totes amazeballs (as I believe they say)


Pete and I nipped (or popped) over to Beverley this week, to pick up a couple of things from the Lakeland store.  We parked at the top of Wednesday market, photographed above, but on the other side. Strictly speaking, it’s for pedestrians, but there are always cars there, and we knew we wouldn’t be long.

We popped (or nipped) into Boyes for a quick gander on the way back to the car, then Pete whizzed off to Marks for something (oh, OK, then – for a wee). And as I loitered outside the fishmongers, I saw him.

Cue shrieking violins, Psycho style. Only a blimmin’ traffic warden. With notebook in one hand, and pen in the other. “Is this your car?”, he quoth, and I confessed it was, and said  “there were lots of cars here when we parked”. He pointed out there weren’t now, probably because they saw him coming. And then he asked if I were about to move, and I said “oh yes”, and he said “off you go, then”. Boggle.

Thankfully, I had a car key, and got in as slowly as I could, as Pete was still, presumably, in the M&S facilities, but he hove into view quite quickly, and I gesticulated madly. And we made our escape!

And I thought the days of nice parking wardens were gone …

immersion therapy

breaking bad meth lab

I’m currently watching Breaking Bad every spare moment I have. I only discovered it a couple of weeks ago, and am completely desperate to catch up on Netflix so I can watch the final episode when everyone else does. I’ll be writing more on the subject when it’s finished, but I made these comments on a Facebook thread, and wanted to record them for posterity. Or, at least, as an aide memoire 🙂

  • No idea. If you like beautifully plotted stuff, with extraordinary character development. moments of sheer laugh out loud black comedy, beautiful and clever direction and cinematography, and acting from some people which is peerless, then watch it. It is extraordinary television.
  • I loathe explicit violence in films, and avoid ones with it in. There is, of course, violence in BB – given the nature of its subject matter, that’s unavoidable. But I don’t find it gratuitous, or overly gory or drawn out. Oh, and I find it challenging, intellectually – my emotions are drawn hither and thither. It’s brilliantly plotted, written and performed.

For years and years, I have held that The West Wing is the best television ever made. BB has knocked it off its perch. Watch it.

p.s. Every home should have a Lego crystal meth lab. Even the mother of my 6 year old grandson said so.

a weekend with family


Clare (daughter) and Harry (GrandToad) came up to spend a few days with us. They arrived on Friday, and after settling in and having some lunch, we took ourselves off to our local Pearson Park; we’re lucky enough to live just over 5 minutes walk from there. We took the scooter we bought for Harry a few months ago, and which lives here. He’s now just about grown into it, so he scooted all over the place, and then we headed for the playground, and he spotted … THE ZIP WIRE. So he had several goes on that, aided and abetted by GrandPete, while his mum hid her eyes 🙂  Then home, for shower, Mars Attacks with GrandPete, then lamb curry and bed.


On Saturday, Rackaback were dancing out at the Hull Folk Festival, in the company of the Raving Maes, Makara and the Thieving Magpies.Now, Harry loves watching Rackaback, and is a good little musician, so we asked him if he’d like to play with the band during the day. He said he’d wear the (little) tatter jacket that Debby made, but he didn’t want a hat, or face paint, so we said sorry – them’s the rules. And he caved 🙂 He played tambourine for every one of the dances, and also went round with our collecting bucket, standing in front of  people, pretty much demanding money with cuteness – we’ve never raised so much! I think the side would like to have him there at every dance out! It was a long day for him, but he never flagged, bless him. We went home to sausages and baked spuds, and an early night for all of us 🙂


On Sunday, we took Clare and Harry to the National Armouries at Leeds, which is just a fabulous place to visit. My daughter and grandson have clearly inherited my love of sharp shiny things, and we were all most covetous. I really, really want the horned helmet given to Henry VIII by Maximilian I, but I doubt they’d let me have it. Really, an hour down the motorway and free entry made this an excellent value day out, and we shall go again. Very highly recommended. We came home to a picky tea of bits and pieces, Galaxy Quest and then, when Harry had gone to bed, a glass of wine. Which turned into four (I think) bottles between three of us, dodgy 80s music on the Apple TV and, I’m sorry to say, dancing during the later hours.



