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Friday, 9 August 2019

Summer pics

Scarborough harbour

13th wedding anniversary - Tuscany Too, Filey Road

Sir Cliff, Open Air Theatre
He can still put on a show

White Butterfly (1)                                                      White Butterfly (2)

Friday games - double winner - boules and bowls

A fairy takes a shine to me 

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

First Blackpool visit for one and some memories for other less inspired oldies

New Mill sang here in Len William's days. Winter Gardens. To several thousand women who were on a rotary weekend or the ladies' equivalent. (see 2003 concerts)
  The three pronged job is a bungee jump completed by Andrew last year - grey and sick for several minutes.

Jenson wanted to go, so a bus ride, two tram rides, a big bouncy castle, lunch overlooking the sea, a quick look round the tower and grandad really lost it with the pizza. Ordered wrong drinks, wrong pizza - got it all wrong.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Cricket at Scarborough - inspired choice for a sunny Sunday

What does sport mean? Wiki says 'Oxford Dictionary defines sport as "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or a team competes against another or others for entertainment"'. I think skill must vary quite a bit, allowing all abilities to contribute. Exertion usually but not always. My boules experience is fairly sedentary.
  Elite, good and also-ran. Contact, non-contact or a referee's mixture. Competitive and aggressive. Or, the result is irrelevant and we're all chums. Posh upper middle class. The workers. Amateur and professional. No one size fits all. Most people will identify themselves somewhere along these pieces of elastic.
  Not necessarily competing against others. Long-distance runners go for personal bests. Or, they do it to escape. Smith, in Alan Sillitoe's book (see wiki) is the archetype outsider from a dire background with little or no life chances. He finds solace and space for reflection in running alone. Sillitoe is associated with the group of writers known as the angry young men, class their nemesis. Sport prides itself however in the fellowship it fosters. Relationships which can last a lifetime.
  Playing or supporting - it gets a bit tribal and tricky just here. I've been on the terraces at The Arms Park and seen Welshmen kick seven shades for coming from the wrong part of Gwent. Who gets upset when rival spectators insist on standing, waving flags and totally obscuring the action? The Welsh rugby fans never lose, they simply score less points. Yet I've met gracious giant defeated Africaaners, in Durban. Drink is often taken, rightly part of the enjoyment, but sadly overdone by some - I'm sure we've all been there. Watching and appreciating is part of getting older for the keen sportsman, though some play on.
 So are we left with an activity for entertainment, a definition which seems to include everything - a definition of life then. It doesn't leave a lot for those who don't. Patrick Kidd in the Times, 27th July, reviews Duncan Hamilton's book on Neville Cardus - The Great Romantic: Cricket and the Golden age of Neville Cardus. Cardus writes 'to go to a cricket match for nothing but the cricket is as though a man were to go into an inn for nothing but drink'. Duncan summarises 'to write well about sport you should look beyond sport ... It is about the characters and how the game explores the human condition'.
  A mile or so north of Scarborough town centre is a square well-tended field, about the size of four football pitches. Hidden behind a long terrace of boarding houses and small hotels, it sits within a tiered ring of wooden benches which gives way to more supportive seating in front of the coffee room. The view opposite the rear of the holiday accommodation opens out to reveal a hilltop memorial and countryside stretching north beyond the roofs of local housing estates.

  A path surrounds two thirds of the square, space for food and drink outlets - tempting bacon baps, pie and peas, coffee, tea, East Coast ales and fizzy lager. A sure sign of civility is the second hand book stall.
  Then the more formal architecture - two large black and white twin towers either end of the field, easily-visible thin boxes displaying a series of numbers, decipherable only by the initiated on the wooden benches and plastic chairs. And a large imposing red brick house for 'members'.
  In the middle of the large square is a smaller 22 yard track, brown not green, where men in white engage in the gentlemanly pursuit of cricket. This is Scarborough Cricket Club. York was good (see Casuals at York), but Scarborough comes a good second.

