"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Sunday 17 December 2023

Christmas Bash

I have the whole week off work and on Thursday I take my Dad to the Golden Rams Christmas Bash at Pride Park. It’s all free for him but I have to pay a tenner for my Christmas lunch. Which is a bit of an odd affair consisting of roast turkey or beef with roast potatoes but also with salad and a choice of coleslaw, egg mayo or tuna mayo. All a bit weird.

They attempt to get everyone singing the ‘12 Days Of Christmas’ and fail miserably. Then we all play the impossible to win ‘Play Your Cards Right’ followed by Bingo, a Quiz and then a Q&A with four of the players, two from the women’s team and two from the men’s.

L meanwhile is in the Derbion centre, her ‘favourite’ place, and she walks over to us offering to drive us home if I want more Prosecco but personally I found the free one they offered us more than enough. Back at home we do a walk on the park which is now feasible as they are open late for the Christmas lights.

On Friday we are off on our travels again as we head up to Monsal Head. We take a 10.5km walk along the old railway line to Millers Dale station and then back again after stopping half-way for a coffee. We are staying at the Monsal Head Hotel where we have a meal and drink their Pennine Beers or at least I do. L is on the Prosecco. The food is nothing special but very welcome.

Of course Parkrun is the main reason we are here and we do that in the morning before heading back to the hotel for the late breakfast they have offered us. Which was very good of them. In fact they look after us very well the whole time we are there. We then have to head back home as I’m at the match as Derby play Wycombe.

We stay in in the evening mostly because L is booked in for a very early PT session at 6:45am on Sunday to make up for the one she missed while we were away. She’s even up before the Lad and back home before either of us has got up. So she joins us back in bed.

Later we continue this rather busy week by travelling over to Leamington to see Son. L and Son so some Christmas shopping before the Lad and I join them in the Horse for Sunday Lunch.

In the evening I have a gig at the Rescue Rooms.

(Sunday 17th December)

The Ruts DC

Support comes from Voodoo Radio who are a father and daughter two 2-piece. It’s not often you see that. Particularly as he, Tony on guitar, is 64. Paige plays drums, just a tom-tom and a snare, standing up and does most of the vocals. This limited set up is surprisingly effective as the two of them play their generally short but lively numbers but it’s not just about the music with them.

She’s not shy, introducing songs such as ‘Basic Bitch’ which is a song about what her brother calls her. While he acts as a straight man to her ramblings. They are quite a combo, playing well off each other.

Apparently where they are from in Barrow in Furness, a coal mining town, ‘Slag Bank’ means something completely different to what is does down south. While she says ‘Turn Out The Light’ is about a one night stand. He says it’s about saving electricity.

Voodoo Radio are quite a thing, unique and very entertaining. Well worth seeing.

Then it’s time for the Ruts DC. I came to the Ruts late, after they had finished, but was taken by their take on punk despite their occasional reggae diversions that I wasn't so struck on. They only released two albums and the second of those was actually released after their front man Malcolm Owen died from a heroin overdose in 1980 at the age of 26.

The band continued for while under the name Ruts DC but eventually disbanded in 1983. At which point I discovered them.

The band had a 24-year break but when another original member Paul Fox died of cancer the two remaining members bassist John ‘Segs’ Jennings and drummer Dave Ruffy got back together and have continued ever since. They have recorded and released plenty of new music, not wanting to be a Ruts tribute act.

 

Those two, along with Leigh Heggarty on guitar, stroll onto the stage, smartly attired. Suited and booted. Looking very cool.

They open with ‘Faces in the Sky’ from their latest ‘Counterculture’ album, then seamlessly go back several decades for the Ruts classic ‘SUS’.

 

For ninety minutes or so they deliver all the oldies such as ‘Something That I Said’, ‘West One (Shine On Me)’ and yes the reggae of ‘Jah War’ but their never songs are equally appreciated.

‘In a Rut’ turns into a medley that includes the Pogues ‘Dirty Old Town’ as a tribute to the recently departed Shane McGowan. While the set closer is the epic ‘Babylon’s Burning’.

 

They return for an encore that sandwiches the 1979 single ‘Staring at the Rude Boys’ between two newer tracks, closing with ‘Psychic Attack’ from the 2016 album ‘Music Must Destroy’, before sending us out into the cold night seriously warmed up.

