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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.

Shallilo and the vagaries of becoming a supping ager

Not quite Foreveryoung -  inspiring nevertheless

Further to the post coining a new word for older people who are still trying - not super agers, but maybe supping agers.

I went to the doctor this morning. A request from her to review my 24 hour BP monitor. This is Debrah Rawcliffe, a very able junior in our HRI department on several occasions whilst she was a gp trainee. After some twenty or more years, she claims to be the same weight, but her face has 'drooped' as she put it. But overall still looks in good shape (a squash player who used to dance to 'The Hills are Alive'). And still agreeably spikey.
  Well my bp is just above NICE guidelines and I have a lowish but significant risk of a serious or otherwise cardiovascular event. Largely on account of my age. So statins and bp pill. Whilst you are still healthy, how do you know any intervention is doing you some good? A statistical exercise I suspect. I know my allopurinol is working because I don't have attacks of gout anymore. I don't need my uric acid measuring. This is called common sense. I've never had a stroke or a heart attack, but the numbers suggest I will. This is called nonsense, maybe produced by a number-crunching senior registrar trying to get his MD before climbing the greasy pole. This is probably untrue but I enjoyed writing it.
  I've modified my lifestyle until I'm virtually unrecognisable. I do pilates though Debrah wants me to do Tai Chi for my balance issues - there really is no satisfying some people. I might get a nice stick. I've had to curb the beer-drinking because of poor sleep and headaches - it's not quite tee-total time but it's not far off. Debrah ignored the fact that a I forget names and proper nouns. When I said I was grumpy she replied "That's just you." I think she had me sussed and I thanked her.

So I walked home from the surgery - 4 miles max, but extremely pleasant in warm sunshine. Closed footpaths which were open. Honley CC looked brilliant, the football pitches too. Roundway. Lower Oldfield. New fencing behind which grazed sheep. Reminded me of the 15th and 16th century enclosures when landlords took to profitable sheep-rearing on large farms, thereby reducing common land. This was the start of rural depopulation that culminated in 1850 when more people lived in towns and cities than in the country. I seem to remember from a Melvyn Bragg radio 4 programme that the landlord behaviour was only part of the reason for this migration. Shardlake, the crookback lawyer deals with this in Princess Elizabeth I's era - Tombland by CJ Sansom.
  Netherthong, just up from the Cricketers, a small windmill. It whistled, not unpleasant. Shut Cider Press. And a massive new housing estate. The pub boules pitch could do with a gardener and rust treatment. Over the next hill, a large well-appointed house, grounds and stables with a notice 'Private, please keep off'. Well it did say please. Not a great advert for the wealthy.
  Home for coffee. Back on Taylor's Brazilian.

What am I to do about the doctor's advice?

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Shallilo listens to a fairground organ, but no one else seemed inspired

As a supplement to the Birks car park fairground organ postI recently brought it up at 'boules' coffee. I am blessed to be a regular invitee to the 'Moorbottom boules group' hosted by Ann and David Talboys. We meet Friday afternoons, so the coffee is a tad late for me, but I don't drink tea. I could drink water, and I used to, but my palpitations have now settled - OMG this is trivia.

Interesting the use of the word group for a sporting organisation. Add it to all those TV cliches. 'We talked about it in the group' 'the group is going well' ' we have a good group here'. A proper group consists of three guitarists, a drummer and a lead singer. They lurk in the back of dark rooms, youth clubs and church socials. As in the Strangers, personnel based at King James, who were everywhere in the 60s  - Tahiti 2 and Dalton St Pauls to name a couple of their venues. The singer wore a mauve mohair suit, not to sing in obviously. Really cool, or I thought so. Does anyone remember the UV lighting in the night club? We were all covered in fluff.

Shallilo is inspired by memories or his younger self

Back to the boules group. The ladies were concerned about the image of me sunbathing on my top deck. They were not reassured by my assertion that I was fully clothed. Nor my claim to have changed shape in the last year. I stopped digging.

Shallilo recalls his uninspiring contribution to a boules match in which the opposition insisted in thanking me for every cock up I made

The fairground organ got lost in the rush.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Some more curation - Foreveryoung seeks inspiration to coin a new word for ageing disgracefully - sup-ageing

Dave and Pete tackle a piece of the Cleveland Way on a beautiful Monday in March 

Quite a few pieces on ageing, though I'm a bit late with the first one. Times article - Super-Ageing by nutritionist Suzi Grant on November 24th, 2018. Helen Mirren, Goldie Horne and Charles Dance in their 70s look wonderful. Usual suspects to combat ageing- cardio, weights, a bit of meditation and loads of supplements. So nothing we didn't already know. Charles doesn't drink and Helen dyes her hair pink. Goldie cycles to keep fit.