Clare and Harry set off for home on Monday rather later than they had planned, due to Not Feeling Very Well. Pete and I took the GrandToad back to the park for a bit to give her some peace, and fed him a chocolate ice cream, then after lunch off they want.

A lovely weekend with family, doing things we love with good friends – what’s not to like?

However, this horrible coldy thing I’ve got came back with a vengeance during the afternoon yesterday, I couldn’t speak, my throat was closed up. Went to bed at 8, as I was falling asleep on the sofa. And this week I need to crack on with my Breaking Bad obsession, as the final episode is looming, and I must catch up!

a small victory

I still haven’t related the Thaga of the Thaab. It blew up in an embarrassing fashion when we were on our way to Malton on 19th April with a bunch of Morris Dancers as passengers (we were going to perform at the Malton Folk Festival). The oil light came on just as we came into Wetwang (yes, that’s a real place), and within two minutes, the engine … stopped.

We were in a sort of convoy, and two more Rackacars pulled in very shortly. The Morrisers, myself included, were distributed and squashed into them, and Pete remained behind to await the RAC man. Who pronounced the head gasket gone, and organised a recovery back to Hull. To cut a long story short, the garage said about £850 to fix, plus at least another £200 to get the car through the impending MOT. So we decided to scrap it. The local yard offered us £250, and then one of the mechanics at the garage said he’d give us the scrap value, and fix it for his dad, so we did that, and the last time I called in at the garage (see below) the Thaab had gone. Fixed. Which is really nice. Especially as we’d bought it three new tyres and had the tailgate fixed three weeks before it died [snarl].

Still, such is the way of things if you do what we do – buy old cars, and run them until they’re too expensive to repair. So for its replacement, we asked advice, and everyone said “get a Mondeo”. So we did – a diesel estate, 2002 (first car we’ve ever owned with a new-fangled numberplate), automatic, and Ghia, so bells and whistles. 140k on the clock. And Just In Case, I purchased a six month warranty for £100 from the dealer. For various and complicated reasons, we didn’t pick up this car till mid May, so I thought I might be safe until November.

The last couple of times we’ve been out in it, the speedo and odometer stopped displaying, but pulling in and rebooting <g> fixed it. And we thought “must get that looked at”, and would then forget about it. And the car only goes out about once a fortnight.

On Saturday we went and put some diesel in at the Great Satan, Tesco. We don’t shop at Tesco, but a friend gave us a voucher for 5p a litre off, and it seemed rude not to avail ourselves of the opportunity to cost them a few pennies. As we drove away from there, along Hall Road, the speedo went again, so Pete pulled in to restart it. And … nothing. Silence. Not even a click. He unplugged and replugged the battery. Still nothing. We called the RAC.

They turned up pretty quickly, and diagnosed a dead alternator. So he charged up the battery, and followed us back to the garage to ensure we got there safely. Nice Greg the Garage was there, and quoted us £230 to fix it. Given we’ve just paid a huge vet bill for Lilith, this was not in any way good news. And then I remember The Warranty!

So,, phone call to the insurance company on Monday. Could I please get the garage to phone them with details? I could. They did. Could I please get the dealer who sold it to me to fax proof of service? I could. They did. I rang them again on Tuesday – they’re paying the claim! Which means, for the first time in my almost sixty years, I am making no loss on an insurance claim, and am actually £130 ahead! A small yay!, I think. But I don’t have the money yet …

correspondence with my MP

Sorry – not much to relate here, apart from the very sad saga of Lilith being hit by a car and losing a leg 🙁 Full details at the cats’ site, if you care to read.

However, I did have cause to use the excellent Write to Them site recently, to contact the illustrious Diana Johnson MP, Labour Member of Parliament for Hull North. I was somewhat vexed with the plan to increase MPs’ salaries, and wanted to know if she would be accepting the pay rise.


I would be most interested to hear your views on IPSA’s recommendation that MPs’ pay should be increased., and whether you will be accepting this rise.

You may be unsurprised to find that I personally, like the vast majority of voters, think it is outrageous.

Yours sincerely


Waffle, waffle, waffle, IPSA set up by parliament, up to them not us, blah blah blah.


With the greatest respect, you have not answered my questions.
a) Do you think a rise for MPs is justified in the current climate?
b) Will you be accepting this rise?
Neither of these have anything at all to do with IPSA. A pay rise does not have to be accepted if offered, or it could be donated to a suitable charity. How about Hull Food Bank, for instance?

