of trains and breakfasts

April 16th, 2024

A luxurious Tuesday ahead. Nothing in the calendar other than a trip to the tip with THG this afternoon. Did a sort out of CDs and DVDs for disposal yesterday and came across a few keepers including a Harry Potter boxed set and Dad’s Army series 4. I feel a Captain Mainwaring session in the offing though I would like to get hold of the complete oeuvre. Might invest in that. Would be a worthwhile use of cash.

Just booked my train to town tomorrow. Having to change at Newark which isn’t the end of the world. The connection at Newark is rammed but comes with the “Dine” menu which contains a full English and must mean the origin was likely Edinburgh. Normally the Lincoln train only gives you a poxy bacon roll, no butter. Mind you the full English comes on a very small plate so don’t get too excited. Also I’m going down for lunch at one pee em so unlikely I’ll want it anyway.

I remember once years ago catching a similar connection and asked for a full English. It was in the days when this dish was served by the attendant from a large oval platter and you could get reasonably generous portions. The answer on that occasion was they had sold out of full English and could only offer toast. Grudgingly, because breakfast is part of the deal on LNER 1st  Class I accepted the offer only to find that they had even run out of toast.

My other dining experience when catching a train to London from Newark was when I was on my way to Israel for a meeting. I had a taxi booked from the Castle Hill Club around six thirty and had a few pints with the boys before setting off. The plan was to eat on the train, get to London and hit the hay.

I arrived at the station with thirty minutes to spare to find that the train was already stood at the platform. Turned out it wasn’t my train. All trains were stopped whilst the Emergency Services dealt with a “jumper” further down the line. In fact the train was rammed and the only reason I was able to get on was because I was in First Class.

I went straight to the dining car only to be told that they had practically sold out of everything. It was the night before the Calcutta Cup in Twickenham and the southbound rugby crowd had almost drunk the train dry. All they had left was a bottle of muscadet and a bacon sandwich. I promptly ordered that before the bloody rugby p!55heads could snaffle it. When I got to Kings Cross they didn’t charge me for the “meal”.

I remember on that trip the outbound flight from LGW was showing The Full Monty movie. It was a lunchtime flight and the whole plane laughed, everyone having had wine with lunch. The early morning return flight to LHR a couple of days later also showed the same film. Not a single person laughed. At six thirty ey em most people tried to finish off their kip.

thassitfornow.

announcement – the last trefbash

April 15th, 2024

Well it’s back to being cold and wet in the shire and the cough has added “a bit of a throat” to its army of symptoms. The Strepsils do ease said symptoms but to spoil the fun the packet says you can only take one every two hours. 

Outside the shed I see magpie looking for nest building materials. It toyed with the idea of using a small twig but decided upon reflection it wasn’t what it needed. Wrong shape I’d say 🙂

The garden feels strangely quiet. As if the sound insulation in the shed has suddenly improved. Not that it is bad insulation anyway. I can mostly just see the effects of the wind. It is quite windy out and I can hear the wind. Perhaps that drowns out all other noises. The occasional bird tweet penetrates.

The milkman came at four thirty four this morning. We still have a lot of milk leftover from the weekend.

Bit of advanced notice but I’ve decided to make this year’s trefbash the last one. For the past few years I’ve approached each bash as if it is going to be the last as I didn’t want to presume that a) people would still want to keep coming and b) the sponsors would want to keep supporting it. 

Every year I’ve been wrong. The sponsors have typically told me on the night that they’d like to do the same again next year and the partygoers themselves stick it in their diaries as soon as they find out the date.

Every bash has turned out to be at least as good as the previous one. It is a winning recipe: great food, music, people and booze.

The one thing I’ve always been concerned about is not wanting the bash to peak and start to go downhill. Whilst there is no evidence of this happening I’ve decided that the 2024 trefbash, tropical trefbash, is a good time to finish. Finish on a high.

I’m going to go the extra mile with tropical trefbash. Not sure how yet as it is difficult to top the current formula but I’ll think of something. If you want to support the bash by chucking in some sponsorship towards the bar tab/food/band etc then please feel free to get in touch. 

The date is Thursday 12th December, 2024 and the venue is the same as always – the Phoenix Arts Club on Charing Cross Road in London.

Quite a few of my friends from outside the UK have made the effort to come over the years but the time of year can make it difficult to travel. Hopefully the incentive of this being the last bash will be enough to attract those who have not been able to make it in the past. The advanced notice should also help.

In the meantime there is nothing for you to do other than stick it in your calendars and start thinking about your fancy dress. 

of wardrobes, lawns and bbqs

April 12th, 2024

The milkman came at two fifty nine this morning. He has only been earlier than this once since records began which was at two fifty four on Friday 15th March. Records didn’t begin on 15th March. That was the date of the earliest delivery 🙂

Tbh as long as the milk is there before six thirty ey em I don’t care what time he delivers. Six thirty is tea making time. We don’t normally let the milk supply run out anyway so if he is v late it mostly doesn’t matter. His latest delivery time was five twenty on the eleventh of March. Well inside the SLA. Not that there is an SLA. Afaik.

