It's been a sloth Christmas - grandad's Christmas card

Hanging out in trees above it all, flying a sleigh with big bag of presents 

Raining and snowing nicely-wrapped small gifts, kisses, big red and green dollops

Grounded tree with decorations and star. Snowman. Figure with baby, turtle in a pond

High, low. Up, down. 

Well-balanced and sensible - New Year's resolution for Covid - get the jab

Dank Manchester can be pretty normal

Manchester was tacky. The Christmas market was winding down and the drizzle didn't help. Not as lively and interesting as previous years. The city centre was nevertheless mobbed.

Bill Bailey was appearing at the AO Arena. 4 checkpoints to get in. Bit weird thinking about the bombing. We had a row on our own. Boris came in for massive stick - very funny. Politicians in general were soft targets. Bewildering talent - several guitars, keyboard, cow bells and bicycle horns. Operatic soprano accompanied the flamenco. Highway to Hell was good. Bill likes heavy metal.

Pleasant and comfortable Pizza Express.

Trains empty. Roads busy.


Garden Glimpses - the screw

The screw with a touch of 'croc', some of which might still be in my foot.

A week last Friday. A fine moment for an autumn tidy. Beware the remnants of the wind-swept balcony. Wisteria tamed, for this year. Timid montana in retreat. A second attempt at gathering leaf fall. It'll need another. Next year's mulch looks promising. How many more years will I be doing this? 
  So, for now, going well, but ...
  Pain, and unbelief, no protection from stupid crocs. Rapid retreat to the nurse childbride. Google and the chemist - tetanus and antibiotics. Don't ring 111. Nurse in gp surgery didn't turn a hair. And regular dressings of course, and foot up, don't bear weight, drive or do anything upright.
  One afternoon, whilst the childbride was out with her eating and drinking chums, I read a book.

Stupidity is the first thought. To leave the plank of wood, to not see it, to not wear foot protection. Clumsiness is my middle name, and not improving with age. So no change there.

The second thought was are there any benefits from illness and injury? For a short time only! Would anyone wish to be troubled for longer? A hell of a question.

The injured sole; swollen, red, sore - my training tells me my life is
A lot better now.


Dave's notebook

Notebook - inspiring ageing

How do you put a silencer on a whisky bottle top? The childbride hears me open it from all the remote corners (of the house).


Elaine Kingett, The Times, Nov 20th. A teacher of creative writing. Primarily discussing her love life, aged 72, there are general moments:

'Drink too much, sleep too little, relax with great difficulty, spend far too much time on social media. And my concentration skills are shot to bits and my social skills seem to be going the same way. So what is one to do?'

'The last few years, as I have aged, have taken a toll on me physically and psychologically, and to continue the life and work I so passionate about I need to reboot, rejuvenate and, yes, I hate to admit it - detox.'

'Rediscover my inner strength and reconnect my life. A time perhaps to count my blessings and celebrate a bit more what I have, not what I have lost.'


'Almost nothing is worth giving up for the sake of a few more years in a nursing home (in Bournemouth)' Sir Kingsley Amis.


I share most of these. My social skills - what social skills? I discussed this with my gp once. He said "You're a bloke." "We're all a bit on the spectrum." I don't do social media anyway - except to share my hobby blog. Yes, celebrating the here and now and what I have. It's a continuous process, the tidal preoccupations keep coming in. Breathe.


Garden Glimpses

Our bit of the storm damage and autumn. A potent combination and a mess. There is a long list of mess just now. Hard to be upbeat, especially when the waves keep coming.
We need a vacation - Arnie had an answer.
We also have a man who does - coming in February.

Awayday - heroes of the guitar - The Manfreds - Buxton

From Hank Marvin and Buddy Holly to Brian May

Phil Walker and others
Great entertainment and fun
Millions of guitars
Extreme ability, average singers
Gently taking the p... with their actions, but serious about the music

Did we know Mike D'Abo wrote 'Handrags and Gladrags' and 'Build me up Buttercup'.
Zoot Money guested and wrote a lot of The Animals hits.

We fancied a weekend in Buxton, B&B at the Manse. Had to do two nights, so we did two concerts. Great value. Pop and blues. Several beer festivals.

Scrivener's - brilliant nooks and crannies with chairs and cushions. Not on the scale of Alnwick Barter Books, but a must visit when in Buxton.