Wednesday 13 December 2023

December In Lakeland

We’re not at work on Friday and after a very welcome lie-in we head up to the Lakes. Just the four of us.

We are staying in Chapel Stile at Speddy Cottage. On the first evening we eat at the New Dungeon Ghyll after having tried to eat at the Sticklebarn, which is now run by Lanty Slees rather than the National Trust, but find building work going on there.

The New Dungeon Ghyll has its best beer range for many a year with its beers now coming from the Fell Brewery in Grange over Sands.

Saturday is the Lad’s birthday for which we take him to Rothay Parkrun in Ambleside, which he has to watch from the car. They have had to alter the course due to all the rain they’ve had and it’s still raining when we get there. Afterwards we head to Slates cafĂ© in Elterwater for breakfast. Then we are back at the cottage in time to watch the Christmas Pudding 10k run past our front door.

In the evening we eat in the Wainwrights after doing the usual un-musical tables thing for three tables before getting an appropriate one.

On Sunday we are back at Slates for breakfast after trying again to support Lanty Slees but it’s not working out as their Wayside Pulpit does not seem to be opening until lunchtime. We could, I suppose, have gone for an evening meal there. Maybe next trip.

We then do a drive around the Langdale Valley to Blea Tarn then back to cottage. L and I run later with the Lad and the rain actually stops. We discover a £1.50 a slab cake stop across the road from out cottage which goes well with our coffee. We eat at Old Dungeon Ghyll and of course sample the Old Peculiar but they also have a 5.5% Stout on. 

On Monday we check out of the cottage and mix things up with breakfast at the Pier cafe in Ambleside. Then we do some shopping in Keswick with coffee at the Java cafe.

Back at home in Nottingham a man arrives unannounced to do the guttering which surprises Daughter and probably gets her out of bed. We try to discuss with him what we need doing over the phone but this is the Lake District and phones don’t work well up here, so we hope he knows what he’s doing.

In the afternoon we visit Derwentwater Lake before arriving at our second accommodation at the Mortal Man where dogs are now apparently classed as VIPs or so the man on the desk says. We eat in hotel where the food is very good and the Lad and I share a cheeseboard. It is washed down with Hawkshead Dry Stone Stout and for my dad a whiskey because he discovers they have his new favourite Bowmore. L probably has a touch too much mulled wine.

On Tuesday we do tourism in style and take a boat trip on Windermere. We travel from Ambleside to Bowness, have a coffee, then travel back. After that we visit the Hawkshead Brewery where they have a lively Baltic Porter but again no Brodies Prime. I am assured that they still brew it and it was on last week. They just don’t brew when they know I’m coming. 


Back at the hotel we indulge in a ‘Tuesday’ night presaged with a soak in the bath like we used to when we had a bath at home. Sadly the bath is tepid but the barley wine we have bought from the Hawkhead Brewery is warming. We eat again in the hotel although for some reason the service is this time very slow and there’s a guitarist in bar who is more annoying that entertaining.

In the morning, we take the Lad a brief walk around Troutbeck and then head home visiting Lakeside and Newby Bridge on the way.

We attempt to work off some of the excess by going to the gym together when we get back and working out under the gym’s minimalist Xmas tree. 

(Wednesday 13th December)

Thursday 7 December 2023

Whamageddon

Monday is wet, the park’s a bit like a paddy field and we are deer blocked again. Meaning we have to turn around and come back out the way we’d gone in. Sadly the heavy rain has washed away the remnants of the snow.

L is out on the town both Monday and Tuesday this week, well I suppose it is Christmas. She’s at a book thing with Philippa Langley on Monday and then at Niccos for an Indian with her friends on Tuesday.

While I have my own Indian with the Dog Club at Anoki on Monday where the restaurant plays ‘that song’ by Wham meaning I am already out of the Whamageddon challenge having only reached day four. This though is better than the supporters at the Northampton v Portsmouth game on Saturday where the DJ at the ground later apologised for playing said record and potentially eliminating more than 7,000 people out of the game on day two.

Then on Tuesday I’m chilling (literally) at the match. It’s very cold but Derby beat Fleetwood 3-0 in the Cup no one cares about, the EFL Trophy.