Now that I mention it I’ll have to give some thought as to how much milk we will need to last the weekend. Peak people density in the house is nine on Saturday night. Sunday morning. Correction we will have some more punters around for brunch on Sunday so the number will be higher. Not sure how many of those are milk drinkers but will give it some thought. THG herself doesn’t drink milk, other than in tea and cawfee. I typically have black coffee but am not a regular consumer of the bean.

I think I could see if I could get a part time job working for the Milk Marketing Board if it still exists. Just half a day a week would do me. Knowworramean? Might even get the milk delivered free of charge. Would make sense. I bet all the staff of the MMB get free milk. In little ⅓ pint bottles just like the old days. The very old days. I remember them.

Slooking like another balmy shorts and tee shirt day ahead. Yesterday the shed doors were flung open for the first time this year. Sgood. Not got a huge amount on today so might see if I can get the grass cut. This is highly contingent on being able to start the mower so we will have to see. Might take a while. I also need to plant my sunflower seeds.

Tharrldofornow.

The shed doors are, again, open. The birds continue to tweet. I know not the make, brand or model of bird but the likelihood is that a blackbird is amongst them. Red tulips nod their heads in unison. A feather floats to the ground.

Wow – house sparrow, common chiffchaff, eurasian blackbird and great tit. My sister @Sue suggested I download the Merlin bird app and these were the birds identified singing in and around our back garden. It is a wonderful app. I’m quite pleased about the chiffchaff as I didn’t know we had these. This is going to be a regular thing outside the shed. Wow wow wow wow wow.

I can’t get the lawnmower to start. Yet.

Lawn mowed and bbq fired up – easiest way to clean it is to run it hot for a while. The ignition didn’t work so I used one of those plastic wands. Hopefully after the initial flush through the bbq’s own ignition will start to work. I can see it smoking away from my vantage point in the shed.

Then rustled up some scallops with bacon for lunch, as you do. I had nine scallops. That’s about fifty quids worth or more in a restaurant. I rarely order scallops when eating out as you only get three. 

My 2pm meet just got cancelled so that’s me done for the day. Don’t like to do much in the way of work work on Friday anyway. The afternoon is so pleasant it feels as if anything too onerous in the way of jobs would be inappropriate. 

I just dismantled a wardrobe that THG had deemed surplus to requirements and was on the list of things to take to the tip.  During the process I realised it was good quality pine from Anne’s mum and dad’s gaff so rather than chucking it it is now in a place of safety in the potting shed. Of course the shed needs a huge tidy up so that is not the final resting place of the wood. Can’t chuck good wood like that. I daresay the wood will turn into something useful but gawd knows when 🙂 

Too late to go to the tip now anyway. Shuts at 4pm. I’ll do it Monday.

Garage also needs a tidy. Everywhere needs a tidy. I can squeeze in some time the week after next, as long as it stays fine.

snake oil salesmen

April 10th, 2024

Interesting. Having publicly decried my cough I’ve now started seeing patent cough remedy adverts pushed to me by snake oil salesmen. I assume that’s what they are. They mix their evil and ineffective concoctions in their dingy kitchens in run down concrete highrises or graffiti strewn backstreet lockups and operate anonymously by mail order, or the modern tinterweb equivalent. Begone, snake oil salesmen. Cough still there though and now I’ve written this I’ll be getting more ads 😉 cough cough  cough cough cough cough cough cough. Cough cough.

In line with a mantra fine tuned over decades, it now being British Summer Time, I have decided to stick with the shorts despite the unreliability of the weather, and the presence of the cough.

In the shed for eight this morning. Granola at my desk. THG makes a top notch granola. Add berries and yo ‘gurt and you are set up for the day. THG also delivered a pot of tea. Wonderful girl that she is.

Funny how you instinctively know how much milk to pour into a cup before adding the tea. Ok you occasionally get it wrong but by and large that slurp followed by a drop does the job. If the tea is particularly stewed you might add more. That is likely to be the second cup and this morning I poured the tea first knowing that there wasn’t a full cup left in the pot and needed to know the level before adding the milk.

An everyday story of shed living. Put my new poster up in the shed yesterday. The Manx Motor Racing Club poster of the Manx Classic 1989 to 1999, patron John Surtees MBE. £3. It’s the one I bought from the Transport Heritage Museum in Peel. 

I’m always on the lookout for good posters. The shed is a continuously evolving space. I have yet to put up my African painting, bought at the craft warehouse or similar in Cape Town’s Waterfront. I have a plan to create a frame out of bamboo and stretch the painting inside that frame. The bamboo is there waiting as is the painting. Just needs executing. Maybs this week.

The milkman came at oh three twenty five. Back into the swing of regular deliveries.

wet morning but not cold

April 9th, 2024

A wet morning but not cold so no heating on in the shed. This is hopefully how it will be now until October or November. No heating in the shed that is. Now switched to shorts. It is the right thing to do.

