Staying safe and easing lockdown week19

Awayday - Scarborough and Whitby

Even on a poor weather day, there are some half decent glimpses of Whitby.
We went because of the need of something to do and the rain. Travelling on the bus was not a problem.
Note the forbidden marshmallow.

Preoccupations will inevitably surface. We couldn't go to Flamingo Land (too expensive), Peasholm mini golf (too wet), the big wheel (too late). So putting and pints. And a short walk.

That beachbum certainly gets around.

'Same old' at the Highlander apart from social distancing. Someone even called me Victor Meldrew which didn't make any sense to me, and Andrew took exception to.

None of the usual N Riding home-brews.

Staying safe and well - easing lockdown week 18

Awayday - Scarborough

Three sessions on the beach.

It's not as deserted as it looks. Dog-walkers and strolling couples keep moving, so only families tend to stay in one spot.

The sandcastle village was knocked over by Emily. We kept rebuilding and on a non-Emily day managed a high rise structure, said to be flats. There are roads and holes. The holes result from digging and filling buckets, but what do the holes become? Village ponds mostly. If deep enough they will develop sea water. Otherwise it's a long walk down to the sea for grandad, followed by disappearing sea water in the hole. The model shark is sadly beached.

We still call them sandcastles. The buckets have turrets which often don't come out or are knocked off to make houses rather than castles.

Here are a few beachbums. 

The lift is stranded mid-cliff which means everyone has to walk to reach the esplanade. All the works to rescue the cliff itself are complete and there are several new wood railings. A lonely guy and a mower that sounded like a moped gallantly cutting grass. Tired and untended undergrowth waiting the loyal band of volunteers that try to keep the place tidy. By way of contrast, the Italian Garden look brilliant.

This calm picture can be disrupted by large families arriving, standing around not knowing what to do, and then plonking either with a wind break or a mat or two, right next to people already here, including us. And the beach deserted. Feral kids chasing up and down to the sea. Oversized adults. Thoughtless, but really only trying to make something out the beach in nice weather.


The first session was started by grandad - a hole and 3 or 4 sand houses, close to the sea and the rock pools. Small stretches of sea water left as the tide recedes, captured by outcrops of rock. Bits of seaweed and smooth coloured pebbles are the main inhabitants. They can be used as village decoration if really necessary.

Grandads need chairs.

The Clock Cafe was open, Union Jack proud and flying. We had a take-away drink from the little shop next to the lift. I think it was coffee. The childbride got chatting with the young man selling the usual tat - buckets, spades, tennis balls, other balls and so on. I bought a sun hat there one year which I still wear and still gets laundered. Too tight to purchase a new one at 99p. The young man was a contented soul who was just making enough money to get him through the winter.


Another beachbum.

The story of the crab. Discovered next to a rock pool, there was never any evidence of life. Jenson adopted it, kept in a bucket of sea water to take back to the flat, transferring it to a plastic dish on his bedside table. Affectionately known as 'crabby' which was original and more often used when referring to grandad. We had to dispose of it when Jenson left for home. Smelling very unpleasant.

The Spa Gardens may be a bit scruffy just now, but there are little moments when you see something.

Our fourth session out and about was Peasholm. Jenson likes to explore the paths and pools around the Chinese gardens. We played a mean game of crazy golf next to the bus stop.

No naval warfare.

The dragon boats are neatly aligned. Pre-booked, they go out on the hour, with a deep clean in between. Full too. All you do is go round and round, but people seem to enjoy it, once anyway.

View from the top deck of the foreshore shuttle bus. The donkeys had been on the beach and were on their way home.

             South Bay deserted, forshore crammed.          

Staying Safe - easing lockdown week17

Senior Moments


garden glimpses
Grant, the other grandad is sat with the childbride. He identified a bird in the garden from it's song, "Nuthatch". Sam (with little Em on his knee), Grant's partner's son, was quick to respond, "Get away with yer." Grant shrugged his shoulders. I kept quiet. He could have named any bird and I would've believed him.
As I was getting the burgers going, someone said they were going vegetarian. "I eat veggie burgers." "Why's that?" "Cholesterol is 7". I tried to guard against airing my prejudice against medicine by numbers, but stuff leaks out sideways doesn't it? The childbride successfully shut me up. "Shall I cook yours then?" "I forgot them."