  Just down the road is another legend - the North Riding - a must for real ale enthusiasts who like their favourite brewed on the premises.
  Cricket started life in SE England in the eighteenth century and was a national sport by the middle 1800s. One of its attractions was the money to be made from gambling on big matches between teams sponsored by aristocratic patrons. At Scarborough, The Queen's Club played cricket on rough ground up on Castle Hill until Lord Londesborough, the local big match follower, suggested improvements which lead to the move to North Marine Road in the 1860s. This was when Scarborough was a spa town with sea-water bathing, fishing and ship-building - the railway had arrived in 1845.

An annual pilgrimage, since our son Chris was a 9 year old when, in 1994, we saw the touring S Africans. To watch Yorkshire CC play anybody, but mostly in the County Championship. This is competitive professional high quality cricket. Nowadays I go with Greg, a fellow Almondbury Casual (see Casuals' history). The Casuals were a social cricket team from Huddersfield. Same rules, same roles, same spirit of cricket, but a tad different in talent and ambition.
 Surrey were Yorkshire's visitors and our local Honley opening bat, Will Fraine, made his maiden century against no less a quickie than S Africa's Mornie Morkle. He has now signed for Nottinghamshire.
  People pay good money and it seemed like a full house. On sunny days it's shorts and sunhat, a cushion for the bench and a small rucksack for those taking lunch. Twos and threes, chatting, with a scattering of ladies who are more prevalent in the better seats. Then the guys in black blazers and striped ties, hands in trouser pockets, serious, walking purposefully to somewhere, presumably corporate hospitality. Always an idiot or two who make a noise in front of the bar. Interestingly we were the noisy ones at York.
  A massive lad sat and obscured our view, prompting a swift move stage left. Later spotted in the N Riding occupying two stools. We visited during the lunch break, but it seemed most of the cricket lovers had decanted there. So back to the ground where Greg couldn't help noticing the barmaid's rather bored appearance as she poured our pints. "Have you not noticed - we've had a great opening partnership of over 100 runs?" "You mean they've run up and down 100 times?" Who was having who on? I think she won.
  At tea time we perambulated the outfield. 20 or so games of informal cricket. Lads, brothers, cousins, pals, dads. Plastic bat and ball, 10 yard pitches, wickets or upright clothes toward the boundary. Easy bowling, good bounce, cross bat slogs, improbable fielding, outstanding fun. A lot of these guys will graduate to junior club cricket as it's not played in state schools. Different rules, but great coaching.
  Strangely, the following day, we came across two games of junior well-organised cricket on the hard-packed sand by the foreshore, left by the receding tide. Two strips of artificial something, boundaries outlined by cuts in the sand, girls and boys, bowling, batting and fielding, all in their appropriate places. So this was a tournament - a step up from knocking about in the nets or the outfield. We sensed it was organised by the crowds of parents shouting and carrying on up on the roadside and down the slipway. These kids will benefit from having sport as part of their future, their whole lives ahead of them. They will learn the skills and how to behave and be competitive in sports, hopefully transferable into their work and home.
  Back to North Marine Road and by 5.30pm and we were done. Plenty of boundaries and wickets, an appreciative audience and a relaxing 5-6 hours.
  So where do I come in this sporting complexity? First as a participant - they were still playing cricket and rugby at my boys' grammar school (1959-66) where life chances were good for those who went for it. Still had to pass the eleven plus. I gave up cricket in the second form -  the sports master kept picking me for the age above where nobody spoke to me. I returned in the sixth form to supervise the second XI. When son Chris gave up a promising club cricket career at 17 it was a reminder of what might have been (see Chris to 34).
  As a medic, I gradually moved into the officer class, keeping my shoulder chips nicely polished. Retired at 60 and 44, cricket and rugby respectively. Finished in highly enjoyable festive teams, rugby vets and social cricket. On reflection that seems to have been the point. Despite belligerence, I shared the craic with a passion. Talented yes, but full of distraction. And so it continues as a supporter. Intermittent and enthusiastic. With some fellow players from the sixties, but mostly with pals from those later less competitive days. The happy few at 72.
  Sport has been a mirror, the other half of the bumpy ride. As Duncan Hamilton suggests, sport helps reflection on what it is like to be human.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Inspiring advice on writing from a Times columnist - not yet retired, but experienced

