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

Saturday 25 February 2023

Secret Admirer

I start the week by giving the 'evil cycling for lapsed cyclists' session another go while L goes for the more sedate (my words) yoga at the retro gym amongst the young pups wearing next to nothing (her words) . 

On Tuesday I am out in Derby with my friend and for once I don’t have a problem getting a Red Arrow although it then takes an age to navigate around the gas works closure on Derby Road. Apparently the lad is upset I’ve gone out without him on what is often his pub night with my Dad. He’s upset even though he’s asleep and snoring.

My friend tells me about the new Derby Brewing pub called Notsa that is opening in Aston on Trent next week. I don’t know what the other two pubs in the village think of that. I’m surprised Aston can support the current two pubs let alone a third and apparently the local residents aren’t happy because there is no parking with it. Then again that's not much the local residents are ever happy about.

On Thursday L outdoes my night out with a whole day out in Manchester. A day of wallpaper, Elizabeth Gaskell (a novelist I'm told) and probably Waterstones. She’s so eclectic.

Daughter drops round for a shower as hers is broken (again). The Lad hides under my desk the whole time. He’s going to have to get used to her visiting if she’s moving in. I cheer him up with a trip to Asda, a video call for work which he joins in with and then a night in the pub with my Dad. We’re in our usual, the New Inn in Shardlow, because Notsa isn’t open yet. Hopefully they’ll allow dogs so that we can visit when it’s open.

Fridays meanwhile have now settled into a nice routine. L swims, brings us both a bacon sandwich for breakfast then pretends to work from home.

On Saturday L and her Mum get free tea from a complete stranger, probably a secret admirer of theirs. This never happens to my Dad and me in the pub.

Frank Turner

On Saturday I rather fortunately got a ticket to this solo acoustic show from Frank Turner at the Rescue Rooms which is the climax of a week of celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the Rescue Rooms venue. They even have celebratory plastic beer glasses. 

His record label Xtra Mile Recordings also supply the other four acts on the bill - Hannah Rose Platt, Welsh sheep-shearer Tom Jenkins and Turner’s other half Jess Guise.Singer songwriters and storytellers all of them.

The beautiful folksy voice of Hannah Rose Platt gives way to Tom Jenkins who is a particularly interesting character, and yes, he really is a sheep-shearer. He regales us with songs about his father, about Wales and how he could have been the next Tom Jones.

 Then we got an endearing half hour set from Jess Guise’s before she hands over to her husband. I did wonder if we might get a brief Guise and Turner double act but it wasn’t to be. I don’t think she wanted to be associated with the chaos that accompanies him.

Turner walks on stage alone tonight stripped bare without the Sleeping Souls who appear to have been busy elsewhere when Frank got the call from the Rescue Rooms.

Clearly it was an invite he felt he couldn’t refuse. His association with Nottingham is huge. From intimate shows at the defunct Junktion 7 and at the Bodega through to his many many gigs at Rock City, which he calls his favourite music venue and it was the site of his 2000th show.

He’s been at the Rescue Rooms before of course and he tells us of the night in 2008 when he got struck down with food poisoning mid set and had to rush off to empty his stomach. I’m sort of glad I missed that one.

The set he plays tonight is largely familiar and he opens with the always wonderful ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’. I thought perhaps they’d be more slower songs but there isn’t really as he rattles through ‘If Ever I Stray’, ‘Recovery’, ‘The Road’ and ‘The Next Storm’. 

The highlights of a Frank Turner show are often the ones you haven’t heard for an age like tonight when he slots in the much missed ‘The Real Damage’ from 2007 or ‘Smiling at Strangers on Trains’, a song from his former band Million Dead which he likes to drop in occasionally and tonight was requested by his wife.

Then there’s the one’s you’ve either missed completely or forgotten about like ‘Rescue Annie’ from 2019’s ‘No Man’s Land’. A song he says tonight was requested by a fan who works for the NHS.

The encore is more or less rolled into the set as he rattles though ‘Four Simple Words’, ‘Get Better’ and ‘I Still Believe’ which sound just as good solo as they do with his band. The Sleeping Souls might be out of a job.