Jenson ferrets about in the hut and this week came up with a set of crown green bowls which were my dad's. So we set up an alley down on the deck. The target was a steamer chair. Two points for rolling underneath. Three for hitting the ladder behind. Nil point for missing. Jenson decided some scores in halves. He could spell it but couldn't 1/2 it. The child bride's delivery was two-handed and fast. Hit the target but ugly. I suggested an additional score for style. Jenson had appointed himself judge and he agreed. I turned my bum on the target and delivered between my legs. The winner.

Sam plays for Dewsbury RL. He also has a job with a landscape gardening company and is in good shape. He is not sure whether championship rugby will come back. Wait and see.

Awayday - Cannon Hall Farm

Cannon Hall was built at the opening of the 18th century for John Spencer Stanhope whose money came from mining. Barnsley Council bought the hall in 1951 and it opened as a museum in 1957. That year, Cannon Hall Farm, the estate’s farm, was bought by Charles Nicholson. The farm has been transformed into a successful and award-winning visitor attraction.

We thought it overpriced given that a lot of attractions were understandably closed. I guess they still have their overheads, particularly all the staff needed to keep the animals alive and breeding.

pile of stones

Somone asked me at the bbq if I was into Feng Shui. I said it was only a bit of fun. These are the rules:
  • Be organized and tidy. 
  • Keep your bed away from the window. Feng shui is very strict about this rule! ... 
  • Separate work and rest areas. ... 
  • Use the Bagua Map properly. ... 
  • Know your colors.
No, I'm not into this. However, I could get into this: the symbolism of stones centres on ideas of endurance, stability, and permanence. They represent the ability to be grounded and connected with the earth. Stones are strong, versatile, and easily accessible. 
Or, rock stacking has carried spiritual meaning across cultures for centuries. The act of balancing stones carries with it a practice of patience and a physical effort of creating balance. Each rock can signify an intention of grace for thankfulness, or offered up for another in need.


variable impermanent
still standing

From the archive

These are brief windows into my work in Cardiff 1972-78. Huntington's disease is a hereditary neurological and mental degenerative problem, sadly not manifesting until after victims have had their families. Many members of one large family from Gwent went into care in Neville Hall mental hospital in Abergavenny. They each had a page in a large book. They were buried on Mynyddislwyn.

The etching is from a huge text book and depicts people with a 'dancing' craze which occurred in the US, thought to be mercury poisoning from wheat.

Liverpool University awarded me an MD and took all the copies, so my supervisor, Peter Harper, was left without. I should have paid for another - stroppy sod.

I think I left one family somewhat bruised, but they would have discovered their secret.

I also spent some time in the lab, but I wasn't much use. Stuart Woodhead supervised. He enjoyed his home brew, a brewing chemist in a previous life.

I fooled the examiners at the Royal College into giving me my specialist badge - I was actually quite good at solving medical puzzles.

The deputising service (standing in for gps) paid for our tickets to Chicago. My patch was Ely.

Henry Jones, my mentor, took us up to port Meirion, N Wales to talk on the family research at the Welsh physicians jamboree. He kept in touch whilst I was in Manchester and advised a sideways move to geriatrics. Successful and I could have been more grateful. Stroppy sod again.

Update on the blog -  see reflections on blogging                       

Important to stick close to what we are trying to do. Creating a sense of purpose - valid both for the retirement lifestyle and surviving lockdown/pandemic.

Family matters are the priority. Followed by staying active, the garden, senior moments, inspiring senior role models, awaydays (a record of travel and events), random stuff that doesn't fit, comments on current affairs, from the archive.

