a wheel at each corner

The gas struts in the Saab’s tailgate failed, oh, in December, I think. Or possibly November. It was mildly inconvenient, but not hugely so, and after a bit we got round to buying some replacements online. Then we realised we didn’t actually know how to fit them, so we bought a Haynes book of lies. And then we were a bit  nervous of doing it, and kept putting it off.

When I put the old treadmill up for sale, I blithely said “will deliver within 20 miles for petrol money”. And then we realised that it would be well nigh impossible to get the treadmill into the car without a third person (or a prehensile tail, or a trunk), as the tailgate had to be held up. So I phoned the local garage and asked if they could do it, and they said “of course, pop it round – it’ll only take a couple of minutes”. So we decided to pop it round late morning today, and have lunch on Newland Ave. We got in the  car, drove 25 yards up the road and realised it was making a sound it shouldn’t, and not driving as it should. Pulled in, and front off side tyre flat as a pancake. And as it had been filled less than 2 weeks before, that was a bit of a worry.

Pete footpumped enough air into it to get us to the garage on Prinny Ave, then he filled it with their airline, and checked all the others too. One was OK, but two others weren’t great. So we trundled down Springbank to the tyre man, who took them all off, and pronounced three out of four knackered. £207. thankyouverymuch. And when they’d fitted them, the car wouldn’t start. Dead as the proverbial dodo. Seems that the battery was pretty flat, and the five starts in ¼ mile was too much for it (outside the house, further up our street, garage for airline, parking at the tyre shop, and then (not) coming out of the workshop). The battery was completely dead. They jumpstarted it, and suggested we took the car for a long run, but I felt safer buying a new battery. Another £76. Sigh.

Then we drove to Richmond Street, where they realised that they couldn’t do the gas struts, because they had to take the roof lining out (I could have told them that), so it has to be booked in, and they couldn’t tell me how much because the boss wasn’t in, so I’ll have to phone them tomorrow.

We did finally get to Newland for lunch at about 2.15. Bacon sandwich and coffee, not really what I was hoping for 🙂

a trip to Sheffield

We took ourselves off to Sheffield for the first weekend in March; we had tickets to see the splendid Richard Thompson, so I booked a hotel room. Sadly, I booked the hotel room (non-refundable, non-cancellable) while I was recovering from flu, and booked it for the wrong bloody night; Friday instead of Saturday. So we said “soddit”, and booked Saturday as well, meaning we could have a wander around Sheffield.

Serendipitously, there was a stack of Morris dancing going on during Saturday, so we wandered around watching that, pausing only for me to have my iPhone nicked in a cafe bar at lunchtime. I’m always so careful with it, but it was on the table, someone came over with a stack of leaflets, trying to sell me something, and he nabbed the phone under cover of the literature. I was displeased, and had to spend the afternoon talking to Sheffield plod and changing passwords (thankfully I actually had my iPad with me, which I usually don’t).

Anyhoo, Richard was wonderful, we had supper first with Tim and Ali Biller (not seen Tim for about 11 years, we think, and had never met Ali), and on Sunday we went to meet KITTINS! at Fran’s, and also ate far too much brunch there, and had a lovely time with Doug, Julia, Jim and Carrie.

While on giggage, we also went to see Martin Simpson this week at our local folk bar. I have no idea how I’ve never encountered him before, but he was absolutely splendid.

Incidentally, I’d never had flu before, and it it’s all the same to you, I don’t want it again, thanks. Pete had it too, and was about two days behind me, so we had a week off work, then a second week at half strength, as it took some getting over. And this damn snow can sod off too.


As part of my new and absolute determination to get my weight under some sort of control, I have bought a treadmill from eBay. It wasn’t easy to shoehorn it into the house, but we’ve done it; it helps that it folds up. I’ve made a little nest on one of the bookshelves where my iPad keyboard/stand can sit, and am embarking on The Sopranos while I run.

Early on Saturday morning, I gave it its first real go – and did 4.1 miles in 58 minutes. Not, I think, to be sniffed at.  And then, because it was such a gorgeous day, Pete and I decided to go up and have a yomp at Flamborough. In fact, we turned off to the car park at Danes Dyke, and did the circular walk there. I managed the *exceedingly* steep steps down to the beach, and actually sprang up some of the ups, so I’m definitely getting fitter. There were snowdrops, and primroses, and even a handful of early daffodils; spring is definitely on the way. And there was mud. The bridle path was impassible if you didn’t have hooves and long legs, or at least proper boots, which I didn’t – I was wearing my wonderful Easy Walker boots, which are the most comfortable thing I own. But their grip is not as good as a proper walking boot. Sadly and painfully) I have plantar fascitis in my left foot, and these give me brilliant support, but I cannot get orthotic insoles into my leather hiking boots, so they’re a no go at the moment.

