a lot of fun in the sand and water play area, limited to one hour because there were so many other children around.
Yes, it’s the Ice Cream Farm but in the end, we didn’t have any ice cream. I remember ICQ being some sort of messaging service in the olden days, but now when we’re talking about the IC queue, we are referring to the hundreds of people waiting in line to buy an ice cream. We left the park just in time, missing the rain by just a few minutes!
Martha wanted to play in the bath at our place, so we took them there. They insisted on having water in the bath, too, quite reasonable, we thought.
After a longer wait than anticipated, we collected our re-framed pictures from The Framery in Gatley. While Liesel drove them home slowly, I walked back. I followed the signs to and through Gatley Carrs, a nature reserve.
One squirrel and one magpie isn’t much of a tally, and the only other humans I saw were a Mum with two children having a picnic. It was a pleasant walk marred only by the rumble from the nearby motorway. The path was muddy and impassable in places.
I was pleased to see a notice board listing all the water birds that must have been hiding quietly in the bushes. Maybe I’ll see them another day.
Just as I was thinking how devoid of souls this park was, I found some. Well, memorials to loved, lost souls. A pet cemetery.
The walk home took me across the motorway that borders the park. I was surprised where the path joined Longley Lane, I knew exactly where I was, and would never have taken any notice of that path if I’d approached from the opposite direction. I passed lots of nettles, an apple tree, some blackberry bushes and a supermarket trolley.
I am so easily transported back to my childhood, and today was no exception.
This signal box is, as far as I can recall, exactly the same as the one I had with my train set when I was very young. Well, it’s a real one here, whereas mine was OO/HO scale.
Also, I can easily burst into laughter as I walk along the local roads.
The local speed limit is 20 mph but everyone thinks this is the minimum rather than a maximum speed. I couldn’t stifle the chuckles as a number 43 bus took off at one road hump and landed beyond the next. I’m guessing 90mph, but he may have slowed down a bit because of a slight bend in the road where it approached the next bus stop.
This sign in FFS brings a smile to the old fizzog too, but it’s a little close to the bone, maybe. We didn’t walk to or from Didsbury on this occasion, due to lateness, laziness, idleness and lethargy. Not to be confused with the law firm of that name.
At home, I did install the new toilet seat. It’s one that has an extra, smaller seat for smaller botties such as those of grandchildren. It means we don’t have to hold them up while they do what needs to be done.
A straightforward, ten-minute job, you’d think. And it really was. I spent far too long trying to get it perfectly straight. But that was impossible. You’d think the cistern and the toilet itself would be in some sort of alignment. Oh no. If the back of the seat is parallel to the cistern, it doesn’t sit square on the bowl. It turns out, the toilet has been installed at a slightly jaunty angle. And, now we’ve realised, we’ll notice the imperfection every time we go into that room. Still, it’s one more thing ticked off the list.
Sunday is swimming day, always a joy to see William and Martha enjoying the water, once the spectacles have demisted in the warm, humid pool room.
From swimming in Hyde, we drove to Chorlton-cum-Hardy for breakfast and a walk. It felt muggy, rain and thunderstorms possibly on the way, but we had a nice stroll through the graveyard and along the banks of Chorlton Brook, which isn’t a law firm either.
As we walked through the woods, I said to Liesel that we just don’t see enough Chinese lanterns caught in trees any more. More fallout from the failed brexit negotiations, presumably.
But look, it’s our lucky day!
And just as we were thinking how drab and dreary some of the shops look in Chorlton, we came across this pair, necessitating the wearing of sunglasses for a moment.
The Pun of the Day award goes to this estate agent
So in the space of a week, we’ve visited Cheadle Hulme, Manchester, the Chester area, Gatley, Didsbury and Chorlton cum Hardy. There are plenty more places to visit, other towns, villages and suburbs, but it’s good to see this list as it shows that we haven’t just been sitting at home all week, looking at four walls. The adventure continues!
We returned to Quarry Bank Mill for a walk around the gardens on a gorgeous, proper Summer’s day.
There are more potatoes growing there then you could reasonably expect to fry on a Friday night in a Manchester chippy. But there are plenty of other vegetables too, all being tended by apprentice gardeners.
And, totally unexpectedly, here’s a comma after the word ‘and’ just to annoy the newly installed Secretary of State for the 18th Century, Jacob Rees-Mogg. As I was saying, we unexpectedly found some fab sculpture from Africa. We would love to acquire more artwork for our luxury apartment and support the African artists, but not today.
Not that I was ever any good, but today’s selfie was one of the worst.
My excuse is, it was so bright, I couldn’t see the screen properly. The flowers are pretty, though.
Some of the flowers were so happy, they almost glowed in the sunshine, reflecting the sky.
The gardens are well maintained, and the stroll was very enjoyable. From some vantage points, you could almost imagine these being Japanese gardens. But not quite: there were a few weeds and not everything was regimented to the nth degree.
