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

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Mountain Climbers And Burpees

On Monday the park is closed because there is a deer cull going on so the Lad and I have to pound the streets. L goes into work and then comes home when her boss doesn’t show. In the evening it’s my cycling followed by a beer and a scotch egg in the Exeter with my Dad.

After a brief dry day we’re back to the constant rain on Tuesday but we do manage to get our morning walk in before the latest deluge hits.

L’s PT gets her doing mountain climbers and burpees which is already a favourite with my physio. Our workouts seem to be merging and its great news that she’s got that combo to do as well. She should also probably be doing stuff like that for homework. Which the Lad would enjoy immensely.

Parkrun say that their website has been given a ‘slick new makeover’ but it looks just as un-slick as ever to me. Their events map is still far from helpful when trying to decide on our latest tourist trip. 

Derby are playing away at Reading on Tuesday, so I go over to my Dad’s to watch it with him. They lose 1-0.

Nottingham’s Splendour has been cancelled. Apparently the council put the festival out to tender rather than just letting Nottingham’s own DHP run it as usual. This was presumably to try to make more money out of it. The tender process decided to give it to… DHP and DHP say it’s now too short notice to organise this year's event. It’s probably too late to book enough portaloos. At the dog club we have already booked ours.

Late afternoon on Wednesday we head off to Birmingham on the train. Tonight it’s Depeche Mode. We are staying in the Crowne Plaza which is part of the Holiday Inn group and we’re getting another freebie from the points we’ve amassed. We go in the Brasshouse pub for food and I indulge in two pints of Lumi which is a 6.2% Winter Ale from Thornbridge. 

Then we head off to the gig..

(Wednesday 24th January)

Depeche Mode

The last time I saw Depeche Mode was way back in 1986 on the Black Celebration tour which is obviously a very long time ago. That was at the NEC and that gig was one of the reasons that I decided that I don't like big arena shows but here I am now in a big arena seeing them again 38 years on. Of course Depeche Mode don't do anything other than arena shows and since they are showing no signs of coming down to my level here I am. This show at the Utilita Arena (aka the NIA) in Birmingham is their second UK date as part of their massive Memento Mori World Tour which began in March 2023 and will not finish until this April.

My partner is with me, tempted by seeing the band but fast regretting it now as I have insisted on standing up. The last time we were here for Arcade Fire we had seats that were so far way I could barely see or even hear the band properly. To get anywhere near the front tonight we had to be relatively early which means a lot of standing and waiting. Thankfully Depeche Mode hit the stage bang on time at 8.45.

In the meantime there is a distraction from the waiting in the form of Nadine Shah. Shah is from Tyneside but with a part Norwegian mother and a Pakistani father. She’s been around since 2009 and has supported Depeche Mode before, ten years ago. Still I haven’t heard of her.

I feel a bit sorry for her because her band seem dwarfed by their surroundings perched as they are on a small proportion of the massive staging playing to a not very attentive audience in such a cavernous arena. She’s fine, a polished performer who can sing but she’s not really my thing. Then after only six songs she’s gone.

Then it’s Depeche Mode who start off with a couple from their new album 'Memento Mori', the brooding 'My Cosmos Is Mine' and the rather excellent 'Wagging Tongue'. The new album is pretty good and the likes of 'Wagging Tongue' and 'Ghosts Again' which comes later stand up well against most of their older material. The album is probably their best since 2005's ‘Playing The Angel’ which gets three tracks itself tonight, and I’m a little disappointingly they play only two more from it tonight but then when you have fifteen albums to pick from set lists are a nightmare.

We haven't got the greatest spot in the world but we're near enough to get the full benefit of the sound which is much better than I expected for such a big arena and I've got a good view but then I'm a bit taller than my partner who says she hasn't. Hopefully she is enthralled by the impressive visuals on the big backdrop behind the band that accompany every song.  


The band then move on to a journey through some of their finest moment starting with 'Walking In My Shoes' and which is followed by the even better `It’s No Good`.

