Mindfulness - Polly Vernon is over it

Times Oct 7th - Polly comes clean about her experience of mindfulness.

"Mindfulness has gone mainstream, been co-opted by fashion, commerce and my revoltingly competitive friends."

"Like another pressure in an already overly scheduled, too-regimented day."

"I'd started exercising a lot ... focusing your body by working it hard takes you away from the washing machine churn of your thoughts."

So Polly has moved from meditation to exercise. It's a personal view. It will suit some, but not everyone. I don't live in a competitive world, up in Holmfirth, where my commitments are weekly choir practice and pilates. But I'm aware of time and how I might use it better. Certainly not moping about SEO which is a very dark art (search engine optimisation). Better not post too much or it simply becomes another version of social media. Yet, a record of trips, some family stories, advice on ageing well, senior moments and coffee time are moderately interesting. Well it's a full week, isn't it? Add in the housework, wood-burning stove maintenance and baby-sitting.

I can't wait for Anne Little, our pilates teacher, to start her next meditation course.

What are the alternatives to mindfulness. Polly Vernon discusses.

Either that or a few pints in the Mute Swan, Hampton Court.

Champion Olympic Swimmer in our kitchen

Special olympics star Jazz Stagg display her medals

Special Olympics star Jazz has her medals framed by proud mum.       
Jazz recently won a gold and three bronzes in the swimming gala at Sheffield.

Hebscape coffee shop and gallery

Going to Tarbert, you come across a wood building on the side of the road. Easy chairs, low tables, a menu, including Belgian chocolate biscuits and lots of photographs and art works, such as an image of Callanais on a tile which now sits proudly on our wall.
  The coffee is brilliant and sold in beans or grounds. They'll pop some in the post if you want.
  And shower, tied up with gold chain and home to a yucca.

Hebscape gallery and coffee shop, Harris, Outer Hebrides

Two English guys. A caterer and a graphic artist. Making a living in a brilliant environment.

Clic to learn more about this great wee place out in the islands - Hebscape coffee shop and gallery

Jigsaw mayhem

Strange jigsaw back to front and out of order

Isn't this just how you feel some days. It all started innocently enough as a break from the train track. Then the pieces fitted wherever. Then, editing in the computer it finished up back to front. So it's all wrong, yet it has something about it. 
Why are the pieces the same shape? Wouldn't have happened in my day.

Lewis and Harris - 17 facts and moments that don't appear in the audiovisual presentation

The Arch pub for our evening meal in Ullapool. Irish girl in her twenties served. "How long have you been here?" "Thirteen years." "Which part of Ireland are you from?" "Deep south west - the arse end." It wasn't the information that threw us, more the tone. But, fair enough.

Our Ullapool landlady was called Shirley. We weren't expecting that either.

A dolphin pod cut across the Stornaway ferry bow.

Haircut in Stornaway. The first in a series of exotic haircut locations.

Interesting the possible ways that soap was discovered - ladies washing in Rome next to a cooking fire. Fat from the animals mixed with ash, which is apparently alkaline, produced stuff which made the washing easier. This from the Hebridean soap company. The owner was a single lady with a dog. Originally from the Sheffield/Nottingham area, via Frankfurt and other places. A financial refugee. The village ladies wrap the soap bars. Outlets mostly on the island.

A Saga bus rolled up when we were at Callanais. Uncharitably I compared their ages with the stones - I should talk. A radio suddenly started blaring out pop tunes. "Who is the idiot with the radio?" I said, pointedly looking and glaring about. Big D looked at me disdainfully, "Dave, it's coming from your pocket." Shit, my hand-me-down phone from son Chris was switched on and tuned to one of his selections. Didn't cover myself with glory at Callanais.

Chris had challenged me to buy a Tweed jacket, so I had a look in Stornaway. Saw just the one in my colour - a dark browny-green - but the lady serving on confused me about buying a cloth length and having it made up. Fitted nicely too.

The tourist guide suggested a loom 'demo' shop on the high street. An old scrote emerged from the dark back room. "Where's the loom?" I asked. "I'm not peddling that any more, I'm 72" Oh, alrighty then. "You're still in the brochure." The reply was succinct, possibly in gaelic, and the tone was unambiguous. It takes one to know one - a grump that is. He mellowed a millimetre when we said we were from the W Riding.

The checkout at Tesco's was manned by a guy who didn't understand what I was saying. I had to repeat "How are you doing?" twice, which I did increasingly slowly and loudly. Perhaps he didn't normally get asked questions of a personal nature or perhaps he was a gaelic-speaker. He certainly wasn't deaf. I can be a wassock at times.

During our great visit with Norman at Carloway and his magnificent Hattersley Hand Loom, the so-and-so radio went off again. The crowd, six in total, sighed and looked at the ceiling. I disappeared. I'll bless Chris.

The beach at the tip of Great Bernera would grace the Caribbean. The Time and Tide Bell was here. It wasn't working.

We burnt peat on the cottage fire.

Away from Stornaway or tourist spots, there is no one about. The island seems more remote than the Dales, Lakes or Scottish west coast. Places we know quite well.

