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

Sunday 31 December 2023

Love Is Blind

Christmas Day of course starts with Parkrun, which we do at Long Eaton and it also turns out to be L’s 300th. So that’s a cause for celebration. Then we head over to Derby to take L’s Mum to the care home to visit L’s Dad. While they are doing that I collect my Dad and we all have coffee at L’s Mum.

Then we take my Dad to the Plough for a beer before roast lamb for dinner back at our place followed by Christmas pudding of which we still have plenty accrued from those halcyon days when we used to do races. Christmas pud that is served with both ice cream and custard if you’re my Dad.

Boxing Day is traditionally the run at the Furnace in Derby. We have to detour to my Dad’s place as he’s forgotten some presents and we are running late by the time we get there. Against my better judgement I opt to run with the Lad who get mega wound up when the start is delayed.

Afterwards we hand over the baton (my Dad) to my brother who comes down for a drink where they have different versions of Sleigh Puft on both cask and keg.

The next day Storm Gerrit rides into town for the 50th Aston on Trent walk. The Lad and I walk the short route in the rain and don’t see a soul. L brings my Dad down to the Memorial Hall for a coffee and then my brother turns up with his dog, much to the Lad’s displeasure.

While the Lad gets possession of the Memorial Hall, my brother’s dog gets possession of the Five Lamps pub where we have lunch.

L and I ‘hit’ the gym later where I do my HIIT workout and a few weights. As I was packing away my barbell weights one lad asked me how many more sets I had to do. None obviously as I was packing away but packing away was an alien concept to him. He took over and left everything out.

On Thursday L goes over to Derby and I meet her along with her Mum in Cafe Rosa. As it’s Christmas, and Christmas is a time for giving, L presents me with a 99p pair of new reading glasses for me to try. They say love is blind. In my case quite literally.

L has PT on Friday morning where her trainer gets her using the sled and videos it. I think just to prove that there’s actually some weight on it.

In the afternoon we head off to Lincoln where we stay over in the Holiday Inn on a freebie because of all the points we’ve amassed. This is all for parkrun the next day. We have a pleasant evening in the Royal William IV pub. That is despite all my food choices being off. The chilli is off, the curry is off and even the steak pie is off. So chicken pie it is then. We both have sticky toffee pudding for dessert because you have to be well fuelled up for these 5ks.

We parkrun at Yarborough Leisure Centre which goes ok until the last 100m when my calf tightens and I hobble over the line.

One of the advantages of staying at the Holiday Inn is that they do breakfast until 10:30 on a Saturday. So we can do parkrun and then get back for breakfast. Except they don’t do it until 10:30 over the Christmas period. Luckily there is Jenny’s Café just around the corner from the hotel. Then we drive home and have a night in the Plough.

Sunday is New Years Eve and we go over to Mickleover, so that L and her Mum can visit her Dad. The Lad and I go for a walk but fail miserably even to get a coffee. All the cafes are closed and all the pubs are full but at least the Lad gets a long walk.

Then we pick up my Dad because we are going to Miller and Carter again as we did last year. We did try to get in at Mr Mans, our local Chinese, but obviously we'd left it a bit late. We must try and book in there for next year. Daughter turns up at the restaurant to arrest my Dad and wish him Happy New Year.

We are back at home for actual New Year with loads of time to spare. I get a text from a couple of friends wishing me Happy Greek New Year as they bail out at 10pm. My Dad then bails out with just 20 minutes to go to midnight and L follows him 10 minutes later. The Lad gallantly sticks it out with me. We watch the fireworks and do Auld Lang Syne together.

 (Sunday 31st December)

Sunday 24 December 2023

Pre-Christmas By The Coast

Friday sees us indulge in a short break down to Portsmouth, where L likes to relive her childhood.

Panic briefly sets in on the way down when the Holiday Inn app says that dogs are not allowed at the hotel despite the fact we have stayed there before with the Lad. I start looking for alternatives and find the one at nearby Gunwharf Quays does take dogs but when we arrive at our usual hotel we find that the app is, of course wrong, and we are allowed in.

We take an evening stroll into Portsmouth where we end up in a Fuller’s pub called the Still and West where we have our tea even before the Lad has had his. He seems to cope. Faced with a rather good beer range we don’t make it to our usual pub. I end up having four pints but we are back at the hotel for 8pm. Where we don’t get any joy out of the posh but crap coffee machine in room.

The four pints doesn't hold me back too much (not as much as my knees do anyhow) at Southsea Parkrun in the morning. The dog formerly known as baton stays in the car for the duration of the run and during breakfast back at the hotel where they kindly serve until 10:30am. How good is that.

Then it's back to our room for a shower and to put ‘Do Not Disturb’ on the door. Later we walk back to Southsea and find somewhere for coffee before this time making it to our usual pub, the Barley Mow. Where yet again they have HSB but no ESB. After a few beers and in L’s case a few glasses of wine we head back to the hotel to feed and drop off the Lad before visiting our usual Indian, Spice Merchants, again. 

We drive back home the next day, which is Christmas Eve. We don’t hit the town and stay in because I have my Christmas keg to open.

(Sunday 24th December)

Thursday 21 December 2023

A Foreign Storm

We are back at work on Monday but we are immediately running late. The Lad oversleeps and L’s PT alarm doesn’t go off. The deer don’t play along with my lateness either.

I do the weekly shop over lunch and Sainsbury’s is predictably mad given the time of the year.

Cycling is not pleasant either given that my knees seem to have regressed at my gig last night but I’m sure that on some level it does me good. The pint in the Exeter afterwards certainly does. I would have felt even better if I hadn’t been driving and could have medicated myself properly with 6.5% Imperial Drake they had on.

L helpfully says that I don’t look good when I get home and certainly not up to a 6.5% beer but I’m not sure I ever look good after cycling.

Somehow I manage to be running late again on Tuesday so the morning walk was probably shorter than the Lad would have liked. I’m out in Derby in the evening, in the Alex and then the Silk Mill for food. Unfortunately we don’t make it to the Exeter, so once again I don’t get to be festive on the Imperial Drake.

Wednesday is my physio and a new HIIT routine. On Thursday L is evacuated from the swimming pool after the water went all cloudy. They were all assured it was just air bubbles and nothing more toxic.

Then we had Storm Pia which shut the park and had trees down on Harrow Road. The Lad and I had to climb over the debris and push through the assembled onlookers on our morning walk.


Pia arrived out of alphabetical sequence with the UK Met Office because it was actually a Danish storm. I’m really surprised our Government let a foreign storm in.

The match goes ahead though. Yes on a Thursday. This is the joy of the Christmas fixtures e.g. you get to play at even more batty times than usual and hardly ever at 3pm on one of the days you have off. Derby beat Lincoln 3-1 and my Dad celebrates with a whiskey chaser alongside his beer. 

(Thursday 21st December)

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 café 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


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


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)