Garden Glimpses - the pencil

Earlier this year, before the trees went yellow and brown, a perch on one of the bird feeders went missing. It's a deep screw. How can a tit do that? We have squirrels, on another older feeder. Bright, dextrous and ingenious, but undo deep screw? I think not.
  The feeders hang from a wood construction. My project at the start of lockdown. Along with a bug hotel. Waste wood from Fitzpatrick crates. Local supplier of ash logs in large containers, held together with nails and plastic film. Easily deconstructed. Stood on much more stable pallets, now a three-storey insect residence. Not that there is a lot of evidence of occupation.
   Lots of thin long wood struts. No rulers, protractors, set squares. Just a good eye and a trusty electric screwdriver. Not perfect. Still standing. Strong enough to carry birds and hearts. Heavy stones help, leaning over basal cross struts.
  Spring 2020. Cracking the flags. Pandemic. "It will be all over by Christmas." Delta variant from India. 19th century cholera came from there as well - by sea and railway. Both can be vaccinated today; autumn 2021. What are the prospects of unrestricted festivities? Same as WW1 settling in 1914.
  So, all well, except one perch short. Until I spied one of those short brown pencils, give-aways the world over to write down the score. Why? A remnant of many Scarborough crazy golf and putting rounds. North Bay and South Cliff. Prelude to The Highlander and The North Riding. Soft wood, sharp end well pliable to take a deep screw.
  And, during a spot of weeding and mulching, again supplied by Fitzpatrick and his lovely daughter, the original steel perch appeared. Restored. Bin for the pencil - aw. Satisfaction. Happy birds. 

  So what is a pencil for? Writing, drawing, picking teeth, memory stick, pandemic reminder.


Scarborough Oct 26.3


Victoria Monument

The spa gardens are gradually getting their makeover (see link).

The south cliff lift is unavailable during the work. So, every 15 minutes, a bus travels between the two entries. Circuitous route. Double-decker no less. One or two takers. A lonely bus driver who will talk to anyone. A quick stroller might win.

Overgrowth in certain areas is another side effect. There's always a bit, kept under control by 'friends of the gardens' and the LA, but given the present set up, they're losing. We take the easy route up from the bridge, wading through fuchsia and rosehip abundance. Pete, my walking/limping pal, somehow found a rosehip in his ear.

There was war in M&S. Round the meal for £10 shelves. Maybe we lurked too long. Arms thrust over our shoulders from behind and between us. Pushing and shoving for bargains. We stepped back, but mayhem didn't stop. All women.


Garden glimpses and Emily

Had difficult sleeping


Wednesday 29th September, Tanya Gold, The Times.

The petrol panic - easy - there are too many cars on the road. 40 million.
Too many big ones. Only farmers need them - and maybe big caravan owners.
It's dangerous to park, walk and cycle.
Don't talk to me about journeys - I could walk quicker.
Dr Beeching started it all - 'He couldn't see a future in which our cars choked us, our parking spaces flooded our homes, and drivers, in seeking fuel, threatened to paralyse the country.'

Can we get a government commitment to get cars off the roads?

I broadly agree with this summary. I keep saying I could stop driving and car ownership tomorrow. Have I really thought that through? One car less won't make a lot of difference to pollution and the rest, but I'd be happier.

Random - Solar fountain - Wizard of Oz

It works - when the sun shines

The wizard was brilliant
The bee was the size of a Buick (courtesy of Annie Hall the movie)

Older role models keep active

iron wood stone earth heat

stile gate wall walk sun trees shade

people path purpose 

Awaydays - Older role models stay active with 40 year old son at Butlins Skegness

 Butlins Skegness - good enough for us

Crazy wobbly fairground mirror soon covered with towel. Unsavoury images.

Alphabet kitchenware only. J-cloth and T-towel. Cutlery fine.

Stella £4.50, so not all lost.

Overall feel is tired and unkempt but we were in the cheap seats. In need of a coat of paint - our bit anyway. It kind of suited two 74 year olds.

Ordering from BurgerKing was a foreign language - to me anyway. Andrew and the guy serving were fluent. He kept asking me to repeat myself, so I gave in and Andrew interpreted. I was with mask.

The walk to Ingoldmells was hampered by several black dogpoo bags. Full and thank you, but need to be placed in bins, which sadly were missing down on the beach.

This week, query all weeks, was serious obesity week - it felt like every third lady or so, plus some guys. Thin people thin on the ground? It's perception - when something is so startling there seems to be more of it.

Like buying a new car. Suddenly they're everywhere.

Similarly disability transport, chairs, scooters etc. Could have had an F1/chair meet.

Skegness birthday meal in The Tipsy Cow. Standard fare that went down well. Lots of left over chips.

Skegness sports bar was showing Italy vs Finland. Minor International cricket on an all-weather strip and a ploughed field. They were all Sri-Lankans.

Lots of flyovers. Too high to see, but you can hear them - Eurofighters.

Older role models finished knackered, so Sunday is a day of rest.

Older role models have a night out at the local rugby club. New Mill sings on a hill.

Lockwood Park and The John Smith's stadium

Huddersfield New College rugby reunion at Lockwood Park. We had a decent team (union) for a short moment in the late 50s/60s, looked after by Ron Capper. At 74 I'm the youngest.

