Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Sundry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sundry. Show all posts

Thursday, 2 April 2020

2 April 2020 - Wish we were here...

This should be our view at the time of posting. Sadly it isn't. But on the plus side (Big Plus) we are healthy at present.

Definitely in the sick bay though, is our wifi. I think our router may have broken. An engineer has been booked. Meanwhile, it's back to 'mobile' postings, as would have featured today in normal times. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

1 April 2020 - A Blogging Landmark

You need to click on this image to see it properly
After exactly 12½ years since its launch, this blog's page views went over the one million mark yesterday, according to Google.
So someone must be reading it! (Alright, I know some people get that many page views every day!)
It looks as if only 10-20% (30 to 50) of any day's page views relate to the current posting. The rest must arise from search engine enquiries, including images - of which there are many thousands that I've uploaded.
That does make sense, as I quite often notice reference to my own postings and images when 'searching'.
If you were interested in yesterday's 'History of Toys' posting, have a look again after tomorrow afternoon, when I will have added a few more pictures etc.
This would be a boring entry without a bit extra - how about a picture of Susan and Roy, currently under 'House Arrest' in Connecticut, on the Col de Vallonpierre (2271 metres) on .
Happy Days!

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

The History of Toys - A Project for Jessica

Click on the images for better versions
In a change to my planned (albeit fairly random) posting, here's a picture generated by a request to help my six year old granddaughter with a project she is embarking on - 'The History of Toys'.

"Could you tell her about some of the toys you had as a child?" her mum asks.

Most of the toys I've gathered for the dining room table picture are actually from Jessica's mum's generation, but others are older. The bag on the left contains wooden building bricks which could date from almost any era, I suspect. At the moment I can't find any of the small stone bricks that were my favourite toy for a while (see below, Lott's Bricks); they preceded 'Minibricks' that were eventually superseded by Lego.

Jess will spot the two train sets that she and Jacob liked to play with when they visited us, and the Woodbine dominos, made of tin, are quite old. Jigsaws and playing cards (including 'Happy Family' cards) featured highly. My favourite jigsaw was the one of Buckingham Palace, pictured below. I used to make it repeatedly. Can you spot the unopened 'Mazzle' of the Yorkshire Dales. It was sitting on the table waiting to be started, before all these other toys were added.

Meccano, Dinky Toys, and then Matchbox toys, featured at the top of my list of favoured toys in the 1950s. The Dinky and Matchbox toys stayed at my parents' house. Perhaps just a few remain under Great Grandma Dot's supervision, but I have the Meccano, together with a large set of Meccano magazines in their binders. The one from 1958 is pictured under the cribbage board.

I have lots more games and toys in the loft, but I hope this might get Jess started. If anyone else has anything, by way of memories or pictures, I'd be delighted to hear from you ([email protected]) and I'll pass on your memories etc to Jess. Thank you.
Some memories from Humphrey:
"Ah yes. Splendid stuff.
You'll recall Happy Families? We had an additional set - also by Pepys Games, published by Frederic Warne & Co  - with illustrations by the wonderfully named Angus Clifford Racey Helps. The lead attraction was the splendid Humphry Goggle. Image below.

I like to think of Mrs Croak as Humphry’s ex, left with his two tadpole children to push round in her soap box, with her splendid look of resigned determination…

My favourite, however, was a modular construction set called Brickplayer.

This was just the best - using scale bricks and a water-soluble cement you could make anything that took yr humour. My father came home with a job-lot of random Meccano (the old metal kind)* and I'd combine the two.

I remember one time - I must've been around 12 - when an acquaintance of my father called by and remarked "I see your son is still playing with dolls-houses". "Actually", replied my father, "It's an architectural model"

"Thanks, Dad", said I.

Years later I found that two architect friends had started their journey in the same way. The great thing about both Brickplayer and Meccano was that they weren't toys. They got you into some serious engineering."

Thanks Humphrey...
I've also found some of the favourite toys from my early years in the mid 1950s:

These Lott's brick were my absolute favourite.

* I have lots of that.
My friend Conrad has provided the following input:
"Not many toys about when I was young (born 1939) - later with my own offspring - Etch-a-Sketch, Millenium Falcon, A plastic tree house, Muffin the Mule. I will try and remember some more."

Friday, 13 March 2020

Before they went grey!

Just a bit of light relief from 48 years ago. All still going strong except for BVN 406B.
I shared a flat in Chatham Grove with Anna and Jacqui; Paul (aka 'Angus') and Julie were across the road with John Clark, who probably took this photo.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Happy New Year!


Sue and I enjoyed the hospitality and good company of Lyn and Robert, Chris and Gerry, and Louise, for an excellent meal and a smidgeing of partying to see the New Year in.

Luckily, I only took two photos – the top one just as the starter arrived, and the one below - taken just after I had served the fish course (Robert was busy in the kitchen tending to his duck legs). My duties over, I relaxed into a state in which no further pictures were taken by me.


Robert’s group photo taken towards the end of the evening is included below.


Friday, 15 June 2018

Blue Moon and Flying Pigs Spotted over Belgium


Amongst his ‘Fitbit Friends’ Mick B. can appear to be the laziest of us all, generally providing the weaker participants the comfort of knowing that they will never be at the bottom of the pile.

