We stayed at Fountains Abbey for a week altogether and for some of that time, we had the whole place, the whole estate, to ourselves. To the point that when, on Boxing Day, we encountered millions upon millions of other visitors, we felt our land was being invaded. Such an outrage.
Fountains Abbey is bigger than I’d anticipted. Other than the roof being missing, it’s been well looked after.
And here we are, equally well preserved, in front of the abbey. We spent a lot of time walking up and down its corridors and aisles. It was very special not seeing other people, just pigeons, crows and pheasants.
We have no idea where the building materials came from, but the different colour sandstones look much more vivid in real life than in this picture.
It was quiet and peaceful, just the sounds of the birds. And quite atmospheric too with the medieval mist rising from the grass.
We walked along the path by the River Skell enjoying the peace and tranquility. Pheasants were everywhere, many more males than females for some reason. We even saw bits of pheasant here and there, presumably the body parts that the sparrow hawks couldn’t digest. We saw a couple of red kites showing off their soaring and gliding skills in the sunshine.
Odd buildings attracted our attention as we walked to the gate leading to the main car park. We didn’t go through because it wasn’t obvious how to get back. Plus, there were ordinary people on the other side, and we didn’t need to mix with them.
The Serpentine Tunnel was dark and damp and, as the name suggests, sinuous, so you never knew how much further there was to walk. The view from higher up was well worth the effort of the climb. Even if I was a bit puffed out.
Back at Fountains Hall, there’s a very moving war memorial
It’s probably the wrong time of year to see bees, but we found a home for them.
Joe Cornish has been taking photographs of the Abbey and the grounds for a few years now, since before the pandemic, and there was a display of his work inside the Mill. Apart from anything else, this was a reminder that I really should break out my real camera again rather than relying on the faithful phone for all my photographic needs.
We never came across the tree with this gnarly old man striding in its roots. But I’m sure we’ll be back one day, there are several more acres in the grounds to explore.
The bad news is, Liesel wouldn’t let me scratch my name next to this 200-year old graffiti.
Oh no, more bad news. Inside the Hall, we found this Christmas tree with lots of presents underneath, but Liesel wouldn’t let me open any of them.
Christmas day was unusual. We spent the day snacking on crackers, cheese, chocolate, cheese and crackers, fruit, bread, crisps, snacks, so that when it was time for the more conventional, official Christmas meal, we both felt full and well, we couldn’t be bothered. So we had our nut loaf and all the trimmings the following day: maybe we’ve started a new tradition. But really, those snacks just shouldn’t be so tasty, filling and more-ish.
Having spent a week on our own, just the two of us, Darby and Joan, it was nice to venture out and meet people. Not just any old people, but an old school-friend. And not even a school-friend of mine. Yvonne was my sister, Pauline’s buddy from school, all those decades ago. Yvonne and Ian met us in Sawley, for a pub lunch. It was nice to catch up, even though we’d only met in August, with Pauline and Andrew.
Our week in Yorkshire came to an end and we had to check out really early. On the way home, we diverted to Mother Shipton’s Cave but as always, we’d planned well: it was closed. But we did catch a glimpse of Knaresborough Viaduct, even if we didn’t take time to explore. We’ll be back, I’m sure.
It’s always an anti-climax of course going home after a short break. Nothing much to report here. Oh, except my old PC has decided to no longer cooperate. It won’t turn on. Yes, it was plugged in. I even changed the fuse in the plug. I hoovered up 3 cwt of dust from inside the case, wondering if maybe the thing wouldn’t turn on because the fans were stuck. No. I suspect it needs a new power supply unit. Which is annoying, because there are only a few things I need to transfer to my (now not so) new laptop. But the main thing I use the old PC for is to print. We have a very old printer that is not compatible with Windows 11. I spent far too long trying to find a way to get my laptop to connect with the old printer. In the end, I ordered a new printer.
I enjoyed watching the New Year’s fireworks from Sydney, a display probably visible from space.
Of course, we weren’t there in person on this occasion and I couldn’t see Helen and Jenny in the crowd. Mind you, I only have a small TV screen, it was dark there and as it turns out, they were round at a friend’s place anyway.
The radio show this week was entitled Happy New Year! I prepared it before we went away, that was a hectic couple of days! You can catch the show here. If I were to say that my Christmas show was repeated on Wythenshawe Radio WFM 97.2 not once, not twice but four times in the end, is that a humble-brag? Should I take that as a vote of confidence?
I didn’t realise that the link to the radio show doesn’t always appear in the emails alerting you to another exciting episode of these Antics, so apologies for that. And a jolly Happy New Year to you.
Our walk to Didsbury was uneventful, Unless you count the ducks shouting at us from the river.
I don’t think they wanted us to walk over the bridge for some reason. Maybe they just wanted some privacy, thinking Spring was on its way. After all, it was 21 degrees warmer today than it was on the coldest day last week: 14° versus -7°.
