Posts Tagged ‘John’

It’s now early February and I’m nearing the end of my sixty fifth birthday celebrations. After the UK celebrations, I decided I would spend two months in Spain. That time is almost up.

It’s been a fabulous stay, with friends popping in from time to time and a break (a big break) from the UK winter weather.

Following the celebrations at home, we set off on 12th December to stay in the Premier Inn at Heald Green, close to Manchester Airport. We arrived here in Torreblanca on the 13th https://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/winter-201617/ and spent the Christmas and New Year period on our own, mainly just Sharon and me. Early on, she took me for a great day out in Malaga, on a food tour https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/malaga-food-tour/ . See also: http://devourmalagafoodtours.com/

We also went for lots of walks. For example: up and down the hill lots of times; to and from Fuengirola, Los Boliches or Torreblanca (quite often!). We also caught the train to Torremolinos and walked back to Benalmadena a couple of times.

I’ve written elsewhere about our walks up and around the hills behind the apartment for exploration. See:

fullsizerender-3Michelle came up from Gibraltar one day before Christmas and we took her up to Mijas before deciding it was too cold up there and coming back down to Los Boliches and eating in Mason Salvador. She came up to see us again early in the New Year and we took her for a day out in Malaga. As in all the subsequent visits (with JT, DT and Tony, as well as with Martin and Lin), we visited the marina, the castle (Castillo de Gibralfaro) and the city itself, sampling some of the places Sharon and I had enjoyed on the food tour.

Sharon had to return to the UK for a couple of weeks on 12th January and while she was away, friends came over and stayed with me.

3-amigosJohn (JT) came out to visit first and we went more or less straight down to Gibraltar to see Michelle (his daughter) and we spent the day there with friends and shopping. Michelle cooked a delightful Pork Fillet Wellington for dinner – splendid.  John’s brother David (DT) came out on the Sunday to stay in 916 and Tony (TT) flew in on the Tuesday; so, there was quite a crossover of friends whilst Sharon was back in the UK. We ‘did’ Malaga again and walked up to Mijas (twice, once with JT and Dt and again then, with TT – we also walked back – which nearly broke me J )

Most evenings we ate out, but one rainy evening, the weather was so bad that we decided to come straight back and ‘eat in’. This was probably the best meal of their stay; we had all sorts of food, DT cooked steak, I cooked Tortilla and we emptied our fridges of other cold foods and salads (and beer).


Sharon arrived back the same day that Lin and Martin arrived to stay with us for a week. During that week, we had trips to Mijas, to Malaga and to Gibraltar where Michelle, again did us proud. She drove us onto The Rock and gave us a magnificent tour, showing us viewing points and time to see the marching re-enactment of the ceremony of the keys. http://www.visitgibraltar.gi/event/re-enactment-association-saturday-march/187. We had a late lunch in La Linea before setting off back before it was too dark.

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So that’s it. All visitors arrived home safely and we depart on Sunday.  Back again soon.

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My friend John (Gav’s dad) and I spend hours talking about this and that whilst we’re out walking. Anything, in fact – not just this and that. We talk about politics, religion, sex, marriage, shopping, gardening, DIY – and more surreal things that wouldn’t stand the reaction of others, not attuned to our range of discussion.

However, one disturbing discussion that we often drift into, perhaps more surreal than the others; is that we might in fact be just two old men, already gaga, lost our memories, pumped with drugs and sat outside a care facility – dreaming that ALL THIS, is JUST A DREAM. ‘This’ being the world around us.img_0163

Imagine if you took a powerful sleeping draught at some point early in 2016 and you have just woken to the news that your favourite celebrity was dead: http://www.legacy.com/news/galleries/celebrity-deaths/gallery/2016-celebrity-deaths/292092, that Britain had narrowly voted to leave Europe, that Boris Johnson was now foreign secretary, that David Cameron had stepped aside for Theresa May and that Donald Trump, would in January 2017 become leader of the free world, having just won the U.S. presidential election. WHAT!!!

First of all – leave Europe?  How did that happen?  http://www.richardcorbett.org.uk/long-list-leave-lies/ how will that turn out!

Then Donald Trump – really? The wall building, Mexican hating, misogynistic racist Donald Trump? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-deport-immigrants-immediately-when-mexico-wall-a7415116.html how will that turn out!

I think I need to go back to my rocking chair, plug in to some David Bowie and go back to sleep.



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Me, leaning on an Anthony Gormley iron manMany months ago, we booked trip to Southport via a KJB Deal. This was a three-night deal and cost us all of £69 – mustn’t grumble 🙂  We went there with John and Carol, who’d told us of the deal in the first place.

We couldn’t leave Huddersfield until 6:00pm due to work commitments but had a good journey, being unpacked and out again by 8:00pm.

As it was Valentine’s Day, we’d booked a restaurant – just in case.

The ‘special’ four course Valentine’s Dinner – http://www.havinrestaurant.co.uk/7-valentines-day-menu.php – was absolutely superb. Each course, and the content of each course (usually more than one dish) was full of flavour and much better than I’d expected. We’ll certainly try the restaurant again one day.

I can honestly say that, because we enjoyed Southport very much. My most recent trips there have all been for work and I’ve not really seen or ‘done’ the town. We felt that it deserved another coat of looking at.

Antony Gormley fugure looking out to sea as a ferry boat goes past.