Alan Roberts organises.

The meal was a couple of good slices of pork, preceded by a small Yorkshire pudding, smothered in gravy.

Opportunities to catch up and reminisce.

16 attendees this year. Older role models to a man.

Barry Rhodes presided over a 'What do you know about Huddersfield' quiz. Not without controversy.

Last game of the regular season at the stadium vs Leigh. Fartown (league) ran out easy winners after a slow first half. Not a sporting classic but we enjoyed ourselves.

New Mill Male Voice Choir

New Mill MVC up in hills - remembering David Haigh, a choir member who died earlier this year.

clic on link for Pratty Flowers and Peace on Earth


Awayday - Buxworth Basin - Sept 13.3

 Buxworth, Derbyshire

Similar to the Slamannan mineral line in Central Scotland.

Dave's Notebook

Hayley Mills is 75. Her autobiography is called 'Forever Young".

The address for this blog is

During my publishing moment, the Wordpress site was Shallileybooks.



Peta Bee continues to encourage us to do something  - 'Weekend', Times Aug 21st. 

(1) Midlife fitness. (2) Getting started. (3) Best exercises for women over 40.


Overweight exercisers burn fewer calories.

So says the Universities of Roehampton and Ottawa.
There's no getting away from it guys - it's about reducing daily calorie intake.


Body and Soul, Times, Oct10, 2020.

Don't overdo the fitness
Connect with friends
Practice whatever it is that makes you calm - doesn't have to be yoga
Put the phone away
Know your core values
Have fun

Looks a simple list but how about it when you are at the top of your tree? There's more, but start with one or two.


From a 9/11 eye witness 20 years on

Heard on the Today programme, Radio4; 'Don't worry about the little things and don't forget to say I love you.'


Straight up

 store shed shelter shade

strong stalk storm surviver

uncowed honest nature 

Lost and Found near Spennymore.

North East again supporting Fartown

There's not a lot to say about Spennymore. Wetherspoon's was good. We caught the bus to Durham.

The ladies stayed in Durham. A river walk and couple of coffee/scone stops. The men went by train to Newcastle.

Bishop Aukland has seen happier times. Square is great, but little cafe life or people. Must have been vibrant once. The miner's art gallery is brilliant. Tribute to grim reality and talent.
Good coffee bar in Town Hall.

We were staying in a rural apartment in Kirk Merrington, so going to Spennymore didn't help. Rang our hostess, Sue, who we subsequently learned was at a wedding. Went to the local - no help there. Went back to where we first thought of and down a very narrow lane confronted a tractor and man cutting hedges. He knew the property, but thought we were looking for a long-term let. More confusion until we looked beyond a private gate and there was the cottage, as per brochure-photograph. Next, how to get in? Friendly hedge-cutter to the rescue. Outbuilding and hook behind the door. Perfect.
Thank goodness for hedges.

I felt a bit guilty - had I read all the instructions? Yes. Sue mailed us and all was well.

Next day, on our way out to the village, another huge truck narrow track. Backed up and let us through.

The weather was kind enough for us to sit out for drinks in the evenings.

We lost to Wakefield at the RL Magic Weekend (St James Park). We were there 60 minutes before kick-off and enjoyed the media scrum preparations as much as the game, which no longer has scrums. £5 for a tin of Coors. I think it's lager. Vietnamese snacks from corner shop round the corner. Filling but sweet dressing on bacon and sausage.

Spennymore Settlement - 'To encourage tolerant neighbourliness and voluntary social service, and give its members opportunities for increasing their knowledge, widening their interests, and cultivating their creative powers in a friendly atmosphere.'
   Started in 1930s to support a depressed community. Known as the 'pitman's academy'. Still meets regularly. Something nicer to say.

Called in at Bedale for coffee on the way home. Half hour later Pete couldn't open car door. Parked outside a flower-shop. The proprietor suggested locksmith who suggested more elbow. Success but the car alarm activated. Flower-shop lady phoned someone who suggested phone number of the garage in Leeming. Mechanic tried to solve it over the phone but needed in person.
  We all agreed that complexity breeds more stuff to go wrong. Safe home.
  Thank goodness for flower shops and their ladies.

Awayday - York

The transport revolution started as support for industry back in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Canals followed by railways and steam locomotives - steam engines that moved themselves and a load of wagons full of coal.

Then passengers.

Now romance of steam nostalgia. Apologies to the girl in the urinal.


Older people volunteer at Ossett Brewery - Forget-Me-Not children's hospice

 Our annual pilgrimage to Ossett Brewery. Only not last year for obvious reasons. Very popular. All for Forget-Me-Not. Bands as well.

