Monday, December 30, 2013

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ah, that's better

It all started some time ago.
Luke (Jan's youngest) made some chipotle paste and left us a jar. To say it was strong was an understatement, it was mind blowing and neither Jan nor I like it.
He's visiting at the moment and offered to make something with it that he thought we might enjoy. If you like chilli (con carne) and fancy giving it a lift, try this. Mix two teaspoons of chipotle paste with a crushed garlic bulb, five tablespoons of soft brown sugar and the juice of a lime. You can vary the quantities to taste but this amazing sauce will take your chilli to a whole new level. Drizzle over the chilli prior to eating.
It comes from a cookbook by this lady. Recommended.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ripley Castle

Now there's posh.
The abundance of christmas markets continues to impress and we are dutifully working our way round the nearest.
Today was Ripley Castle just north of Harrogate. We got there about 10.30 and, judging by the carpark, it was already packed. It was so busy that it made browsing the stalls a bit uncomfortable however it was warm and dry inside the huge, chandeliered, red carpeted marquee.
The ladies on the door were dead posh, all big hats and fur, as were some of the stallholders, so we had a bit of a giggle as we pushed our way around and through the crowds. The first area was dedicated to food. Most of it excellent and also available by mail order. The next area was much more mixed ranging from clothes to bric a brac but some of it was interesting.
If we go again next year we'll book tickets in advance because they were about half the price of tickets on the door.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


We were queueing for the checkout in Lewis and Cooper the other day and Jan noticed some chocolate for sale (aren't they clever like that) and asked if I fancied trying some Montezuma's milk chocolate with chilli and lime. My initial reaction was 'I'm not sure about chocolate and lime' but instinctively said, 'OK why not.' We got it home and have to say that it was delicious and we both liked it so much that I checked where else you could buy it. I found their website here.
Which then got me thinking about how entrepreneurial we are in this country. We've both been amazed at the abundance of cottage industries (particularly here in Yorkshire) that we've come across since we've been back in the UK and as Jan said "young folk today quite often get a bad press but there are lots of them out there who are working hard and using their brains and we should support them." I couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

What if.................

What if the Hokey Cokey is really what it's all about?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Surprise, surprise

The surprises are coming thick and fast today.

DFS have got a sale on and Tom Daley is gay.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A fun day

That was an interesting day. Jan and I don't really have an anniversary so she we celebrate the day she was lucky enough to first set eyes on me.
That was seventeen years ago yesterday, so as a treat we went to eat at The Star Inn in Harome. And jolly good it was too.
On the drive over I happened to mention that I fancied eating game for a change and, as befits a thatched restaurant cottage in deepest Yorkshire, that's what I had. My risotto starter with locally shot pheasant was absolutely delightful, not cheap, though they offer a set three course meal for £25, the meal was excellent, beautifully cooked and served. They also offer wines by the glass at lunch time which is useful.
This is a top end restaurant and aims to please. Recommended.
Then, it was on to York to see a comedian at the Barbican but not before driving past Castle Howard and Lidl. Lidl because they are selling whole cooked lobster for £5.99 each and we wanted some for New Year.
With a couple of hours to spare we headed into York town centre and headed straight to M&S, where else? And now comes the most surprising part of the day.
Just outside M&S is a Halifax Bank and it was there that I queued behind three ladies as one of them drew money from the ATM. My turn came but before I could put my card in it spewed a receipt obviously intended for one of the ladies. I looked around but they had disappeared. Being the nosey type I looked at the receipt and what it showed made me shout 'bloody hell.' The lady had drawn out £100 but the account balance showed £49,370.38.


Would the extremely attractive lady who withdrew cash from the Halifax Bank at 16.52 in central York on Friday 22nd November please contact me because I have the receipt that she forgot to pick up. Yours lovingly, an ardent fan and admirer. Alex.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Two prawns

Far away in the tropical waters of the Caribbean , two prawns were swimming around in the sea.

One was called Justin and the other called Christian.

The prawns were constantly being harassed and threatened by sharks that inhabited the area.

Finally one day Justin said to Christian, 'I'm fed up with being a prawn; I wish I was a shark, and then I wouldn't have any worries about being eaten.'

A large mysterious cod appeared and said, 'Your wish is granted'

Lo and behold, Justin turned into a shark.

Horrified, Christian immediately swam away, afraid of being eaten by his old mate.

Time passed and Justin found life as a shark boring and lonely.