I bought a jacket and cap in Tarbert, Harris. The lady serving on said she didn't have my size if it wasn't on display. Big D sent her over to supervise me personally. After some time I got a perfect fit in blue. They are made in Leeds and even she got muddled over the chest sizes in combination with long, short or regular fit.

Great coffee shop - Hebscape - run by a couple of gay men. I was a little concerned about the shower in the toilet. Is it engaged and in use? I wouldn't share wi a yucca anyway, would you? However I couldn't help noticing the golden chain. I wonder if the yucca is being held captive? For its own safety? Or ....  ?

 Hebscape - a great coffee house with excellent photo gallery

Harris has one breath-taking view after another.

The Red River distillery used to be a fish farm. The whisky on sale was great and expensive. Matured in bourbon casks. The barley, which the owner grows himself over in Stornaway, was peat roasted for 2 days only. The girl doing the tours and the tasting didn't drink. Their other offering had only been in cask for eighteen months and was 'medicinal'.

Norman and his Hattersley hand loom

Lewis, Outer Hebrides 2017 - an audiovisual presentation

Blackhouse is a name familiar to us from Peter May’s Lewis novels. A native dwelling made of low dry stone walling covered over by wooden rafters and thick thatch. Inside, the families shared the living space with their animals. No chimney and smokey. Islanders lived in them for 150 years up to the 1970s. They easily fell into disrepair however and modern amenities like plumbing and heating eventually became preferable. Some have been renovated at Gearrannan and converted into a museum, a cafe and several holiday lets....

An audiovisual presentation of our visit to Lewis in the Outer Hebrides

full transcript

An unintended error refers to the novels as the Peter Lewis trilogy - actually Peter May.

Scarborough and Malton

Two senior gentlemen take advantage of the good weather to visit the Clock Cafe, Scarborough, for breakfast

Three days off in Scarborough are not complete without a breakfast at the Clock Cafe. Amazing that the weather let us sit outside. In the background to the right Harry Ramsden's fish and chip shop is on fire. No one injured.

Malton by bus, home on the train. Great lunch in between

The Royal Oak in Malton. Outstanding sausage and bacon sandwiches for lunch. Later we did the quiz at the Highlander, calling ourselves Two Huddersfield Grandads. 29 out of 40. We got an honourable mention.

Continuing my theme of not having a haircut in Holmfirth. This time opposite the market in Scarborough. No waiting. £6.50. My stylist was married to a bus driver who used to drive a Routemaster (link to wiki).  He said the seat was the most comfortable he'd ever sat in.
My last haircut was in Stornaway, Island of Lewis. Another lady stylist. I'm easy really, number 4 all over, eyebrows and ears.

Pete needed a replacement pin for his metal watch strap. Timpson's. A cobblers with a line in fashioning replacement keys and repairing stuff, like watches. "It needs a split pin, £3. Did you notice the face is cracked. Can do that for £25." Pete's reply was predictable. The lad moved over to the watch department with an impressive display of pins, one of which he fitted in no time. He then tapped it with a hammer. 5p for the pin and £2.95 for the knowledge and experience.

The rest of the time was spent visiting familiar friends, the North Riding, the Golden Ball and others. You have to come home for a rest.

From gladness to sadness

Vocal Expressions and New Mill Male Voice Choir
If I'm laden at all
I'm laden with sadness
That everyone's heart
Isn't filled with the gladness
Of love for one another

New Mill Male Voice Choir sing for Pete sat in his front room

The wall at the hospice

In recognition of fund-raising at our 70th birthday bash

This is our hospice brick at 'Forget-Me-Not'
Thanks again to all who attended and gave so generously

Late flowering clematis on honeysuckle

a haiku popped up, though I did massage it a bit
autumn surprise
climbing purple flower
retirement in style

Darkwoods coffee house - Marsden Jazz Festival

pleasing musical experience but the voice was an additional instrumental

listen to 'the breath' on utube - a song called 'harvest'

We go to the Marsden Jazz Festival. The childbride, and I. Walking up and down the main street and popping in the free gigs and having a pint or two. This year we paid for a concert at our favourite coffee shop. It's not jazz as we expected, but very musical and a pleasing way to spend time. We couldn't make out the lyrics, but it didn't matter.

Inspiring Ageing - The Times 23.9.2017

Anyone catch this edition?

Joan Bakewell (84), Judi Dench (82), Christine Brinkley (63), Bruce Springsteen (68), Jane Fonda (79) on fitness, diet and sex.

My pick was Michael Mosley, a medic who has just turned 60. Things I didn't know (it's a very long list):
(1) Measure the waist - it should be less than half the height. Nasty fat lurks in here.
     Go for the six pack, I should coco, but there might be something in this.
(2) Eat more nuts - part of the Mediterranean diet (fruit, veg, plus eggs, nuts, oily fish, olive oil. Less likely to die from heart attack or develop diabetes and dementia.
      You just get to die of something else. My favourite meal is bacon and eggs - then fish and chips. You look at the fancy food in magazines and you buy a load of stuff you are never going to use again at not inconsiderable prices.
(3) Fast weight loss can be okay.
      On the whole I'd rather be in the Mute Swan at Hampton Court.