Age is simply a number, isn't it?

ardent choir girls play boules

baritone hunks coolly umpire

timeless pitch and bounce 

Can you write a better third line?


Hurray for older people - August 12.1


Times Aug 7th, Rose Wild (feedback). 'Please don't call us Pensioners'. A column that receives its fair share of complaints about writing style and vocabulary. Some good things too.

Dates for receiving a pension are variable. And, strictly, this refers to the state pension. 'Retiree' is no better. 'Seniors' was an alternative suggested by Philip Burt. Officially, this refers to golfers and tennis players who no longer play in the main tournaments. 'Aged' and 'elderly' are sensitive as most over 65s are fit and well and likely to remain so for some time.

'Older people' is the least worst term.

Going back to March 2017

The Times Feedback on what to call people over 60

Times readers write to the Feedback article about house style - the right or wrong way to write; a discussion
 between them and The Times. Much in the way I use hyphens and semi-colons.

This week it was about what to call people and things of a certain age (Rose Wild, March 18th, 2017).
 'Getting a life' comes to mind. Cars' ageing classes are very precise and not to be mucked about with 
(veteran, classic and vintage). Human classification is more flexible. Experience and expertise influence 
the word used in addition to the amount of time involved. A veteran broadcaster for example may not have
 retired. Itoje, England's lock forward, is 'old beyond his years', which I think means precocious. 
The Times house style discourages 'old', 'aged' and 'elderly'. Here are some alternatives:

codger              a fish that lives underground, comes out at night and has TB
fart                    gaseous pelvic effluent or a committee member of a rugby or golf club
curmudgeon     a bird that reviews films
scrote               small, reclusive, wrinkled, unpleasant but has got balls
geriatric           mouse takes three wickets in three balls
grump              a tiger that bites your arse
grouch             exclamation when a tiger bites your arse
fogey               obscure green thing up your nose         
pensioner         he who writes letters on his mistress

We are not allowed to mention certain words but this opening 
partnership's combined ages was more than the opposition's total
    Any suggestions?


Since exploring my family history I have taken an interest in the nineteenth century and industrialisation. 
Textiles in particular. It might be assumed that industry began with factories around 1830, but mining and
making stuff like cloth predated Arkwright. Smallholdings with a loom in the front room
for example.
'The Story of Work' by Jan Lucassen reviewed Aug 7th, Times, suggests that worker productivity increased 
during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, before technological advances came in. Reasons maybe 
specialisation, protestant work ethic and wanting to buy stuff from the colonies. Cultural change too. Work 
got attached to morality and personal identity. Sadly working conditions were dire even then.
Mechanisation has not abolished work allowing leisure to take over. We want more stuff and the office is a 
social good, especially as religion and group recreations have become less attractive.
'Work is important for humans - I don't think I've ever met anyone who is able to be happy without it. 
Nevertheless we must be wary of its ever increasing conquest of our lives'.

So its a book about work - I liked the bit about work and increasing productivity predating 

Awayday - Scarborough, Filey, Castle Howard - July 30.6


I went shopping with the two ladies - food. Everything I chose and placed in the trolley went back on the shelves. Not quite true. Paella survived. 

The streets were a mess - cigarette packets, disposable lighters, weeds, grass, pigeon poo, random litter.
Private affluence, public squalor. Or, has the council run out of money or employees or both.

We nearly didn't get to Castle Howard. Road-up and diversion signs everywhere. Until we ignored them as most of the other motorists did.

Most people wore masks in shops. A few had their knobs out - why?

How is it women make an effort to be smart and colourful in the sun and blokes wear black? Shorts and matching dark socks with trainers.

Still a lot of repair work in Spa gardens. Shelters, paths, children's playground and tunnel restoration under the lift track.

Another RNLI bucket volunteer in Filey park. A lady. Doing well too - lots of folding. I mentioned our Anglesey moment down on the pier. She wasn't handing out cuddly toys though.


Dave's Ageing Notebook Curation

Rhys Blakely - Times July24th. We know there is no relationship between happiness and finance, though possibly with unhappiness at the precarious end of the spectrum. But, there is a relationship between health and wealth. More money, longer life. Twin studies from Northwestern University, Illinois.
  So poverty and shorter life-expectancy might be a genuine public health issue. Being able to afford quality foods for example.

India Knight - Sunday Times Aug 1st. About grandmothers. 'Ageing is a biological inevitability'. Illness maybe and death, but not yet. Future-worry is pointless. Joy-now. 'Who fears the present? It's a terrible use of anyone's time.' She goes on to write that 'ageing is wonderful - until at some point it isn't.' Nice?

Songs about ageing - available on Spotify
Forever young - Rhiannon Giddens, Iron and Wine
Don't Let the Old Man In - Toby Keith from the film 'The Mule'
In the Sidings - Louis Killen from 'Gallant Lads are We'