All his old mates simply swam away whenever he came close to them.

Justin didn't realize that his new menacing appearance was the cause of his sad plight.

While swimming alone one day he saw the mysterious cod again and he thought perhaps the mysterious fish could change him back into a prawn.

He approached the cod and begged to be changed back, and, lo and behold, he found himself turned back into a prawn.

With tears of joy in his tiny little eyes Justin swam back to his friends and bought them all a cocktail.

Looking around the gathering at the reef he realized he couldn't see his old pal.

'Where's Christian?' he asked.

'He's at home, still distraught that his best friend changed sides  and became a shark', came the reply.

Eager to put things right again and end the mutual pain and torture, he set off to Christian's abode.

As he opened the coral gate, memories came flooding back.

He banged on the door and shouted, 'It's me, Justin, your old friend, come out and see me again.'

Christian replied, 'No way man, you'll eat me. You're now a shark, the enemy, and I'll not be tricked into being your dinner.'

Justin cried back 'No, I'm not. That was the old me. I've changed.'.......

 'I've found Cod.   And now I'm a Prawn again Christian.'

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A bit more culcha

Sitting on my arse for three hours watching anything fills me with dread. I get a sore bum sitting on a plane for two hours so this was something that I was not looking forward to.
The RSC production of Richard 11 (as in Shakespeare) was showing at the Curzon and Jan, who studied it for an A Level, wanted to go. Me, trying pretending not to be a philistine, agreed.
The doors opened at 18.40, the play started at 19.15, presumably to let all the white haired folk get home in time for their Horlicks, and finished at 22.15. What I hadn't realised was that it was a live performance from Stratford whereas I thought that it was a film of a performance.
OK, down to the nitty gritty. After a straight 1.5 hours in the packed 57 seater auditorium (with little wriggle room) my bum was starting to really hurt which was very distracting. David Tennant, who I don't think is a very good actor, played a very camp King Richard and had me giggling at times, but I was the only one, and admittedly he did get better as time went on. All in all I don't think it is a 'strong' play and unless you have studied it then the dialogue is somewhat incomprehensible though you do get the gist of what's happening. I realise that I could be showing my ignorance or maybe just describing 'the kings new clothes'. Your mileage may vary.
I have always thought that clapping in a theatre was about the audience telling the cast how much they enjoyed it. When a slightly very smug chap started to clap enthusiastically at the interminable bowing at the end I felt that maybe he was just a bit too enthusiastic whilst sitting in a theatre 200 miles away.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Crafts for Christmas

I must admit I wasn't looking forward to it. Crafts for Christmas was booked by Jan some time ago and I expected it to be a couple of hours of looking at stuff that would appeal to the knit your own yogurt brigade.
We managed to park close to the entrance which is always a bonus at The Yorkshire Showground and it was only a short walk to the exhibition hall, so that was an immediate and welcome bonus. What in fact it was, was a huge indoor Christmas market with all sorts of stuff for sale. Some expensive but the majority not and an excellent place to pick up ideas. Not at all what I expected.
Then, as it was lunchtime, we popped into Fodder, right next door, to see if we could get a bite to eat. As well as their usual choice, they offered the most enormous Sunday lunch with a choice of beef, pork or lamb and a huge Yorkshire pud and veg. Excellent value, we'll be back.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Curzon Ripon

33 Years after the last one shut down they have just opened a new cinema in Ripon, part of the London based Curzon group and, I believe, their first cinema outside of London. How strange is that? Of all the places they could chose they chose Ripon. There is obviously something special about North Yorkshire and the (upmarket) clientele in Ripon. Like me you will also have noticed that they waited until we moved here.
It's what they call an arthouse cinema with serious theatre shows as well as mainstream films. This afternoon, I chose the afternoon because Jan was more likely to stay awake, we joined a lot of white haired old folk and went to see Philomena. As it happens the place was packed, which hardly surprising at only £6 a ticket. We also picked up tickets to see the RSC production of Richard 2 later this month. Philomena is a powerful and sometimes funny film and has been well reviewed. It didn't disappoint in the slightest. Recommended.
Jan, who was never allowed to visit the cinema on Saturday mornings as a child because 'it was only for rough kids' (which includes me), was especially pleased to see that they have a kids club at the weekends. Bless.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sweet revenge

After a tiring day, a commuter settled down in his seat and closed his eyes.
As the train rolled out of the station, the young woman sitting next to him pulled out her cell phone and started talking in a loud voice:
"Hi sweetheart. It's Sue. I'm on the train".
"Yes, I know it's the six thirty and not the four thirty, but I had a long meeting".
"No, honey, not with that Kevin from the accounting office. It was with the boss".
"No sweetheart, you're the only one in my life".
"Yes, I'm sure, cross my heart!"
Fifteen minutes later, she was still talking loudly.