We also walked down to Flamborough village, and had a very nice bacon and brie baguette; well, I did – Pete had a tuna and cheese confection. All in all about 5.5 miles, I think. Map should be embedded below, but is here for those whose browsers are being difficult.

On the way home, we stopped at Hornsea Freeport, which was once a factory producing the glorious Hornsea pottery, and is now a raft of outlet shops, and had a look at walking boots for me that would both accommodate the necessary insole, and allow mud traversal. Bought a pair of Egret boots from Mountainwarehouse, and wore them all round the house yesterday (after I’d returned from a 3m round trip to Aldi, long way via Pearson Park :), and they seem perfect. There are loads of lovely walks round here, so I’ll get the use out of them.

And we watched Submarine, which is utterly wonderful. I commend it to you.

Family Reunions

Due to one of those extraordinary chains of coincidences, we found ourselves in that London this weekend, attending a gig (m’lud) at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. A few months ago, while I was out on an early morning constitutional, my iPhone threw up a track by Family, a long lost band, split up in 1973, who I adored at the time, and still play regularly to this day. I’m a member of a Facebook group where people post music tracks that they love, so I YouTube’d for this one, and posted it. Then I thought “wonder what the hell they’re all doing now”, and Googled. And found they were doing a 40th anniversary concert on 1st Feb. After a brief discussion with ‘im indoors (yes, we are going), tickets were bought for gig and trains, and a hotel booked.

We wondered whether they could still do it. Trust me. They could. We managed to grab a space at the back of the standing room, up some steps, with a rail to grab on when required (it was), so we had a great view, and room to boogie. The audience was quite amusing – lost of ageing, grey-haired hippies; anyone under 50 must have been a carer, I think. There’s a great review here from David Belbin, and I couldn’t write anything better, so if you’re interested, go read that. He actually went on the Saturday – there was so much demand they did a second night. Which is pretty bloody good for a band that hasn’t payed a gig for forty years.

As for the rest of the weekend, we walked, and saw friends. We walked from Kings Cross to Notting Hill Gate on Friday night, then gave in and got the tube for the last two stops, and tubed it back. We walked 13km on Saturday – Bloomsbury, Covent Garden, Soho, and a couple of hours in the British Museum, then Japanese food with a couple of friends who we hadn’t seen for *years*.

Sunday was more walking, around the same areas, before Dim Sum with about a dozen mates that we don’t see nearly often enough at New World in Gerrard Place, a couple of large reds in the pub and then a taxi to the station.

So lots of reunions, 35km walking* (!) and a gig I’ll never forget. That was a pretty damned good weekend.

More reviews as I find them, for my own reference

Astounded by Sound
Vintage Rock

*I bought a Fitbit One (which is what tracked the mileage) via the wonders of John Lewis online; ordered Thursday afternoon, and collected from Waitrose in Bloomsbury on Friday afternoon. This internet thing could catch on, you know.

Freaking out on the Peaks

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As regular readers might remember, Pete and I attend the three monthly or so gatherings with Freaks in the Peaks. Last weekend’s took place in Hathersage, and given the weather forecast, and Pete’s bad back, I was quite reluctant to attend, to be honest. But he really wanted to go, and so we left Hull at about 2.15 on Friday afternoon, with a friend in the back seat.

The journey down was fine – snow started falling as we got to the M62, but the roads were clear enough, and although it was much heavier by the time we got to Sheffield, again everything under the wheels had been gritted and/or salted, so I wasn’t worried. Then we took the turning that IOS Maps (yes, I know, I know) told us to head for Hathersage, about ten miles on.

Dear lord … The road rapidly got more and more snowy, no cars at all in sight, it went up and up, and occasionally it went round hair pin bends, and I was really quite unhappy with it. The blizzards and the drifting snow made it almost impossible to see the road, and Pete was using Google maps on his phone to tell me where the next bend was. By the time we realised that we had clearly taken the wrong road, it would have been as difficult to turn back as it was to go on, so go on we did. Thankfully we saw very few cars – thankfully, because it was quite hard to keep straight. At one point, with a kind of Sods’ Law inevitability, another vehicle was approaching me *at the same time* as there were two pedestrians on the side of the road. By now, I’d given up with the automatic, and was using first and second gears on the Saab, so I just eased my foot slowly off the accelerator and held my breath. No pedestrians were damaged, nor anyone/anything else. Coming down this horrible peak was even worse than going up it, but at least I knew we were nearly there. I was getting P to count down the remaining distance, and once we got to 2 miles out, I stopped really panicking, because I knew we could walk it from that point.

But sadly, it spoiled the weekend for me – it kept snowing and snowing, and I was really worried about the journey home, so felt quite anti-social and non dancey. My fault and nobody else’s. The journey home was completely uneventful too …

it's curtains for us …

We live in a medium-sized Victorian terrace house, which we share with (currently) four cats. Downstairs is knocked through from kitchen to dining room to living room. Upstairs has bathroom, bedroom, study.