Mick is in Belgium at present, accompanying Gayle on what appears to be a knitting trip*. It looks to me as if he has had to escape from the balls of wool and inadvertently clock a few steps. 113,225 over seven days, even!

Not even the usually prolific Sue B. has managed to keep up with Mick!

Was that a flying pig I just saw? No, it’s our swifts coming in laden with insects…Oh dear, I think I might be losing the plot here.

*Gayle’s Knitting Trip

“After my success with crocheting blankets and knitting socks, I wondered if I could knit a jumper. Feeling ridiculously chuffed not so much with the successful end result, but with the fact that I just managed to uncast-off half the cuff, drop four stitches down six rows and pick them back up to correct an error, thus saving me from having to rip it all the way back and reknit.”


With apologies to Mick and Gayle; Gayle’s stupendously fine blog can be found here. Or even here.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

8 to 10 April 2017 – Heather’s Birthday Weekend


Whilst I dashed off a few quick postings during the weekend, I’m now back at home with time to process the (few) photos and add a bit of detail.

Before wending my way up the roads north to Newtonmore and my abode for the weekend, pictured above, I’d arranged to meet Jayme in Lancaster for their parkrun. He kindly ran with me, though I suspect our chatting may have slowed me a little!

The run is based in Williamson Park, starting next to the Ashton Memorial, an Edwardian Baroque folly built between 1907 and 1909 by millionaire industrialist Lord Ashton in memory of his second wife, Jessy, at a cost of over £80,000 (equivalent to £7.5 million in 2015).

The course is unrelentingly undulating. My Garmin measured 64 metres of ascent. This compares with 74 metres in Haigh Woodland, and 110 metres in Lyme Park, which remains the toughest parkrun that I’ve done. Lancaster looked as if it would take well over 25 minutes until it came to an unexpected finish after 4.7 km according to my Garmin! Perhaps a loss of reception in the trees caused the gadget to assume a short cut or two…


The route, which involves two hilly laps, is shown below. There’s a good café next to the memorial, so Jayme and I could relax and in my case recover (Jayme didn’t need to – he is super fit after last Sunday’s Manchester Marathon) and look forward to forthcoming trips to Mallorca (he’s there now) with anticipation.

The parkrun results are here. Interestingly, first to finish by some margin was an 11-14 year old girl. Well done to her.


Nearly everyone in Heather’s party arrived in Newtonmore at about the same time on Saturday afternoon. Some dog walking took place before we enjoyed a fairly lavish supper at the hostel, comprising various delicacies brought along by those attending.

(Note for Sue: the Thai crab cakes went down well – there will be another batch in a couple of weeks…)

Sunday looked as if it would provide the best weather of the weekend, so I eschewed the short social walk on offer and took my bike to Dalnacardoch for a 9 km ride beside Edendon Water to Sronphadruig Lodge. Here’s the view towards my first hill, An Dun, from a bridge about half way up the glen.


The bike was abandoned next to the fenced in remains of Sronphadruig Lodge. The walk up An Dun is straightforward but steep, directly up the nose in the centre of the picture.


There are two summits, the first appearing, about 30 metres from a cairn, to be a little higher at 827 metres. But the north top is also 827 metres and a recent survey concludes that both summits are to all intents and purposes the same height. I went to all the candidates for ‘highest point’. Here’s the view to Maol Creag an Loch from the north summit.


Rain was forecast later, but the weather held for me – it was a bit grey, but there were sunny periods and reasonable views as I descended carefully down the steep slopes towards the lodge, which is to the left of the river in this picture.


Lunch was taken in a sheltered spot below Maol Creag an Loch. There were good views beyond An Dun towards the sunlit Carn na Caim area above Dalwhinnie.


The cairn on top of Maol Creag an Loch does appear to be located at its 876 metre summit, from where An Dun appears as an insignificant foreground ridge in the view towards the Munro summits to the east of the A9 near Dalwhinnie.


There are thin trods going to both An Dun and Maol Creag an Loch summits, the latter being a little longer but much easier and perhaps a little quicker. Back at Sronphadruig, a small tent that I’d passed on the way up was still securely sealed; its owner was presumably using it as a base for a longer walk.


Here’s my 12.5 km walking route, including about 800 metres ascent, and taking a little under 4 hours including breaks. The 18 km cycle ride isn’t shown – it took an hour to cycle in and half an hour to cycle back down to Dalnacardoch, 9 km each way, saving a couple of hours compared with walking.


Later, another ad hoc meal, mainly courtesy of Heather. Delicious.


Monday was Heather’s birthday, celebrated with lots of cards and presents, and a magnificent cake with at least five differently flavoured layers, lovingly constructed by her mum. There were lots of rock bands to negotiate.


After a leisurely morning, the group of 15 went to the ‘Zip Trek Park’ near Aviemore. It was a 2 km walk up to the start of the ‘experience’, before which we were all harnessed, helmeted and gloved.