I acquired five new books over the last two weeks. Six if you include the Isle of Man telephone directory. I brought this back with me from our house in Peel because I figured it was quite quaint. Not sure when we last got one in Lincoln but I’ve been using it to help light the fire in the front room 🙂

One of the books is about the defence of Gibraltar during WW2. On University Challenge last night I was able to answer a question based on the fact that I just read about it in that book. War of the Spanish Succession. The Imperial College team was brilliant. 285 points! Fair play. Thassit now until next season. Worramagointowatch?

Now that we are back home the difference in the garden is very noticeable. New life everywhere. Best time of year. Not sure how the apricot tree will fare this year. It has a lot of blossom but I can’t see signs of fruit coming along. Maybs I need to look a bit harder. Will find out soon enough. Some of the young leaves look to be in trouble but I don’t recall there being a frost.

This week I’m going to get the peas in. Will need to build in some defences against pesky pigeons. Effin pigeons. And mice. Need to build a cage really. With netting.

Otherwise all is calm. THG is out at the gym and I am swapping between reading my new book and the occasional conference call.

The reacquaintance. The managers that is. I’m watching a game of football on my laptop with headphones on whilst some ‘do yer house up’ programme is on the box. Doesn’t do it for me. Having to adjust my seated position to avoid accidental eye contact with the telly. As a Liverpool fan I want both Arse enal and Man City to progress natch. The more games they have to play the better.

I’m not overly bothered about the game. In fact I’ll stick it on mute whilst I watch Edwardian Farm on Amazon. Far more interesting. Now I never used to watch much TV but since covid and the lockdown era I seem to be doing more of it. Not broadcast TV mind you, other than University Challenge which is now finished.

So today we have three programmes on the go whilst I write this. It’s not right really but I’ve just finished my Guarnere/Heffron book and am expecting another to be delivered today. However, it is running late. I ordered a secondary laptop screen recently but that never showed up. Nicked presumably. I dunno. Doesn’t bode well for the book though can’t imagine anyone wanting to steal it.

the cough and the sunglasses

April 8th, 2024

My cough is starting to annoy me. Had it a couple of weeks and it got worse whilst we were on the Isle of Man. Feel sorry for others around me. During covid they would all have backed off with deep suspicion. I will self isolate in the shed when I get home 🙂

Add the cough to the fact that I still only have my sunglasses means I will very much be glad to get home. I’m typing this with the doc zoomed in to make the font larger and thus readable without my specs. Today’s meetings were called off due to train strikes so I am heading nowf earlier than expected and should indeed be in Lincoln before THG who is driving across from the Wirral.

I am now settled comfortably at my usual seat E5 on the ten oh six. Table to myself, as it should be. Conductor was quick out of the blocks this morning and came to check my ticket as soon as we pulled out of the station. He asked to see my railcard. I told him that was a rare event as mostly I was not asked this. Apparently I booked using a 16 – 25 railcard which is what aroused his suspicion. Checked the App and he is right. Dunno how that happened but all is well. Probs wishful thinking on my part.

Just sucking on a throat lozenge which will be the cue for my bacon sandwich to arrive. I traded the hotel breakfast for catching the 10.06. On this occasion it is a bit of a shame as the Hoxton breakfast looks infinitely better than the crap dished out by Hilton. When this year is out I might be tempted to stay at a Hoxton more often.

Woman ran along the platform at Stevenage but the train doors had already shut. As we rolled past her she was gesturing at a member of staff. It is a bit of a nuisance for her if she is bound for Lincoln as the next direct train is not for two hours. Slifejim.

It’s good to be going home. Been away for twelve days. Not quite the marathon that was France last autumn but these trips are always full on and take a bit of recovery time. We won’t have much recovery time really as there is a big party on in Lincoln next weekend with hannah and Lois’ joint 30th birthday bash. We will have a houseful with sofas even being bagsied as the bedrooms are all taken.

There’s a Virgin Atlantic pilot sat at the front of this carriage. Talking business. I try not to do that on the train. Firstly the signal ain’t that reliable and then I don’t want to disturb other passengers. There’s also the issue of trade secrets being overheard I suppose 🙂 Last time THG stayed at the Dibbinsdale Hotel there was a woman talking loudly on a conference call over breakfast. THG started to drop cutlery on the table making a lot of noise. The other woman was heard to say “hang on I’m just going to move to somewhere less noisy”. Result.

The land north of Peterborough looks to be agriculturally rich. Many of the fields are brown and harrowed suggesting they have just been planted for the new growing season. Onward ploughs the train.

Went to the Hermanos Gutierrez gig last night. They were alright. Had plenty of fans in the audience and the gig was sold out. Their stuff was all instrumental and one song sounded very much like another, at least to me. Imagine an evening of spaghetti western derived music and you are there. 

What made me think of it was the fact that I get a lot of posts on Facebook from the likes of Live Nation. This is fine. I follow them to find out about interesting gigs. The problem is I haven’t heard of most of the bands. Some of them appear to have been around a long time. The point is if their music was that good some of the songs would very much be in the public consciousness. Let it Be, Get Back, Hey Jude, stuff like that. Everyone knows them.