The whole point of giving the independent body IPSA the role of setting pay levels, was that MPs no longer set their own pay and should not seek to interfere with, exert pressure on or undermine the independence of IPSA’s work. That is why I will not make comments in the media and have not taken part in IPSA’s consultation on the matter. Of course I hope that IPSA take full account of the likely economic backdrop for 2015, when their pay recommendation is due to take effect. I am sure that members of the public will make these views clear to IPSA in the consultation that IPSA have started on their proposals.

Regarding your comments about donations to local charities, I already donate to many local charities in Hull. I’m actually the patron of a number of them. Indeed, I took a donation to the Endike Food Bank in Hull North only this morning. Whatever IPSA’s final decision about pay for post-2015, and we’ll see the final figures when they report, I will continue to support local charities.

I guess she’ll be taking the rise, then. I’d have been much happier if she’d just said “yes”, instead of giving me all the flannel.



at the sign of the Broken Drum

Mediaeval Drum


We found ourselves in the vicinity of Shipley on 16 May, and it’s only down the road from Saltaire, the home of the Early Music Shop, a highly dangerous emporium. I only went in for a look, honest, but I wanted a drum to bang with the Morris side and …

We had a small bash of pretty much every drum in the place, and this seemed the best – nice tone, manageable size. I bought a case, and the chap threw in a pair of small drumsticks, as he said the ones supplied with it would be too big, and away we went.

It went to two practices, and one dance out (in Doncaster, last Saturday), and on what was probably its eleventh tune, the hide split. I wasn’t playing it at the time, someone else was, so perhaps it hadn’t been treated with the respect that I had; but anyway, broken it was, and it seemed to me that it should have lasted slightly longer than two weeks’ worth of very light use.

So yesterday Pete and I hopped on a train to Saltaire, via Leeds (at £45 I reckon it was cheaper than paying diesel and parking, and it’s also far nicer to sit on a train then swelter in a car). I took the drum into EMS, and they went “crikey” (yes, really – I didn’t think anyone said things like that, except in a post modern, ironic way), and said that they could replace the skin, but “not today”. And I said that would be fine, take as long as they like, but I want another drum to take away, given that I’d come 70-odd miles with it. So they quite happily gave me another, and apologised a lot, and it was all good.

We then went and had lunch in Don’t Tell Titus (what sort of poncey name is that, FFS? – one, presumably, that might just possibly justify the price of *£4.30* for a bottle of locally brewed beer. And there was artisan bread too). Still the food was nice.

We had about 90 minutes to kill before the train from Leeds, and I really didn’t fancy walking along the main road to Shipley, but we discovered a really nice walk along the canal, part of the Airedale Way, so we ambled down that to Shipley station, and got on a Leeds train. We had about half an hour to kill there, and we foolishly bought – and ate – a large bag of Minstrels. Horrible sweet stuff, don’t know why we did it. And then we got the train back to Hull, and walked home. I clocked up 16.5k steps through the course of the day. Lovely weather too – sunny, but not too hot.

And now I have a new drum; lets see how long this one survives 🙂

iFit – possibly the worst web site in the world

I bought a new treadmill, as regular readers will know. I chose a model with iFit technology, because it seemed like a really nice idea to plot runs on Google maps and then let the treadmill deal with the ups and downs – more like outdoor running, but without the weather, and the mad people.

The iFit on my Proform came in the form of a wireless module; I plugged it into a USB port, told it which of the wireless routers in the house to use (why yes – we have two), created an account on and off we went.

I do honestly think it is the worse web site implementation I have ever seen. Firstly, you cannot stay logged in. WTF? And the way they have implemented the login procedure means that you cannot save the login details, so every day, I have to type in my e-mail address and password.

Secondly, the treadmill is not uploading workouts I have done. I would search the FAQs, but they are useless. I could search what is laughingly called the “Community” section, which seems, as far as I can see, to mix up every single user’s individual workouts with support queries, complaints, etc, has no search facility, and is on one of those tedious “get to the bottom and I’ll load some more of this stuff for you” type pages. So there seems to be no easy way to find answers to any questions you might have.

It took me a while to work out how to enter a workout manually (see above – I thought it would upload it) – and when you do, the data entry form is in a popover window, which closes and throws away your content if you move away from the browser tab.