With two guides and 15 clients, the 14 zip wires took a little time to negotiate and some of the adults were cool and hungry by the end. There was only one significant injury – a possible broken finger when the zip was a bit too zippy and bounced back over someone’s wayward finger.

Some techniques were better than others. ‘Sit back and relax with your feet straight ahead’ seemed to be the best method.


The last wire was the longest at a little over 300 metres (I would guess). It was marginal as to whether we would do it due to the wind, but whilst it was a bit breezy and squally, it was easy enough. David was the last man down, seen here being caught by Dave from ‘G2’, with Dave’s mate operating a brake that saved David from bouncing against his spectacles like he had done earlier. He may have a black eye from that ‘flesh wound’.


We soon recovered from any mild hypothermia and the many dogs were satisfactorily abluted before we headed to the Letterbox Restaurant for an excellent tasty meal.


Tuesday brought indifferent weather in Newtonmore, so after a visit with Sue O to Ali and Adrian, and an otherwise leisurely morning after a late night, I stashed everything in Polly and pottered back to Timperley. Where the sun was shining and warm.

Thanks go to Heather for organising this most pleasurable weekend.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Monday 10 April 2017 - A Birthday Party at a Zip Wire

Heather's birthday:

Celebrated with a very interesting cake and fifteen people who visited a series of 14 zip wires.

Sue would have loved it. I think most of us enjoyed it, but unfortunately a finger (not mine) was damaged.

Anyway, the Letterbox Restaurant provided a fine antidote, with excellent food and wine.

Thanks Heather.

(A summary of the weekend, with a few more images, will follow.) 

Monday, 20 June 2016

Edwina's Tea Party

Susan, over here from Connecticut, and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon yesterday in Over Haddon, where Edwina was sharing her experience at The Palace with her friends, relatives, and some of the many people who support her in the various charity work that led to her much merited award.

Congratulations again, Eddie, on your MBE, and thank you for the splendid afternoon tea. 

(Sorry about the paucity of meaningful photos.)

Friday, 18 March 2016

How to Retain an Audience?


You need a good story. They woke up when I started to tell them about my appearance in Private Eye…

Monday, 24 November 2014

A Christmas Present for AlanR?


I feel the need for a ‘lighter moment’ after faffing with a final observation on the TGO ‘Outdoor Blogger’ Award, which went to rather a strange ‘entry’. My observations are appended to this posting, with Alan Sloman no doubt providing further comments via the links provided within those notes. All rather unsatisfactory, but I for one am moving on.

AlanR may indeed like this for Christmas. It’s very much suited to the outdoors, but what is it, where is it and how old is it?

November 27 - You'll see from the comments that AlanR is more skilled at identifying tractors than the people who thought they knew what this one was...!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

‘A Pyrenean Adventure’ in New Zealand


I’m indebted to my old friend Geoffrey for this picture of Ruth with ‘A Pyrenean Adventure’ in Wellington, New Zealand. This certainly gets the award for the best travelled copy of the book. There aren’t many left, and rather than advertise them for sale, I’m slowly disposing of them to people who ‘really want a copy’.

The whole experience of producing and distributing the book was so pleasurable that I’d like to do another one. You’ll be one of the first to receive a copy, Ruth.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Moving On


When I first came to Manchester in 1967 I spent a couple of hours every Saturday afternoon at a place called Maine Road, where some mainly local lads (many still live in the area) kicked a football around with great theatre and skills.

The alternative to visiting the old stadium was listening to the roar of the crowd from my nearby lodgings, so it was better to be part of the event than to be on the fringe of it.

Once I moved away from the immediate vicinity of Maine Road, and the game seemed to me to be less attractive to watch, I slowly lost interest.

A new stadium was built for the Commonwealth Games, held in Manchester in 2002, the magnificent City of Manchester Stadium.  It was brilliant, and our visits to watch the athletics were memorable.

Since then the stadium has been adapted for other purposes and is currently known by the name of a foreign sponsor. Last week I received the kind offer of a pass into the stadium for a prestigious event.  I was curious to visit and made my way to the evening match.  The vantage point was excellent.  I watched for an hour and a quarter as some (mainly) foreigners in blue passed a white ball to some other foreigners in red, who then passed it amongst themselves and occasionally kicked it past the blue people into a net, before graciously handing it back to the blues to repeat the performance.  There was a large contingent of very red and very noisy supporters at one end of the stadium.  The rest were silent and blue. (And masochists?)

I wasn’t the only person to leave early.  I shan’t be going again.


Thursday, 3 October 2013

Trentham Gardens – 8 August 2013

Trentham Gardens - 6 August 2013

Yesterday I sorted through some pictures taken whilst I was in the Pyrenees.  Sue must have sneaked off to Trentham Gardens when she should have been working, and she hasn’t got round to downloading her photos until now.

There’s no evidence as to whether she went alone, or in company, but there is evidence of the visit…

0602Trentham20603Trentham30604Trentham40605Trentham5Trentham Gardens - 6 August 2013Trentham Gardens - 6 August 2013Trentham Gardens - 6 August 2013Trentham Gardens - 6 August 2013

Meanwhile, I was in the Pyrenees amongst herds of izard, flailing along the switchbacks of the Noufonts ridge.