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

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

The Jury’s Still Out

It’s in the news that everyone has loads of old gadgets stockpiled in drawers. Well yes, we have quite a few lined up to recycle ourselves. Of course what should happen is that councils should make kerbside collections of electronics. They just need to put a plastic collection bag through everyone’s door like the charities do then collect it the next week. They’d only have to do this once every six months. Unfortunately the whole refuse collection system, with it’s one size fits all approach but a different size for each council, is a mess so this won’t happen.
We have just three days at work this week before we depart for our usual summer break in Scotland.

Monday is dog training, which is on after a quick whip around to see if we have enough dogs without Kennel Cough. There’s a lot of it about at the moment.

On Tuesday there’s a match as Derby take on Bristol City. This means L will go for an early night to avoid spending all evening chucking balls in the garden. However it appears the Lad isn’t very happy with this decision and spends his evening lobbing balls up and down the stairs on his own.

Then on Wednesday I slot in a night out with my mate from school. It’s just the two of us this time and we meet in the Exeter for drinks and food in an effort to break the deadlock of good beer\rubbish food (Brunswick or Wetherspoons) or decent food\no beer (all the restaurants\cafes). The beer was good while the jury’s still out on the food... but it was better than the usual suspects. 

(Wednesday 21st August)

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Don't Ask For Yorkshire Pudding

On Sunday I am back at the Leek Half Marathon for the first time since 2011. Which was when L convinced me what a great race it was beforehand and then vowed how much she hated it afterwards. We’ve not been back since.

The race has had a bit of a chequered history since then. It was cancelled in 2014 and was nearly lost to the calendar completely. It was reduced to 10 miles last year due to moorland fires.

So it’s good to be back and to find that nothing has actually changed. They do say it’s a different route these days but I couldn’t tell. Needless to say it still isn’t flat. Although I suppose the selling point is the great view from the Roaches, if you can get enough oxygen in to your lungs by then to enjoy it.

The only thing that has obviously changed is me. Did I really run this in 1:43 in 2011? I do 1:53 today.

Afterwards we go looking for a Sunday Lunch and make the mistake of visiting Mr Grundy’s in Derby. They have some decent beer but we waited 40 minutes to be served our Sunday Lunch. When we politely asked what the hold up was they said they were waiting for the Yorkshire Puddings.  Then they unilaterally decided to serve it to us without. Perhaps they didn’t dare tell us how much longer it would be and they didn’t even give us more of something else to make up for it.

In the evening we read a review of the place and find out that our experience there isn’t uncommon. 

(Sunday 18th August)

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Once Upon a Time... in Leamington

On Saturday we go over to Leamington to visit Son and of course to do a Parkrun. L may not be quite up to running at the moment so instead she decides to walk Leamington parkrun with Son. Yes, that shocked us too. She’s signed him up with a barcode and everything. He seems surprisingly up for it but I’m sure he’ll never do another one and he looks well ready for his breakfast afterwards.

In the evening, we're at Broadway.
Set in 1969, Quentin Tarantino's new film 'Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood' is two stories ran in parallel. The first is total fiction and concerns Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), a TV cowboy in the long running series ‘Bounty Law’.

Rick is now a fading star as Hollywood moves on to newer and younger things. So Rick is attempting to reinvent himself but is only being offered bit parts as a bad guy. On the downward curve alongside him is his stunt man Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). They are drinking buddies but while Rick lives in luxury in the Hollywood hills, Cliff lives in a trailer with his dog, Brandy. 

Meanwhile, living next door to Rick on Cielo Drive is Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) with his wife Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). Cue the second story, a factual one that is about to get the Tarantino treatment.

The film is set in the months leading up the real life murder of the pregnant Tate and all the other occupants of the house on Cielo Drive at that time. Tarantino slow burns through that period filling in Rick and Cliff’s story and dropping in casual encounters with Charles Manson (Damon Herriman) and some of his ‘Family’ members. Cliff even visits Spahn Ranch to see an old acquaintance George Spahn (Bruce Dern) where the Family are now holed up.