The lockdown in Scotland is now easing. A hairdresser commented "It's about feeling good about yourself." Someone at the bbq asked how I was managing in lockdown. My standard reply has been "not much different from normal." Reflecting on this, it's not strictly true. My sleep pattern is rubbish, normally acceptable. The baggage is becoming intrusive, in the night, and other quiet moments. Alcohol is less effective and well, less. Apart from bbq's. The Thursday coffee zoom pilates group does illustrate my need to air the odd thought in public which is not happening just now. So I don't know. That someone and their questions.

Stay safe and well - lockdown week16

Garden Glimpses

Old Father Time

A replica of the weather vane at Lords cricket ground.

A tad deformed by all the wind and doesn't point in the right direction any more. The old boy is weathered and worn, much like the Toby Keith song from the film The Mule - 'Ask yourself how old would you be if you didn't know the day you were born?'

Rescue geraniums now flowering. Buddleia making process.



spinning fishing
lookout three compass points
poaching tadpoles

pile of stones

Not enough Jenson this week so I cheated and brought in some firewood

Old fashioned cottage (JJ's title)

stone entrance window
leaky garden pool wood wall
sheltered luxury

Senior moment

This is a brilliant cartoon amongst several books that tried to keep me sane during the darker moments.

Our back gate squeaks and sticks - it's the bolt. "WD40" said the childbride. "Yes, that should do it. Can you spray a bit on me?"

We woke up one morning this week and the downstairs sockets were tripped. Took all the plugs out and switched everything off. Still tripped. Sat down and thought about calling a sparky. Hang on, what about the garden? Took all the plugs out in the various bits of the garden ring. No joy. Hang on, where is the controlling switch. There it was, hidden behind pans and and other stuff we no longer use. Off and the trip is cured. Have to wait for the garden to dry out now. It's 3-4 hours we'll not get back. B.. weather.

Current news/events

Everybody is doing their own thing Covid-wise. We wait to see what the infection rate does. Our bubble is still good though we have struggled to keep up our spirits during the foul weather. We've not risked the pub yet (The Stumble Inn).

Senior Role Model

I was never a fan of The Jam or Style Council. Paul Weller is the subject of a piece in The Times, July 4th, by Will Hodgkinson. Paul is 62. Reflecting and writing/composing during lockdown.
Been tee-total for over 10 years.

'It's about good taste ... it's a brotherhood, a sisterhood, a state of mind, a complete way of life. The mod culture ticks every single box for me, man'.

'The older I get, the more I try and stay in the now'.
'Religions are just a form of crowd control ... I don't like espousing my beliefs because there are enough idiots in the world doing that already'.

Another fellow traveller with some stoic notes.

From the archive

Cardiff - 1972-78 or so - excellent place and we might have stayed except I wanted to come back north. Llandaff was one of the local teams, just below the top well-knowns. The centenary celebration games included the likes of Cardiff, Pontypool and Bridgend. We were gallant losers. Ebbw Vale in the cup - we should have won on a home draw but they kicked a last minute penalty.

I'm the one on the floor in the Cardiff pic. Next to The Arms Park, midweek under lights, first class facilities. Played there again in our version of the cup final and won.

We came top in our league competition as well. Some scuffles against Talywain. Super trips up the valleys to Blaenavon (Gwent), Aberaman and Ystrad Rhondda (Rhondda). Reclaimed from mining and beautiful. Blaenavon had a massive stadium. There was another team in the village called Blaenavon Forge.

All places I'd worked as a sort of epidemiologist. Names from a Cordell novel.

The medical students and Heath hospital teams.

We played a bad-tempered match annually, though I didn't when president of the meds.

Gave a speech at the dinner which was crap.

So, all-in-all, best forgotten.

Staying safe and well - Lockdownweek15

Senior moments

I recently reported a scam attempt on Amazon Prime. We had to change the credit card - goodness me all the hassle trying to get stuff paid for that was previously automatic. And for heavens sakes what are all the passwords? Still, an opportunity to stop apps which I've been lazy about.