When the man sitting next to her had enough, he leaned over and said into the phone,
"Sue, hang up the phone and come back to bed."

Sue doesn't use her cell phone in public any longer.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Jan 'n George

Jan didn't sleep well the other night so I left her to catch a bit more zizz. When she eventually woke we briefly discussed her poor night's sleep.
Suddenly she sat up and said, "I remember now, I dreamt about George."
"George who," I said?
"George Osborne," she said, "I think we were an item."
There then followed a lot of stupid banter where I teased her mercilessly with stuff like, "What was he like, what does his wife think? What first attracted you to the millionaire George Osborne?"
By the end of the day she did get a bit fed up with it all but given that she has two timed me in her sleep I think she deserves it. Mind you, I might get an insight into government policy and indirectly might be able to influence it.
She wasn't pleased when, just before going to sleep last night, I said, "Give my regards to George."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Peaky Blinders

We don't normally watch television programmes that look interesting, on a weekly basis but record them to watch on consecutive days. That way, given our advanced years, we stand a chance of remembering the plot and the various characters.
We have just started watching Peaky Blinders, despite it having already finished its first series, and I can't say how good it is. It's a gritty tale of life in Birmingham (historical fiction) in the early 1900s and if you are the sort of person who thinks Emmerdale is interesting or exciting then watch with care, this might be a bit too stimulating for you. The acting, atmospherics, cinematography and plot are all very good and I can't think of another English made television programme that is as good. Recommended.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Countryside Live

Last weekend we visited Countryside Live at the Yorkshire Showground. It didn't seem as busy as a previous visit but we came away with two small gems. The first was a stall selling mostly crab and shellfish products. I'm a nightmare shopping before lunch because I'm usually very hungry and today was no exception. They are called What a Catch and we bought and ate a small tub of crab paté. It was really excellent on hot buttered toast as a snack. On November 1st they will launch a website so we will probably try some other stuff. Recommended.
The other gem was a company called Nova Scotia Farm Produce and this is their website. We tried steak pies, the size of pork pies, and they were delicious. Filled with large chunks of meat, not the slime that you normally associate with steak pies. They were really impressive. Recommended.
Since coming back from France we have been amazed at the range and quality of local (Yorkshire) produce and continue to be pleased at what we find.
By the way, there is no charge for all this research and taste testing, so say a big thank you to the nice man and lady.

Monday, October 21, 2013

With apologies to whales everywhere

I was at the bar the other night and overheard three hefty women talking. Their accent appeared to be Scottish so I approached and asked, "are you three lassies from Scotland?"

One of them turned angrily towards me and screeched, "It's Wales, Wales you bloody idiot."

I was mortified, apologised and said, "I'm so sorry, are you three whales from Scotland?"

I don't remember much after that.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A heartwarming tale

Bob Hill and his new wife, Betty, are vacationing in Europe, near Transylvania. They drive in a rental car along a rather deserted highway. It is late, raining very hard and Bob can barely see the road in front of the car. Suddenly, the car skids out of control. Bob attempts to control it, but to no avail. The car swerves and smashes into a tree.
Moments later, Bob shakes his head to clear the fog. Dazed, he looks over at the passenger seat and sees Betty unconscious, with her head bleeding. Despite the rain and unfamiliar countryside Bob knows he has to get her medical assistance. He carefully picks her up and begins trudging down the road. After a short while, he sees a light and heads towards it. It is coming from a large, old house. He approaches the door and knocks. A small, hunched man opens the door. Bob blurts, "Hello, my name is Bob Hill and this is my wife Betty. We've been in a terrible accident, and my wife has been seriously hurt. Can I please use your phone?"
"I'm sorry," replies the hunchback, "but we don't have a phone. My master is a doctor. Come in, and I will get him." Bob brings his wife in.
An older man comes down the stairs. "I'm afraid my assistant may have misled you. I am not a medical doctor; I am a scientist. However, it is many miles to the nearest clinic, and I have had some basic medical training. I will see what I can do. Igor, bring them down to the laboratory."