Afterwards my Dad and I are in the Exeter where he’s on the whiskeys to warm up but we’re having problems because the Ginger Ale is too cold and he’s entertaining the regulars in the pub with his tales of old Derby. Meanwhile I’m googling what he’s saying to see if he’s making it up.

Also on Tuesday Daughter has a job interview for which she dresses as a German art student (her words, not mine). Then she's playing squash but probably not dressed like that.

Wednesday turns out very icy with all the puddles from the previous day having iced over. Then I have my HIIT session with my Physio where he has upped the ante to 40 seconds on each activity with only 20 seconds rest in between. Then it’s my last dogging of the year.

L and I ponder doing the gym together in the evening on Thursday but in the end we stay in and open a bottle of wine. We are very good though and just have one glass each. L says ‘let’s run away’ to which I point out that we are doing on Friday.

(Thursday 7th December)

Sunday 3 December 2023

Paranoid

I always try to be sociable on my morning walks but three chaps, who I see every day and always appear reluctant to return my greeting, now seem to have changed their route. I assume this is purely so that they don’t have to say good morning to me anymore or perhaps I'm being paranoid.

Friday has a rare Friday night and that is actually on a Friday with a home cooked curry and a Leffe.

On Saturday we go to Market Bosworth for parkrun where we both run. Sadly there is nowhere for coffee afterwards as their coffee van is only opening as we leave. I drop L in Derby and then take my Dad to Asda. After that excitement my Dad and I recover with lunch in the New Inn. In the evening L goes to the gym and then we go with the Lad to the Plough.

It snows overnight and so like three overexcited kids L, the Lad and I go out for a play in it or rather a run because that’s the sort of thing we do. Then we head to the Wollaton for a sausage cob and coffee for breakfast.

As I sit in the Wollaton I can see that there is a major trauma going on on social media about whether, given the Baltic conditions, our Dog Club AGM should go ahead. Given it doesn’t start until 3pm the drama is probably overblown as come 3pm the snow is almost a distant memory and the meeting goes ahead. I am re-elected as secretary for my sins.

 (Sunday 3rd December)

Thursday 30 November 2023

It's a HIIT

Monday is my cycling and for a variety afterwards my Dad and I go in the Dolphin. In my pub going experiences of the last 35 years, despite being Grade II and dating from the late 16th century, the pub has never been much good. I pop in once very few years and always find it a bit scruffy with dubious beer but then that’s just my opinion.

Tuesday is dog training with my ever-so-slightly improved dog while L starts the day, as ever, with her PT but this time she sends me an Instagram link of her doing her weights. A link I can’t find as I don’t really do Instagram... and for some reason these things disappear after 24 hours?

The morning walks have been frosty and pleasant all week, e.g. we didn’t upset anyone and no one upset us, until Wednesday when we got deer blocked and had to return back the way we came. 

Wednesday is my first HIIT session with my physio. This is basically cardio with dumbbells but no music. There are limits. It consists of 10 exercises for 30 seconds each with 30 seconds rest in between. Repeated three times. It is quite taxing and I even take a drink in with me.

On Thursday, as I’m snowed under with work, L takes my Dad to his physio session aka his social event. He does love a trip out.

(Thursday 30th November)

 

Tom Robinson

Tonight I am at Nottingham’s Old Cold Store to see Tom Robinson. The Old Cold Store is part of the Vat and Fiddle pub owned by Castle Rock Brewery so the audience is at least assured a good pint.

The Cold Store is also really cold. This is partly because it’s late November but also because it appears that the venue is just the pub’s backyard that they’ve (sort of) put a roof on. This is also (sort of) a seated gig and they’ve put chairs out for us old folks. Although you can stand at the back if you’re hardcore and/or you want to jump around to keep warm. Note to self: bring gloves next time.

 

Support comes from a chap called Rob Green who is originally from Nottingham. As always with a Tom Robinson show the support artist has been featured on his 6 Music Show and is introduced by the man himself. Green plays a short 20 minute set which only consists of three songs, a poem and a medley of covers but then he is hauled back on stage for one more called ‘I’ll Be Around’ which is the best one he does. He’s decent and hits some amazingly high notes with his voice.

After giving us a chance to get another beer, Robinson comes on stage, rolls his sleeves up, and launches into the first of two 45 minutes sets with a track I didn’t know ‘You Tattooed Me’ from his 1986 album ‘Still Loving You’. One of several songs that he plays tonight that I’ve not heard before.