  I have updated 90% of stuff - Amazon Prime funnily is the one sticking point because the childbride has an account and a password different to mine.
  I still feel peculiar thinking about the scam attempt. I'm on the phone thinking 'this isn't right' and yet not doing anything about it - really weird adding money, asking where the Lloyds branch was and saying he was going to credit my account when he had already done it. The phone went on the blink and that was that. Phoned the bank. A very nice lady said "You've had a lucky escape." The credit card co. had been on my case the day before.
  I keep checking my account - I still can't work out how we got into Lloyds when the credit card is from another company. Me being stupid.

Garden glimpses

We still have tadpoles.
  The nursery up above Meltham, on the Marsden road has done us proud.
  The recent wind played havoc with all the plants. Blew over one of my climbers behind the chairs.
  The wildflowers are beginning to show, bedraggled.
  Repaired. Tied down ready for the next lot. What happened to 5 o'clock?


shop bank clinic dole
respect patience turn by turn
or queue on height

The men

Investigating acrylic paint - could be a makeover soon.

Pile of stones

I can't better Jenson's bridge - will he come and help me out this week?

Jenson could not help because of the weather
So I braved it

Grandad's bridge

clean birds stones pebbles
another connection
a pale imitation

Current events

Nothing like a crisis to get some tough legislation through. Made great strides in WW2.
  Ferguson, the naughty boy who ran away to his fancy lady, is back in favour if not on SAGE. Keeps popping up on Radio4.

Awayday at Crosland Moor

From Huddersfield Exposed - the conversion of the land into a public park took considerably longer than anticipated. By August 1883, the total cost was more than £18k - over 100 men were employed. [They would need them for those blocks]. The land was previously owned by Henry Beaumont.

The park was opened on 13 October 1883 by the youngest son of Queen Victoria, HRH Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, and his wife Princess Helene, Duchess of Albany. 

The park fell into decline after WW2. It has been well restored by the local authority and a group of volunteers.

The Meltham Branch of the Lancs & Yorks railway was opened to passenger traffic in 1869. Expensive and took 5 years to build with embankments and two tunnels - Netherton and Butternab. Closed to passengers in 1949 and finished finally in 1965.

So taking a long time and overrunning on cost is not new then. The line worked around the turnpike tolls - for the vested interests.

Staying well - lockdown week14

Keeping active

Senior moment - father's and grandad's day - grannie's hatkeeping active and connected in lockdown

Family fun in lockdownfootball supporter

Garden glimpses   The men

Garden glimpsesClimbing 

                                                                                                                   step up step on
                                                                                                                   in step not so quick step
                                                                                                                   paint job the prize

Garden glimpse
Jenson's bridge

wood stone pebble
from here to there
link with grandad  

Staying Safe - lockdown week13 - not so inspiring

Old Father Time - senior moments

An older perspective on where we are in lockdown
A partial image, but I quite like it

I went to the dentist today. I asked 'do I have to wear a mask?' The receptionist said 'no'.

I apologise to all the bereaved and disadvantaged families for my facile remarks for lockdown 12. Who cares we can't get away for weekends - ludicrous and not funny. Lockdown has lead to a loss of personal perspective. I thought it would be life as normal. It hasn't been. My pal big Dave misses his mates. I can't quite put my finger on what I miss. Sense of purpose is forever an issue, pandemic or not, but I've lost my way just now. We haven't knitted or sewn or gone back to work - just sat at the window whilst others looked after us. I made a video with Rod Gooch, but no one seems to have watched it that we know. So I think I'm a bit angry - useful energy for doing something. What? Carrying a massive sword round maybe. I think it's a scythe.

There is yet another old persons' guide in the Times June 13th - 'How fast are you ageing?' by John Nash, quoting research by Dr Daniel Belsky of Columbia University. Usual suspects - lower the calorie intake, sleep quality and regular exercise. Meditation makes another appearance based on a Buddhist monk study. Newish to me is skipping breakfast, restricting eating between 8pm and the following noon. This, apart from calorie restriction, is counter-intuitive. Everyone says breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but this is the second study I've read that suggests the opposite. The final recommendation is banish negative thoughts. Optimists live longer. It doesn't say how you do it.