Depeche Mode are now vocalist Dave Gahan, whose voice still sounds great, and everything else-ist Martin Gore. They are assisted on stage by Christian Eigner on drums and Peter Gordeno on bass\keyboards.

As ever I will disagree with the set choices as I’m not a great fan of 'In Your Room' nor ‘I Feel You’ but there’s plenty I love. The likes of 'Policy Of Truth' hit the spot, 'Precious' is terrific and the classic `Everything Counts` from way back in 1983 sees Gahan and Gore sharing vocals along with most of the crowd.

After 'Speak To Me' Gahan disappears for a lie down leaving us with a Martin Gore solo segment. He has varied his two tracks throughout the tour and tonight it is 'Strangelove', one of two from 1987's 'Music for the Masses', followed by 'Heaven', the only one tonight from 2013's 'Delta Machine'. Interesting choices but he has been doing 'Home' from my favourite album ‘Ultra’ from 1997 and he doesn't do that tonight. The bastard.

Gahan is back for the finale which includes the `World in My Eyes` performed alongside images of Andrew Fletcher who sadly passed away in May 2022. It was a nice touch.


Then with some form of weird symmetry of 38 years ago they surprisingly play 'Black Celebration' itself. Then it's the brilliant 'Stripped' and a personal favourite of mine 'John The Revelator' from the aforementioned ‘Playing The Angel’ before closing out with `Enjoy the Silence`.

If you thought that maybe 'Violator' was not getting enough love tonight they put that right when it clocks up its fourth and fifth tracks in the encore starting with 'Waiting For The Night'. Then it’s the mega oldie 'Just Can’t Get Enough' with a lot of bad dancing from Gahan, 'Never Let Me Down Again' and finally 'Personal Jesus' that ends the night. Even I have to admit it was a pretty well thought out set list.

Depeche Mode were in the past known as quite a gloomy bunch and maybe it looked as if they were not always totally enjoying themselves on stage but now, perhaps as they get older, the two remaining members of the band look like they're having a ball and long may it continue.

Sunday 21 January 2024


I don’t cycle on Monday thanks to Sky TV because Derby have a home match against Burton Albion. Which Derby make more exciting than they need to, throwing away a 2-0 lead before then scoring a late winner to win 3-2.

Tuesday is very cold with a very light sprinkling of snow which actually made dealing with an excitable collie slightly easier than normal because the mud was frozen solid. L manages to make it through the ‘snow drifts’ to her PT.

The excitable collie is even more excitable come dog training but that's nothing new.

After two days in work, L is back to PWFH on Wednesday. I am out in the evening with my old school chum on a strong cherry stout in the Alexandra and then finally, after several missed opportunities, on the Imperial Drake in the Exeter. It’s a merry night.

On Thursday evening we do a joint gym although it's so busy we can’t even get in the car park. Friday is a night in with a home cooked curry and Saturday is, of course, spent in the Plough where they have four different porters all queued up for a in a line on their bar. Heaven.

Before that there was Parkrun. We do a new one at Sence Valley near Ibstock. Then I drop L in Derby before taking my Dad out to lunch. We head back to his house via the Garden Centre in Borrowash to buy up the world's supply of bird feeders.

Then we listen to the match on his old radio as he currently has no TV ariel. I’m not sure if it’s got damaged on the roof or whether it's because he's been ‘repairing’ it. I will get someone in to look at it.

On Sunday we head over to Derby to do a walk and then go around to L’s Mum’s to try to solve the long running problem of her jigsaw stand. She has tried buying several off the internet which have subsequently been sent back because they haven't done the job. L thinks she may be able to bodge a solution for her.

(Sunday 21st January)

Sunday 14 January 2024

Making Peace

L’s been a bit off the gym recently but this Monday she actually makes it all the way through her exercises without storming out. She even makes her peace with the dreaded hamstring curl. I’m really missing the hamstring curl. I must pay it a visit. My dodgy calf survives my first track cycling session for three weeks. 