good advice for all bloggers from Matthew Parrisposted by Dave Walker 17th July

I'm not sure how old Matthew Parris is, but sounds as though he's been through the mill - an obsolete but interesting reference to many sons of industrialists who graduated to be the boss after years of training on the shop floor.
  He describes his and other newspaper columns (The Times, 13th July), as a prelude to explaining some of the political style of that well-known columnist, Boris Johnson.
  The short version. The point is opinion, the columnist's. You only need research that supports the opinion - no need to confuse people with the facts. Entertaining, performing and grabbing 'our audience's attention' - knowing what they want. How does he know what his audience wants? Who are they and how many read his stuff? Do they have a researcher to do all this?
  Don't have to be right and you can change your mind, but for a short time you are passionate and convinced about an idea, dream, fear, hatred and maybe politics and a politician. Short-term to catch the deadline, then move on. Solitary. No teams in writing.
  And the clincher - 'today's column lines the bottom of tomorrow's budgie cage'.
  Sounds like a blog. A serious blog that avoids social media trivia. It's a trap I have fallen into, thinking that my audience will be agog about my grandchildren. I must stay with the overarching purpose, which I think needs editing. It does include family, but not too much?
  How often? The deadline is very helpful. Hence getting Shalliley's books out proves to be more successful than my personal writing. I've read somewhere blog once a week, so make that a deadline.
  Just who is the audience? I don't know. I distribute through Facebook, so friends and family who have joined the group and otherwise the world. Blog tips suggest Google Analytics and a lot of SEO mystery (search engine optimisation) which straightaway informs me I'm not doing anything right. (See previous is my blog worth it?) You can spend all your life in circular frustration. So primarily I'm writing for myself, but I keep reminding myself of the tips contained behind the help button.
  Content has to be entertaining and attractive, whatever the overarching purpose, and mostly I think it is. Always with an image. I try to write as I speak and tell a story. Coherent. Set up and punchline. Not quite a 'Booker' plot (see wiki). I saw he died recently - great book if you have stamina.
  I do have one gripe which on occasion has nearly put me off doing this. The add-ons when you've finished and proof read. Labels, key words, location, search description and extras with pictures and that tantalising elusive link with a previous blog. Are key words static and apply to the blog overall or do they change for each individual post. I suspect the former, but can I find any reference to that - no.
  A piece of advice - keep your labels manageable - choose ten or so and stick to them.
  I don't know what Matthew would say about my thoughts. Probably do it, enjoy it, be yourself and have a point of view.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Shallilo and some older Almondbury Casuals watch uninspiring cricket - but enjoy the day