Maybe I’m being unfair. I daresay the music is a good bop.

Thassitfornow, bloody cough.

PS the milkman came at three fifty nine this morning.

the last leg

April 7th, 2024

All packed and ready to go on the last leg of this trip. London bound. Shepherd’s Bush Empire tonight with our John for the Hermanos Gutierrez gig. Anyone else going? I will look the part with my shades and love and peace leather jacket from last year’s trefbash. Must be said I will be glad to get back to wearing my normal specs when I get home tomorrow night.

Out to Khans in Beerkined last night for a meal with cousin Jeff and Glenys. Always nice to catch up with them. I’m feeling the after effects this morning 😉 You just never know how spicy food is going to be from one curry house to the next.

Taxi picking us up at nine forty five for a ten forty three train. It’s a twenty five minute trip so a bit of contingency in there.

Very nice livery in 1st on Avanti West Coast fair play. What’s more it has contactless charging on the table in front of me. There are only two of us in this carriage at the moment. The irony is that both our reservations are aisle seats facing each other on the same table. No way am I sitting opposite him 🙂 I now have a table to meself. Coat hanging up.

Attendant just came to check whether I knew this coach was Standard Premium and not First Class. To be quite frank it isn’t worth paying an extra hundred quid just to have free drinks. Would be avoiding alcohol anyway at ten forty three ey em, on a Sunday, during Ramadan.

Outside, rows of terraced houses with evenly spaced chimneys surround a church. Do the house dwellers all attend Sunday service?

Kissed THG goodbye on the platform. She is meeting Jenny off the eleven oh three Merseyrail to go for lunch at the Crown. The Crown looks v art deco from the outside. My train to London only has four stops including Runcorn, Crewe and Milton Keynes. I get Crewe and even MK but Runcorn is just outside Liverpool and nobody seems to have got on.

OK google, when does time have no meaning?

April 6th, 2024

“OK google, when does time have no meaning?”

08:56 1 31

In its final state, the Universe may end up as an inert cloud of energy and matter, where everything is evenly distributed. In this gray nothingness, “there is no future, there’s no arrow of time anymore,” she says. At that point time has no real meaning, she says. “It has no direction.”

Bit of conversation at breakfast this morning. At some stage, THG asked what the time was. I said we are in Liverpool. Time has no meaning.

I decided to ask google about that and you have just read the response. Soz about the Americun sbelin. You got it as google found it.

Breakfast was the usual Hilton crap. I stay in Hiltons because of the perks they give me as a diamond member. On this occasion free breakfast and valet parking for £12.50. However I’ll not get close to requalifying for diamond in 2024 so I’m just racking up the points this year with a view to finishing off with a five nights for the price of four reward stay somewhere nice. Next year I’ll choose hotels based on different criteria. Location, nice breakfast, price etc.

There was an American sounding guy in an Everton shirt sat behind me at breakfast. He had to shift his chair back to where it originally was to make room for my chair. No problemo. However what I was going to say was Everton are at home today v Burnley. Hotels are reasonably priced and not full. That is not our experience when Liverpool are at home. A game of two halves, a city of two teams.

Our room looks out on the Liverpool 1 shopping centre. People rave about it but it is a shopping centre! I had asked for a room looking out over the Albert Dock but all they could do was this one, six oh four, and said you can see some of the docks. The receptionist was right. If I lean right forward and bend my neck I can see some of the dock but not much.

Just below the room is a big Liverpool sign. As I looked down two women were having their photo taken in front of it by a bloke. I whipped my phone out to take the perfect street pic but wasn’t quick enough. The camera was set to video selfie and by the time I’d fiddled around to get it to take normal photos they had moved on. A moment in time lost and gone for ever.

This Hilton is right next door to a popular shop called John Lewis. I did go in there once on my own but didn’t stay the pace. It’s a shop. I don’t need anything. So this time I will not be visiting it, again.

Very nice meal out with THG last night. Date night. Had pondered finishing off at the Bridewell but we headed back early to catch a bit of Gardener’s World on the telly. That’s thirty six years of married life for you. I nodded off. That’s thirty six years of married life for you, plus a couple of gins and beers at the restaurant.

Operations moved to the lively hotel lobby whilst THG does the shops, again. She has some vouchers… The big TV screen is showing Sky News and the talk is about the opening weekend of the cricket county championship. Yay. I joined Notts CCC this year and plan to spend a bit of time there watching some cricketing action. If anyone wants to join me lemme know.

Meanwhile once THG gets back we are planning to head to the Liverpool Central Library which apaz is v ornate and impressivo. THG has been wanting to take me there for some time as part of her plan to impress me with the history and heritage of her home town. She doesn’t need to. Last time we tried the library was closed.

Back in the USSR blasting out in the lobby. This is Liverpool after all. Huge queue for breakfast now. It’s a quarter to ten. I’ll bet the breakfast service finishes at ten. Everyone must have been out on the lash last night.

I’d be interested to hear from others where their best hotel breakfast experience was.

