a musical day


As has been mentioned, I sing with the Hull Freedom Chorus, and enjoy it enormously. For the press launch event for Hull City of Culture we were very proud to be invited to sing a special arrangement of Caravan of Love on the stage at Hull Truck (more details here). We could never sing it again, because the performance rights were a nightmare to obtain, and very limited.

And then BBC Humberside decided they’d like to broadcast a performance on the local television news before Christmas, sorted out another set of rights, and we all got together on Monday night for a three hour (!) rehearsal and blocking out, with a 3.5 hour (!!) recording on Tuesday 13 Dec. We rehearsed, as we often do, in the Reception Room at the Guildhall, but the recording took place in the Council Chamber – very grand, although we toned that down a bit with plenty of red tinsel.

So that was a long evening, made even longer by two gigs with Bandanarama, to celebrate the launch of Back To Ours, another City of Culture event.

bus - back to oursWe pitched up initially at Hull Paragon Interchange, played a few tunes for the slightly puzzled travellers, and then posed with an assortment of councillors, volunteers, etc, beside a helpfully labelled bus. Then we polled off to the Freedom Centre to do it all again. Except this time, it was in the rain, and nobody was about, but we did at least get a free lunch.

The rest of the band then sallied off to North Point at Bransholme, but the Guildhall was calling, so I cycled home for a shower and change, then off I went. I did nine miles on my trusty bicycle yesterday, the longest I’ve done in ages, and was properly knackered by the end of it, but a fun time was had.

do not be alarmed

Last Wednesday (7 Dec) I attended an “awareness” course on The Terror Threat. This was given on behalf of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, and was held at Hull University’s Wilberforce Building. Now, this place is the other side of town from me, and involves quite a hairy route for a nervous cyclist, so I thought – no problem, I’ll catch a bus; only £3.10 for an all day ticket.

A slight hitch is that we have two bus companies in Hull: East Yorkshire Motor Services, and Stagecoach. Pete informed me that I wanted Stagecoach from town to Cottingham Road, so I boarded one of their buses here in East Hull, which conveyed me safely to Hull Paragon Interchange. Where I discovered that all the buses out towards the Uni were EMYS. I hurtled over to the station cash machine, thinking my only hope was to buy another day ticket, and on my way back to the bus bays, discovered one Stagecoach bus saying it went to the University. Sadly, it went near the University, but I legged it the ¼ mile, and was only five minutes late. And was offered a lift home by kind Brian.

The course was … odd. It’s the one they give to security guards, etc., and to be honest we are volunteers. I think we all felt that this sort of thing was rather above our pay grade, to be honest, but no matter – the whole point of this particular course was to get feedback, so hopefully they took it all on board.

Yesterday (Sun 11), I took myself off to St Charles Borromeo RC Church in Hull; someone at Holy Trinity a couple of weeks ago had said they needed some singers, so I thought “why not”. I haven’t set foot in a Catholic church in decades – a convent boarding school education will do that to you – but the sights, sounds and most distinctly smells don’t really leave you. It was a service for refugees, and quite nicely done, but a bit more Goddish than I generally feel comfortable with.

Oh, and I got my bike’s back brake cable fixed by Jobes on Saturday – a fiver! Really can’t grumble at that.

trudging on

Took a couple of things to the framers in Anlaby – a mooooose (well elk, really) tea towel that Pete brought back from Helsinki, and was far too nice to just use, and a Paul Kidby sketch of Rincewind which we bought in Glastonbury about nine years ago, and has been rolled up in its tube ever since. I therefore have no idea how it got a couple of creases in it, but never mind. This place also frames tapestries, so I shall take my aubergines up there next week when I go to collect these pieces.

Also went to Fields to take advantage of their 1lb of sossidges for £1 – we bought four sorts of sausages, two of their stonking Cornish pasties, and a beef and stilton pie, which has been stowed in the freezer.

We picked up my fish tank from Beverley first (yay! fish tank!); it’s only a teeny tiny thing at 30cm cubed, but it’s enough for now, although I’m a tad worried that it might prove to be totally addictive. I can’t even start getting the water balanced yet, as it’s going in the fireplace that Stu and Rich knocked out over the weekend, and it only got the cement in there today, but no matter. I’m really quite excited – I’ve wanted an aquarium for years, and now I have one.

Then we went to Morrisons and did a megashop – not done one for two months; “what do we need?” “everything”. So we bought everything then came home and pretty much collapsed, after making a valiant attempt to tidy up. It doesn’t look much better, but everything that can be put away has been.

Can’t remember, really. Potted up some plants, took a Bargeful of rubble to the tip, lost the indoor watering can, went to B&Q (yes, again), called into the fishy place and bought some plants and sand for the tank, and Looked at Fish.