Radio4 Wednesday More or Less sort of answered my query from last week 'What constitutes a premature death for a 75 year old'. An actuarial expert said something along the lines of 'an 80 year old obese male smoker has on average 5 years left'. So where do we stand with the NICE guidelines that tell us all not to enjoy ourselves?

Anyone else had a scam attempt from someone pretending to be Amazon Prime. Tried to give me a refund for a fee I hadn't paid, but I didn't twig immediately. Thankfully no harm done, but waring.

Garden glimpses

squirrel wars - 

Garden glimpses

Is it insectivorous?

Garden glimpse

Another pile of stones

Honley ladies tea party and a stone circle

The men and some random geraniums

More haiku and some rescued flowers

Staying well - lockdownweek 12

Don't let the covid in

The advice on covid is still pretty confusing. We are as frustrated, not just with limitations on our personal lives at home, but we usually plan to take regular short breaks every month. We are unsure when we can restart.

Black lives matter

8 mins 46 secs - the length of time the policeman knelt on George's neck.

My current 2000 metre time indoor rowing is 8mins 42 secs. I don't know why, it just makes you stop and think.

I agree we may all need to examine how we feel about stuff, including racism. I am cautious about saying anything further, other than slave owners are part of our heritage, an unpleasant part. Join the list of unfairness and privilege. There is a saying 'Behind every fortune there is a crime.'

8 minutes is a long time to struggle breathing.

Staying mentally and physically active

I came across these recommendations for good habits in older people. It appeared on my email app - some are a bit much

Watching too much television

We live in the golden age of television, and binge watching has never been better. But there are limits on the amount of Netflix or Amazon Prime that your health can bear.
So what do these clever people suggest? BBC 4?
Having poor sleep habits
Early morning routines followed by burning the midnight oil can take its toll on your skin.
Poor sleep creates total havoc with me as a person. More than grumpy if that's possible.
Making unhealthy choices

Smoking, physical inactivity, high alcohol intake, poor diet, prolonged sitting worked synergistically to increase risk for all-cause mortality.

  Okay we all get this. You have to have been down a coal mine for the last 20 years to miss it. Add in high cholesterol, premature death in a relative, being over 75, hypertension, diabetes. 

When you are 75, what constitutes a premature death?

Not feeling your age
People who felt older than they actually were had increased rates of hospitalisations.
Maybe they were sick.
Ask yourself how old you would be if you didn't know the day you were born? (from 'Don't let the old man in - Toby Keith).
Holding grudges
With respect to your lifespan, it’s probably a good idea to let grudges go.
I get that.


However delicious, barbecuing might burn away years of your life.

It's a joke, right?

 Eating sugary food

  Yes okay.

Not meditating

  This is a new one for me. Do I have time in my day?

Not detoxing - no idea what this is.

Overworking - no idea what this is.

So it's still not rocket science. Some lifestyles are key along with staying in the present moment (if you can forget the past).

We watched a rerun of Deep Space Nine last night. Exploration of non-linear time - specifically living permanently in some past event whilst inhabiting the present. Time somehow isn't happening. I think I get that some of the time. It's adventure, scifi and occasionally asks a question or two.

Lockdown week11 - sketches can capture moments and staying active

Glimpses, sketches

Short form - Clear and concise. Getting your point across, rather than showcasing expertise. It's a skill in itself. Drawing, image, story, poem, lyric, microblog.

Keeps the old man mentally active.

Leaves stuff out to let the reader in.

