Forever young - home

Forever young

From Wikipedia - the second single released by Sir Rod from his Out of Order album in 1988. He wrote the song with two of his band members: guitarist Jim Cregan and keyboardist Kevin Savigar. The structure of the lyrics is very similar to a Dylan song of the same title. The two men agreed to participate in the ownership of the song and share Sir Rod’s royalties.
  Both songs are about hopes and fears for their children. This Dylan verse might also suggest a recipe for ageing well, a preparation for inevitable change which is manageable.
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift 
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of change shift

The Sir Rod version is easier on the ear and has been a favourite of mine since the 1990s.
  Ageing has some benefits. You don’t have to look your best. You don’t have to speak, but when you do, you have permission to say more or less what you like. I’ve had a lifetime of saying the wrong things and it’s no better now. If your friends and relatives are still talking to you, they might fondly regard you as a grump (or in my case a legend - maybe). You might then have some wisdom to pass on if anyone is still listening.

This is a personal blog. I'm not selling anything other than myself - an inept older person who thinks he can write a bit. Use the search to find what you want. There are humorous senior moments, older role models and a plea for us all to stay mentally and physically active. Garden glimpses, family matters, from the archive, publishing/writing, sports, and my notebook. Otherwise the world is our limpet.

There is also a writing archive which needs some work - watch this space.
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A week in Centre Parcs during the heat wave

Massive place. Costs must be enormous. So expensive, but it is everywhere. Busy. Walking or bikes. I thought on occasion some bikers were just as dangerous as cars. Houses and facilities good quality, nothing tired. Activities well organised. Staff pleasant.

This is NOT an ad for Centre Parcs. Whenever we said where we were going, our mates said take a full wallet and toilet rolls. Almost a sport, knocking it. Yes, but we had no issue with the experience as a whole.

I can't think of a better spot to survive the heat - Whinfell Forest near Penrith, Cumbria. With a ready-made den.

Mum and granny like their fizz.

Matthew supervised two barbecues until we discovered they were not being sold in the shop. Banned, everyone has had an email according to the checkout lady. We'd not.

Ideal cul-de-sac for safe scootering. Granny showed some style. Grandad watched on, trying to keep a straight back. Not old at all.

Wildlife. Is it a pheasant? Pecked me and drew blood. I was okay. The pheasant was not seen again. It certainly looked poorly. Rabbits of varying sizes. Very small red squirrels, soon gone unless they are eating. Little scurrying furry things as well. Birds, pigeons and ducks.

A full-size bowling alley. Granny and grandad were hopeless. It's another sign of something. As was our reluctance to join activities which were bewilderingly numerous. Indoor, tennis varieties, roller skating, paint a pot, photography, nature studies and more. Loads outdoor - the crazy golf a bit tame. Walks, little cars, build a den and so on to an aerial tree top something which induced dizziness looking up. Beginning to feel my age - bugger. I always had my seat back at the digs.

There was a sports bar. A beer and Fartown losing to Salford. 

A leisurely cruise overlooked by a swimming temple and pancake eatery. Emily spies the zip wire. It was accompanied by an eerie science fiction noise. The treetop walk sound effects were screams of girls wanting to get off. Bottom of the lake is a popular pub with food. Emily and Jenson swam daily. The greenhouse effect was immense. I made it once.

Winning 'stuff and outfit' a bear. Rainbow and Chris, now you see me now you don't, (after Chris Rock, slappee of Will Smith). The staff member was pleasing.

Great week, albeit confirming that I am less fit and able than I was. I'm the only one who is surprised.


Take2 - Mouth of the Tyne Festival with Marilyn Monroe

A19 is a very good road. Managed to crack the Tyne Tunnel on-line fee - there and back. We finished two miles from Tynemouth due to a last minute change of apartment - looked brand new, tiling everywhere which helps cleaning. Refund offered which didn't impress. So a lot of walking. Pete was not long post knee surgery and we wondered how he'd go.