After walking back to Northenden, Liesel went straight home while I continued along the river. I had two plans in mind. First, a hot chocolate at Quirky Misfits, which was very nice.
And second, a visit to the barber. Yes, my barnet was bit untidy and needed sorting out. It does look better, I admit, but boy, does my neck feel cold now! Still, Liesel approved and that’s all that matters really: she has to look at it, I don’t.
Our regular Wednesday walk was uneventful unless you count having to sit outside Boxx2Boxx with our coffees afterwards. As always before going away for a few days, there were 101 things to do at home at the last minute.
But I didn’t start packing until a couple of hours before we left home. Liesel drove us to Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire, where we’d rented a cottage for a week.
The drive was OK, it rained a bit and we didn’t need to worry about glare from the Sun. Our only stop was in Colne, for coffee, and to pass some time as we couldn’t check in until 4pm.
It’s a hilly place, is Colne, we could have had a good workout here. We drove past a tree that was still laden with apples. Very bright apples, I thought they were Christmas baubles at first. In one field, a big sheep and a small pony seemed to be great buddies. And they were about the same size.
We saw many pheasants along the way. They’re not the brightest of birds are they? Standing in the middle of the road playing chicken. At least the crows noshing on a squished bunny have the sense to get out of the way when a car approaches.
We got the keys from the lockbox, parked up, and made several journeys between the car and our accommodation. Time for some stats. It’s supposed to be a holiday, but we’re on the second floor, which means climbing 40 stairs, 40!, compared with only 32 at home. Plus, we brought 16, yes, 16!, bags of stuff with us. No, we’re not staying for six months, just a week. Most of it’s food that we won’t be taking back. I brought my laptop too, and that’s a first. I can do all my usual laptoppy things. Liesel brought her laptop too, so she can do some work. I think my laptoppy things might be more fun.
It was nice to be settled and I made some coffee. Instant, of course. A few minutes later, I took a swig and it tasted… different. Have you adulterated my coffee, I asked Liesel? A grin spread across her face like milk expands when spilt on the kitchen floor. She confessed to adding Baileys to my coffee. No, I didn’t complain.
There seems to be an unwritten competition between us to finish reading The Ink Black Heart. The only reason for our haste is that the book will be deleted from our Kindles in less than two weeks time. Why an electronic copy of a book has to be removed at all is a mystery. Surely the library can ‘lend’ out a hundred copies if it wants?
Bread, cheese, crisps and chutney was our Christmas eve eve eve supper of choice. Highly recommended.
It’s a great cottage, nice and warm, but the trek from my side of the bed to the lavatory is quite long. I should take my pedometer with me, it too needs a good work-out. Needless to say, I had to pay many visits overnight. You’ll probably be blaming the Baileys.
We’re actually staying in what you might call the North Wing of Fountains Hall. It’s creaky to say the least, but it’s very comfortable inside. Most of the electrics are modern, but there is at least one power point remaining from the 1920s, the plug has round pins.
On Friday, much of the estate is closed to the public because that’s when the locals are allowed to go shooting, in an agreement between the former landowners and the National Trust. I was torn between watching the shooters and maybe having a go, and staying well away from them and not being shot. We played safe, and drove over to Brimham Rocks for a quick walk. Last time we were there was in Summer, with the children. Not so warm today, and it started to drizzle too. Or mizzle as I believe the locals call it, something between mist and drizzle.
We climbed to the top of the hill, where there’s a trig point. I was tempted to ask Liesel to sit on it for a photo, but I think I know how terse the response would have been.
As the guide said in the video we watched (really just an excuse to get inside, out of the wet for a few minutes), the folks who built the very first visitors’ centre knew exactly what visitors to the countryside want: a view, a loo and a brew.
Back home, we read, drank coffee (plus Baileys), snacked, listened to the radio and relaxed. We have a nice view from our second floor pad, but a bit of sunshine would be nice. Like what they have down under. Yes, Jenny, Liam, Martha and William have arrived in Australia and will be spending Christmas with Helen. In Summer. No, not at all envious!
For the second of my two Christmas radio shows on Wythenshawe Radio this year, I ‘shuffled’ the Christmas tunes on my PC. I cheated a bit, of course, to avoid duplicates and there were a couple of songs I wanted to play, regardless. Plus, the usual, regular features: a David Bowie song and something from my Mum and Dad’s record collection.
Thank you for following our antics in 2022. Let us wish you a very Merry Christmas, Happy holidays, Feliz Navidad, God Jul, Mele Kalikimaka, Joyeux Noël, Fröhliche Weihnachten, Meri Kirimihete and a Blithe Yule, whoever and wherever you are 🎄🎅🏽🎁
Newby Hall is a Grade I listed building in North Yorkshire. Pauline chose this as the venue where we could meet up with a school friend of hers, Yvonne, and Yvonne’s husband Ian. They live a bit further north in Yorkshire. I haven’t seen Yvonne for over fifty years: in fact, the last time I saw Yvonne in real life, she was wearing her school uniform. Sadly not the case today.