One place I never expected to visit was the Division of Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Manchester. But life is full of surprises. Wearing my guinea pig hat, I helped with some research into Parkinson’s which, sadly, is close to our hearts after spending time with Nigel recently. The researchers were very professional and friendly, refunded my bus fare and didn’t even want the 20p change: riches beyond my wildest dreams!
Oxford Road, Manchester, with no traffic other than buses and taxis was at its best in the sunshine, proudly displaying its gothic beauty.
Whitworth Hall is where Jenny’s Graduation ceremonies took place all those years ago. Speaking of whom, I met Jenny for lunch after my morning in a windowless office.
She claims to have been at work but I’m convinced she was dressed for a party. On such a hot day, it was good to have Indian food for lunch just along the road from her office.
I walked most of the way home but when I caught a bus for a long, boring stretch of busy road, I regretted not joining it sooner. Entertainment was provided by a drunk or drugged-up man shouting at a woman who, according to him, had been nasty since she got on the bus, nobody likes her, and everyone else just wanted her to get off. I’ve no idea what her perceived crime was, but his was the only voice I heard. Eventually, the driver intervened and asked him to alight.
Thursday was a long, exhausting but fun day. It was our first time looking after Martha and William for the whole day while Mummy and Daddy are at work. This will be our regular day with the children for a while.
And they were really good. It was the hottest July day ever and the hottest day since August 2003, when Liesel and I first met. It really was a scorcher.
We thought about staying at home all day and playing in the garden, but in the end, cool, cool fountains beckoned and we decided to go to Stamford Park. The trouble is, so did everyone else. The park was so crowded, I was on the verge of a panic attack. William and Martha just stood and looked at the hundreds of children playing in the water and I think they were as inimidated as Liesel and I were. Quite scary.
We queued for and bought ice creams but both lost interest before finishing, not a common occurrence.
We’d brought a picnic, which we ate under the shade of a tree that dropped small chestnutty things onto my head. Maybe small chestnuts, come to think of it, but I’m no arborialist. Arborist? Martha was amused, which is the main thing.
Back at home, we did play in the paddling pool in the garden.
Yes, the poor old palm trees need some inflation. In fact, the whole thing has a slow puncture and by the end of the afternoon, the paddling pool looked very sad and deflated. Martha and William weren’t, though, they were both a bit tired but it was, we felt, too late for them to have a nap.
Yes, I could have Photoshopped myself tidier hair, but I think the natural look is important.
A quick snack and a rest in front of Peppa Pig and Thomas the Tank Engine was enough for them to recover.
We ate dinner with Jenny and Liam before going home, where we collollapsed, as a friend of ours used to say.
We went to bed and I think both fell asleep very quickly. In the middle of the night, I heard a bee-bee-bee-beep, very loud, over and over, and I was just wishing that annoying vehicle would stop reversing.
Then: “Mick!” exclaimed Liesel. “What?” I grunted as I left my dream and sat upright in bed.
Liesel told me about the fire alarm going off. In our block. As if I could miss it. I could smell no smoke and just wanted to lie down and go back to sleep. But we did get up, we got dressed and left the building. The occupants of the other four flats never appeared. There was no sign of fire nor smoke, so I deduced that the heat of the day had somehow affected one of the smoke detectors. Of course, we had no idea how to turn the alarm off.
And it could be heard from quite a long way away, as a quick walk ascertained. Liesel called 101 then 999. We saw a woman over the road leaning out of her window. She came over to talk to us and we said the fire brigade were on the way. We just wanted somone to turn the alarm off. We didn’t need a fire appliance with blues and twos but Liesel was delighted to see the eight young, fit firefighters in uniform.
They knocked on the doors of the other four flats, which we thought was a bit sad for the occupants (not really), but still, nobody else emerged.
Eventually, one guy turned the alarm off. The alarms are all connected, within the building, but not to the fire station. His theory is that with the windows on the landings being left open because of the heat, insects had been attracted to the bright lights in the communal areas and stairwells, and that one must have infiltrated a smoke alarm and set it off.
We’d only told the management company a few days ago about the lights being on for 24 hours a day, so we called again the next day to tell them what had happened. The lights are supposed to be on a timer and connected to the motion sensor.
After our day with the children, we didn’t need any more excitement, but it found us. And, after such a hot day, how ironic that when we were standing outside at about two o’clock in the morning, it began to rain. It only lasted five minutes, but, although initially annoying, the shower proved to be quite refreshing!
After the interrupted night’s sleep, I couldn’t get any peace the next day. The door bell was working overtime. First, some furniture was delivered. Then a man came, three days early, to fix the dishwasher. Then the postman wanted me to sign for something. Then Liesel phoned to ask me to help her carry up the shopping she’d just been out for. It’s all go, chez nous.
Chester Zoo is featured in a TV series and it’s also the closest to where we live. We had a good day there with Jenny plus Martha and William and Auntie Helen. I told myself there was no need to take any pictures, we’ve seen all these animals before and they won’t have changed much.