Almondbury Casuals is a social cricket club that is asleep. It may wake up one day, but the current membership was worried that it might not, leaving thousands of unused pounds in its bank account. At the mercy of the bank.
  So what was the money best used for? Enabling youth cricket in some way was probably the most thoughtful suggestion. Eating and drinking at a cricket match however was the most popular. So thanks to Marc Davies, we pitched up at Clifton in York to watch Yorkshire play Warwickshire. And coffee with biscuits, a four course lunch, afternoon tea alongside beer and wine or whatever.
  Lovely setting in unexpected bright sunshine. I didn't feel the need for cream so I got burnt.
  When I said 'we', I meant senior surviving and interested Casuals of which originally there were 21. Less on the day accompanied by a few friends to make up two tables. The Casuals started playing in the early 1950s, the brainchild of four Friday Almondbury Woolpack happy hour pals. In no time it became part of Huddersfield textile and supporting businesses at play, alongside rugby, hockey, golf and amateur soccer. So popular they needed a set of rules to allow everyone a chance of selection. Not too successful to start with. Following some judicious recruitment, by the 1960s, they won more than they lost.
  There is no one left from those early days, but we did have Robert Haigh with us, son of one of those happy pals. That early culture ensured a steady influx of players. Family, friends and fellow sports nuts turned out every Sunday well into the noughties. Three or four are still playing and Bill is mostly an umpire. Ken has shed a stone or two and walks a lot. Greg enjoys his garden. Burge kindly takes a drink with our Andrew from time to time. Rupert was concerned at the demise of the glottal stop. Rod was unimpressed by the cricket - none of us were. We wanted something spectacular but we got a damp squib.
  The York team on the Casuals' fixture list was the Retreat. We were about the same strength. There is one surviving match report.
  Michael Henderson of the Times (Sat 22nd June) wrote 'York put on a show after 129-year wait'. In 1890, Yorkshire beat Kent, thanks to a nine wicket haul from Bobby Peel, a left-arm spinner. Lord Hawke was skipper. 1n 1897, he dismissed Peel from the field for being drunk. 'And so began the celebrated cricket tradition of Yorkshire contrariness'. Mmm, really?
  Whilst we were eating, we were asked to be quiet because we were upsetting the cricketers. The previous day 'the man in charge of entertainment' had given a 'blast' of Walk on the Wild Side on the PA system. Whilst Michael appreciates his Lou Reed, the cricketers did not. Apparently Lord Hawke would not have done either. For me, the man on the mic in our marquee made the most noise.
  Warwickshire won despite the best efforts of 'James Logan, Peel's latest successor as a purveyor of slow left-arm spinners' who took four wickets. I must have missed that, or was it the following day?
  So the cricket wasn't uppermost in our minds. We were there to meet 'old' friends and celebrate the traditions of social cricket where the result doesn't matter - much. 1890-1914 is the period said to be The Golden Age of Cricket - the days of the dashing amateur. Maybe not as dashing, but social cricket preserves the non-professional spirit of the game, fostered in public schools and Oxbridge colleges. The apparent gap was bridged by Len Hutton, Yorkshireman and the first professional England captain (1937-55). In 1990, his memorial service was held in York Minster, 'a suitable place to honour the greatest servant to represent the White Rose'.
  Rupert, can I recommend Oliver Kamm's Accidence Will Happen: The Non-Pedantic Guide to English Usage?
  I suspect the Casuals are in for a long sleep. Sadly, since 2014/5 they have not played regularly. The decline began well before then when playing membership decreased precipitously. The various connections outlined above are now tenuous, apart from the rugby club. Today, youngsters have many other calls on their time. The Holme Valley league clubs may have an answer - why not cultivate a social third team to accommodate juniors who won't make first and second teams?

For those who enjoy a bit of history, there is an on-line Casuals presence, alongside several pieces of writing in journals, and a talk. Simply clic on the links in the left hand column..

website                                a casuals history

ageing cricketer                  The Examiner                                   (2010)

wandering cricket              In Gentlemen, Gypsies and Jesters.   (2013)

What's the point?               Journal of the cricket society             (2009)

Cricket in Perpective 2.     random notes about the casuals          (2005)

on publishing                     it can get very difficult                        (2011)

presentation.                      part of Peter Davies cricket society meet held at University of Huddersfield (2009)
                                           (needs audio)

Then there are

cricket in the Bahamas.       Louise, my daughter got married here (2006)
                                             We spent a lot of time at the Lara Oval in Nassau - in Journal of Yorkshire cricket society
all in a days cricket              Cricket on the beach and Upperthong   (2014)

and don't forget

It's Not Lords                      An anthology of W Yorkshire cricket (2011)

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Malta - an inspired choice for a music tour and holiday

The question
It's actually a series of questions. Who emailed me and how did they get my address? Did they know I was interested in singing something different to mail voice repertoire? How would I actually get on with choral singing? Would Malta be okay? With a load of people I'd never met?
  It turned out well. Strangely enough I enjoyed the rehearsals in sunny Skelmanthorpe (clic on rehearsals) and the concerts - Sheffield was my pick (clic on Sheffield concert Wakefield Concert).
  Jane and Dan were excellent. Thanks to them for the music tuition and the organisation.
  Thanks also to the cello player. Despite endless queueing we were never lost - just follow the lady with the big box on her back.
  And so to Malta.