First morning, we asked a bloke walking with a bike the way. "Follow me". So we did, what a nice man. Tynemouth mobbed when we eventually made it. Festival of street performers and craft stalls. Great.

Craft beer on the station. Pete asked if they had lager. He's a bit deaf, so the reply came, "Yes, rubbish". "I'll have a pint of rubbish then". "No, Spanish" the barlady corrected.

We investigated the local bus service - a complete mystery. We nearly caught the 306 three times.

Whitley Bay was very quiet. A Scottish bloke sat at the bus stop gave us a tutorial, but still a mystery. A couple of hours later, after a pointless walk around Whitley Bay, he was still sat there. We managed to catch one of his suggestions - the trip went through a massive housing estate where every road looked like every other. 

Tynemouth station is massive. Presumably built for holiday makers around the 1880s. Now on the Metro. Most weeks craft stalls selling a lot of stuff - even old bottles. A stage hosted choirs and dance troupes. Lovely for the kids to sing whilst signing.

So to Newcastle. Pete lost his ticket and was awarded a 'yellow card' by the inspector at St. James. I lost my Greggs corned beef pasty. Found a small quiet bar on a side street. Contrast with the crowds just outside the stadium. Anyway we won. I draped my fleece over my arms for sun protection. During the second half I felt someone tugging with one of the arms. Turned to see a mature lady trying to cover a bare patch. I haven't lost it. The husband didn't look pleased.

As usual an entertaining weekend. A lot of walking. Pete's conclusion "it's my new knee rehab".

Older guys take a break in N Yorkshire

The Premier Inn is cheap and cheerful, right next to the main Settle Road and the Leeds/Liverpool canal. I've made a note to read about the canal and its origins. Something about getting a west coast outlet for coal amongst other things. Shire Cruises were called out when our prop stopped working. Boss came up from Leeds.
The horticultural boat was a bit too overgrown to be a thing of beauty. Unusual.

The pick of our few days was the five mile towpath walk from Gargrave to Skipton. The weather helped. Caught a return bus. No doubt lots of Holme Bridges in addition to Holme Valley, Huddersfield.


Journey's end and a welcome pint. Fred gets a little lost in and amongst. 
Following day, ploughman's similar to the Ham and Cheese, near Malton. Walked into busy Skipton. I bought a new sunhat and Sheila a blouse.

So strictly speaking not a cruise - that boat has departed. Brilliant to walk one of the great canals as it braves it out into the country. Kind of rural but probably strongly industrial back in the day.


Older people on the canal - could be our swan song


Sowerby Bridge to Brighouse - not far, but ...

Three weeks after surgery is no time to cruise. No heavy work for me. Andrew was able to do most of it despite an ankle injury.

So started with a series of accidents. Windlass and my best glasses overboard. Collapsed put-up chair, sprained ankle which nearly had us drafting in more crew.

Got into some sort of rhythm by day 2, realised we weren't going to make Aspley, Huddersfield. Content with Brighouse. Tight on-board spaces. Canal not busy. Frequent locks. Morning cruising and chilled afternoons - BBQ and a few beers. Considering we were in the heart of industrial West Yorkshire, it is remarkably rural. Who would know there is a large marina in the middle of Brighouse. Plus a pub to sit out with Saltaire Blonde. Some guy appeared with a Maclaren. We think he was showing off just a tad.

Middle of Brighouse and the crew

Extremely broad and well-kept towpath. Dogwalking, cycling and running heaven. Those without dogs, often men alone or women in pairs. Don't go at weekends one boater warned. People with dogs do stop and chat with each other. Same with walkers and boats, especially those who fancy having a go. 

Putting your bed up each night is a pain. TV pixelated. We missed Elland's Barge and Barrel.

Catching up with fresh water in Brighouse a man sat on the point quizzed us about boating. Turned out he was an Airbus pilot, late of Thomas Cook. Applying for Jet2.

Finished the week bumping and brawling up deep double locks despite cautious filling. One didn't fill hardly at all, til we saw that mum, the gin queen, had left the paddles up.