The latest news is that just a few days ago, a chimpanzee gave birth and yes, the baby’s very cute, though we didn’t need to see the mum dragging her innards behind her like a really old, tatty, plastic bag. Sorry if you’re having your tea, but don’t worry, I didn’t waste any film on that.
We enjoyed being buzzed by the fruit bats in a dim, dark and very ammoniacal habitat. I’m not convinced their sonar had been correctly calibrated.
William described one of the large, newly installed, predators as ‘scary’ which is quite perspicacious: I thought it was scary too, and I know it wasn’t real. But all the dinosaurs and predators are big, they all move and most are quite vocal. Rroarr!
The playground was great fun, with, amongst other equipment, a long, high slide. Martha found herself hanging around for a while.
And as usual, children just can’t help copying each other.
We were able to get remarkably close to an orang utan, just separated by the thickness of the glass. I don’t know if he/she was happy or not, but we humans were all being observed closely.
The main objective of visits to zoos, of course, is to wear the the children out, and today, William was the first to succumb.
On this day, fifty years ago, I was enjoying a Geography lesson. The teacher wore a bright, primrose yellow dress and I’m embarrassed to say, I can’t recall her name. But I remember the lesson because she let us watch the launch of Apollo 11 on TV, slightly more interesting than the market towns of East Anglia. Saturn 5, you really were the greatest sight.
To celebrate this 50th anniversary, tonight was a full Moon and a partial eclipse. I went out for a walk late at night, but the light pollution near where we live is terrible. Not only that, I hadn’t realised just how many tall buildings there are all around. I did see the eclipse but I don’t think we’ll see a good sunrise or sunset from where we now live.
Another day out with the grandchildren found us at Stamford Park, Stalybridge. It still feels strange seeing these northern placenames on roadsigns.
It was a lovely, peaceful day, perfect for a gentle walk or, if you’re Martha, running around and climbing on all the playground equipment, or, if you’re William, running around and faceplanting in the sand.
Later in the week, we had a couple of meals with the family, once at our place, once at Solita and then, all of a sudden, it was goodbye to Helen. She flies back home to spend some time with Adam before he jets off somewhere for work. I’m still no good at selfies so I’m glad Helen always manages to press the right button. Or, aims in the right direction and presses the button at the right time.
Didsbury in Bloom has won many awards for its floral displays over the years. And it is indeed a pretty nice little village to wander round.
Liesel and I walked home, even though it threatened to rain. We had a stroll around Marie Louise Gardens, just off the main road. I like reading the plaques on park benches, there’s always a story, but I’m amazed at how many have a word spelt wrong. ‘A beautiful child and beautiful women’. It detracts from the sincerity of the message, somehow.
One advantage of letting the buddleia grow wild over the pavements is that it deters people from parking their cars there, which is a fairly ubiquitous phenomenon in Manchester.
There’s not much wildlife around here, so imagine our delight when we encountered some horses in a field.
In the evening, we travelled by bus into Manchester, and walked to the Cathedral. It’s a busy old city, even early on a Saturday evening. We can never get away from cigarette smoke completely, but tonight was the first time we’ve had to hold our noses as we battled our way through clouds of the stuff.
The Cathedral has been a place of welcome and hospitality for over 1300 years. But for reasons well within our control, we arrived a little late, couldn’t find adjacent seats and the view of the performers was less than optimal.
Yes, we should have left home just a couple of minutes earlier, then we would have caught the bus that we saw departing and avoided a 13 minute wait for the next one. Lesson learned. The restricted view didn’t spoil my enjoyment though. These old ears were very happy with the acoustics, and I couldn’t even hear the sound of traffic or people from outside during the quiet passages. This was a classical concert, with music by Mozart, Bach, Albinoni and a surprise tango, Oblivion, by Piazzolla. Nobody else got up to dance around the aisles, so I sat back down.
The main piece at ‘Vivaldi – The Four Seasons by candlelight’ was The Four Seasons by Vivaldi. The conductor of the London Concertante chamber orchestra also read the sonnets that Vivaldi wrote to accompany the music. It was all very enjoyable. There was applause between the movements of every piece, almost the musical equivalent of grocers’ apostrophes, but there was no chatting amongst the audience members, something that’s de rigueur at modern music gigs.
It was still quite light at the end of the performance so the candles weren’t as delightful and homely as they might be in the depths of Winter.
In domestic news: number 1 on my ‘to do’ list is to bring together all the other ‘to do’ lists. There’s a lot to do. Good job I like lists. And doing things.
I stayed up to watch the Eagle land at Tranquility Base but I wasn’t allowed to stay up to watch the first Small Step taken by Neil Armstrong. Outside, looking up, I remember not being able to see the two men on the Moon but not wanting to disappoint my parents, I said I could. Fifty years ago, wow.