The chocolate factory
The chair of Honley Ladies is related to the chocolatier who runs sessions in chocolate appreciation. She was over on holiday. And the rest of Monday is a bit of a blur. Because we had to appreciate them alongside five cocktails - stiff ones. After all, we had been up all night, catching the plane and whatever.
  It never ends there. A beach bar, several red wines and San Miguels and of course you need to paddle in the sea. I think we then went for a meal.

Valletta and Mdina were tidy and clean with some stunning buildings and great places for lunch. We are not stately home, old building or museum visitors and, given our schedule, hats off to any of our choir who did. Many of us simply sat and enjoyed.
  In Valletta we needed the toilet and discovered we had no change. No worries, a local saw our panic and asked if she could help. Her daughter was unimpressed. It simply pays to look lost. Same in Dublin where traffic comes to a halt and escorts appear whether you want to cross the road or not.
  Contrast the city order with the tourist north west where countryside and walls looked neglected. There were big holes and building sites everywhere. Many buildings were unfinished - bare breeze walls, toothless and eyeless - sinister looking skulls. Hope they all come alive eventually. A bit like my fitness regime - work in progress.
  The gardens and the gun were highlights.

Three churches. Two where there were more singers than audience. They were however excellent dress rehearsals for the final Mosta triumph in front of a good crowd. Stunning sound effects. Standing ovations everywhere. Thanks to our soloists and the band.

Eating out
The karaoke - we joined in with the 'turn', al fresco dining next to the small harbour. A man, a microphone and a keyboard. I think he was actually next door and down a level. He sang stuff our Honley Ladies knew. In English, they added choreography, seated of course.
  One table upped and left within five minutes of our arrival - the diners that is. Another table was even rowdier than us. A Spanish birthday girl plus family and really fired up. They kept peering over at the 'turn', presumably making requests. We all sang Happy Birthday three times. Very loud during the cutting of the cake. As they were leaving I suggested we deserved a slice or two. To cheers, birthday girl gave me half a big chocolate cake in a white cardboard box. Our waitress kindly produced twelve portions on plates with forks. A rich nutty pudding.
  Then the 'incident' at the Plumtree. My so-called choir pals kept asking our hostess what vegetables they could have to accompany their meat or otherwise 'mains' choice. Came to me and I ordered goulash. She said "with rice" and I said "no thanks". She said "no choice". My bottom lip came out with silent outrage. The childbride suggested I ask for chips, but I remained speechless other than explaining that my mother's rice pudding was not a thing of beauty. Appetisers came and went and I guess chips were discussed at some stage in maybe something louder than a whisper. My goulash duly came with chips and the table went into uproar - the diners that is. Apart from me who had gone a deep shade of very quiet beetroot. I thanked our hostess profusely and gave her a kiss. She overcame her camera shyness. At the outset, I could have done the adult thing and apologised for not liking rice and "please may I have chips?" But that would not have been fun.


The Answer
I am still no better at Latin or reading music. The support from those around you jollies you along, especially when my musical director was shifted a row forward for the final concert.
  For a group of mixed ability singers with a handful of rehearsals, we were brilliant.
  I appreciated the opportunity to sing choral - I was good enough. Sadly, I didn't hear the total performance - I was a prisoner of the notes. 
  Cracking experience with lovely companions in an excellent location.

Malta is 50 miles from Italy, so an interesting place for the British to be in WW2.
Made its name as a Naval Base - Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Knights of St John, French, British.
Awarded collective George Cross for bravery in WW2.
Mosta has the third largest unsupported dome in the world.
I think the midday gun was originally an aid to navigation - knowing the time was key - now its ceremonial)

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Shallilo visits some of his younger days. Is Anfield an Inspiration or what?