In the lobby, life without specs is a bit of a blur. I’m holding my laptop close to my face and typing with my left hand in order to avoid wearing my sunglasses. It’s all very well looking cool, not being recognised and being able to see, albeit somewhat dimly but it is a strain on the eyes. It’s a compromise as I’m quite slow typing with one hand. Doesn’t really matter as time, as you know, has no meaning.

Two more days of this. I get home Monday evening. The Hermanos Guiterrez gig at the Shepherds Bush Empire is going to be a challenge. Unlikely the place will be well lit, apart from the stage. I’ll probs be the only person wearing shades, apart from the brothers themselves. At least noone will recognize me 🙂

After a v enjoyable visit to the central library we ambled down to the Oxfam shop on Bold Street. They have a good selection of second hand books there and I bought a couple of history books. Decided to pass on Jane’s Fighting Ships of which they had quite a few. Wasn’t too impressed with the black and white photos and at £20 wasn’t worth it. Ubered it back to the hotel to pick up bags and car and set off for the Wirral.The uber was from Wolverhampton and clearly didn’t know the area as he didn’t park anywhere near where we were. He wasn’t very chatty either. Didn’t give him a tip.

A word of advice. Avoid the Wallasey Tunnel at all costs.the queues for the toll booths were lengthy and chaotic with cars switching lanes left right and centre. Took a good 15 mins to get through. 

The automatic barrier rejected my Manx pound coins despite the fact that they are legal tender. Instead switched to contact less card. That didn’t work either. In the end THG fielded another £2.10 and we altered finally through. 

That wasn’t the case for the car in the next lane. It had gone through a booth reserved for cars with the fast tag (or whatever it is called). He clearly didn’t have the fast tag (or whatever it is called) and so the barrier stayed down. He wasn’t very popular with the cars behind who by then were unable to reverse and try a different lane and probably wouldn’t have wanted to as they had the fast tag (or whatever it is called).

Hurricane Kathleen (I promoted her) was very noticeable as we came away from the tunnel onto exposed bits of the M53. She is a feisty girl is Kath (leen).

Oh take me home again, Kathleen

April 5th, 2024

Farewell to Ellan Vannin. Sat at the window of our cabin looking out across Douglas Bay and the Tower of Refuge. Cup of tea in hand. Waiting to depart. The quayside  of the Port of Douglas lies below and a few workers in hi viz jackets go about their business. The fluttering Manx flag suggests a westerly.

The met office says south south westerly 24mph gusting to 36. Force six to seven. Tomorrow will be a lot worse as Storm Kathleen makes her mark on the Irish Sea. I had an auntie Kathleen. Mam’s sister who lived in Carlisle. Few of that generation are still with us and certainly not in our family. They remain in our thoughts.

From my balcony I can see St Ninians church, next to which I went to school. The school building itself is lower lying and don’t think is visible from the eighth deck of the Manxman. The Captain, a Scotsman by the name of Cambell I think, has just announced we are ready to rock and roll. He didn’t quite put it like that but I know that’s what he meant.

We’re off. The wifi seems much faster on the Manannan on the way out but this time I used the premium code whereas last time I just used the normal login available to the great unwashed. How do I know they were unwashed? I don’t.

Overheard at breakfast. The Manxman had 600 passengers booked on and were expecting it to increase to 800 as people brought travel plans forward due to the weather. They actually have 400 so lots of travellers decided not to take the risk. The sailing could potentially have been cancelled and we only got the go ahead at 6.40 this morning.

The boat is quite rocky despite the presence of stabilisers to mitigate the effects of the storm. Had to hold on to the handrail walking about. The bar and restaurant area was quite empty with one or two passengers stretched out on bench seats trying to get some kip.

Now having finished my full Manx I’m stretched out meself next to THG in the comfort of our cabin.

Oh take me home again, Kathleen,

Across the ocean wild and wide.

Well this has been a really smooth crossing, in our cabin at least. It was a bit shaky down in the bar. Had a good shower and now up and at it. Made meself a couple of cheese and onion rolls for the journey using my Leatherman multitool. Same blade as I used to cut flowers for the grave yesterday 🙂

Not far to go now although no sign of land. According to Google maps it is there. Just shrouded in mist. 

From Heysham we drive to Liverpool where we will take shelter for the night in the Hilton next to John Lewis. The John Lewis bit isn’t why we went for the Hilton as opposed to the Doubletree we probably prefer. It’s just that it has valet parking and is near to both Pizza Express where THG is taking me tonight and the Bridewell pub which is one of my faves. Some good craft IPA/American Pale Ales. Former prison or simlar. The cells are still there, now used as booths. I can’t say I’m a big Pizza Express fan but I don’t mind going and we have a load of Tesco Clubcard vouchers to spend.

Just passed a boat of some kind headed the other way. A low lying blue one with a white superstructure up the front. Small tanker maybs? Marine Traffic tells me it is Highland Knight (GB). Offshore supply ship.

En route to Liverpool I have a conference call so THG will drive some of the way. It is her car after all. Then another one at three thirty. On a Friday afternoon!!!