With that, Igor picks up Betty and carries her downstairs, with Bob following closely. Igor places Betty on a table in the lab. Bob collapses from exhaustion and his own injuries, so Igor places Bob on an adjoining table.

After a brief examination, Igor's master looks worried. "Things are serious, Igor. Prepare a transfusion." Igor and his master work feverishly, but to no avail. Bob and Betty Hill are no more.

The Hills' deaths upsets Igor's master greatly. Wearily, he climbs the steps to his conservatory, which houses his grand piano. It is here that he has always found solace and he begins to play. A stirring, almost haunting melody fills the house.

Meanwhile, Igor is still in the lab tidying up. His eyes catch movement, and he notices the fingers on Betty's hand twitch, keeping time to the haunting piano music. Stunned, he watches as Bob's arm begins to rise, marking the beat. He is further amazed as Betty and Bob both sit up straight!

Unable to contain himself, he dashes up the stairs to the conservatory. He bursts in and shouts to his master:

"Master, Master! The Hills are alive with the sound of music!"

Monday, October 14, 2013

It's so obvious

Dave and his buddies were hanging out and planning an upcoming fishing trip. Unfortunately, Dave had to tell them that he couldn't go this time because his wife wouldn't let him. After a lot of teasing and name calling, Dave headed home frustrated.

The following week when Dave's buddies arrived at the lake they were shocked to see Dave. He was already sitting on the dock, fishing rod in hand, and drinking a beer.

His buddies asked, "How did you talk your missus into letting you go Dave?"
Dave replied, last night I came home and slumped down in my chair with a beer to drown my sorrows thinking how much I wanted to go fishing.

Then the ol'lady snuck up behind me and covered my eyes and said, "Surprise".

When I peeled her hands back she was standing there in a beautiful see through negligee and she said, "Carry me into the bedroom, tie me to the bed and you can do whatever you want".

"So I did and here I am."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

No trouble at t'mill

When we first got here a couple of years ago we (Jan) wrote down a list of places to go and things to see. High on the list was a revisit to Salts Mill in Shipley or, as the website says, 'shopping, dining and art in one glorious building.' We wandered around the building, which is huge, admiring Hockney originals and buying the odd thing, making for an excellent few hours doing not much. Recommended.
After Salts Mill and with lunch time having nearly passed we headed for the old Harry Ramsden's fish and chip shop in nearby Menston. Fortunately the operation had now been bought by the Wetherby Whaler folks and the fish and chips are now much improved. What really made us giggle was the sight of a grand piano to one side of the dining room and as you can see in the (poor quality) photo above, chandeliers. Admit it, have you ever eaten fish and chips under a chandelier? Recommended.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Nidderdale Show

I'm reliably informed, by the nice lady who sells scones et al in my favourite cafe in Pateley Bridge, that Nidderdale Show is the last show of the season.
I have always teased Jan about what I believe to be her deep rooted ambition to be a farmers wife and that suspicion was sort of confirmed when she insisted that we went to the show.
Pateley Bridge is one of my favourite places because we can buy scrummy pies (beef and onion is my favourite) and roast meat joints from Kendalls, stock up on sweeties from The Oldest Sweet Shop in Britain and get delicious scones from our favourite cafe. Culinary heaven, especially if you include the Sportsmans Arms just up the road and The Yorke Arms when you really want to push the boat out.
Anyway, the show is an old fashioned agricultural show with pigs, cows, sheep and goats, lots of stalls selling country clothing, food and and other good stuff. Parking was easy and it's an experience worth considering if you're into that kind of thing. Recommended.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

So what's the answer?

God said,
"Adam, I want you to do something for Me."

Adam said,
"Gladly, Lord, what do 
you want me to do?" 

God said,
"Go down into that valley."
Adam said,
"What's a valley?" 

God explained it to
Then God said,
"Cross the river."

Adam said,
"What's a river?"

God explained that
to him, and then said,
"Go over to the hill...."

Adam said,
"What is a hill?" 

So, God explained to Adam what a hill was.
He told Adam,
the other side of the hill you will find a cave." 

Adam said, 
"What's a cave?"
After God explained,
He said, "In the cave you will find a woman." 

Adam said,
"What's a woman?

So God explained
that to him, too.
Then, God said,
"I want you to

Adam said,
"How do I do that?" 