Current events/corona-wise


Durham bound
or maybe the Lords
he's not leaving
To summarise Giles Coren, the Times May 30th 'everybody decided to break the rules too,' thereby ruining 'my lovely lockdown'. 'Empty roads, empty parks, loads of exercise in the sunshine, didn't have to meet my dreary friends or review poncey restaurants ... '

To paraphrase Matthew Parris, the Times May 30th 'The ordinary people' chose 'how to interpret the advice ... "29% of Britons admit breaking lockdown" ... This relaxed approach is not available to our masters ... '

As I said last week, a range of opinion. Dom was not appointed because he is a paragon of virtue. Looks like he will survive.

There is a new distance and time measurement - London to Durham.
As in 'how long does it take to get from London to Durham'.

Anybody else confused by the mixed information coming out of briefing sessions - none of it hangs together to make a coherent story. Multi-author, committee or some other many limbed creature.

For all those who can stomach unplanned variation in pitchclic here for 'Don't let the covid in'

Garden glimpses

Not many people are aware of the close relationship between weight lifting and keeping wicket.

  Tomato 1 - Dave 0

  bit of a quiet circle this week

grasses nearly my height - no cutting just yet

5 o'clock

Staying sane and alive in lockdown week10


in the middle
tough isolation
sanity and isolationstaying sane in isolationThey are still at it, queuing for Lloyds Bank way past the butcher on the bridge in Holmfirth.Staying sane, we had a great coffee/pilates/thursday/zoom meet yesterday. We were split on Dom. Two of us had broken lockdown rules to help out with children who had mental health problems. Another would have if need be. So I think it finished 2-1 with an abstention, in favour of Dom going. He was not appointed to be a paragon of virtue. He breaks the rules, that's what he does. Robin Pagnamenta in the Telegraph this week writing about the future of our technology, 'At a time like this - with a pandemic that is fast reshaping ideas about government and how decisions should be made - a maverick provocateur in Whitehall is a good thing to have.'I found the reference to Ian McEwan, an inspiring guy to say the least, and time from the Today programme, Radio4. When plans cannot be made about the future, there's a tendency to dwell on the past. This applies to people of my age, and Ian's, as a matter of course. To everyone he says, 'My hope is that we can take from this extended tragedy a memory and lesson in timelessness and stillness.' Guilt is still guilt however you reflect on it.
staying sane in lockdown


                                            pink white grey blue
                                            it had to start sometime
                                            beach pebbles

sanity and lockdown
The jury's out but we might have baffled the squirrel            

gardem glimpse

garden glimpse

These wild flowers were perfectly flat
and now they are in cups

Time and staying forever young - lockdown week 9

Garden Glimpses 

  garden glimpses - timeless short form clipart
This is a clipart, short form version of a Pile of Stones, one of a series of garden sculptures
that have appeared during lockdown

  Andrew Marr's guest on Radio4 Start the Week was a highly successful American author who I didn't know and hadn't read. He regarded the short story as an inferior form of writing. These two statements triggered inadequacy. There is a choice so I don't need to feel this, especially at my age. But a corner of me realises I'm not reading widely so I am not informed in a literary sense (sadly I cannot cope with Hilary Mantel for example). My interest in the short form of things could have been crushed, except I don't have time for anything else. 
  So who was on Radio4 this morning? Ian McEwan talking about time - Clive H take note. Not the fractions of the earth's movement time, but lockdown time. Then the window cleaner came. I caught Ian's last sentence which went along the lines that maybe we will have more time for stillness and reflection. No idea what happened in the middle. It's a senior moment. Ian is 71.

garden glimpses

This could be the ideal time to get my stuff in some sort of order. Except it's all over the place. 
  Just heard one of my articles is in a new book on occupational medicine, the editor being Barry Hobson's (ex-holmfirth gp) son. No connection.
  And Covid this week. More journalists banging on how useless the government is. Martha on Radio4 Today telling a minister off for slow track and trace. Then the science expert telling her that track and trace doesn't really work until 'R' is well under one which has only just happened. I switched off.
  Andrew, our autistic lad, was due back at his flat today. Delayed by a day because of a domestic.

garden glimpses


                 long shadow
                 short men stand tall
                 keeping the light on
garden glimpses


pebble bridges
gateways in shadows
what lies beneath