Oh! I will take you back, Kathleen
To where your heart will feel no pain
And when the fields are fresh and green
I’ll take you to your home again!

Lots of silhouettes in Liverpool. Getting dark and my shades are not a practical prospect.

Island living

April 4th, 2024

Finished off the remaining breakfast items in the fridge this morning. Has to be said the sausages here are not in the same league as Lincolnshire Farmhouse sausages from Fosters on Monks Road. At least we are back to normal with hot water and heating. Our house in Peel is very well insulated and has retained the warmth from leaving the heating on yesterday afternoon.

Stopped by the cemetery to leave some flowers on mam and dad’s grave. White chrysanths. Was nice just to be there by myself. 

Then met THG, Mike, Richard and Jacqui for the Silver Surfers lunch at the Boatyard Restaurant. Two courses for £11.50 or three for £14.50. What’s not to like! This is the first time I have availed myself of an offer open only to those over the age of sixty! OMFG sign of the times.

Back home an sms bombshell from the IoM Steam Packet Co hit. Tomorrow’s sailing is at risk and will be assessed by the skipper at oh six forty five tomorrow morning. Exactly the time we will be leaving for Douglas to catch the boat!

Now this is the thing. If we don’t go tomorrow there is no way we will be getting away before Monday as the weather forecast is deteriorating. I’ve cancelled the Liverpool Hilton tomorrow night as it needs doing before midnight – 6.45 am is too late. Can easily rebook. Then I have until 2pm Saturday to decide whether to cancel the Hoxton in London. I will know tomorrow. John will need to find a pal to go to the Hermanos Gutierrez gig if that happens.  Shame as we planned this ages ago.

At least we have the house in Peel with a now fixed central heating system.  Island living…

rainy days of childhood

April 3rd, 2024

It is one of those days of childhood spent gazing out of the window at the rain. The interminable rain. We never stop being kids so the reference to childhood is valid. On this occasion we will not be playing Monopoly to while away the time. Firstly there are only two of us. Me and THG. Then we don’t have a Monopoly set with us and I’m not driving to Douglas to see if I can buy one. No way Jose. Not even sure I could source one in Douglas anyway.

There is bugger all in Douglas nowadays. Very poor compared with somewhere like St Helier in Jersey, a comparable island tax haven. When we were over last summer there was a cruise ship in town. I remember seeing some of the somewhat ancient passengers wandering around. Their mistake being to opt for a walk around Douglas as opposed to a coach trip to somewhere more interesting like Peel or Laxey. Or Castletown or the Sound or a trip up Snaefell. Or the Point of Ayre.

On the occasion of this wet morning a full Manx is called for. This is the same as a full English/Welsh/Irish/wherever except the ingredients are definitely locally sourced. All except the baked beans, I imagine but that exception might possibly apply to any of the above referenced repasts. Where do they make baked beans?

Wigan. They are made in Wigan. I just looked. Couldn’t leave that one hanging. The haricot beans are however imported from North America so even in a full English the baked beans are arguably not English. Also the bacon is probs Danish if you bought it from a supermarket. Full of water and white preservative crap.

Anyway mine will be a full Manx with a hint of American grown beans finished and tinned in Wigan. Definitely not American bacon @Huw.

Ordinarily I don’t mind the rain. However when all I have to see through is my pair of prescription sunglasses the lower light levels that rain causes makes it more of a strain to see. The problem is when I type on the laptop I need my specs as the writing on the screen is otherwise a blur. 

If I was a caveman I’d be dead by now. Savaged by a sabre tooth tiger I didn’t see lying waiting in that long grass. Ug.

It is appropriate to take your time when preparing breakfast when on holiday. At oh eight thirty five I have consumed the remaining half a cup of grapefruit segments and am sipping a black cawfee prepared by THG herself. The main event has not yet started.

All is well.

The weather has definitely made a turn for the worse. Sea conditions deteriorating. We are on an island here. Fenland Beach Is deserted with only two other cars in the car park. Hardy souls out walking. I see one person sat in his car enjoying the scene. The sound of rain on the car roof.

En route I passed a bloke in a superman tshirt and black shorts carrying a large black umbrella. Then a party of very young schoolchildren in hi viz jackets trooping in single file along the quayside past Deveraux’ kipper shop.

THG and I have changed our return boat to Heysham on Friday instead of Liverpool on Saturday. I fully expect the Liverpool boat to be cancelled. Winds are forecast to be over 40mph gusting to over 60. The revised sailing is an hour later at oh eight fifteen and therefore slightly more bearable. Also we have a large cabin with double bed and balcony. Somehow don’t think it will be balcony weather. 

Whatever might be written about it the rain is very calming.

At the breakwater nothing stirs. There is usually someone upon the wall. Nobody sat outside the cafe. It is a sun trap when there is sun. I can’t even see if it is open.  Must be.

Peel promenade edges the beach across the water. No sign of movement although my vision is very much impaired by the blurry windscreen.