God first said (under his breath), "Geez....."

And then, 

just like everything else, God explained that to Adam, as well.

So, Adam goes down into the valley,
across the river, and
over the hill, into the cave, and finds the

Then, in
about five minutes, he was back. 

God, his patience
wearing thin,
said angrily,
"What is it now?"

And Adam said....





"What's a headache?"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


The parking arrangements in Weymouth are excellent. The system is simple. You park wherever you want, especially if it's in a prohibited place, and leave your car as long as you want. The parking authorities will then visit your car in a timely fashion and leave your ticket (approval to park) on your windscreen. A tad pricey but an excellent and efficient system.
With three adults all used to instant internet access through phones and tablets and somewhat inclement weather keeping us all indoors I headed out to try this parking arrangement in Weymouth and to find a phone shop where I could get a mobile wi-fi access point. These things are really useful, connecting to the internet via phone masts and allowing several different users to access the internet at the same time. Cool.
I can confirm the parking arrangement works well.

Monday, September 16, 2013

HMP The Verne

We're in Portland, Dorset for a first ever visit to this part of the world.
For some reason I imagined that Portland would be flat and boring, wrong, it's a huge lump of rock (Portland Stone) jutting out into the English channel where stone is quarried to this day.
Jan and I explored the island a bit this afternoon and were intrigued to see signs to a jail (The Verne) and the Jailhouse Café. The entrance to the café is accessed through the ancient fortifications that sit on top of the island and is very impressive if not a bit spooky. As we approached, a group poured out that had been celebrating a 70 years old birthday, and I could see that the café was closed but asked a kind looking man if I could look at the menu.
'Sure', he (Ben) said, 'come in.' 'We serve hot food at midday and close about 3.00pm.'
'Are you open in the evening?' I said.
'Nah,' he said, 'we have to be back in our cells by then.'
'Oh,' I said I didn't realise you were prisoners (trying to make him feel better). 'Yes, all the men you can see are prisoners, unfortunately not the women,' he said.
I laughed all the way back to the car. We will visit to show our support.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


So off we go for a not too sunny week in Dorset. This is our first ever trip to Dorset so we're looking forward to it. More about it later.
The weather doesn't look too promising with rain and strong wind forecast for Sunday. Still, I always have Billy Connolly's words imprinted on my mind when folks complain about the weather.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Where's my mojo?

As you've probably realised I've been suffering from a lack of inspiration for things to write recently. Our life is quite quiet at the moment and whilst I've drafted some stuff, in the cold light of the following day the ideas seemed tame and uninteresting, even to me, so I'm sorry and will try harder. In the meantime here's a supposed true story that tickled me.

A small boy is sent to bed by his father.

Five minutes later.....'Da-ad....'


'I'm thirsty. Can you bring a drink of water?'

'No, You had your chance. Lights out.'

Five minutes later: 'Da-aaaad.....'


'I'm THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water??'

'I told you NO! If you ask again, I'll have to smack you!!'

Five minutes later......'Daaaa-aaaad.....'


'When you come in to smack me, can you bring a drink of water?'

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Just lately Jan has served a new dish which I really like.
The thought of grilled lettuce didn't really appeal but I have to admit this is delicious. The recipe is here but in order to make the food fit on the plate, Jan used Little Gem instead of Romaine lettuce.
It's really tasty and a great starter or snack especially if you haven't got any chicken to make a pie.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The BBC have lost the plot

Is it me or does anyone else get annoyed when the BBC blurs people's (and children in particular) faces? I used to think I understood why they do it but now I think it's just plain stupid.
The other day they blurred out some aggressive tweets that the news item was referring to. I could just about make out that it was a list of tweets. How stupid is that. Why show something that you can't see? It doesn't make sense. Just don't show anything, wouldn't that be better? Or are we not intelligent enough to to be able to understand what they are saying?
How does a blurred image help? Perhaps they should have a caption beneath the blurred image saying, 'here's a blurred image of what we mean.' The lunatics have taken over the asylum.
I include a blurred image above just in case you are so stupid that you can't work out what I'm talking about.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Go for it

I love Panzanella. At least the way that Jan prepares it and I think she follows the Jamie Oliver recipe. I've just seen this article in the Guardian which made my mouth water. Recommended.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Can't get over it

Neither Jan nor I can quite get over 'the weekend' syndrome.
It's a strange sensation that leads you to want to 'go out' or feel that you should do something a bit more relaxing or special at the weekend.
Neither of us has worked full time for nearly twenty years but still the feelings persist. A weekday is a regular day but weekends are special, it's all very strange.
What makes it all a bit more strange is that we don't do anything special at weekends anyway.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Can you hear me?