Where is the film going? Of course with Tarantino you can never be sure until you get there. He could have recreated the murders. He certainly wouldn't have baulked at that. In fact you find yourself waiting for tragedy to strike knowing that with Tarantino they would have been in equal parts brilliant and unwatchable but he didn't. Thankfully he didn't. The title of the film implies this is a fairy tale, where endings can be anything you want them to be, so all bets are off.

Overall it’s a long, but mesmerizing, film with all the usual immaculate detail along with an incredible soundtrack (naturally), great cinematography, great acting especially DiCaprio and Pitt among plenty of famous names both as actors and as characters played by other actors. Typically there’s plenty of drugs and violence, and a stirring of controversy in casting Cliff as a wife killer among other things in the film to get people wound up but most of all Tarantino does what he does best. He tells a great story.

Some Quentin Tarantino movies of late have disappointed, this one doesn’t. This is right up there with his best. He might as well retire now.

(Saturday 17th August)

Friday, 16 August 2019

Stop Holding Hands There At The Front

It was a bit blustery on the bike on Thursday, which obviously just makes it more fun... L manages to swim which means her hip must at least be letting her get in and out of the water.
It’s still blustery when we play wind assisted tennis later, which obviously just makes it less fun... I have enough problems keeping the ball in the court as it is. While L has her final tennis session.

Much later, I’m sat up in bed in the early hours watching Triathlon’s Olympic Test Event in Tokyo on my laptop. In the women’s event GB’s Jess Learmonth and Georgia Taylor-Brown destroyed the field and took 1st and 2nd places only to then be disqualified for holding hands. FFS. Apparently they engineered a dead heat. FFS. That’s yet another bizarre rule introduced by a governing body who continually seems to want to undermine their own sport e.g. this was yet another mind-numbingly dull course on dual carriageways. It’s one of the few sports I’m not actively trying to get Olympic tickets for.

I doubt the girls are too bothered. Everyone knows who won, there were no World Triathlon Series points on offer and the event was all about finishing in the top three to meet the selection criteria for the GB Olympic team. Job done I’d say. See you both at Tokyo 2020, although obviously we’ll be at the Archery instead.

Or perhaps the Canoeing. On Friday I hear about some Olympic tickets going on sale on the Hungarian ticket site, so I have a dig around to see what they have and I add some Canoe Sprint tickets to our portfolio.  

Also on Friday L’s back at PT despite her hip. Her session again seemed to consist mostly of boxing which she seems to really like. It’s a shame the chap’s leaving at the end of October.
In the afternoon she goes over to visit her folks and we meet up after I’ve finished work for a cheeky one in the Exeter.

(Friday 16th August)

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Only Acoustic

The weather is foul. After donning full waterproofs, walking to the Yard for our usual Wednesday pizza and getting soaked, we find out that the pizza oven is broken. So I had to have a chicken sandwich instead. Hardly enough to get me through my gig tonight even if it did come with sweet potato fries. It's a good job it's only (semi) acoustic.

It's also a free gig. That is if you pre-ordered Feeder's new album 'Tallulah' from Rough Trade. I had learnt my lesson from before and didn't buy the album in the band's own pre-sale when it was announced months ago and instead waited to see if these launch gigs would again be set up. Which they were.

It saves you ending up with multiple copies of the same album, which clearly the band don't mind you doing as the whole point of all this marketing is to get high sales in week 1 and hence get the album in to the charts. As of the night of this gig the album was due to land at number 4 but the chart itself isn't confirmed until Friday. We shall see where it ends up.

Upstairs in the bar at Rough Trade is a really good place to see a band in an intimate venue, although the place is designed in such a way that only about 20 people can actually see the band.

Feeder are playing semi-acoustically mainly because you can really get a full drum kit on the small stage let alone all your other band paraphernalia but then all Grant Nicholas requires to sound outstanding is his acoustic guitar. That he backed by Taka Hirose on bass, Tommy Gleeson on guitar and Geoff Holroyde on bongos (although they call them something else) and maracas (allegedly down his sock) is a bonus.

They played five full tracks from Tallulah and four oldies although as everybody there were pretty much Feeder hardcore armed with the new album they didn't really need to do the crowd pleasers that they did.