Andrew bought some gin. Mum was soon worse for wear. Several coffee and craft boats. One of Salter Hebble lock flight is a guillotine.

Very unlikely we will be doing this again.

Rewinding? - we don't do the 're'

None of these plants were here when we moved in. We don't do weeding. They can produce pretty flowers.

Michael Deacon, Telegraph, 26th May. Should I have entered my garden for Chelsea?
'My back garden is a bold statement about the plight of our ecosystems, a hymn to the wonders of biodiversity, and a full-throated call to arms in the battle against climate change.'

Here are his top tips
    pour large gin and tonic
    sit on sofa
    switch on TV

I would modify Michael's advice to several beers on a seat among the wildness.


Older brother's 80th - Anfield tour

Up under the roof at Anfield. South housing to the horizon with a spire or two, but no obvious landmarks. East derricks, cranes, big ships of the port. The stadium is large and stunning and shining clean inside. Seems to be continuous expansion. On this site since 1880s, initially rented by Everton.

Older brother’s 80th and the Anfield tour. Beginning in the players’ lounge, Q&A with Alan Kennedy, left back and hero of the 1983-4 treble. Signed from Newcastle in 1974 for £43000 or thereabouts. “They get that per week now.” Alan seems to be the go-to media guy just now. R4 and BBCTV.

Supporting Liverpool is not a bandwagon. We lived there between 1966-72. Kop visitors twice. Hunt, St John, Lawler, Callaghan, Smith, Yeats, Shankly. We were rugby guys really. Followed from afar since - Cardiff, Saddleworth (Manchester), Bedale (N Yorks), Honley and now Holmfirth (Huddersfield). I'd a tenous connection when I was at school, supporting Huddersfield Town. Shankly was our manager then. Brought Denis law to Yorkshire. He supervised and played Sunday afternoon soccer on a rec in Lindley and I turned out.

Alan was on for an hour or so. Main takeaway message was the culture of team, manager, boot room, programme sellers, caterers and so on. They’d been a second division side until Shankly (1959 -74), a staunch socialist. All equal, no stars, humility, common purpose - winning, The Liverpool Way, The Liverpool family. Disdain for authority, world against you, closing ranks, strength from within. Needed for Hillsborough and Heysel. After Shankly, Paisley (1974-83), Fagan (1983-85), Dalglish (85-91). Moran and Evans in there somewhere. All signed up to The Liverpool Way. No idea when it all went corporate but today, it’s telephone number wages like the rest.

'The song was written for the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. In the second act, the character of Nettie Fowler, a cousin of the main character Julie Jordan, sings 'You'll Never Walk Alone' to comfort her when her husband Billy dies.'
                                                                                                                                                smooth radio

Sadly now a cliche, the song adopted by many teams and organisations. The Kop has sung it as an anthem since the 1960s, originally recorded by Gerry and the Pacemakers. The rise and rise of Liverpool FC was mirrored by the successes of Merseysound. And it's still powerful.

The boot room ran things. Inner sanctum, no players. Just room for six managerial staff under the main stand. No natural light. Talk for hours about everything. ‘Conveyer belt of wisdom concealed in a broom cupboard.’

The dugout and The Kop.

Older brother had a spat with the official photographer who was not allowing private pics of the European trophies. I sneaked in round the back. Three pubs round the stadium. The 12th Man, bottom left is a tribute to the extra player that the supporters represent - in this case more specifically The Kop. The Park, bottom right, was Pete and my choice for RL's magic weekend at Anfield. Totally mobbed. Hull FC supporters, stripped to the waist, singing, shouting, arms and shirts in the air. Landlady looking bemused. We went out the back which was a bit of a building site and had a quiet chat with 2-3 quieter Hull guys.

So we were treated to a view of a less pampered era. Alan confessed to an additional team drinking culture. Even drinking before playing. Still won. Today the players are confined to their rooms from 8.30pm the night before a game. 

We missed out on a few things, but it didn’t spoil an amazing experience.


He eventually accepted the number and the party

The road is long
With many a winding turn
From which there is no return
While we're on the way to there
Why not share?