Magic weekend 2019, Anfield, home of Liverpool FC. We caught the 9.47am Greenfield train, change Staleybridge and Manchester Victoria. Alighting at Staley, I couldn't see our next move until I glimpsed way in the distance, the shuttle to Victoria. The guard took pity as we raced? under the tracks and we made it, just. Pete then had an attack of something and fell asleep. Seemed okay when he woke up.
  Found the bus to Anfield, so walked in the opposite direction to Pierhead for refreshment. Albert Dock is great to look at, expensive to buy anything - £5.70 for a pint of Peroni. We had one. Wetherspoons next, but 60 minutes to wait for food. So to the double-decker, fish fingers and skinny fries - good enough. Pete was quite taken with the afternoon tea. 
  The Three Graces and the Museum of Liverpool.
  Back to the bus station and our metro cards worked, hurray.

We were shaken by the tired and neglected estates that surround Anfield. The Park pub epitomised how we felt. Weeds on the roof, shabby interior, cages in the road - to keep us in or the Hull FC support out. Anfield is an oasis of luxury.
  We met three Hull guys behind the cage who seemed harmless. Their weekend had been arranged by a pal from Ireland, who missed the ferry or the plane - very Irish. The main bar was going strong, twenty bare torsos, arms in the air, singing/shouting. Even the hardy Liverpool landlady looked a tad pale. 
  I used to play Sunday afternoon football with Shanks on waste ground up in Lindley somewhere. He was manager at Town before going to Liverpool. Denis Law was on his way. 
  We slaughtered Hull FC. Sat next to two Anfield season ticket holders from Widnes. Went to Barcelona and still coming back. We didn't discuss their RL team. 
  Home via Picadilly, arrive 8.30 pm. Long day, good result, steady on the beer. I went to the Kop a couple of times during the Liverpool days. St John, 'Rowdy' Yeats, Hunt, Smith. I was more into rugby by then. Anfield is some place. Even though it's a modern stadium it hits you in the gut - all their stories, our family stories and my stories - misty memories, a memorial. It's like getting bit and it never quite heals.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Events in May - inspiring - especially Huddersfield New College RU team reunion - foreveryoung at well over 70 years of age

                             Teddies for the poorly children


What's that lurking in the long grass?

It's actually a toy meerkat


Huddersfield New College Rugby Union team (1950s-60s) reunion met again this last weekend at Lockwood Park. Thanks to Alan Roberts for his biennial organisation.

I am the youngest of this group at 72, which is not markedly contracting. There are stooping backs and the odd limp, but mostly looking well. Conversations centred on 'What are you doing now?' and a lot of the answers were about families. Second marriages, large numbers of children, stepchildren and grandchildren. Some challenges. Happiness too.

John 'chick' Clay and I sing with New Mill MVC. We mentioned this and the guy on my other side, from Burnley, talked about several choirs in which he had sung. He'd done the baritone solo in Faure's Requiem several times. One nil. Across the table, plum accent from down south, sang in three choirs, having recently left the LSO. Knock-out.

John Berry, who still looks 15, with a tummy, presented a quiz - a mix of school stories, local history and how good is daughter is. I didn't catch it all, but I gather she is something to do with the Green Party.

Thanks again for the organisation. I forgot my camera.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Another Shallilo senior moment

Shallilo has senior moment

Such a small thing, such chaotic consequences. It started life as the metal end of a thread (metal string-tip like the end of a shoelace) attached to my gilet pocket zip fastener. It finished in our rubbish bin until I rescued it. In between times it nestled in the driver's seatbelt buckle, along with the seatbelt tongue. The seatbelt was immobilised. Setting off for choir practice, the thread must have slipped into the buckle before I reached for the tongue and then - click - the deed was done. Those kind men at Suzuki spent an hour retrieving it and no charge.
  You had to be a contortionist to get in and out of the car.


Paul, our man painting the decking, has taken the calling the childbride Shirley?