Personally I'd have been well happy if they'd ran through the whole of the new album but it was quite clear they'd only rehearsed the five songs. So the comment by Nicholas that they were making the set up as they went along wasn't quite true.

We got one of those dodgy Feeder votes where he asked for everyone's favourite from Tallulah and when he didn't get the answers he wanted he asked the band instead. Then we got small snippets of other Tallulah songs that Nicholas effectively did solo because the rest of the band hadn't rehearsed them.

Of the ones they played in full 'Fear Of Flying' is my favourite being old school Feeder. It crackles with electricity and is laden with hooks. 'Youth' meanwhile is a summery throwback that will take you back and it's classic upbeat Feeder. While 'Daily Habit' is brilliantly quirky and Britpopish. These three are the standouts from the album and presumably nailed on for November's tour.

'Kite' meanwhile leaves me cold, it's a bit too Beatles-ish for my tastes and sounds like a filler while 'Blue Sky Blue' is them trying a bit too hard to anthemic, stadiumish etc. Give me 'Windmill' instead any day, of which they only play a snippet, with its epic quiet-loud sound. Granted it's not really suited for an acoustic set.

At the end Nicholas asked for requests and got a wide selection of obscurities from long deleted debut release 'Chicken On The Bone' to 2004 b-side 'Victoria'. Honestly if people actually shouted for something half sensible that they could play then we might actually get it! Instead he reluctantly agreed to play 'Buck Rogers' despite the fact I didn't actually hear anyone call for it...

Overall though a very relaxed 50 minute set with some great new songs.

(Photos stolen from Feeder Facebook)

(Wednesday 14th August)

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Ready For A Change

L is at the Tennis Centre Physio on Monday, where she finds out that she has Gluteal Tendinopathy. She is still allowed to run and is encouraged to keep mobile but to cut out sitting. They also told her she has to keep her legs apart. I found that bit quite amusing but I didn’t dare ask how I could help.

In an unrelated fitness decision, she has cancelled her direct debit for her tennis coaching. She says she’s ready for a change. She has to give a month's notice but given that we are away for the rest of this month, this means that this week’s session will be her last one.

Of course when she goes to the gym on Tuesday they tell her at the desk that they’re sorry to hear she’s leaving the gym. Cancelling anything with the City Council is always hard work, so we’re hardly surprised they’ve messed this one up.

Monday I’m at dog training while I spend Tuesday evening at my Dad’s signing him up to a new car insurance provider after his existing one doubled his premium after he was subject to a scam claim on it. 

(Tuesday 13th August)

Sunday, 11 August 2019

A Pleasant Leg Stretch

L is so convinced she isn’t going to be running the Burton 10k today that she breaks her own boundaries before we even roll out of bed. Then she decides she is fit to run and then blitzes it in a good time.

Although she nearly didn’t get the chance to blitz anything as we struggle to get to the start at Shobnall Leisure Centre because most of the surrounding roads are closed due to road works. We have to abandon our car in a street somewhere and walk the rest of the way, as do a fair number of the competitors although others do seem to have cracked the secret code and found a way to the car park.

The course is undulating, or rather largely uphill in the first half and downhill in the second half. It finishes with a lap of the athletics track at Shobnall. It was a pleasant leg stretch.

In the evening we are at Broadway to see Animals. 
Laura (Holliday Grainger) and Tyler (Alia Shawkat) are two friends who share a flat in Dublin and enjoy a hedonistic lifestyle with lashings of drink, drugs and casual sex. Robin Ellacott as you've never seen her before.

The pair simply get through their days so that they can live their nights but you have to wonder how, as they both appear to work as baristas, they can afford to do this. It is true that they do seem to have a knack of finding functions where there is free drink on offer while Tyler is shameless about decanting the dregs left in other people’s glasses into her own. There is barely a single scene in the film where wine is not being drunk or drugs being snorted. A lot of the film’s budget must have gone on ‘substances.

The girls’ friendship is a close one, at times they even share a bed and rarely leave each other's side, but as they enter their 30s Laura begins to wonder if it’s time to avert an early death and grow up. She’d also quite like to finish the book she’s been writing for the last ten years, which only stretches to ten pages at the moment.