Tuesday is both L’s PT and my Physio. In the evening Derby lose, somewhat embarrassingly, to Bradford City in the EFL Trophy. That means they have lost in all three cup competitions to League 2 sides. My Dad and I drown our sorrows afterwards in the Flowerpot where he takes advantage of the special offer on double whiskeys.

There is no dog training on Wednesday so I get a night in while Thursday night is a Friday night on a Thursday with red wine. While Friday is a joint workout in the gym.

For this week’s Parkrun we stay local and do Wollaton Park on their new course which avoids going around the mud bound lake. However the new route is still pretty muddy. We go to the Wollaton pub for breakfast and then I go to the New Inn with my Dad for lunch. Which is all a bit too much especially as even the ‘lite bites’ at the New Inn are huge and everything comes with chips. Saturday evening is, as is now the routine, spent in the Plough.

On Sunday we go for a walk from Beeston to Attenborough which clocks in at around 12k. We pop in for coffee at the Boathouse Café at Beeston Marina. Then we have a night in watching the Killers Of Flower Moon. A long night in as it's a long film but a very good one.

(Sunday 14th January)

Sunday 7 January 2024

The World's Smallest Pie

Monday is New Year’s Day and L does Parkrun at Forest Rec. I skip it due to my tight calf that I picked up at Lincoln last week. My Dad, who has stayed over, skips it too but he stays in bed. We have a match later and Derby celebrate actually getting a game on a bank holiday and at a sensible time by losing 3-2 to Peterborough after leading twice. L helps me down my sorrows in a bottle of red later.

It's back to work on Tuesday although L gets up really early for a 7am yoga session that again doesn’t exist. At least she gets plenty of time to warm up in the gym for her PT at 8am.

It is, of course, still raining as it seems to have done all Christmas and New Year. L’s boss doesn’t turn up (he rarely seems to on the first day back after a holiday) and sends her home. Only it’s raining so hard she opts to stay at work.

Dog training restarts with some people wondering if they’ll get through through the floods. This is apparently Storm Henk. We are literally wading around the park at the moment on our morning walks.

On Wednesday, I make to the gym at lunchtime which was thankfully fairly quiet and for once there wasn’t equipment scattered everywhere. You can tell when most of the students are away. In the evening I watch the World Darts Final between the young upstart Luke Littler and the top seed Luke Humphreys. I’m about the only person rooting for Humphreys, who wins.

On Thursday L swims at Lenton pool while the Lad and I swim our way around the park. In the evening I go over to see my Dad and take him to the New Inn.

On Friday, after L has done her usual trip to Derby, we head off to Blackpool. We are visiting a friend of ours which is also a useful ruse by L to get another Parkrun in. There is, disappointingly, no Holiday Inn in Blackpool so we stay at a ‘boutique’ hotel called Bradburys.

We have a few beers in the Number 13 Bonny Street pub where they are mourning the loss of their landlady who died on New Years Day. She was only 49. The dog friendly Number 13 doesn’t do food so we end up in the local chippy where they serve me the world's smallest pie.

Blackpool Parkrun is at Stanley Park where we have a chap doing some chalkings.

I have serious doubts that my dodgy calf will make it round the course and nearly don’t run at all. In the end I tough it out and hobble round in 31 minutes. L’s watch has a ‘moment’ and says she has actually run 18k with 94k of ascent somewhere in Yorkshire. That’s pretty impressive in 35 minutes and because we’re in Lancashire.

We make it back to the hotel for breakfast which is decent after which we check out and go to visit our friend who is now living in Thornton Cleveleys, a few miles out of Blackpool. It is apparently famous for being used for filming one of the newer Star Wars movies. As it happens Derby County are also in town (almost) playing nearby Fleetwood Town but I don’t have a ticket.

On the way back home we pop in at L’s Mum’s to measure up for her new TV then in the evening we’re back in the Plough.

On Sunday we do things backwards. We go to the Wollaton pub first for breakfast roll and coffee then we go for a walk on the park. In the afternoon I play Daughter at Squash. L runs there but gets diverted by the floods and misses our game.

(Sunday 7th January)