The gardens are quite extensive and we wandered through chatting and admiring the work of the gardeners.
The colours were almost out of this world, I’m sure this verges on the ultraviolet.
During the guided tour of the house itself, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures. But there was more Chippendale furniture here, lots of books and pictures. Somehow, we missed seeing Gyles Brandreth’s collection of teddy bears.
We admired the miniature train as it whistled on by, but we were more interested in going out on a boat ride, on the River Ure. I saw a flash in my peripheral vision, and that was all I saw of the kingfisher, although others saw it for longer. Neither did I see the otters nor, thank goodness, the minks that are wreaking havoc on this stretch of the river. Still, it was a very enjoyable way to pass the time, sitting down, after walking around the gardens.
What a beautiful day too. We ate lunch outside, torn between sitting in the shade and soaking up and enjoying the full blast of the Sun.
The shell grotto was interesting, Martha would love it, although there are warnings about the sharp edges.
It was lovely to meet Yvonne again after all this time and I said I hoped to see her again before another fifty years have passed by.
Back at Pateley Bridge, we weren’t tempted by the Oldest Sweet Shop in England. I don’t need to eat the oldest sweets in England, wherever they come from.
But we couldn’t resist visiting the local car boot sale early the following morning. I tried, unsuccessfully, to conceal from Liesel the ten CDs that I’d bought. But I really do need them for the radio show. I do, I do.
We drove to Brimham Rocks, another place that was previously unknown to me. Everyone else on the planet knows about the place though, so they all came along today too. One car park was full but as members of the National Trust, we were directed to the upper car park. By ‘us’, I mean Liesel, Leslie and myself. Pauline and Andrew weren’t so lucky. They arrived a few minutes later and were sent to the overflow car park, quite a long walk away, as I discovered later in the day. Jenny, Liam and the children arrived in a third vehicle and found a parking space somehow.
Brimham Rocks is a fascinating place. There are several stacks of rocks which all invite you to climb them. I quite enjoy climbing up such rocks, intermittent shortness-of-breath issue permitting, but I really don’t like going down again. My depth perception while looking down has always been a bit dodgy, I almost have to do it by feel, even if that means using both hands and shuffling down on my bottom.
But William especially was in his element, he is such an adventurer.
I think each of the stacks has its own name. I was surprised to see some of the individuals who scampered at least halfway up some of the rock formations, just to have their photo taken.
Again, the weather was quite agreeable. Except that when we sat down for our pre-packed picnic lunch, the wind got up a bit. Later on, we realised we’d plonked ourselves down in the middle of a wind tunnel.
The café and ice cream shop are at the top of a hill, you just keep walking up until you see the queue. When you look away from the shop though, you will see lots of big golf balls on the horizon.
This is RAF Menwith Hill, a top secret listening station that at one point didn’t even appear on OS maps. Don’t tell anyone.
Get back from the edge, William!
We all returned to out accommodation in Pateley Bridge, all 9 of us, where we ate supper from the local chippy. William must have Duracell batteries, he never slows down. But he did lose the wrestling match with a foot stool.
As I hinted at earlier, Pauline, Andrew and I walked a long, long, long way back to where they’d been encouraged to park. Liesel and Leslie wanted to leave earlier. Oh well, we always need more exercise. But if I’d realised that Pauline and Andrew had parked in the next country…
Before leaving for our next base of operations, I needed to get some cash out of the ATM. They saw me coming, and watered the hanging basket. I was typing in in my PIN code and wondered why my leg was being splashed. I stood back, looked up and got a faceful of water too. There are some jokers in Pateley Bridge.
Liesel had some work to do and the 4G and Wifi services hadn’t been too reliable recently, out in the countryside, so she and Mom chose to go home for a couple of days.
I accompanied Pauline and Andrew on the drive to Kendal, which was long but uneventful. Yes, the country lanes were narrow in places. And inevitably, we followed a tractor for a short while. On the way, we passed by close to Giggleswick, Wigglesworth and an advert for Biggles removals. Like Bakewell, Kendal was a bigger town than we remembered from previous visits. We’d moved on from Yorkshire to the Lake District for more adventures in the big outdoors.
My sister Pauline is always more than happy to pose for a photo.
During our travels, we visited a few churches. I like to light candles for my Mum and Dad and Sarah, but this year, there has been no facility to do so. I wonder if they’ve stopped this practice because of the fire risk? Having said that, no, we didn’t visit this United Reformed Church.
I’m sure there’s more to Kendal than bad puns for shop names! Oh yeah: Kendal Mint Cake. But in the end, none of indulged in that very sweet and minty delicacy. We walked down an alleyway to look in the bookshop, only to be greeted by the sign: ‘Sorry, this is a storeroom, not a bookshop’. So we schlepped all the way back up the alley and wondered why they didn’t put this warning at the top. There are some jokers in Kendal.
