Surprising sights in the Cannon Hall reptile house

Short trip to Cannon Hall and an amusing sight high up near the roof in the reptile house.

please clic on ant video

Shallilo at the food and drink festival, Scarborough

Shallilo and the food and drink festival. Happy accident which we all enjoyed, especially Andrew

We just happened on the 'Food and Drink' festival on the quayside at Scarborough, much to Andrew's delight. Real ale from Malton and a massive deep-filled pork and stuffing teacake for himself. I had a pork and black pudding pie which was not up to much. The band was great and the life boat came out to give a demo. Whitby was standard.
Slightly disturbed by the lonely sand tracks either coming from or going to the sea - the lifeboat tractor coming ashore following the launch.

Shallilo hosts Tom Ashworth again. A timeless story of jobsworths

second guest blog from Tom Ashworth

My cement mixer stopped working the other day. Normally, this wouldn’t register as a calamity but seeing as how I was in the middle of pointing along, high wall, there was a distinct possibility of having to mix the mortar by hand - with my back! - if I wanted to finish the job sometime before winter.

Cost of a new one was out of the question; somehow, without me noticing, the price of cement mixers had ballooned out of all proportion and now equated to something like the National Debt. I’m sure I never paid anything like that ten years ago. Anyway, according to Geoff who holds a professorship in fixing things, the solution to the problem was to repair the old one and I phoned up the company that had manufactured my trusty machine. In the intervening years this company, subject to numerous take-overs, had blossomed into a multi-national, multi-million, all plastic and glass, megalith and the conversation went something like this.

Good morning, how can we help?
Hello, I’ve got a cement mixer. It’s ten years old and the electric motor has stopped working. It just hums when you switch it on but if you hit it with a stick it starts to spin.
I’ll put you through to Sales, sir, they’ll sort you out.
Good morning, Sales.
Hello, I’ve got a cement mixer. It’s ten years old and the electric motor has stopped working. It just hums when you switch it on but if you hit it with a stick it starts to spin.
You need Parts, sir, I’ll put you through.
Hello, Parts.
Hello, I’ve got a cement mixer. It’s ten years old and the electric motor has stopped working. It just hums when you switch it on but if you hit it with a stick it starts to spin.
Sounds like you need Spares, sir, I’ll transfer you.
Good morning, Spares department.
Hello, I’ve got a cement mixer. It’s ten years old and the electric motor has stopped working. It just hums when you switch it on but if you hit it with a stick it starts to spin.
Technical, sir, you need the Technical Department.
And he put me through to Technical.
As soon as ‘Technical’ answered in a strong Midland’s accent I had a picture of him in my mind. He was a man of a particular age, wearing a brown warehouse coat, possibly a flat cap, chewing the end of a pencil, leaning on a counter and staring at an unfathomable piece of machinery.
Hello, I’ve got a cement mixer…
I’ll bet it’s a CS300 series. Is it yellow?
Well it was originally.
How old is it?
Ten years.
Does it hum when you switch it on?
Have you tried hitting it with a stick?
Capacitor. It’s your capacitor, part number CS5900148.
And don’t let them overcharge you. They try to charge over the odds on these capacitors.
And there you have it. At the deepest heart of these shining beacons of 21st century industry is a man in a brown coat.

God bless him.

Shallilo and the pilates-scufflers team celebrate Wendy's 85th birthday.

shallilo celebrates Wendy's 85th birthday

Shallilo celebrates her 85th birthday

Wendy's 85th birthday celebrations began today, with the Thursday morning pilates-scufflers team, and Ann who normally takes Wendy out on Tuesdays. Cake and singing by Jane, Jude, Dave, Greg, Derren and Bob.
Many years ago, Wendy was Frank Higgins private secretary up in Acre House, Lindley. 
She was sat alone with coffee one morning and had the only available empty seats for us pilates. "Could we sit down?" I suspect it was Greg who then engaged her in idle chat and the rest is history.
The cake is just visible - amazingly creamy.