He leaves the stage promising to be back here for the 40th anniversary in 20 years’ time and no one really doubts that he will be and hopefully we’ll all be there too. 

(Saturday 25th February) 

Sunday 19 February 2023

Lapsed Cyclists

Our first walk back home was so slow. The Lad had to sniff every blade of grass that he hadn’t been able to sniff for the last week. Even MD would have found it slow. 

Meanwhile in the garden the birds have clearly been tapping their beaks in frustration waiting for us to come home and feed them. Almost as soon as I’ve filled up their seeds and balls they are half way down the supply.

I go to my first bike session at the arena since I fell off there sometime around the middle of last year. I was also a lot fitter then so the session I’ve chosen to booked is one known as a ‘beginner’ session. Which is a bit of a lie really because you need track accreditation to ride it, so it’s not open to true beginners but is more aimed at lapsed cyclists like me.

These ‘beginner’ sessions are a relatively new thing and it is surprisingly busy, packed even. Who knew they’d be so many beginners (lapsed cyclists). It’s also quite evil but somehow I survived it.

All this means Tuesday’s morning walk is a bit of a slow hobble, as well as a slow sniff, but we survive. I skip the gym but will hopefully go on Wednesday. There is a home match in the evening.

Two momentous things happen on Wednesday. Nicola Sturgeon resigns and the Lad forsakes a tunnel at dog training because the trainer has a kilo of dried garlic sausage in her hand. This feels like is a life changing moment for those who witnessed it. I get home, go online and buy up as much garlic sausage as I can lay my hands on.

On Thursday I meet my now retired ex-work colleague for lunch in Derby for the first time since the office closed, so I have to drive over. He feels that my news (garlic sausage) is not as momentous as his news. He’s taken up crown green bowls.

Saturday is the second of this week’s home matches and L parkruns at Clifton which is a bit of a comedown after Faskally.

On Sunday, Daughter has a paid marshalling job on the Embankment for Fix Events who are running a 5k, 10k and, new for this year and for those who love laps, a half marathon. I ran the 10k last year as part of my training for Brighton and it tipped it down with rain. L heads over to accompany Daughter but gets there before her when she oversleeps. The Lad I head down later for a bark.

(Sunday 19th February)

Sunday 12 February 2023

Scotland Revisited

On Sunday morning we pick my Dad up and head north to Scotland. Out first stop is a new one to us at Arrochar which is about half-way up Loch Lomond but actually on nearby Loch Long rather than Lomond itself. We stay at the Claymore Hotel which has been taken over by several coach parties. 


These seem to be its main trade hence fixed mealtimes and a three course set meal for dinner. Which is mostly pensioner sixed but generally fine as we are all sort of around that age anyway. They do have a good range of Loch Lomond beers which are unfortunately in cans but you can’t have everything. The Silke Stout goes down very well. 


We are advised to have a late breakfast after the coach party rush which works well and allows L to get a run in first. Then it’s back in the car for the relatively short trip up to Glencoe.

We pull into Glencoe ski centre and frequent their new café which replaces the one that burnt down and which was just being finished when we were here last year. My Dad gets offered a ride up on their rickety old chairlift which we decline on the grounds it’s not a great idea for a 94 year old.

Then we check into the Kingshouse Hotel for two nights which is somewhere we have wanted to stay for a long time. We eat there, which is a bit posh and expensive but very nice and they have Glen Spean beer on the bar. Afterwards I have the first whisky of the holiday.

In the morning L goes off for a run along the old, abandoned route of the A82 which runs across the back of the hotel. She has the Lad off lead which is very brave for her.

Later we take a first ever trip down the long road to the bottom of Glen Etive, then head to the ‘Crafts & Things’ café in Glencoe village for coffee and cake before a trip round an old favourite, Loch Lochan, which the Lad drops his ball in. After a convoluted rescue operation he then can’t be bothered to carry it anymore.

In the evening we eat at the Clachaig but again end up in the Lounge bar because the Boots bar is closed for a mountaineering talk. Which is a shame as my Dad would have loved it in there. They have Cairngorm Wild Cat and again Loch Lomond Silke Stout on the bar among others.