I constantly push Jan kicking and screaming into the twenty first century (just kidding), but to be fair she's really quite switched on and open minded with technical stuff. Her phone, an old HTC Desire C was out of contract, so off we went to the 3 Network shop in Harrogate to see what was on offer. What with the new super dooper download speed and full 'five bars' in home signal kit from 3 she really needed to be able to take full advantage of the new more powerful signals.
She quite fancied a Samsung Galaxy S3 but they didn't have any more (the S4 has just landed) so after flirting with an iPhone and a Huawei she settled on a Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
What a really nice piece of kit. The screen is quite big, a bit too big for a full blooded 'stuff it in your pocket' macho person like me, but as a handbag carrying blind delicate flower like Jan, damn near perfect. It also has a built in pen, which I love, a multi view screen and other technical marvels.
Samsung products have overtaken Apple stuff in both technical aspects and on price (sorry Craig and Ivan but whilst your phones are quite good they're so last year), in fact the whole phone market has become very competitive with some really nice bits of kit on offer.
If you're old fashioned and stuck in a rut then Apple is for you but if you consider yourself a forward thrusting bright young thing then you really should move on.
Stop worshipping at the Apple altar mes braves there's a whole lot of good things going on out there. Don't get left behind.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The information superhighway

Well, it has finally arrived.
After painfully slow speeds in France and fairly slow speeds here in Ripon we have finally got fibre optic.
It involved some preparatory work, namely moving the phone master socket upstairs where we have my playroom the study. What I found interesting was that after an engineer came to move the master socket our download speeds increased significantly from around 5MBit/s to 7MBit/s just because he tidied up the wiring.
According to this article the average for the UK is 26 MBit/s in urban areas and in rural Britain it's 9.9 MBit/s. As we've never had anywhere near 9.9 MBit/s that would make us less than rural.
Anyway, after a nice BT engineer visited us (all the way from Nottingham) on Friday, we now get (at first look until it settles down) 75.3 MBit/s down and 13.3 MBit/s up. That's more like it.
The slowest thing around here is now me.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Having parents and grandchildren staying with us at various times last week we took a hard look at what's on offer around here, so that both parents and children would be satisfied and entertained. What we found was quite amazing and provided a week's fun and entertainment for all.
On Monday we visited Brimham Rocks which let the childrens imaginations run wild. A great place which I visited as a child. 
Tuesday we had a picnic at Fountains Abbey after which some of the kids returned to Brighton.
Wednesday, after one of Jan's sons returned to Hong Kong we took the remaining grandchildren on a boat on the river in Knaresborough.
Thursday we drove up to Bedale and spent an afternoon at Big Sheep, Little Cow, where the kids could see and touch a variety of animals, after which we visited a pick your own farm for strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants.
Friday after picking up their mother Paula from the airport we had fish and chips at the Wetherby Whaler (at Paulas request) and popped into a delightful outdoor paddling pool in Ripon and then, last but not least, on Saturday we visited Newby Hall and the excellent childrens adventure park.
Sunday the remaining folks returned to Spain and we collapsed. What a good week, what good weather and what good memories.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Coldstones Cut

It was a lovely sunny morning and Jan, still recovering from last week, decided that a day in the country was in order. This of course meant lunch somewhere and as we'd recently been made aware of a very modern, unusual sculpture high on the moors, a trip to Pateley Bridge was decided. First lunch, at The Sportsman's Arms in nearby Wath in Nidderdale. It's very dependable with a good range of starters and mains but not particularly cheap. We both had a main and pudding, a couple of glasses to drink and coffee and the bill came to £62. Jan's Dover Sole was huge and fresh and my ribeye tender and tasty. All very dependable and busy but get there by 12.30 or you might not get a table.
Then, a short drive away, The Coldstones Cut an impressive stone structure set very high on the moors with the added attraction of overlooking a huge, very deep, and impressive working quarry from which the stone was cut. To give you some idea of the size of the quarry, to the left of the picture you can probably make out a lorry. The lorry was absolutely huge, with ladders needed to get into the cab.