Someone in black waterproofs has appeared from a truck on the quay and is hauling a catch up in an orange plastic bucket from the fishing boat down below. No idea what it is. I’ll brave the rain and go and have a look. It wasn’t fish. It was his lunchbox and other such items. There was a guy down below stowing ropes and cleaning dredging equipment. Chains. Anzac of Ramsey. They have both now departed in the truck.

The Anzac is moored next to Peel lifeboat, normally kept safely in the boathouse. It seems to have been moored at the quayside since We got here last Friday. The engine is running and someone is onboard.  Brew on the go, studying charts and waiting for the call.

The caff was open as was the fish bar at the end of the prom next to the swing bridge taking you to Fenella. Very slow day.

No parking spots anywhere near the House of Manannan museum. I want to buy a book by my old PE teacher Brian King. Mr King. In the end took the disabled spot in front of the entrance. Only took me a couple of mins to nip in and buy the book. Inside I realized why there were no parking spots available. Everyone had driven and was in the House of Mannanan cafe. 

The new arrangement on the quay is not good though. Double yellows everywhere.  The three free spots In front of the Creek have vanished. They were quite handy for nipping down for a swift couple.

Back at the end of the prom the slate green sea looks uninviting. Time to go home and read my book.

Bin day in Peel

April 2nd, 2024

Bin day in Peel. Apaz. Still v cloudy out though not raining, fwiw. I’m still wearing my (prescription) Oakleys. People will either think I’m v cool or v weird.

Although we’ve been told it is bin day and we have put the bin outside the house there is no sign of anyone else in the cul de sac doing so and I’m wondering whether we were supposed to be wheeling them elsewhere. They are wheelie bins after all. Ah well.

So this morning’s story is I’ve managed to get in touch with Manx Petroleum and ordered 250l of fuel for the central heating. Gets delivered Thursday, if it is the will of Allah or Manannán mac Lir which is probably more appropriate for the Isle of Man. Also need to coordinate the arrival of “engineer” (plumber) as the system will need venting.

Another leisurely start to the day, particularly as my eight o’clock meeting was moved to ten which better suits all concerned. We found a tin of grapefruit segments in the cupboard so breakfast began with that followed by toasted Laxey sourdough, ripe avocado with walnuts, streaky bacon, egg and a drizzle of Belazu organic balsamic vinegar. V nice.

Peel seems to have moved on from the Easter weekend. The cars of those forced by circumstances to work for a living have gone from their parking bays in the Grove. Others, presumably tradesmen, have arrived to get on with their own task of hammering, drilling, sawing or whatever else they might need to do in the performance of their life’s calling.

Our lawn needs cutting but the lawnmower ist kaput or words to that effect. A gardener is due to come in and mow it but I guess that is very much down to availability and weather at this early stage of the growing season. Funnily enough we also need a new mower at home in Lincoln. Not sure it is worth buying another for Peel. Depends on how much the jardiniere charges I guess. 

Notice how I naturally lapse into different languages seemingly without even noticing. Sworrapens.

Tonight is Royal India night. We are both very much looking forward to this. Lots of good memories of curry nights there. They were shut on the last two occasions we were here. Once due to paternity leave and the other due to something else. Holidays maybs. Everyone deserves a holiday once in a while. Recharge the batteries. Only problem with coming to the Isle of Man is we need to recharge our batteries when we get home 🙂

I am particularly looking forward to not having to wear sunglasses when I get home. I will pop into the local Cowley’s Pharmacy to see if they have any suitable cheapo/disposable specs that might do me as an interim job. Can do it after dropping a load of mail off at the Post Office. Our last lot of tenants didn’t appear to have left a mail forwarder in place. Some of the letters are from the good folk of the IoM Income Tax dept. Already paid mine.

The pharmacy is next to the Royal India funnily enough. RI doesn’t open until five though.

The news from Cowleys is no way Jose. The cheapo reading glasses they have on offer are nowhere near the right prescription for me. I have no idea where this poor eyesight comes from genetically. Neither of my parents were as bad as this and nor were my grandparents afaik though I only ever knew one of them.

All is calm at Fenella Beach, far away in Peel. A world away, in distance and in time.

The front room is quiet. Just me and THG doing our own thing. Makes me think of mam and dad sitting here on their own. Dad was very lonely after mam died, no matter how often we used to call. The time came when a team decision was made for him to move to Cardiff to be nearer the girls. The end of an era.

The Davies family moved to the Isle of Man around 1974. Dad was just shy of being forty years old and in his eighties when he moved back to Wales. The island has been a big part of our lives as a family.

cloudy day in Old Peel Town

April 1st, 2024

A cloudy day in Old Peel Town. THG has gone out for a run and I am contemplating sticking some bacon and sausage on. Interesting concept, sticking bacon and sausage on. As opposed to cooking or frying it. I tend not to grill although sometimes this is the only way to cook bacon if it is full of water and white preservative, yuk. Try not to buy that crap.