Monday, 29 April 2019

Shallilo learns about testosterone and grumpiness

Shallilo reads about testosterone and male behaviour

Levels of male hormones (testosterone and growth hormone) decline from the mid-thirties. Matt Roberts in the Times Sat April 13th covers the usual suspects to counteract these changes. So 'working out in the right way' can help you look and feel a good bit younger than you actually are (wrinkles and depression). 
  Readers of this blog will find this as no surprise, but there is some informative detail on some of the strength moves that make a difference. And there is a testosterone-rich diet.
  This hormone decline might also play a role in increased grumpiness, apparently a feature of the older male. Robert Sapolsky in Behave writes about aggression and testosterone, especially when status is threatened. Testosterone does not make people aggressive, it makes 'us more sensitive to social triggers of emotionally laden behaviours and exaggerates our preexisting tendencies in those domains'. 
  In other words if we've been and keep being a stroppy sod, the associated behaviours are facilitated by male hormones, ebbing and flowing in the background. The behaviours themselves began on the savannah in S. Africa, adapted to survive industrialisation, honed on our dad's knee and triggered by activities like competitive sport and polishing the shoulder chip.
  The Times article does not say that increasing hormone levels makes you less grumpy.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Shallilo back on the cut - one way to keep forever young

Shallilo back on the cut - Trent and Mersey

So, back on the cut. Uplands marina (Driftaway holidays) near Anderton and the famous boat lift. Vivien, one of three upmarket boats. This is the decor rather than the performance which was a tad stiff. Marylin and Audrey were the other two, completing a trio of film stars. We had photos of Gone with the Wind on our walls. Our boat starred in the Tim West and Prunella Scales canal series. We are not convinced they ever stayed overnight and one of the marina guys let it slip that their daughter was with them to look after Pro but never appeared on film.
  Setting off was a trial in a vicious crosswind, but the guys helped us out. It hadn't died down on our return, so we parked outside on the Trent and Mersey and waited for support. In fact the wind blew us way off course trying to turn into marina's narrow tunnel entrance. A tad embarrassing, but no one seemed to mind. We had a short relationship with a male swan guarding his mate. No histrionics, just enjoyed being with us.
  First night at Broken Cross. Some of the skills came back and no panics.

Shallilo on the Trent and Mersey

Crew member showing off some locking and drinking in Middlewich, where we parked out and back to and from the Shroppie. Rain through the locks, but other than queueing there were no problems. The steep right hand turn into Wardle was a breeze and nobody watching. The Middlewich arm of the Shroppie has only just reopened following 12 months closure whilst a major breach was repaired. Several smaller boat hirers went out of business, including our memorable stop for electrical help at this now abandoned company. 'Sandra', a trannie if ever, did us proud. Not often you see a female electrician on the cut, even if she was really a man. The boss served us with coffee and toast. Great guys.

Shallilo on the Shropshire Union

Another crew member showing us what he is good at. I learned blowing on the bbq coals from Big Dave, so passed it on. Nice rural mooring opposite Minshull, but no visit to the Badger this year.

Shallilo keeping young on the cut

So to the skipper. Earned his pint this week without a doubt. Managed to rehearse all the skills except one:
  living with being 'a hirer', bottom of the food chain
  it doesn't steer itself
  it doesn't go in straight lines
  parallel parking
  three or more point turns
  mild bumps, usually at lock entrances
  okay to throw coffee grounds in the cut
  not getting away from the bank (poor push from the crew plus physics)
  grounding - good pole skills from the crew
  skirting low branches
  leaving the hose attachment on the water point (don't tell Pete and thankfully retrieved)
  canal rage from a live-aboard who didn't like my speed
  not having a clue going backwards
  a non-hirer asking me if I was stuck in a winding hole when I was waiting for him to pass
The one exception was missing the marina entrance in the wind.
It keeps you forever young.