The climb up to the 'sculpture' was steep and I had to carry Jan part of the way (just kidding) but on the way down I had some fun. I passed a youngish boy and out of the corner of my mouth I said to him, 'It's rubbish, it's not worth the climb,' and walked on.
About 10 metres behind him his mother and other children were puffing away and I said to his mother, 'I've just told your son it's not worth the climb, I bet he starts whingeing.' After a few seconds I heard the boy say, 'mum, that man said it's rubbish.'
We turned, looked at each other and burst out laughing. Children are so predictable.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Gimme a break

It's been eating away inside me, I've got to say it, but does anyone really give a toss about who the next Dr Who is?
In search of the next bit of mind numbing news, the BBC treats us all like 12 years old and even creates a special programme to announce it. Talk about dumbing down.
Dr Who is essentially a childrens' programme and has forever featured in the early Saturday evening schedule. I used to watch it as a child. I'm now a big boy and have moved on. There are no doubt some adults who watch it, but purleese, this is not worthy of 'news' slots.
Come on BBC get your act together.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Testing times

We've had visitors all week and have been taking in all (well nearly all) the attractions suitable for a five and two years old.
Anyway, as if looking after family both young and old wasn't enough, I'm sitting on the edge of my bed when I drop something on the floor. With a bit of effort I get down on my hands and knees and start searching blindly under the bed, when it suddenly dawned on me that I'd forgotten what I was looking for.
In the seconds between dropping it and looking for it I'd forgotten what it was I was looking for. Either the travails of the week were getting to me or it was a sign of increasing old age. Scary.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Speak up

When we moved back from France our English phones (PAYG from Vodafone) wouldn't work because there was no signal.
Network coverage at the time was pretty poor with all the carriers but according to the coverage maps 3 Network wasn't bad and they also had very attractive data packages, so we went with them.
Over a period of time it became obvious that their indoor coverage wasn't too hot so, over the last few days, I have been talking to them about a Home Signal box. A piece of kit (femtocell) that will boost your signal using the internet.
For some reason they go through a bit of a hoo ha before they consider that you should get one but eventually they admitted that my signal was poor and sent us one. What a difference. I've gone from no signal (or one bar) to a full four. Wow, excellent.
Now all I've got to do is get the system to recognise Jan's phone as well and we're sorted.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

It's a joke

On the subject of watching comedians I'd noticed that one of our favorites had just announced a tour. I checked to see if he was appearing near us and the closest I could get was York.
No problem it's only an hour away so I started the booking process. I chose a Friday (not sure why, just can't get out of the weekend habit) but I could only get individual seats, we couldn't sit together. So then I switched to the day before, Thursday, and there was no problem.
What's interesting about all that? The booking was for November 2014.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A paddle in the North Sea

We don't go to Middlesbrough very often, in fact this was the second time in as many years and the reason is quite straightforward. We wanted to see Sean Lock, who we both find very funny, and couldn't get tickets, because he was sold out in or around Harrogate, our preferred venue. We could however get tickets at a venue in Middlesbrough.
Whilst Middlesbrough is only about 45 minutes by the shortest route, like the previous time, we set off for a trip across the North Yorkshire moors with a stop for lunch in Levisham and a paddle in the sea (Jan not me) at Runswick Bay.
 The Horseshoe Inn in Levisham is good. It offers solid, tasty, wholesome cooking that is not too expensive. Jan's belly pork and my lamb shank were both very good. The remote village of Levisham is situated up the other side of a steep gorge from A169 and it's not the sort of place that you come across by accident. We found the pub after a bit of research and it was a good find.
The detour to Runswick Bay was a bit of a trip down memory lane for Jan who, as a very young child, used to visit Middlesbrough for a holiday (do you know anyone else on earth who would visit Middlesbrough for a holiday?) and Runswick Bay was one of the places she went to.
Sean Lock, a standup comedian, was touring with his Purple Van Man show and we had tickets for The Town Hall. Looking at life through a skewed white van man perspective, he was very, very funny.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Another use for WD40

'Help me separate these, I've tried everything,' said Jan.
'Yeah, no problem,' said he. Except there was a problem and they wouldn't shift. Somehow two ceramic flower pots had got stuck one inside the other and they wouldn't budge.
'OK, which shall I break,' said he.
'I like them both,' said she.
'OK, I'll try one last thing before I break one,' said he. 'Where's the WD40?' Frankly I didn't think it would work. After about four minutes when lots of heaving and straining I put them to one side to wash my hands.
Suddenly there was a cracking sound and then, after another few seconds, another. Bingo, they pulled apart relatively easily.
Who's your daddy?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rory Stewart