And so to Ambleside, where we stayed at a b&b for a couple of nights. The first thing you notice about Ambleside is the ridiculous amount of traffic (yes, I know, we were part of it) and the one-way system. We couldn’t park outside the b&b, so we stopped as soon as we could. Andrew and I waited for Pauline to go back to ask our hosts where to park. They told us. Reluctantly, they gave us a Parking Disc that would allow us to park on the street for up to an hour at a time. We also got a pass that allowed us to park in the nearby car park overnight. We later found several of these rare, precious and beautiful Parking Discs in a basket by the Co-op supermarket.
We bought some groceries for a quick picnic which we enjoyed while sitting by the river, in view of Bridge House which was built over Stock Ghyll more than 300 years ago, probably as a summer house and apple store for Ambleside Hall.
Mostly we enjoyed our bread and cheese and tomatoes and crisps, which we ate without the aid of a knife. But, we were joined and pestered by a very aggressive mallard. He pecked at our shoes, attacked Andrew’s leg, and scared away the sparrows.
We went for a nice, long walk to the head of Windermere, passing by the sporting facilities on offer: bowls, tennis, rugby and crazy golf. We were quite lucky with wildlife too.
Well, I admit the last two aren’t the real thing, but they’re as close as we got on this occasion. There was a tree close to the lake that drew my attention though.
Our walk took us through a field of cows, which Liesel would have enjoyed, but they weren’t interested in us. We also saw a deer, a female deer with twin fawns, which was nice and unexpected.
Silhouetted again a bright sunset sky was the church of St Mary’s.
Liesel and Leslie decided to stay at home in Northenden, leaving me, Pauline and Andrew to amuse ourselves here in Ambleside.
Liesel and I didn’t hear them go, but Pauline and Andrew left early to take Rob back to Manchester Airport. His short time here in the UK was over but I’m so glad he was able to come over for his cousin’s wedding and to spend a couple of days with us in Derbyshire. Afterwards, Pauline and Andrew drove to our next b&b visiting Ladybower Reservoir on the way.
Liesel and I and Leslie got up, packed, and looked out of the window. It was drizzly, we could no longer see the castle at the top of the hill. So we decided not to walk up, we wouldn’t see the views today.
We drove to Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire, in the rain, quite hard rain at times, on more narrow roads. Liesel drove, I navigated, as is out usual practice.
Call me cynical but I have a theory. The harder it’s raining, the further the car park is from whichever venue we’re visiting.
The highlight for me was seeing an original John Harrison long-case clock. I took several pictures of it from different angles so that one day I can 3D-print one of my own.
But the main collection is furniture designed by Thomas Chippendale, even if he didn’t do all the woodwork himself. He was a local lad who did very well. Some chairs looked more comfortable than others, but I wasn’t allowed to try them out. ‘This isn’t Ikea, you know’.
The tour of the house was interesting, lots of old stuff to look at and a reminder of how easy it is to acquire too much clutter!
I was introduced to a lady in a wheelchair. This is Daisy, said her guide, she’s 105 years old. I wished her a happy birthday. For safety reasons, she wasn’t allowed up to the first floor, not even in the lift. So I took more pictures upstairs than I need to, so I could show her. By the time I went back down, she’d disappeared. Fast mover.
When buying tickets, and a couple of times later on, we met a guide with a French accent. I was curious/nosey enough to tell him that his Yorkshire accent wasn’t very convincing. Where do you think I’m from, he asked. France? Maybe Switzerland? Nope. He’s from Lithuania and has been living here for 11 years.
I haven’t even mentioned the library or the doll’s house! We walked around the garden for a while so here’s the obligatory photo of a flower with raindrops.
We might return to Nostell one day, not for the house or the garden, but to take the children to enjoy its adventure playground.
We found our next b&b in Millhouse Green, near Penistone, very easily. We have an en suite bathroom. So I won’t be disturbing everyone when I find all the squeaky floorboards as I make several trips to the loo in the middle of the night.
We sat outside in the Sun and chatted, watching the mallards on the river Don at the bottom of the garden. Pauline and Andrew arrived, soon after which, Andrew and Liesel went to the local chippy to buy our evening meal. We dined outside. What a nice way to end the day.
The breakfast was very satisfying, thank you, Di and Dave. But the best news today was that I completed the Nerdle puzzle for the 200th day in a row.