Her sister, once their partying partner in crime, is now married, pregnant and sober. She is increasingly disapproving of her sister's lifestyle and of Tyler in particular. Whereas Laura is close to her family, Tyler never sees hers.

An opportunity for a more balanced way of life presents itself when Laura meets classical pianist Jim (Fra Fee). He is diligent, level-headed and hard working. A grown up even. Everything she isn’t. 

Jim tries to fit in with Laura’s partying but he just isn’t very good at it. While Laura starts to think more and more that settling down with Jim might be quite a nice option. She tries to bridge both of her worlds, not wanting to become as boring as her sister but equally not wanting to abandon her best friend, and mostly fails. Tyler is quick to see which way the wind is blowing and doesn’t like the prospect of losing her friend.

Laura then compounds her dilemma by meet a dodgy poet called Marty (Dermot Murphy) who she clearly has the hots for but can’t follow through, well... almost but not entirely, you assume out of loyalty to Jim. Then when she finds out that Jim is cheating on her she has the nerve to be upset about it. They separate, leaving Laura alone to perhaps finally finish that book...

It’s one of those films that just drifts along and that’s a style I really like. None of the characters in the film are particularly likeable, so it’s hard to know where your sympathies lie, but that’s the point really. Well worth a look.

Saturday, 10 August 2019


I complete my 80th parkrun at Alvaston. It is Daughter’s first at Alvaston and therefore MD’s first there as well. L doesn’t run as she’s still having problems with her hip. She hopes resting it might mean she is ok for the Burton 10k tomorrow.

Parkrun try to get me to celebrate my 80th by purchasing one of their apricot coloured shirts which come personalised with your home parkrun event. They say this makes a great conversation starter. It does indeed, if your eyesight is as bad as mine squinting at other folk’s chests certainly does get people talking.

Today would have been Doggo’s birthday, so we toast him with a glass of something. This blog isn’t quite the same without him although the Lad has certainly taken up the baton of giving me something to write about.

There’s a match at 3pm and then afterwards I spend some time sorting out my Dad’s car insurance as it seems he’s been scammed by a fake accident without realising it.

(Saturday 10th August)

Friday, 9 August 2019


I hope L isn’t asleep at her desk because I am. Although her hip, which she says is very painful, is probably keeping her awake. The weather seems to have perked up so Monday night dog training is on.

Tuesday sees Wayne Rooney in Derby to sign a deal to become a player-coach at the club. This seems totally insane and makes a mockery of our youth policy. I also hate to think what it is costing but the club says it isn't costing anything because the sponsors are paying. I’m not sure that’s allowed... Oh and he's not even coming until January. At least he might actually be able to get in to our team unlike Ashley Cole last season.

The weather allows me to get in two days cycling in this week on Wednesday and Thursday. While the rain even stays away for tennis on Thursday. Where it is strange not to have to dry the court out before we play.

We now have a new improved taller dog gate installed at home and, so far, no-one's jumped it. The dog trouble comes on the morning walk instead. I thought the Lad had expired after he hung himself with his halti having a fit at another dog. He suddenly stopped having said fit at said dog and seemed to stop breathing. It took him a while to recover but he’s fine now and he hasn’t learnt from the experience.

L has personal training at 8am on Friday, so I am asked to kick her out of bed nice and early. This involves moving the Lad first before I can find her, as he has taken to sleeping between us. I just hope her hip, ankle and elbow are up to it. She says she’s ready for a nice, quiet, relaxing holiday. Ah. No camping, no dogs and no me then.

Her PT hunk has her boxing which she loves. So I will have to watch my step.
To keep her sweet I invest some money in making our holiday fit the bill of ‘nice, quiet and relaxing’. No, not a hotel. I buy a new double roll up mat to sleep on, which the dogs will love, a new light for the tent and a new gas stove because the old one keeps wobbling over. L keeps using this as an excuse to set fire to the tent.  

I had offered her a campervan but even L’s gone off that idea after seeing all the Scottish flood scenes on TV and she's had visions of it bobbing away down a torrential river with us in it.

(Friday 9th August)

Sunday, 4 August 2019

For The Hell Of It

The football season starts this weekend. Well, actually, it started on Friday night but Derby don’t start until Monday obviously, as is tradition.