He ain't heavy, he's my brother
                                                             Courtesy of the Hollies

A modicum of anxiety as the octogenarian was invited to his own party.
Nice dinner at Frodsham and a spiffing tea.


Squirrels, workmen and other climbers

Before and after

Squirrels will do anything to get those seeds.
Symmetrical or what?

Lettuce rosette courtesy of the Coop

Not all climbers are plants
Solar panel installation


From birth control to infection control - older people rock and roll

Celia Walden, Telegraph, May 10th.

Will new condom reverse the tide of STIs in the over 65s?  

A range of garden-themed condoms for older Brits to practice safe sex.
They come in seed-style, naughty veg packaging (onions, avocados, plums, artichokes and courgettes are not left out). Sustainable of course. 'Horniculture'.

Apparently there's a surge in STIs at this age.

Police stations filled with drunken seniors. Alleyways clogged with geriatric brawls. Retired couples ignore son's advice "Take a taxi dad". You could go on.

Scarborough break - it helped to come round a bit from Covid

Scarborough to try and recover from covid. Improving but not back to normal. Is there such a thing after lockdown? The pandemic is not over, just hiding from us anyway - due our fourth jab soon.

The kids soon took over the flat. Had to relearn how to fold up the tent - must be the fifth or sixth time. We walked and walked, so ok up to mid afternoon. Emily and her little legs were fantastic. How many miles and stairs can you do in 3 days? We did well for weather. And lots of things to do. And the bus up to the north.
Jenson and Louise enjoy the cafe together, so we tried it - great, breakfast toastie £5. Not sure about the bloke on the beach.

Sea Life centre is expensive. Try and catch the short talks and feeding sessions. Makes the wallet more comfortable. The otters were our pick. Must have had a couple of hours there.

Emily does love a beach event with sandcastle. And walking in the sea in her wellies. And a visit to The Clock cafe. The tunnel connects the two halves of the gardens - the south cliff lift cut them in half with no connection. 'The tunnel is just five metres long and two metres high - but it will become a fully accessible route that will cut an entire mile off the present journey between the two halves of the South Cliff Gardens.' (Scarborough News). I'm not convinced it's a mile.

So Scarborough has plenty to do and is a great place to get relieved of a big wad of cash. The bus along the front is still the same price.

I visited Farrar's, the bar at the spa, and had a pint of the local brew. I asked the barmaid what it was, "a nail" was her reply. Bemused, dropped jaw followed by dropped penny, "An ale".

Jenson looked out over the bay at high tide. "Where's the beach gone?" He answered "The ocean's stolen it."

Now geriatric - it's official. Older people make the best of it.

April has been somewhat of a disaster, starting with Covid. Both lethargic for a couple of weeks, especially in the middle of the afternoon. We are now both over 75, so a quick post-lunch zzz is ok.
I still have a strange sensation in my mouth, but taste is back. Something to do with my bright or otherwise remarks.
  Then last week, gastroenteritis. Horrid 48 hours.
  Sandwiching a great week in Scarborough - see next blog.

Snatching what time we had in the good weather. Variety of seating and bulbs. Turned back to winter today.
The frog comes out for a sunbathe on warm days. We've had a male pheasant for a while. First time for a female. Must be related.

The birthday alien outside his new shed. Already serious scalp abrasions, so Jenson crafted a warning notice and the family bought me a crash hat. Perfect.

Greg's card is my pick. Thanks to everyone.

So the new shed. Old fart's delight. The old plastic garden store blew away in storm whatsit. Same one that turned the lights out in Alnmouth. 

Shelving from James Walsh. Too high, now minus the top one which has plants on.

Pockets from our defunct camping equipment. Helmet from the Bancrofts. Also sign from Emily - 'My shed, my rules'.

Carol Midgley. Times, April 23. Not one for new age approach to getting older, she is having a rethink after Corrie's William Roach approaches 90.

 pic from the Sun

Inspiring older people - maybe not

Aged p's join the mosh pit whilst uncle four stripes babysits the house. Well the golf was on with a Guinness fridge. We hit the Heather Small gig.