The first time I visited Yorkshire Sculpture Park was in 1991. It was a campsite for the night during our cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats. I’ll Rot13 the next bit, it’s not for squeamish souls. Vg jnf cbhevat jvgu enva fb bs pbhefr, V arrqrq n jrr va gur zvqqyr bs gur avtug. V jnfa’g tbvat gb jnyx nyy gur jnl hc gur uvyy sebz zl grag gb gur gbvyrgf, abg va gung enva. Vafgrnq, V jrag oruvaq gur arneol Urael Zbber fphycgher. V guvax vg jnf guvf bar, Ynetr Gjb Sbezf. Fbeel, Urael.
Today though was bright and Sunny and we had a lovely wander around the park. There’s plenty of space between the items.
There’s something about the combination of primary colours I like, here.
“The Corby Rocker was made with a group of adults with learning disabilities, based at Oakley Grange in Corby, Northamptonshire. The rocker’s exuberance and love of life was my attempt to capture how much this group had inspired me, how I felt about them, and how they had given me a new artistic voice. Simply put – meeting them changed my life.”
And it impressed and amused several visitors today, too, Jason!
I remember seeing this little girl, and other charity collectors, outside shops when I was growing up. Damien Hirst made this larger-than-life version.
Not all artists take their work seriously of course. One piece celebrated William Harvey, who first discovered the circulatory system in the human body. This is on the back:
Well, it made me laugh anyway! (That’s William Hartnell, not William Harvey.)
There are still a few signs and indications around, marking the Tour de Yorkshire races from a few years ago. The event stopped during the pandemic, and I don’t know whether it will come back.
But one highlight was the early morning visit to the local car boot sale. I tried unsuccessfully to hide the ten CDs I bought from Liesel, but I do need them for my radio show. Andrew enjoyed a bacon buttie and I’m not sure anybody else bought anything.
We’ve been to the National Trust property, Wentworth Castle Gardens before, but it was only when we arrived this time that I recognised it. It was a good place to meet up with Jenny and Liam and Martha and William.
We had a picnic, which included cherry tomatoes, by the folly that is Stainborough Castle, which William in particular enjoyed exploring. When he wasn’t impersonating a hamster, that is.
Jenny and Liam were looking good after being married for six whole days.
There’s a fun playground here too and between them, Martha and William nearly wore out the zipline.
This was a nice, sunny day, and we enjoyed watching the sunbeams as we drove to our new place at Pateley Bridge. No, we’re not on the run, we’re just touring around staying in different b&bs for two or three days, doing some sightseeing.
There’s a car park just down the road from our new place, and we spent a lot of time walking up and down Pateley Bridge High Street, which is about the same gradient as Guildford High Street. This is the only town within the Nidderdale Area of Natural Beauty and I think the locals are very proud of this fact.
Our only regret in Pateley Bridge is that we weren’t invited to the party on our first night: it was only just over the road. One of those where the blokes have a contest to see who can impress the boss by laughing the loudest. Actually, not my sort of party at all…
The excitement mounted as I prepared for an adventure. Two years ago, we bought tickets for a gig in York for April 2021. Due to Covid restrictions, along with many other shows, it was postponed. But its time has come. Liesel and I planned to make a weekend of it in York, a city that we’ve only visited once in the past.
Well, Liesel is still in Anchorage of course, and I didn’t want to miss the show. I also decided to go by train rather than by car. I haven’t been on a train for well over two years and I thought I’d see what it’s like these days: how many other passengers would be wearing masks? How crowded would it be?
The blue sky was a welcome sight as I waited for the bus to take me into Manchester. The bus wasn’t too busy, and about a third of passengers were masked up. One hundred percent of the driver was not, which I found surprising.
In another first, I caught the train at Oxford Road Station. Despite the cold wind blowing through the station, I did not wait in this rather cute little waiting room.
It reminds me of Thomas Newton’s home planet inThe Man Who fell to Earth, which is strange. That’s today’s first reference to David Bowie.
I read a book during the 90-minute journey to York. Again, about a 33% success rate with face coverings, which is disappointingly low, I feel. Already, I felt I was mentally ticking the box that says ‘don’t travel by train again any time soon’. Which is a shame.
So I’m by myself, but of course I still had Liesel’s ticket. One of my online mates, George, agreed to use the ticket. And George met me in the forecourt of York Station, from where we walked all the way to the concert venue, The Barbican. This was handy because the hotel I’d booked for myself was right next door. Very convenient: almost as if I’d planned it that way. But that was only because all the Airbnb places that I found in York city centre turned out to be actually located in a suburb much further out of town!
George and I ‘met’ online while watching the one time regular Tuesday evening YouTube performances by Jessica Lee Morgan. And, by coincidence, it was Jess that we were here to see tonight, supporting and performing with Tony Visconti’s Best of Bowie. Yes, David Bowie. Sadly, Woody Woodmansey’s not with the band on this occasion, but I knew we’d have a good time anyway.
I checked into my hotel, and we had a coffee before walking back into York Centre. George had pre-booked a ‘meal deal’ at his accommodation, so I wandered around for a while, looking for somewhere nice to dine myself.
I’d forgotten what a pretty little city York is.