Wow, that was an interesting evening. Let me explain.
Since we've been back I (we've) taken a bit more interest in politics. We have the time and the interest.
We arrived too late to vote in the last national elections and out of curiosity I started to take a small interest in who won in our area. Geographically it's a very big area and would stretch the incumbent.
Then, somewhat by accident I came across a friend of our MP who I found out had been invited to speak locally. Our MP is Julian Smith and his friend is Rory Stewart. Stewart in particular interested me because of what he has achieved at such an early age. If you take a look at his Wiki page and look at his achievements it's almost unbelievable.
Having now met him I could easily see him as Prime Minister. Watch this space.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


A cracking end to the cricket today. Very exciting.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Well waddaya know

One of the reasons we bought the house we did when we moved back to the UK was its proximity to large open spaces and some lovely woods with a small river running through it. All perfect for dog walking.
What we didn't fully appreciate is the hidden benefit of the woods and river. As the sun beats down relentlessly at the moment the wood, no more than two minutes away, provide a wonderful shade for both ourselves and the dogs. Cool.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Phew what a scorcher

Several months back I booked tickets to visit the Great Yorkshire Show. In all the years I lived in Harrogate I can't remember ever visiting and, as Jan was keen to go, it was a no brainer. The roads around the showground can get very congested but I did a little research and followed the instructions (even though it was a little circuitous) and got there and parked with no problem. The showground is huge and frankly the sun was too hot (28C) and, in order to avoid sunburn, we kept bobbing in and out of some of the covered halls to get a little relief from the searing heat. It wasn't much better.
Anyway, you certainly see the great and the good and judging from the accents they were from far and wide.

Monday, July 8, 2013

What can you say

So I called my mum last night to discuss something totally different and she started the conversation by saying, 'so that Murray won. But that man he was playing was serving ever so aggressively.'

What am I going to do?

I always get depressed at the end of the football season and wonder what I'm going to do for sport entertainment over the summer months. However, every year it works out. In between rugby, tennis, motor racing and darts (just joking about the darts) the months fly by. In a little over a month the footie season starts again, yippee.
I was chatting to my next door neighbour Darren, also a football fan, about football on television. He installs industrial cables for a living and travels around the country to do it. He had just returned from an atomic weapons research establishment (they make nuclear bombs) and the conversation got round to security and the two hours it took them to get into the place even though they had security clearance.
Anyway, the conversation then turned to security in prison where he had also worked. He mentioned a reported conversation between a notorious killer, and the prison governor at Wakefield high security prison. The governor is alleged to have said that as times were tight he needed to make cutbacks. The prisoner is alleged to have said to him, 'let me get onto the same wing as the nonces and I'll make the cut backs for you.'

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Do my ears deceive me?

So I'm sitting here writing this rubbish when I hear a loud but distant shout from outside.
I can't quite believe it.
What I think I hear is "ragnbone".
We both look outside and true enough there's a small flatbed piled high with scrap metal doing a u-turn. I can't remember the last time I heard that cry.
However, I think these guys might need a little marketing help. At the speed they're driving there isn't a cat in hells chance that you would have time to hear their message, gather together what you wanted to give them, get outside and stop them.
It reminded me of this clip from Morecambe and Wise.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wensleydale Railway

Following on from yesterday's post, I have to say that I didn't really enjoy the train journey. They used a diesel train exactly the same as the type I used to travel to school in many years ago. Whilst I would expect the carriages to be suffering quite a bit of wear and tear after 50 years I have never quite got used to the constant smell of diesel fumes that get into the carriage and this made me feel a little unwell. I suffered in silence but it made me feel a little queasy. We did however check out when the steam trains would run so that if we decided to come back later with the little ones it wouldn't be a problem.
The journey between Leeming and Leyburn took about 35 minutes with some lovely scenery but probably a little too long to keep very young ones amused so we will shorten the trip next time by starting in Bedale where there also happens to be a children's farm. If they only realised the planning that goes into their holidays.
Anyway, Leyburn itself was nice, with a typical market square. If we'd had enough time (we only had about 45 minutes sit down time before the return journey) I would have liked to eat at the Sandpiper but as that was not to be, we walked around the square and had fish and chips sitting on a wooden bench outside Barclays Bank.