After Friday’s 10k we do another race on Sunday. This is the Trentham 10k which starts in Tittensor and is part of the lesser known (e.g. we’ve never heard of it) Trentham Triple series which also includes the Dave Clarke 5 and the Werrington 10k.

We have missed the deadline for online entry because we were waiting to see it either\both of us (but mainly L) could still walk after Friday’s run. So we have to get out skates on to arrive there nice and early, way before the 10:30am start, to grab what are described as ‘very limited on the day places’ which are being issued on a first come, first served basis as they have apparently had a huge amount of enquiries.

We are there before the registration desk is even officially open and still we aren’t either first come or first served but we do get in.

Once the race starts I begin to wonder why there was an apparent huge demand as the course is evil.

After starting on the main road we take an immediate left turn into a housing estate, which was quite hilly itself, before re-joining the main road to make our way to the bottom of a climb up something they call Beech Caves. This was simply sadistic, we didn’t need to go that way at all because once up it we U-turned to come straight back down again. They took us up it purely for the hell of it and the ‘fun’ of it.

Apparently the race was formerly known as the John Oultram 10 which was a 10 miles long and consisted of two laps of a 5 mile course including two trips up Beech Caves. Sadly a few years ago it was re-jigged into single lap 10k race. It’s a shame because there simply aren’t enough 10 milers around. I imagine it wasn’t as popular as the 10ks are but perhaps they could have run both side by side.

My time of 49:57 is not great but in the hilly circumstances probably not too bad either.

(Sunday 4th August)

Friday, 2 August 2019

Some Certainty In Our Lives

The week ends with the Castle Rock 10K at Nottingham University, this was formerly the Jägermeister of course. It is the seventh time I’ve done it, having done the Jägermeister version five years out of six from 2007 to 2012 and in some ridiculously good times. Now known as my good years...

I’ve only done it once since and this was in 2016 after Castle Rock took over. This year we find out they’ve changed the course. How dare they! We all need some certainty in our lives and this was it.

I don’t know if it’s a permanent change or not as their website says that ‘due to ongoing work around the lake area the course is subject to change’. It’s not a totally bad change, it’s just disconcerting. Actually it is a bad change because the second lap is no longer shorter than the first one, which was always nice.

Clearly my legs don’t like it as I’m three minutes slower than I’ve ever been in 48:34. Apart from that, everything else about the race was great. It was as well run as ever with some 'nice' hills.

The other thing about this race, and another dose of certainty in our lives, is that they’ve never given out a t-shirt that I’ve felt was socially wearable. No change there. So some certainty remains. Phew.

(Friday 2nd August)

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Everywhere You Turn

After our dog show finished in the rain we decided to leave all the tents up to dry. This of course meant someone had to go back today to take them down. I offer to go after work but enough people volunteer before then to get them down before I even leave work.

So the Lad is over the moon with joy as he can go to his Monday evening training, to hopefully build on the good performances he put in over the weekend. L has the the less exciting prospect of going round to her parents’ to do some gardening. At least she can count it as a workout.

Our local Waitrose is to become a Lidl. Which doesn't seem to make much sense. I really can’t see them doing much good in Wollaton but then what do I know. I assume I won’t be able to get my Shrimp Paste there?

Along with Aldi, Lidl seems to be taking over. They are already building a new supermarket on the Beechdale Baths site and Aldi have just built a new one in Stapleford where I thought they were supposed to be building houses. It do comes with the requirement of a mere 10 houses and Aldi even tried to get that requirement removed.

After a day off the rain starts again and I get the bus into work on Tuesday but then I can’t get out of Derby Bus Station as they’ve closed half the bays and are digging something up. At the moment in Derby there are roadworks everywhere you turn.

L says the Lad must be growing up because he scooted up the garden with her trainer, rather than the apple she left on the worktop. That’s growing up?

The rain eventually stops briefly on Thursday and I get to cycle to work, with repaired cleats and I manage not to fall off.

My tennis is back after a two week hiatus. The only problem is the rain has started again. We go ahead and play but get an additional workout drying out the court. Well, our squeegee muscles do.

(Thursday 1st August)