Shallilo goes to Alnmouth on the Northumbrian coast

Shallilo goes to Northumbria for the 'Magic' weekend

Away again for the weekend. We do 'Magic' rugby most years and our third year in Northumbria (Easington Colliery and Whitley Bay previous). We had the top floor of this Alnmouth apartment, complete with evening view of the estuary and exclusive use of the patio for a bbq. The portable bbq never lit properly. I wandered over to a community event near the river and they donated coals and we were away. Walk on the beach and finished in the 9-hole golf club house. Surprisingly welcome and hospitable.
Waiting to go to Alnwick outside the Schooner Inn. Being thrifty, we travelled by bus and train. In between destinations lie green fields, ploughed fields, hedgerows, cattle, sheep and farms for what seems to be miles and miles.
According to Wiki, Alnmouth village was once a port with a small fishing industry and some trade (export of grain and other foodstuffs to London; import of timber and slate). The port declined at the end of the 19th century - shifting and silting of the estuary and the growth of the railways. Alnmouth is now a resort and tourist attraction of 'Outstanding Natural Beauty'.

Shallilo goes to 'Magic' weekend in Newcastle

Wiki writes that Warkworth is noted for its castle, originally built of wood in the mid 12th century. Granted to Robert fitz Richard by Henry II, it was improved by his successors and featured in the Anglo-Scottish wars (medieval wars of Scottish Independence). Now managed by English Heritage. We didn't stop long.
Amble, on the river Coquet, was a coal town from the 17th century (outcrops of coastal coal between it and the Tyne) and exporter of coal when deep mines were sunk inland and the railway came (19th century). Today, there are large broken wooden staithes and breakwaters which signal older harbour structures. There was also fishing and boat repair works which continues today. It is lifeboat station and popular market. We had a couple of pints in another Schooner Inn before eating a pie surrounded by wooden 'pods' which made up the market. Pleasant enough. Warkworth Castle is a distant landmark.

Shallilo goes to Northumbria

The real reason for going was of course 'Magic Weekend' at St James' Park, home of Newcastle United. We beat Wakefield in a tight finish. Hosted by the 'Platinum Club', an exclusive matchday facility without queues for the bar, but with civilised toilets and cushioned seats. What had we done to deserve that? The outward train was delayed at Alnmouth due to an electronic break failure, fixed by a telephone call to an engineer - it's all algorithm. We had a couple of pre-match pints (Tyneside blonde which I incorrectly called Tynemouth blonde followed by exasperated barmaid) with a group who were speed-drinking shots and pints of Guiness. St Helens supporters waiting for their train which they, hopefully, caught soon after this pic. Despite all the doom and gloom about railways, I mostly have a great train travel experience. And Warkworth Castle was clearly there again, and seemingly quite close to the track.

Childbride's pics, mostly from Alnwick Gardens, the girls' trip while we were in Newcastle. Cascade, reminiscent of Chatsworth, and the treetop restaurant where someone enthusiastically tucked into a cream tea. The gardens were reportedly lovely, first laid down in 1750 by the 1st Duke of Northumberland, who employed Capability Brown, the celebrated Northumberland gardener. The garden now belongs to a charitable trust. The 12th Duke of Northumberland donated the 42-acre site and contributed £9 million towards redevelopment costs.

Great weekend. Northumbria is an excellent place to visit.
Great result.

Shallilo - garden glimpses of bluetits and the circus

Garden glimpses in May 2018

Grey bud green leaves
Village springs up valley top 
Stage set for rebirth 


Garden glimpses in May 2018

They're back


I had a lot of indigestion over the weekend. Because, I thought, the surgery had ordered the wrong pills - allopurinol instead of omeprazole.
Rang the pharmacy "yes sir, I'll check. Have you got the box - what does it say?"
Bugger, omeprazole in a pink box just like allopurinol. The bloke was happy.
I was embarrassed. Innocent surgery. A lot of unnecessary indigestion.


Yet another book about 'Life on Earth'
Origin Story: The Big History of Everything, David Christian, Allen Lane. 368pp, £20

Simple basics, ultra complex outcomes. Sadly, Gerard DeGroot, the Times reviewer feels he is no nearer understanding 'the perfection of a Bach sonata or the beauty of a flawless free kick'.


Respect to Manchester


Garden glimpses in May 2018