The wall surrounds much of the city, and you do feel like you’re entering another realm when you walk through one of these gates. And you sense you might just be under surveillance.
The Sun was still out and it was quite warm, the cold wind had dwindled, but even so, I was surprised to come across some ice sculptures.
Later on, I read up about it here. It says there were 40 exhibits, but over two days, I didn’t find nearly that many. Someone more organised would have looked at a map.
I just happened to glance into this shop window.
The album that we all know as The Man Who Sold the World being sold at last under the name it was meant to have. No, I didn’t seriously consider starting a new vinyl collection. This might be a new remix by Tony Visconti, but I’m not sure my ears could tell the difference! Still, nice to see David Bowie referenced again.
As I walked over the fast-flowing and high River Ouse, I found this old place on the east bank.
Dating from about 1300, Lendal Tower was originally part of the City’s defences, with a defensive chains stretching from here to the Tower on the opposite bank. In 1677 it was leased to the predecessors of The York Waterworks Plc for five hundred years, at an annual rent of one peppercorn for use as a water tower. During the 18th century it housed a steam pumping engine modified to the design of John Smeaton FRS, then a proprietor of the Waterworks. It ceased to be used for those purposes in 1850. In 1932 it was refurbished and now houses the Company’s Board Rooms. So says a plaque on the side of the building.
I dined at The Orchid, a vegan restaurant. Of course, I hadn’t booked, so when I turned up at one minute past opening time, I was told I could eat there as long as I vacated my table by 7.30. I thought, well, if I can’t finish my meal in an hour and a half, then there’s something wrong. Plus, I didn’t want to miss any of the show of course.
And the food was lovely, very well presented and with very friendly service.
Unusually, I took photos before the dishes were empty.
I enjoyed a leisurely walk back to The Barbican where the scanner successfully scanned my ticket barcode on the first attempt. Things are looking up: maybe I should buy a lottery ticket. As I said, it is a very cute little place.
Inside, there were hundreds of people, some wearing t-shirts depicting David Bowie from various eras. And, speaking of David Bowie, one thing I never expected to see was a portrait of him in monochrome Lego.
Jessica’s partner Chris was working behind the merch stall. I met up with George again as well as Sue, another regular at JLM’s Tuesday night online shows. Nice to see people in real life, isn’t it?
Jessica and Chris performed some new songs for about half hour including one which involved audience participation. I don’t think the quality of my singing was improved by the presence of a face covering.
After a break, Tony Visconti’s Best of Bowie took to the stage for two hours of Bowie hits and some surprises. The whole band was spot on, although on a couple of occasions, either the singer, Glenn Gregory, or I, misremembered the lyrics. Jessica played guitar and alto sax, though not at the same time, even she’s not that talented. I am very conscious of not taking too many photos during a show: I used to be quite obsessed with capturing every possible lighting arrangement and every available location of all the musicians. From where I was sitting, and from where George was sitting in Liesel’s seat we couldn’t really see Janette Mason on keyboards, but she did a great job.
Actually, I think most of the audience was singing along to most of the songs. I wasn’t the oldest person there, and there were some teenagers too. So do I have a set list? It’s in my head and I should try and write it down before I forget but then it might already be too late.
Tony Visconti told the story of when they were playing, as Holy Holy, in New York on David Bowie’s birthday. He phoned David up and the whole audience then sang ‘Happy birthday’ to him. Just a couple of days later, they were in Toronto when they heard the news of his passing. They carried on the tour, but I’m sure the atmosphere was very different.
I hung around for a while and had a chat with Jessica and Smiley the drummer before setting off for the comfort of my suite, a whole five minute walk away.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who did a double-take on seeing this thin blue-suited duke hanging around like the rest of us.
What a great night, and I’m pretty sure Liesel would have enjoyed it too. Next time. Anyway, it took a while to wind down and get to sleep.
After breakfast, I set off for my day as a tourist in York. Of course, I had to walk along the wall for a while. Last time Liesel and I did this, it was drizzling lightly, but today, the Sun was out, the sky was blue and the spirits were well and truly lifted.
I admit that sometimes I mess about with my photos for comedic effect. But this photo of Sir Thomas Herbert’s House has not been tampered with.
This old, old, old building really does look that happy.
And, yes, of course I kept a lookout for more ice sculptures.
Sadly, a few had melted by the time I found them, as they’d been placed on the sunnier side of the street .
I quite enjoyed wandering around, but not surprisingly I suppose, the most uncomfortable I felt was at the market near The Shambles, which was really crowded. Other prople were having a good time out on the river.
The only place I visited properly was the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall. In fact, I had lunch here before walking around looking a lots of old stuff. Funny how old buildings like this have the same sort of old smell, despite presumably being cleaned with modern chemicals with modern scents.
The place has been flooded a few times over the centuries, and the high levels have all (I assume all) have been marked.