Then How to Keep Your Brain Fit - Rachel Carly interviews Irish neuroscientist, Dr Sabina Brennan, the Times, March 12th 2019. It's the amount of working brain that matters, not the bits we've lost. So brains may have the appearance of dementia when the subject is performing normally - for their age. The key is lifelong challenge and learning - keep reinventing yourself and don't give up - build a fighting fund.
  We heard most of her recommendations like exercise, sleep, relationships and diet. She also asks us to 'find our stress sweet spot' - not too much and not too little. Reframe fear as excitement and have one special place for keys, glasses and wallet.
  'Super-agers don't stop, they live their lives fully.'

Finally John Nash, the Times March 9th, 2019. Diet supplements are not the answer to dementia. Changing lifestyle is. Regular healthy exercise, check the medical agenda (bp, diabetes, weight, smoking, alcohol) and enjoy stimulating and challenging your brain.

Dave and Pete have a go at some of this advice - they are sup-agers.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Foreveryoung listens to Dan Snow in Alnwick Castle

Another sleepover and new experience - Dan Snow is inspiring

The latest in our sleepovers - Alnwick, Old English for dairy farm and settlement. Origin around AD 600. Its history is mainly that of the castle, built following the Norman Conquest and well known for being the seat of the Percys and their conflict with the Scots, their battles with English monarchs and involvement in the Wars of the Roses. 

Wet March. Lunch in Bedale. Very twee tea rooms with a good wholesome menu and cakes in a display cabinet. Very North Yorkshire. They did chips though. Alnwick by mid afternoon, getting lost around the massive castle as we checked where the entrance was for the evening talk. We didn't need dinner - the hotel menu looked a big step too far - but we did need a taxi to take us to the castle in the pouring rain.

Dan Snow, the history man. His talk was in four parts. First, life with dad and holidays at various sites of history (his own 2 year old is now similarly burdened). Second, BBC programmes. Third, people he admires who have achieved major things in the last 50 years and are not household names: a scary RAF fighter pilot and flight (it's a box now, not a loop-the-loop), the NCO who was honoured for putting a Union Jack on his radio antenna in the Falklands, ladies from the WW2 intelligence services. Fourth, a history of the castle.

Walked back to the hotel in the dry, past The Salvation Army charity shop. Famous for selling me a pair of trousers which were far too small when I got them home. Echoes of wearing my son's cricket trousers in the fixure Almondbury Casuals v Eggborough. I bought the Alnwick pants during one of the trips off with Big Dave, a weekend when strangely, Alnwick RUFC played Huddersfield.

The morning after was the childbride's birthday. I've treated her to two Sir Cliff tickets at the open air theatre, Scarborough - June 2019.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Shallilo passes on coffee news from the Times

Shallilo's childbride pride of daffodils - inspiring

Another two pages on coffee. Peta Bee and Tony Turnbull in the Times - March 9th 2019.

We Brits drink 95 million cups a day.
Two new coffee choices at Costa (1) The Flat Black - shorter and stronger than Americano (2) The Cloud Machiato - egg white powder and fizzy coffee.

More health information if you need it. Good for the cardiovascular fitness and mood - see neurochemistry and coffee. 3-8 cups a day. Some skin wrinkling. Leave off 2 hours before going to bed. Drink it instead of breakfast.

This last one doesn't go down with breakfast enthusiasts. Best or most important meal of the day for some, but not for others, like me. I haven't had breakfast for years - simply can't face food at that time of the day. Except when the childbride and I are on a sleepover and bacon, eggs and the rest are in the deal. "Oo you are looking gaunt," my friends say - the female ones. Why does it always have to come down to personal vanity? Silicon Valley thrives on coffee and for the first half of the day, so do I.

So two new high-end coffee shops have opened in London. It's about choice and flavour. I nearly didn't finish the article when I saw cups of coffee priced at £15. I just about made it through all the language normally associated with wine tasting. I don't get that either.

I'm drinking Taylor's Christmas Blend just now.

Shallilo visits probably the best second-hand book shop in the world

Shallilo-Foreveryoung visits a great book shop. Buys no less than 3 books. Alnwick - excellent place.

A listed building which started life as a railway station. Thousands of books. Poetry between bookshelves. Electric trains on top of bookshelves. A buffet where the buffet used to be. Huge coal fires not worried by smokeless zones. Seating for reading.
  I pushed the boat out and bought 3 books one of which I am reading - by Steven Pinker.

Shallilo, keeping young, on another sleepover up in Northumberland

Guess where.
The latest in our monthly sleepovers. Famous for its castle and collieries.

One of the poems in the spaces between books is from the Song of Solomon. Maybe premature for February, but nice images.

Arise, my love, my fair one,
   and come away;
for now the winter is past,
   the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
   the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle-dove
   is heard in our land.

Watch the trains