Heather Small. Picturedrome. Always liked her in M People and with her first husband, Sean Edwards. It will be the last gig we do. Buxton Opera House or Manchester Arena/Bridgewater Hall preferred. 

  No seating in the stalls, all mosh pit. Quadriceps work out, standing for two and a half hours. Hot, drenched in sweat.

  The first note, so-called intro, punched us hard in the chest. Bass, drums or keyboard. Then so loud. Couldn't hear the words, but it didn't matter because everybody else knew them.

  Several other couples our vintage. Stood watching, listening. The rest just went mad. Jumping, arms in the air, hair flying, bumping into everyone. Not offensive, just enjoying themselves.

  Nearly as bad as being at a match with All Black rugby supporters, but not quite. They can be offensive.

  Somewhere we were searching for heroes and wondering what we did today. Quite an experience and fun, really.

  A couple of nips with Chris watching the final holes.

Another not 300 mile walk, scavenger, role model?

So we went on another one


Roger Daltry looks bemused. Nina Myskow writes about him in the Times, March 19th. 78 years old and nearly shares our 50th anniversary year. Keith Moon (32) and John Entwistle (57) have passed. Roger and Pete Townsend left. Teenage Cancer Trust is a great fund raising mission. Outrageous, maybe correct, things to say about BBC and politicians. I couldn't possibly repeat. 8 children, ranging from 41 to 58. The tours are long and arduous.
  'Years don't mean much to me. It's the life you live.'
  On funerals, 'everyone turns up and says nice things ...  pub ... everyone is glad to be alive and goes home happy'. Not for him, 'paper bag up the dump.'

Anyone see the series on ageing rockers who played the Isle of Wight? Rock til You Drop. Age is no barrier to going for your dreams. One of the bassists asked "Is your life plan A plan B? Mine has always been B - this is my chance to change to A".

What will they say about you at your funeral? It's tempting to write your own, but it might also be tempting fate. Better than some of the bland vicars I've listened to.

Can you bear a random pic?

From the archive, Times Feb 26th.
May 5th, 1954. I was 7, but it's one of those rugby legends. 120,000 fans or so they say watched a replay of the drawn Wembley final. Warrington vs Halifax.
Ex-pro landlord of The Three Crowns at Scouthead, near Oldham, was Ray Hicks, coach of Saddleworth Rangers. We used to drink there with old warhorses Hardaker and Roly Lloyd. When the traffic moved around Odsal, an hour later it moved outside the pub, so they said.

Fartown beat Wakefield here
in the championship play off 1962. We ran on the pitch with an inflated Yogi Bear dressed in a Fartown shirt. I grudgingly admit losing in the Wembley final.


April random thoughts about walking in Spring


Spring and Lent and all things fresh


Peta Bee, the Times exercise queen, March19th, at it again. Walking. Blast fat, live longer, keep ageing in check, including dementia. She's fit.

Walking fast (100 steps per minute), add top speed intervals, do hills, carry weights, aim for 12000 steps a day. 

The important one for me is walk in nature. Stepping patterns improve when we like where we are. I call it getting a spring in my heels. We do know however some like to walk on pavements.

So we went for one. Spring was late, early April.

The date said spring
the snow hills whispered winter
cold as unseen ice, silent blind sun
lone duck shivered on still mill pond

Even Credo is getting into the walking act, Pete Greig, Times, April 2nd.
Not necessarily about exercise, more self-discovery, three weeks walking 300 miles between Iona and Lindisfarne. Nothing to prove, nobody to impress, wild camping, walking in the rain, Pete listens to God and realises He is everywhere present. No need to travel 300 miles. 

Through walking, silence and solitude, he comes to terms with who he is. Or gives it his best shot.

He quotes TS Eliot, 'Little Gidding'.
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

This is available to all, religious or not. Simon Barnes and I recommend the sit for everyday reflection. The deeper 'who am I' is tough and tortuous. I came to it through study of our billion year emotional evolution. 

Ah Peta.