Tis a Bank Holiday Monday. Easter Monday. You knew that. This morning we are off to a car boot sale. Many years since I went to one of those and probably only ever been twice. In my life. I am not particularly hopeful that I will find anything of interest but you never know. That rare find that has been in someone’s attic for years that they finally decided to get rid of. A bargain for a fiver.

Gonna rain all afternoon so we will have to find a wet weather activity to keep us occupied. Historically we would take the kids on a trip on the electric railway to Laxey. We have photos of them huddled under the canopy of the MER waiting room in Laxey, one year taller in each pic. I’ll have to see if I can dig them out.

One thing we could do would be to visit the 200th Anniversary of the RNLI exhibition in the museum in Douglas. The RNLI was founded in the Isle of Man. I was in Hillary House at Ballakermeen school fwiw.

A drizly old morning for our walk around Peel. Hit the car boot sale but bugger all there of interest and perhaps only twelve or so vendor pitches/car boots. Did buy a poster at the Transport Heritage Museum which will go up in the shed.

01624 631553 peel police station

Children play with dogs
A team photo is taken, cheese everyone
Day Trippers are out in force at Fenella Beach on  Easter Monday.
Waves beat a slow rhythm against the sands 
Voices of the young cry for their mothers
Ever present seabirds cry for their dinner 
In the small bay the sea is calm but the effect of the wind is noticeable on the water beyond St Patrick’s Isle.
Ahead of me the hermit’s tower scans the horizon
but it is early in the season and not a nice day to be out in a boat
Fishing vessel PL80, Coral Strand 2  manoeuvres into place next to PL25 Peter M of Peel on the quayside opposite 
Bags of scallops are hoisted ashore onto a waiting truck. A big haul.
An eider duck paddles along near the rocks below me
Away from the noise on the beach it is very peaceful 
The millenia crawl by at glacial pace
Around the other side of the castle the lifeboat tractor with its industrial strength trailer stands ready to hail the lifeboat up the ramp
Cars come and cars go while fishing boats at their moorings dance slowly to the tune of the sea
Well wrapped up ladies walk.
The distinctive yellow livery of PL1, New Dawn, motors into view and heads for the lorry that has just unloaded PL80.

It is a grey day

Titan on Broadway

March 31st, 2024

Great night out at Titan on Broadway last night. Left a good review on the Advisor of Trip. Went with old school pals who I’ve known since I was thirteen or fourteen. That’s forty eight years! Forty eight! Wot! They still live on the Isle of Man and I don’t.

Our booking was for quarter past eight so we were quite late eating. As a result I’m not in the least bit hungry when it comes to breakfast this morning. Not helped by the fact that the clocks sprang forward last night. I can still hear the sounds of the springs fading away in my mind.

Pondering doing brunch in the Cafe at the Sound though THG herself is making  breakfast in’t kitch. We want to head out for a drive before the afternoon is written off watching football. Crucial fixtures in the run in to the season finale or words to that effect. Game of two halves, pleased for the lads etc etc.

Still not totes decided on where to watch which game. The obvious venue is at the Whitehouse pub around the corner. However the first game starts at two thirty pee em. That’s an early start in the pub. Would be different if it was a lads afternoon out but it isn’t. I’ll see how it goes.

When we set off for the Sound we are going to swing by the local cop shop to see if anyone handed my specs in yesterday. I’m not optimistic particularly as Peel Police Station isn’t normally open at weekends (crooks on the Isle of Man unusually only operate during the week) but they might have been open yesterday, what with the big race up Peel Hill happening.

Happy Easter Sunday everyone especially if you are of the Christian faith. Also if you are not. I’m not but I quite like the double bank holiday weekend and wouldn’t have it any other way.

It is after seven pee em and THG and I have locked ourselves in to our holiday abode. This is mam and dad’s house in which we are v comfortable. I am swigging a glass of ozzie red – Jim Barry, The Forger and all is well. This house is full of great memories. Family holidays in the Isle of Man. I feel the presence of my parents everywhere in Peel.

This afternoon’s football worked out as well as it could have done.

lost for words

March 30th, 2024

I am lost for words. This is because I have now lost my reading glasses. I took them off in order to wear my full subscription sunglasses and clipped them over my tshirt under my jumper. Back home they are nowhere to be found. Aarrgghh. V annoying. I now just have my sunglasses for the rest of the trip!

THG has set off to retrace my steps to see if she can spot them. She is a much faster walker than me. Fingers crossed. Pathetic really. We now have to hope it is sunny for the next week. In the Isle of Man. Snotgonnahappenisit.

There is only one outcome of this episode that might be regarded as a silver lining and that is I have (had) identical frames for both reading and normal specs. This will present an opportunity to change the reading specs so that I don’t get them mixed up anymore. Always look on the bright side of life, da doo, da doo, da doo, da doo, da doo, da doo doo.

Drove down to the breakwater in Peel to see whether I could find the specs but the place was rammed with contestants and supporters there for the race up Peel Hill.

Instead I paid a visit to mam and dad’s grave. They are buried in a wonderful spot surrounded by birdsong and nature. It is very easy to get emotional stood there. They were wonderful parents.