Shallilo takes a trip down to the river Weaver

And don't forget the eighth wonder of the world - The Anderton boat lift from the Trent and Mersey down to the River Weaver. Salt transport. Built 1875, closed 1983, restored and reopened 2002. Came across a another more modern wonder in Big Lock, Middlewich. We descended in tandem with a hybrid boat. Cut his deisel use in half.
  Short break, but enough especially with the crew drinking all the booze. Lots of people say it's a relaxing holiday. It isn't, but it is so different from normal it empties your brain.

Monday, 15 April 2019

April at Shallilo-foreveryoung - inspiring birthday presents

Guess what we got for our birthdays? A tunnel for the railway and lots of chocolate.

The birds are back nesting on the summer house.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Shallilo-Foreveryoung and March-April events

Shallilo in Spring 2019

A wonky Scarborough Spa, trying and failing to show all the hundreds of rods drilled into the hillside. Aiming to stop South Cliff from slipping into the North Sea. Scheme finishes at the end of 2019 at the cost of £13 million.

Shallilo in Spring 2019

Who is bribing Emily with the chocolate button van? I think we can discern that she has now recoverd from conjunctivitis and upper respiratory infection.

Brian May of Queen complained this week on The One Show that the packaging of McVitie's Chocolate Digestives has gone peculiar. As a fellow devotee I agree. I'm not quite as upset as he is; I can still seal the end of the pack and keep the uneaten fresh. I'm told it was actually plain Digestives but it's the same packaging.

It's getting to that time again when I will have to do some gardening. Gladly we have a man, Paul from No Job Too Small, who is going to paint the decking.

The Times last week contained a piece on how to be clever by Joe Norman, the man who coaches Eton entry - March 30th. For example how to write a story: action, dialogue, description, beginning, middle, end and eavesdrop neighbouring conversations. Simples.
Check out 2 pages later a pic of Jane Seymour - stunning.

Fourstripes bought me a punchbag for my birthday - brilliant. The first time I gave it a good thump, it bounced back and hit me on the nose. When I googled boxing clubs I kept getting dog sites.

Shallilo has a birthday

Guess what else I got for my birthday - care of Louise

We spent the day in Derbyshire at a well-known inland historical port, though the spelling is ambiguous Bugsworth or Buxworth?

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

The Foreveryoung team take a break in historic York

Another sleepover for Shallilo and the childbride, another inspiring away day

It's always a first quick walk to the Kings Arms, the famously flooded Sam Smith pub down on the Ouse. It was fine and cold so we braved a pint on the water's edge. Our Hotel, Yorvik House, wasn't far, a birthday present from Fourstripes himself - one night, comfortable and very helpful.

Shallilo and the childbride sleepover in York
The Minster is a major attraction. We took a city tour on foot, our guide a guy who had been everywhere or so it seemed. Full of great information, though as usual we couldn't keep up with all the Kings and Queens. The Minster has history which can be found on Wiki. New Mill MVC sang here some years ago now - great experience and day out. On another day, Andrew took me up the tower which I managed somehow.
  The bottom building is the chancery; something to do with housing young priests and money and getting them out of the way, but difficult to find the facts.

Shallilo and the childbride visit York

All the wall bits have names and events, too many for us to remember, though top right, Bootham Gate is the southern end of Dere St which ends in Corbridge, site of our recent visits to Newcastle and Hadrian's Wall. The river trip was chilly but enjoyable. The buildings are the Chronicle, The Guildhall and the Chocolate Warehouse (Rowntrees and Nestle) - now flats. The skipper told us of the rivers that drain into the Ouse and eventually the Humber. The city section of the Ouse was tidal until quite recent - but there is a lock just south nowadays similar to Teddington on the Thames which we discovered during our trip to Hampton Court
  The Derwent starts up north of Scarborough and has a sea cut just there to relieve whatever down near the Humber.
  And thank goodness for the brilliant Oscar's in city centre where we always get lost.

Shallilo and the childbride visit York
The Abbey was to do with Charles I. The middle picture is of a fortified wall around the Abbey. The Kings Manor was home to the Council of the North in the 1500s and 1600s. Once again bemused by the guide's information, but terrific at the time.