I can’t imagine how much water is needed to reach that high from the river that far away. But I must say, I was pleased to have this place almost to myself on this occasion. I suspect that the art galleries and museums would have been far busier. Liesel and I will return sometime, I’m sure.
Something else that is guaranteed to make me feel good is the sight of a perfect reflection in the water.
In Northenden, we have planters in the main street with flowers and they look delightful. In York, they’ve gone one step further and are growing food for the community.
Sadly, there wasn’t much to pick today apart from a couple of weeds, but it’s the thought that counts.
There is one landmark in York that I’ve nor mentioned yet. Well, here it is: Cliffords Tower.
I was going to bound up the slope like a gazelle but, er, I had my luggage, that’s it. Oh, and there was a fence that I couldn’t climb over.
The train back to Manchester was a bit more crowded as was the bus back to Northenden. Oh well.
Meanwhile, our Alaska correspondent has reported more snowfall in Anchorage. Liesel sent this picture which, it has to be said, made me shiver a bit.
I’ve mentioned my issue with intermittent unjustified shortness of breath before. This week, I visited the GP again and attended hospital for a chest X-ray. I really want to get to the bottom of this now.
Later that day, I started feeling a bit manky. Tickly throat. Cough. Headache. Rough sleep. I didn’t feel up to going out for any of the organised walks and sadly, neither did I feel up to looking after the children this week. Fortunately, I had recorded most of the radio show before I came down with this lurgy. It’s about Communication and an extended mix is available here:
Just when I thought I was getting over whatever the ailment is, the duvet decided to pick a fight with me. I realised I was lying under nothing but empty duvet cover. The duvet itself had somehow migrated to Liesel’s side of the bed leaving the empty husk behind. I tried shaking the duvet back into place but I think I’m going to have to start from scratch. Did I say ‘scratch’? Well, yes. There are in fact two thin duvets at work here, held together with a safety pin in each corner. Except it seems the one in my corner has undone itself and it poked through, threatening to stab me. A small scratch on the arm is bad enough but I don’t need this sort of adventure in the middle of the night, thank you very much. When it comes to battles with inanimate objects, there is no guarantee of victory.
Well, the world really is a carousel of colour. Especially our little corner of Northenden. Just look at this. A splash of green, a dash of white, a hint of blue (a waste paper collection bag, unused) and one solitary red berry.
The trees around our block are slowly turning green, or white if the blossom is taking over. More cherry blossom had appeared overnight in one front garden, totally at odds with all the rubbish and detritus dumped there.
I don’t know where the nearest McDonalds is, so I think some people must travel a long way to Northenden especially to dump their burger packaging and coffee cups. We ‘enjoy’ picking it all up for you, along with all the drugs paraphernalia. And I have a suggestion for Viz Magazine too.
Dear Dog Owners: Use green dog-poo bags, so they blend in better when, after use, you toss them into the bushes or hang them in a tree: obviously check nobody’s watching, first.
Looking up, not down, though, Liesel is still bringing colour into our lives, making good progress with her crochet blankets. One ball of yarn caught our attention in the sunshine this week.
What do these blankets look like, I hear you ask? Well, here’s a quick look at one of them. Not a bobble out of place.
OK, let’s go back outside now. We’re very proud of our potholes in Northenden. In fact, some of them are so deep, we have to put sandbags in them, we don’t want animals or small children falling in.
And if you think that’s bonkers, do you want to know what’s Proper Nutty? Our latest peanut butter is presented in a tin.
Someone in Yorkshire thought it would be a good idea to use an old paint pot for peanut butter. We even had to lever the lid off with an old screwdriver. And, as with paint, the layer of oil on top had to be stirred in. But, actually, this Yorkshire peanut butter is delicious spread on Yorkshire pudding and dunked in a mug of Yorkshire tea.
Back in the outside world, magnolia trees are beginning to blossom. So many colours to spot here, I wonder which one most closely matches the paint colour known as ‘magnolia’?
Sometimes when we’re out walking around the local neighbourhood, we find oursleves talking to the wall. Well, it would be rude not to.
Liesel and I had a long discussion about how long it would take the chalk to disappear, given the amount of rain we get in this part of the world, bearing in mind this is a vertical wall and the force of the falling raindrops might not be enough to dislodge the chalk particles. Equally, now that someone’s set the precedent, it might encourage even more grafitti. If it’s a decent mural, that would cheer the place up, but it’ll probably be a tag of no significance to anyone other than the perpetrator. In which case, I think we’d probably just have to demolish the wall as it’s become an eyesore, and then we’d be able to see just what a mess the garden behind is. All that, and we only said a quick hello to the wall.
Some good news this week: he’s back! Yes, we haven’t seen him for a while, but here’s the heron, by the weir.
He then flew downstream to spend some time on the island. Other people have been on the island too, they even left a chair behind, which is very thoughtful, because we all need somewhere to sit when we’ve waded over.