Inspired by L and the Lad, I join them for their off the leash run down the old A82. It’s more hobble than run for me though. Then we head up to Fort William for our next stop.


A trip down Glen Nevis goes well until we get to the end of it when the car picks up what appears to be a stone in one its brake shoes but the local garage couldn’t find an issue and it goes away on its own. The problem then metamorphosises into a flat tyre for when we arrive at The Moorings where we are staying again. I ring the RAC and they send a local guy out who puts the ‘space saver’ spare on while we eat. Then in the morning we’re back at the garage but only after L has done a morning run along the Caledonian Canal.

We drop off the tyre and revisit the Highland Soap Company café for breakfast. When we have the tyre sorted we then head up to the Gondola at Nevis Range, which I’d love to take my Dad up but it’s closed due to high winds. We visit the café instead.

In the evening we eat at the Ben Nevis Inn where there is a live band, a traditional one not a rock band. There is again Cairngorm Wild Cat on the bar. 

On Friday, after L has done another run along the canal, we move on to our next stop via breakfast in Spean Bridge and then a rather long detour to allow my Dad to revisit Aviemore. I show him the train up Cairngorm, which is totally new to him as it opened in 2001 long after his last trip up there. It has also only just reopened after being closed for five years due to needing repairs. It isn’t running today due to high winds (naturally) and lack of snow but they are skiing on the nursery slopes sat the bottom on manmade snow. We, of course, visit their café and ceremoniously throw my Dad’s old shoes away after they fall apart. 

Then we head down to a place called Ballinluig just south of Pitlochry for our final two nights. We are here (partly) for the three book shops, a brewery, a distillery and of course parkrun. We eat at the rather nice Old Mill Inn and have Whisky (again) back in the bar by the accommodation.

Saturday is Faskally Forest parkrun on a rather interesting and hilly forest course. I had considered running it but decide supporting would be more sensible. Then afterwards we have breakfast in Pitlochry, after which L skips off looking for the book shops and at a faster pace than she ran at Parkrun.

We then take a trip out to Loch Tummell before going Indian in the evening at Cidsin Bistro. Then back at the accommodation we sample the local Edradour whisky, from Scotland’s smallest distillery. It is so good I buy some to take home.

Then on Sunday we head home after breakfast in Bridge of Annan.

(Sunday 12th February)

Saturday 4 February 2023

Lack Of Pockets

On Monday L attends an early yoga class at our retro gym but there is only two of them there, so there are doubts about whether it will keep going. Meanwhile the Lad and I are terrier dodging on our walk before a trip out to Sainsburys in the car. A pointless trip, as Doggo would have said. 

I buy my Dad a puffer jacket to keep him warm on his holiday in Scotland with us. Now I just have to convince him to wear it. We have a night game on Monday against West Ham in the FA Cup 4th Round and I can’t convince him to test it out for that given its ‘lack of pockets’. Derby lose the game being heavily outclassed by the Premier League team.

On Tuesday the park is closed for the annual deer cull so we have to walk the streets instead. While L has a busy swim because they’ve been leafleting the local streets for extra customers so today they are joined by Flipper Man and Spider Woman. Quiet does have its advantages.

L asks for a lesson on the ‘Red Button’ as she is not a TV aficionado and she wants to watch Winter Watch which is currently on it - herds of Reindeer, that sort of thing. Being a technical guru I can tell her that there’s a ‘red button’ on the remote control and you simply press it. Hence the name. That’s it. I am a genius.

Of course it’s all a con and what it actually does in reality is retune you to a different channel, 601 on Freeview, which of course you could just pick instead.

We are out with friends at Niccos on Pride Park on Friday so L asks if Thursday is our romantic night in rather than Friday so that she can pick up some Prosecco. I’ve beat her to it and it’s already in the cupboard. 

On Friday at Niccos we get the food quantities right this time and the only downside to the evening is a rather loud singer who drowns most of our conversation out.

Saturday is parkrun at Wollaton Hall for those able to run and then there’s a match in the afternoon. After which it’s holiday time.

(Saturday 4th February)