One of the things you’re supposed to be able to do is to track your progress on an iPad or laptop while you’re running a route. I have no idea how to do this – can find no way. There’s an iPhone app, which has an option to “view workout in progress”. However, I was unsurprised to find that this opens Safari, which attempts (and fails) to load a malformed URL – http://api.ifit.comundefinedliveworkout/51430c3f62ab173c0f00012e. Also, on the subject of the iPhone app, it picks up the data you have on the web site, but interestingly, the stats are all out by 24 hours; everything is shown a day earlier than it took place. Even though the History on the same app is on the right day.

Thankfully, I got a year’s subscription thrown in with the treadmill – if I’d paid for this service, I’d be even more enraged than I am now. I do web development for a living, and I have often advised clients not to put the shiny Web 2 (or 3, or whatever we’re up to) in front of the functionality of a site; iFit have a massive fail here, and it’s a real shame.

“But what about the treadmill itself”, you ask. And it’s fine, apart from two maddening things: firstly, it has a nice slowdown feature which, over five minutes, takes the incline back to 0, and the speed down to about 3km per hour. But in so doing it, it replaces the time elapsed with the countdown time, so you need to make a note of when you started (of course if the workout upload worked, this would be less of an issue). And it is all in km – except the ascent, which is in feet. So if I want to add that to the iFit site manually (yes, I know), then I have to convert it to metres, which is what they use. And in whizzing across to another browser window, I lost all my data.

I despair, really – can’t they afford a UI person?

general update

Health improving, weight going down. Today am 65.9kgs.  eBay treadmill died after only two months, but nothing to be done. It would work only at either 3.2kmph (manageable, but boring), or 16kmph (not manageable at all), and no incline, so I waiting till BigClient paid BigInvoice and bought a new one. Old one was Freegled, to a chap who really looked as though he wouldn’t be able to get it out of the car, never mind use it, but there you go.

Running at 6.5kmph was quite a shock to my system! and I’ve decided to return now to proper C25K – I’m on week 5, and and managed the 8 minutes OK, but I don’t want to overdo it.

We have been to see Show of Hands in Batley, Bill Bailey in Hull, and are seeing Julian Clary in Hull on Thursday. Yesterday was “sort out the back yard” day, but the sun shone and you know .. so we hopped a train to Bempton and walked along the cliffs. Absolutely lovely. Route here.

Last weekend we went down to Norfolk to visit Daughter and GrandToad. Unfortunately her new chap was struck by a lurgy, and got worse and worse as the Eurovision party proceeded, culminating in firstly a paramedic, and then an ambulance which bore them both away to the hospital. Thankfully it turned out to be a chest infection rather than a cardiac wossname, but still – worrying, and meant nobody really slept, as they didn’t get back until 5.45 a.m. On the Sunday, Clare had a gig in Sheringham, so we all poled up there – we Toadsat while the band did their thing, mooched around the town, Pete got new slippers, Toad got Hotbox toys, all good. Lovely time. On the Monday we had a hike round Blakeney Point (one of my favourite places *in the world), then a wander round Hunstanton, where a lovely shiny red satchel bag was obtained (who’d have thought it? In Hunstanton!?).

So that’s it for that, really. Posts about cars and Morrising coming up. Soon, I promise.

a weekend in Scarborough

Scarborough at dusk

We currently have no car, for reasons I won’t go into here – that’s the subject of another post. So with the bank holiday weekend looming, and both Pete and myself desperately in need of a break, I did a bit of Googling and a bit of organising, and we took ourselves to Scarborough on the train. It’s dead easy from Hull – no changes, and £18 odd for a 5 day open return. So we picked up the 9.47 on Saturday morning, having collected coffee from the station shop to accompany the scones I’d brought for breakfast, and chugged our way north.

When we arrived, we checked into the Admiral guest house in West Square, just opposite the station. The proprietor put us in a room on the top floor – a long way up, with pigeons scuttling and scrabbling; quite Hitchcockian. But clean, comfortable, and £49 a night B’n’B. And an excellent breakfast to boot, and free wifi.