Today, I was brave and went to the dentist. And in fact it was OK – he’s a good dentist, and gentle, and I’m not nearly so spooked.  Took my bike there – first trip out this year, which is shocking I know, and went the long way round; about 4 miles, and my word, I can feel it!

weekend 18/19 sept 2010

Skidby Mill

On Saturday, we decided to cycle up to Skidby Mill, a working windmill restored with Lottery funding (what isn’t these days?), with a Museum of Rural Life attached.

It’s not that far – about 6 miles, maybe – but there was a vicious headwind most of the way there, and the last bit is decidedly Up. To my shame, I couldn’t quite manage it, and had to push. And my calves ache like mad!

The museum is beautifully done out, with photographs of and quotations from people who worked the land in the 1930s and 1940s, and some “hands on” exhibits for people to try grinding grain between stones again. I was quite taken aback to be charged £1.75 entrance, as I thought museums were free these days, but it was well worth the money. You can climb right up to the top and see the miller milling (though I didn’t, as I’d never have got down again). You can buy the flour they mill, so we did, and we had a cup of tea and a very nice scone in the tearoom before heading home.

It was glowering a bit when we left, but the rain held off. We came back via Morrisons (so just over 12.5 miles all told)  and bought some bits, which I stowed in my nice new rear bike basket – I’m very  pleased with that, as it means we can go a bit further afield for shopping without the car. Pete is very hardy, and carries heaps of stuff in a rucksack, but my back doesn’t like that. I picked up some greengages for 50p, marked as exotic fruit (really? greengages?), and some white pudding, which I love – you hardly ever see it down south.

In the afternoon, I made a couple of banana and coconut cakes as an experiment, as we had a kilo of desiccated coconut in the larder. I have no idea why we bought such a huge bag, and working through it is going to take some time.

Sunday dawned grey and cold and rainy, and it stayed like that all day, which was irritating as I’d wanted to pop into town. Instead, we had a small but beautifully formed fry up for breakfast (1 rasher, 1 sasuage, 1 egg, 2 slices of white pudding, some fried potatoes). Then we turned a half shoulder of lamb into slow cooked lamb and lentils, and put up with the smell all afternoon. I watched Gosford Park in the afternoon, and the day was, generally, slumpage. First weekend day we’ve spent completely at home since last winter, I think, but was quite nice nonetheless.

weekend 11/12 sept 2010

autumn leaves

Autumn’s arrived with a vengeance, hasn’t it?

There was loads going on in Hull last weekend – the Freedom Festival, including music, street theatre, and a lot of drink taken, it seems; the city was heaving. There was also a local derby rugby match, and the Heritage Open Doors. The latter was the one we opted for.

We cycled down to town, locked the bikes in Victoria Square, then adjourned to Ferens Gallery for a cup of tea, via the Tourist Office for some literature. Then we wandered all over the city, looking in various splendid buildings, and round the Marina. We gave Queens Gardens (renamed for the weekend as Freedom Gardens) a miss, as there were security guards on the entrances and we just couldn’t be bothered. Lunch was in Level, one of our favourite cheap’n’cheerful eating places.

I don’t much like crowds, but I wish now we’d gone back later in the evening – the fireworks and other stuff going on looks spectacular. Still, there’s always next year 🙂

On Sunday, we cycled over to East Park, with a detour through the Garden Village. East Park is lovely – huge, with a nice lake, and a small animal enclosure. Lovely sunny day when we set out, but while we paused in the cafe for a hot sossidge roll (remarkably well priced a £1 each), the rain started, and we pedalled back in the wet.

Supper was rice and pea risotto, which was spectacularly nice, followed by rhubarb with almond sponge topping, ditto. And we watched Kill Bill 2, which was extraordinary.

season of mists and mellow wossnames

As regular readers will know, it has been my wont through the summer to go out for an early morning bike ride. I went out yesterday for the first time since the previous Wednesday (25/8), and what a difference … Autumn has arrived while I wasn’t looking.

I took a thin cardi and never took it off, there was a heavy mist which didn’t burn off till about 7 a.m., and it won’t be long before I need lights at 6.30. There’s a real sharpness to the air now, and the days are becoming noticeably shorter.

Not that I mind – autumn is my favourite time of year, and if we’re lucky we get lovely sunny days and crisp nights. Must find time to go brambling on Sunday!


I went to the doctor yesterday to get the results of my blood tests. Not too good – HbA1c is 9.4%, not much down from the 10.5% on 21 April 🙁 Cholesterol levels now:  total 5.9, ratio 4.5 – I’ll have to find out how to relate those results to the earlier ones. The doctor wants to put me on metformin, but I’m going to hang on for six weeks and see if I can knock it down a bit more on my own – I’ve not been as good as I should be recently, I know.