 

This evening it is just him, without his band, and 'up close and personal' is the title of the show and that is what we get. Just Tom, his guitar and his keyboard.

The two sets will have an intermission in between. This is presumably another innovation along with the chairs for us oldies and for himself, a sprightly 73 year old.

During his reworking of ‘Fifty’ as in ‘what if we live to be fifty’ that he has now called ‘Eighty’ out of necessity as he’s now obviously way past being fifty, he tells of the three things getting older has changed in his performances. Firstly that he has to write down any new song lyrics or else he’ll forget then. Secondly, that having written them down he can’t actually read them. The third thing slips his memory.

His memory is strong though concerning his former TRB band colleague Danny Kustow to which he dedicates ‘Too Good To Be True’. A tale about Kustow is just one of his many recollections about his songs he tells tonight.

 

Robinson is also still a vocal critic of everything wrong in the world and also of abuses of power hence one of his newer songs ‘The Mighty Sword of Justice’. Then after ‘Atmospherics: Listen to the Radio’ he takes a break, so that we can all have a lie down.

Part two includes such classics as ‘Grey Cortina’, ‘War Baby’, ‘Glad to Be Gay’ and ‘Up Against the Wall’ before he closes with a ‘short medley of my greatest hit’ i.e. ‘2-4-6-8 Motorway’.

He treats us to one more which is the rather poignant ‘Only the Now’. It’s a personal favourite of his about the reality that the past is the past but that the future is always unknown and we all have to live in the moment. Sound advice and an excellent night.

Sunday 26 November 2023

Ford Capri

L has a busy day on Friday. A swim and gym at Lenton and then the frequently stressful trip to Mickleover. I have a Committee meeting in the evening. Not really the thing you want on a Friday but finding a mutually convenient date for these meetings is always hard.

On Saturday we take Parkrun on the road to Belton House near Grantham and even I join in. Then we are both in Derby, L’s in the Derbion and I’m at the match. My Dad has spent the morning driving an old Ford Capri up at Ambergate which was last year’s Christmas present from my brother. Now he wants his own Capri, just to sit on his drive so that he can look at it. That’s a bit indulgent but before thinking about that he needs a new freezer as his old one has just packed up.

In the evening we are out for a curry with friends. L and I have a drink first in the Good Fellow George then we meet them down at the Laguna Tandoori. This was once our favourite Indian Restaurant and I’ve been going here, off and on, since 1992. Unfortunately we haven’t been that impressed the last few times we’ve been and tonight it is again very average. There is also a long wait for our main course.

On Sunday the Lad and I have one of our vanishingly rare dog shows. That’s his fault not mine or at least that’s the story I’m sticking to. This means L again has to do the Sunday run without us.

The show goes a lot better than I expected. ‘We' are still crap obviously but not as crap as I expected ‘we’ would be. His weaving was good although never at the first attempt and his Steeplechase course was outstanding apart from the extra tunnel he slotted in when he though no one was looking. The problem was that the judge certainly was looking. Overall though we’re still speaking and I’m slightly enthused.

Later I do the gym with L and then raise a glass to Terry Venables who sadly died this weekend. 

(Sunday 26th November)

Thursday 23 November 2023

Decorations

We are now officially in the Christmas build up because the Christmas lights are up at the house across the road from us.

Monday night cycling is a bit mad with a full complement of 28 riders on the track and at one point they had to stop the session to tell everyone to calm down.

When I get home, as ever, the Lad refuses to greet me and stays upstairs because I am arm in arm with my trusty steed. Which is otherwise known as the evil bike that hisses at him when I blow up its tyres.

L is at PT on Tuesday while I also brave the gym. Which was hard work as the day after cycling always is. It's not really the best day to go.

Our next door neighbours are having a porch or something similar built. Either that or they are having very permanent Christmas decorations to upstage those across the road. If it’s a porch it’s going to be a very small one person one.

On Wednesday the Lad gets a double training session at tunnel night. He sleeps well after that.

On Thursday L and I do a post-work gym session together at 5pm. It is busy but not horrific as we thought it might be. Then we head off to a gig together as I take L to see one of her faves of back in the day - Big Country.

(Thursday 23rd November)