It’s a long time ago, but I can remember when we used to say that today, we saw 12 peacocks, 20 cabbage whites, several red admirals, and too many commas to count. Now, we’re excited when we see a single butterfly on a walk. Two in one day is very rare. But it was nice to see this chap sunning himself this week. What a shame about the piece of plain wood he was sitting on, not a very good background for the photo. Plus, there was a fence in the way so I couldn’t get any closer.
In local news, farewell Salutem and hello Boxx 2 Boxx.
The new coffee shop will open in a couple of weeks and the new people are working very hard in there by the looks of it.
On a sunny but cold day, we visited The Northern Den and treated ourselves to a coffee and an Easter-themed mini egg blondie each. A blondie is like a brownie, only made with white chocolate. Earlier in the week, we’d experienced the hottest March day for 30, or 50, or 100 years, depending on which news source you believe. But the nasty old Arctic Maritime Air Mass moved in, it’s definitely colder, and unbelievably, snow has been forecast for next week. We certainly have interesting weather here in the UK!
Back indoors for more online entertainment. I watched Jessica Lee Morgan not once but twice. She performed Mary Hopkin’s album Recollections, to perfection, some great songs including some by Jim Croce. Then a couple of days later, I watched her again, this time singing some of her own delightful songs while poor old Liesel attended a WI committee meeting online: I know who got the better deal!
We first saw The Horne Section during the recording of a radio show many years ago. This week, we watched them online: they’re all very talented musicians but they are also very funny and entertaining.
There was a guest appearance by Robbie Williams, performing a much more upbeat version of Angels than the one we’re usually subjected to, which was refreshing.
Radio Northenden was set up one year ago, so my show this week celebrated the anniversary and, in passing, mentioned a few other favourite radio stations. You can listen back here or on Wythenshawe Radio WFM97.2 and online on Wednesday at 7pm. Some great music (I may be biased) and some wonderful old radio jingles.
For the first time in a long while, we had three days out in quick succession this week. First up, another nice long walk at Lyme Park where we noticed the first signs of Autumn.
The sky was monochrome today, thirty-seven shades of grey, but at least the rain kept away this time.
Here’s the famous Lyme Park folly – I am referring to The Cage in the background, of course. Yes, I know, I know, I need a new hat.
Meanwhile, back home on the Mersey, the birds are having fun.
This heron was, unusually, sitting up on the grassy bank. The first time we saw it there, before I had time to get my camera out, it was chased away by someone’s loose dog.
Again, later on, we saw a second heron by the weir, giving a lecture to the geese, on this occasion.
We spoke about never having seen otters or water rats in our section of the Mersey, so it was a bonus when we caught up with a giant otter a couple of days later. Not in the wild, but at Chester Zoo.
Usually, we just miss feeding time, but today, luck was on our side. As we were peering at the otter way over there in the distance, a zookeeper came up and called his name. I wasn’t fast enough to capture the giant otter’s belly flop on film, of course, but he swam over to accept the fish that was thrown his way. Shame about the fence, I’ll photoshop it out one day.
It rained quite a lot today, but Liesel persevered and we had a jolly good time. The elephants were playing in the mud, in the rain. The rhinos were outside enjoying the lack of sunshine. Liesel asked someone about the duct tape on one of the camels’ humps. The poor old thing has a lesion and the tape is to prevent birds from pecking at it. I asked Liesel why she hadn’t asked whether it was a British Lesion or, since camels live in the desert, a French Foreign Lesion. Liesel wondered why I hadn’t asked the question. I said I didn’t want to look daft.
Someone had seemingly gone to a lot of trouble, dressing a mouse up to look like a miniature meerkat. Or meerkitten, I suppose. Very cute, though.
Our third major expedition this week was in an easterly direction, to Yorkshire. We visited another National Trust property, Wentworth Castle Gardens, near Barnsley.
The artichoke flowers drew our attention, but the bumble bees they attracted were probably more useful. We had a good walk here too. But: hills. We aren’t used to these hills, and we felt sorry for people pushing buggies, never mind those with wheelchairs. The views towards Leeds are spectacular though. We’d enjoyed the views all the way there, really, but there were far too many cars parked on what was the main road through some of the villages. They all need a decent bypass! More roads, please!!
Stainborough Castle isn’t really a castle, but the edifice does have some castle-like features, lots of castellations and battlements. And a good view all round, of course.
The Sun monument is an obelisk with a golden orb on top. The actual Sun was too high in the sky to get a good shot of the two together. But, hey, the Sun was out, and we’re not complaining about that!
There seemed to be no reason for this gate to be located where it is. But it frames another stunning view over Yorkshire.
Regular viewers will welcome this rare occurrence of a second self-portrait this week. Yes, sorry, I know: the hat. Wentworth Castle isn’t open to the public, it is one of the Northern College buildings.