And so, I set the alarm for 6 a.m. this morning, and set off at 6.30 for a bike ride and then a swim. Runkeeper crashed out on me, so I’ve had to estimate how far with Google Maps – I think about 7 miles, but I don’t really know how long. It started to rain about 1 mile out, and got heavier and heavier – I stopped at the Baths, and very nearly said “soddit” and went home, but I had to lock the bike up anyway, and go in and collect the headphones that I’d lost there last visit, so I did go for a swim. Only did 16 lengths – was tired after battling the rain, and I did some weights and resistance last night too. Still, better than nothing.

Put my wet clothes back on and pedalled home – not a long route, but not the most direct either. The parcel man had been while I was out, bringing me red shoes of stompiness from eBay – nearly all my shoes are too big, since I’ve been losing weight, and so I have to buy more; such a hardship.

a target achieved

I went to the gym this evening, for the first time in godknows how many years – six or seven, probably. I didn’t do anything too exciting – some treadmill with an 8% incline, 7 minutes on the cross trainer, and some weights.

As I was on my way home, I remembered that I’d set myself a target of being fit enough to cycle over to Bev Road Baths, do a gym session or have a swim, and cycle home again. I remember it as I pedalled down Ella Street, on a long way home, irritated that I hadn’t taken any lights with me, and couldn’t really go any further. And I cycled for half an hour yesterday before I arrived at the swimming pool at 7 a.m.

I may not be fit yet, but I’m sure as hell fitter than I was!

Tom Jones and bagpipes

bagpipers at the gates of dawn^H^H Withernsea CarnivalAfter a rather delicious breakfast of drop scones with strawberries and cream, we loaded the bikes onto the car today – not a simple task, it transpired. This is the first time my new bike has been on the rack, and it didn’t fit so well as the old one, but Pete managed it in the end, and says he has the hang of it now.

We trundled off to Withernsea, on the coast, unloaded the bikes and set off towards Easington. My word, I’ve been spoilt; Hull is flat, and the gentle hills round the coast really made me struggle, although I only dismounted once.  We did 12.5 miles, and you can see the map here. I still don’t understand why it was mostly uphill, with the wind blowing in our faces on the way out, and mostly uphill, with the wind blowing in our faces on the way back too.

On our return to Withernsea, we walked up the beach as far as we could, but the tide was coming in, so we didn’t get far. We wandered off for a cup of tea, and encountered the Withernsea Carnival;  very interesting talking to the Holderness Falconry Club, and seeing all their lovely birds – how I’d love to do falcony. Might go to some of their meetings.

Next up was – and you won’t believe this – a bagpipe band playing along to a karaoke track of Tom Jones It’s Not Unusual. It actually was quite unusual, and I’d really rather not hear anything like it ever again. We hurried on in search of tea and a scone, which cost us the princely sum of £2.70 for the pair of us.

Home again, and into a hot bath for me, to easy my creaking bones, then a chicken and mayo sandwich for supper.

Monday tomorrow …

to the Bridge!

Despite doing almost eight miles on the bike early yesterday morning, a fit of madness induced me to suggest to Pete that we went out for a ride last night, down to the Humber Bridge to see if I could actually cycle across it. I suffer from vertigo, and was worried that the railings might be too low for me to be brave.

We set off at about 6.30, and not too far into the journey, I realised that I’d left my bike lights behind – I’m really not quite organised enough yet to remember all the things I need when I’m cycling – so we knew we couldn’t be too late back. We went by a fairly direct route, and going along Boothferry Road was hard work – it’s a long slow hill, and I’m not used to hills! I got off and pushed for the last bit, I confess.

The signposts took us a most circuitous route through the country park, with another hillish bit, but it’s a lovely ride, and had I not already been out that morning, I’m sure I could have managed it all. And the bridge looks quite navigable, even to someone of a vertigo persuasion, so one weekend soon we’ll do that and go and have a mooch around Barton on Humber on the other side.

We came back through Hessel, and stopped at the Weir Bar for something to eat. We sat outside, and had excellent burgers, nicely served on wooden platters, with the chunkiest chips I ever did see. I had a bottle of Bud, which I didn’t even finish (nor the meal – too full, and have learned to stop then), and Pete a pint of Staropramen. Then we cycled home, just making it before it would have been really too dark without lights, and I made it over the Hessel Road flyover – without going right down to first gear too 🙂

So that was just under 20 miles yesterday, and I can really feel it in my stomach muscles. Having a day off exercise today 🙂

Runkeeper’s iframe embedded map is breaking, but here’s a link.