NomThen we caught a bus to Whitby – £6.90 return each. The double decker struggled with some of the hills, to the point where we wondered whether we might all have to get out and push, but we made it. We wandered all over the town (but not up to the Abbey because of my Knees), had a toasted sandwich in the George, while we wanted the last half of the Hull promotion excitement, had (well, *I* had), gin and lavender ice cream (yes, it was; it was sublime), and generally a good time. Then we caught the bus back, had Greek food in the George Michael in Scarborough (I kid you not) and a bottle of red, and then wandered down to the harbour, and had quite a lot more to drink in the Golden Ball. Which meant that I floated back up all the steps on a cloud of red wine 🙂

On Sunday, we had planned to take the train to Filey and walk back, but my stomach threw one of it’s very occasional wobbles (down to medication, I think), and decided that being too far from a loo was less than optimal. And that walk is 10 miles … So we ambled around Filey, had coffee in the Bronte Vinery, ate a Trek flapjack for lunch, and then I felt a bit better, so we decided to try the walk. But I only managed about 4km before exhaustion overcame me, so we walked across Blue Dolphin caravan park and called a taxi. Which took ages, but arrived eventually.

Went back to the hotel and had a couple of hours kip, then we went to the Hong Kong chinese restaurant, which looked like a throw back to the 80s, but whose food was surprisingly nice. Lamb in yellow bean sauce, salt and pepper pork, and 8 way duck. And then a very early night, as we were both exhausted.

Monday was Scarborough day – we walked about 8 miles, and my Fitbit says we climbed 60 flights. All the way from the station to North Bay, up the hill to the castle, and round said castle (well worth a fiver, believe me), then down through old town, fish and chips on the sea front (which was *heaving*, then down to South Bay about as far as you can go before you leave the town and back up the hill again.

4.30 train home, which was busy from Scarborough, but Bridlington station was awash with travellers – cannot understand why Northern Rail didn’t put another carriage on, as lots of people had to stand. And a taxi back to the house, because we could. Absolutely lovely weekend.

So a few days without the car were, in fact, better than with, given where we were. Scarborough parking is difficult to find, and expensive, and public transport round there is reasonably plentiful and not too expensive. But I wouldn’t like to be without a car all the time – roll on next week.

However, we will be investigating various rail options for future weekends away, because, to be honest, I’d rather sit on a train than in a car these days, and it makes you think about what to do and where to go.

More photos here at Flickr.

a brisk walk

Bridlington north beach


The weather here has been very cold, but we have been spared most of the snow that has fallen on a lot of the rest of the country; we had some flurries on Thursday, but nothing was laying for long. So we decided to go up to Flamborough on Saturday, and do the cliff top walk between North and South Landings.

“You’re mad”, they cried, ‘It’s blowing a gale” and one friend informed us that the wind was at 38 mph, but it was blowing onshore, so that was alright. We were undaunted.

I vaguely recalled that I had bought some thinsulate trousers ages ago and had a rummage for them. They’d never been worn, and bore a label stating them to be a 12/14, so I wasn’t hopeful, but I got them on. I did them up! I added thinsulate gloves and hat, thick socks, walking boots, a ski polo neck, a fleece, a 3-in-1 jacket, and a snood. I was ready. Pete donned a similar amount of clothing and off we went.

We parked in Flamborough village, opened the car doors, and … oof. The wind was amazingly strong, and so so cold. We battled towards the headland, but as soon as we got out of the relative shelter of the houses, it got worse. We battled back to the car and went to South Landing. Walked down to the beach (tide was in, of course), then up the steps to the cliff top. As soon as we got out into the open there, it was hopeless; it didn’t feel safe to walk at all. And I had to keep clutching my hat, because I thought it was going to blow off. So I suppose we did about 2.5km bimbling about there. Then we went to North Landing and had a bacon buttie, because otherwise the day might have been considered a failure.

And then we thought we’d go into Bridlington – got to be better there, we thought. It wasn’t. We got a nice ex-foliation thanks to the sand particles in the air, the spume was blowing everywhere, and the waves were very high. So we battled down the sea front for ¼ mile or so and back again, and then came home, lit a fire and drank tea. I’d had the foresight to put a chicken in the slow cooker (yes, a whole one – it really works), so dinner was done when we got in too.

Nice to get out, really.

In passing, I’d done 6.5km on the treadmill before breakfast, and apparently I climbed the Seattle Space Needle (you think I’d have noticed, really).