Cats don’t like doors, so we took most of them off – there’s just a door on the bathroom, and one on our bedroom; we never close either of them fully. We have a thermal curtain across the living room/hall portal,which keeps in the heat from our woodburner (we try not to give our worldly goods to British Gas, and don’t use the heating unless we absolutely have to).

Our study is warmed by four monitors, a varying number of computers, and a load of other IT kit and, in theory, should be warm enough during the day. But the heat all leeched out into the landing, so before Christmas, Pete put up a curtain rail and we hung a curtain over the door gap.

What a difference! You can feel the difference as you battle past the curtain onto the landing. A good idea.

another year …

the Humber from Paull

We spent a quiet Christmas, New Year with family, and a slightly (well, very) boozy party here in the middle, with a small but select gathering.

I don’t like resolutions as such, but we have vowed to try to get out more and enjoy the countryside, with the added bonus of getting some walking in. I do walk a lot, but countryside is much nicer than tarmac!

To that end, we took ourselves up to Paull on Sunday. It’s on the estuary of the Humber, and holds Paull Holme Strays, a nature reserve for wading birds – there’s *lots* of mud, and we brought a good deal of it home with us!

We had looked out of the window at home, and listened to the forecast, and while misty, it was set to clear. As we drove eastwards, the mist got thicker, and then when we turned towards the coast at Saltend, it started to lift, and we did a lovely four mile walk on what felt like a spring day, really. The fog horn was booming, but we could see across the estuary to Immingham (not that anyone would *want* to look at Immingham, but you know …). There weren’t many folk about, but they were all happy to stop for a chat, and we saw migrating birds in huge flocks, and a big cargo vessel heading out to sea, accompanied by three pilot boats. The shifting sands in the Humber are lethal, so those pilots are really necessary.

We didn’t rush at it, and ambled along; you can see the details of the walk here at Runkeeper, and on the last half mile or so the mist really started to come down hard, and we were glad to finish. We had an indifferent coffee at the Humber Tavern when we were done; they seem to have turned half of it into a proper restaurant, which is a pity, because their bar food was really nice. We also checked out the Crown as a possible Morris venue –  must get in touch with them.

Next weekend, we plan to go and walk along the south bank of the Humber, unless there is a snowpocalypse, as some are suggesting.


why do I never write anything here any more?

Because it’s quicker and easier to put it on Facebook, I guess. So here’s a status update.

We had a splendid visit from daughter and grandToad at the end of October; did lots: beach, The Deep, fish shopping, etc.

The bathroom now has the shower in, and it’s splendid.

I am just, I think/hope, starting to recover from a vile cold which has flattened me since  the beginning of the month.

We just went up to vote for the ridiculous Police Commissioner wossname. Here in Humberside, the esteemed Lord Prescott is once again trying to shove his snout in the public trough; I was minded to not vote at all, and spoil my paper but, you know, it just felt *wrong*, somehow. So I voted for Simone, the LibDem candidate, with the least loony of the independent candidates as second choice.

We went to see Skyfall; it was brill. We went also to see Fascinating Aida, who were also brill. And Celtarabia, who are always fab. We are going to see Show of Hands next week, and [waves tickets elatedly] Bill Bailey in May next year.

I put the laundry out this morning; it hangs there, sullenly – there is no breeze, and the air is damp. I don’t know why I bothered (although a smidgen of blue sky is appearing as I type this). There were 22 almost, but not quite, identical black socks in the wash; Pete can sort them, as they’re mostly his.

I want a new kittin, and Pete won’t let me have one.

Here endeth this update.

well, at least the dining room floor is clean …

Pete called up to me that there was a “flood in the dining room”. This seemed … odd, but I went down to have a look. And indeed, there was. The hose coupling wossname on the pipe from the outside tap to the water butt we use for fish water had come apart, leaving the tap on full, and the hose pointing at the patio doors. Which were open.

It’s *amazing* how much water a tap can produce in half an hour, and of course as it was coming through a hose it sprayed everywhere. The mat by the patio doors is utterly sodden, and is currently draped over the aforementioned water butt. The cheap but large Ikea rug under the dining table is also sodden, and is now draped over the back yard wall – I doubt it will recover, to be honest.

We moved all the furniture into the living room end, and I mopped and mopped the floor, then dried it with a towel. We also dried off bookcases, wine racks and other sundry wet items of furniture.

Thank heavens the weather is warm and sunny, and forecast to stay that way for a while. Pete was wet through, but he changed his clothes rather than be draped over something outside.

We’re now going to go out for a sandwich, as I don’t want to keep walking on the wettish floor through to the kitchen.

[edited to add]
As a friend points out, if we’d been out the patio doors would have been closed. So it’s a shame we were in, really.