Fire, lovely staff, decent ale and food - just a great place

(4) Use high intensity training. Ten sets of six-seconds sprints with one minute rest on an exercise bike against resistance which can be ramped up as you get better at it.
      New one on me - I've read a lot and it's been mostly on slower longer regimes. But why not?
(5) He also recommends mindfulness sessions which are a form of meditation.
      I think all of us have heard of or have had a go at this. The idea is to reduce stress, so good for both mental and physical health. I struggle to find the time to do it - stupid really. I do sit looking out the window with my moka coffee quite a lot. Does that qualify? 
      It's about giving oneself permission to take time out at a regular moment in the day - minutes or longer. Joining a group could help maybe. It's a shared commitment. I'm the last person to join anything - I always meet someone who is far too good. I've lived in the bottom of a scrum all my life, amongst the muck and bullets. I take a perverse pride in being a grumpy old sod.

      BUT, I've been in a pilates group for three and a half years. Admittedly the coffee afterwards with Greg and Bob, Derren and Nick, is part of the draw. Anne Little, our teacher, has recently started relaxation and meditation at the Carlisle Institute, Meltham. I've signed up amazingly, to help get it going of course and it is a course for six weeks. Anne's main claim to fame is Zumba and you can contact her with a clic here. You would not catch me at that in a month of Sundays.

Grumpy old sod who we all lovedMore grumpy old sods
Here are some more grumpy old sods. Brian was my hero, and still is. I met him twice, two pleasures. He was in his pomp when we were at school - Huddersfield New College. He gave us permission to be talented and speak our minds and not to worry too much about any fall out. Then there are the College rugby union team survivors. Alan Roberts organises us to meet at Lockwood Park, every two years. The team started in the 50s, run by Ron Capper, and died in the 70s when New College became a Sixth Form.

Saddleworth Rangers ARLC v. Deighton CYC
Leeds Rd Playing Fields - circa 1978
I loved playing at Leeds Rd. All that slutch. Memories of St Josephs - Irvine, Howlett and Summerville, Kelly and McDonough
I've just received the ball from first man Dave Tyrell. 
A great ball player and fantastic grumpy old sod, and I mean old.
12 pints was his dose after the game.

Away to Fleetwood for Andrew's birthday weekend

 Nostalgia trip to the ferry et Fleetwood
The ferry district at Fleetwood is a little poignant for me - that's why I booked a caravan here for Andrew's birthday. It used to be a car ferry I think to cut out the drive down the Wyre river. Now, two or three pedestrians only, every half an hour. Knott End is a great name - I've actually been.
  There are several fishermen and trawler memorials. This is a family welcoming their menfolk home or saying goodbye.
  The Ferry Cafe is the biggest place for breakfast in the world. Several years ago I came here with Andrew and Fern, our labrador or retriever, I forget. We went in the cafe and the lady behind the counter said, "Here's two breakfasts." It's cheap and cheerful, if not high quality, with a great view over the Wyre.

Family history at Yates - choir history at Winter Gardens

We caught the daily Blackpool coach from the bus station one year - Andrew and I. I got him one of those wrist bands at the Pleasure Beach and kept him moving all day. Twice on the Pepsimax and at least once on everything else. I got double the value and him knackered.
  Yates is a family tradition. Granny Addy from Whitestone Lane, Hillhouse, used to go on day trips and pop in for a sherry. They served it out of big barrels stored behind the bar. Older Brother and I went every year for about four/five years as part of attending the BARLA cup final - I was the medic and not too competent. A physician is not a sports specialist like they have today thankfully. That version of Yates was burned down 8 years ago and they rebuilt it in 2013 nearer the front. The older one had signposts to tell you where to queue for which drink. Even the champagne was on draught. It had a reputation for being rough. We never did work out why Granny went there - she was the widow of a bloke who was in the temperance movement. Maybe that was it - Yates was founded on the premiss that 'moderation is true temperance'. We went to the newest one near the South Shore and lively with 'hen' parties which I must say are a tad undignified. We watched Town get a football lesson.
Clic here for Yates wiki entry
  Back in the 90s I'm guessing, New Mill Male Voice Choir did a gig at the Winter Gardens, when Len Williams was MD. For women's rotary or some such. Derek, one of our tenors, was married to the 'queen bee'. We actually did two - the other one was at Scarborough Spa. I mentioned it recently to Chris Dempster, one of our current tenors. It was his first concert and he wasn't word perfect. They only had cameras and a big screen which kept looking at him. It's an experience, singing to 3000 women. The Scarborough concert was a disaster - the piano was too far away from the baritones. We enjoyed the cliff lift at the end.

Andrew scares himself to death and then give thumbs up
Andrew had to go on something, between pints.

Grandson helps out - Kirklees Light Railway - Shelley 2017

Jenson helps Ben to look after the engine
Jenson has a day out at the Kirklees Light Railway. His friend Ben gives Jenson a tour and suggests he helps out turning the engine round and filling the tank up with water. Jenson's pal Harper was also here, but she wasn't keen on the engine or having her photograph taken. She enjoyed the afternoon  out.