It was handy for travelling down to Crosby too – where we’d planned to walk along the 3 kilometres of beach that contain Antony Gormley‘s iron men – ‘Another Place‘. We took a train from Southport to Hall Place and then walked from the Coastguard Station down along the beach to Waterloo. We walked back to Blundelsands to catch our train back.

John, Carol and Sharon on Southport PierOn Saturday we walked around Southport and out along the pier – the second longest in England. The weather was kind to us again and we had a cracking day. In the afternoon both Sharon and I bought Russell and Bromley shoes. We tried to find the national lawnmower museum too but half our party (John and Sharon) thought that it was an old person thing to do and were not interested in walking out too far in that direction 😦

On Sunday, we drove back via Formby, where we entered the National Trust’s ‘Red Squirrel Reserve‘. This is at Formby Point and although we didn’t see any squirrels (of any colour) we did have a great walk up and over the sand dunes, up the beach and back through the woods.

All in all this was a great weekend break spoiled only by the room Sharon and I were in. I can’t really complain as we’d only spent £69 on three nights AND the breakfasts were good AND the hosts did their very best at all times AND the house and rooms were always HOT – but the sink (the only sink) was in the tiny room at the side (almost over) the bed. The shower, en-suite with the sit-upon, was either scalding or cold and there was simply no room to swing a cat (we would have tried but …)

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two bikes, two blokesThis week I have done two things that I haven’t done for five years or more.

The first thing, and I only mention it first so I can get it out of the way, was a visit to Burger King for what used to be called a Spicy Bean Burger meal. It certainly isn’t the spicy bean burger I used to get there anymore. Let me say right now, that wherever possible I avoid burger joints like the plague – I detest everything they stand for, but the one oasis I used to find amongst these purveyors of saturated fat and hormone fed beef was a Burger King Spicy Bean Burger. No longer!

What they served yesterday was not one but two of the most flavourless and textureless patties of cack I’ve ever eaten. They came wrapped in a soggy bun that will forever taint my understanding of the word ‘bread’. Had I known before I risked eating here again, I could have had a home made pie with hand cut chips and mushy peas for less in a pub up the road. Shameful.

The other thing I’ve done this week for the first time in many years is to go for a ride on my mountain bike. I used to ride my bike quite a lot once. John and I have even been known to cycle from Barmouth in Wales to Great Yarmouth – the widest coast-to-coast route.

Picture of Sir nigel Gresley's Mallard locomotiveI have no real excuse for not riding my bike for so long, it just seemed to slip right to the bottom of my things to do. Urged on by John and Jim, I had the bike serviced in summer last year but then weather, work and holidays prevented me from riding it then. So, this spring I was full of hope that the bike would be ready for use without any more servicing. And, apart from a bit of air in the tyres it was ready to go.

I’d bought a new cycle rack the other week; one that sits on the tow-bar and doesn’t damage the paintwork like my other one did. It just clips on, so I drove to John’s house, loaded his bike behind mine and drove to Silkstone Common, where we joined the Trans Pennine Trail. For my first outing, we didn’t go all that far, just about eight miles to Wombwell and back, but the trail was quite interesting. It crosses the M1 just below junction 37 along the route of an old railway track. Although it seemed fairly level on our way to Wombwell, we certainly felt the incline upon our return. Apparently Sir Nigel Gresley, designer of The Mallard, was called in to help develop engines that could cope with the 1:40 slope that covers 2½ miles of the track.

It was a great trip, but now my bum feels like it’s grown two small broom handles for me to sit on J. But they will go and they will become less painful each time they appear following future rides.

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picture of tapasTonight I made Tapas.  Not necessarily anything a Spaniard would recognise, but tapas nevertheless.

I’d been out walking this morning with John, and for the second week running, with Jim. Jim’s news this week was much better – he’d feared the melanoma found on his now non-existent thumb tip would have spread far and wide, but after checking four lymph nodes – he’s been given a cautious all clear.

We took my bike to Mirfield for a service/repair, and then walked on sundry routes back to Huddersfield, taking in all of the canal from Battyeford through to the University’s Aspley Goit! Then a train back to Mirfield to pick up the car and job done.

I’d planned the tapas around three dishes; Patatas Bravas, Italian Meatballs, and Feta and Bacon Salad (with cucumber and cherry tomatoes, lightly minted), but in the end we also had beef tomato bruchetta and the last piece of last night’s pizza (which Sharon made with fresh dough and home made sauce). I cheated with the patatas bravas and used some sauce from a jar; the meatballs I made earlier in the week. It was a delightful meal.

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April has been an absolutely cracking month so far. It started with lots of ‘meeting friends’ and driving to Glasgow (reported on my EduVel blog) and hasn’t yet finished: there’s much more planned. The weather has been unseasonably brilliant.

girl skippingBecause we have Sharon’s mum Pat staying with us until almost the end of May, Steven and Rosie popped up the other weekend to stay with us and to attend the Wake that was planned in Honley for Steven and Sharon’s aunt (Pat’s sister – try to stay with me). Betony joined us for what was a really pleasant afternoon in the sun. No one wanted it to be a morbid affair although many had missed last week’s funeral in Scotland. And it wasn’t.

It was a great pleasure having Steven and Rosie stay with us, but as soon as they had gone Emma and the girls came round for a fabulous afternoon playing in the garden. I’d just cut the grass and hidden some chocolate rabbits in the garden, so we spend some time looking for those, before playing hide-and-seek together. I’m not sure that Charlotte quite gets the ‘hide’ bit, but she loved the ‘seeking’ bit. This was a lovely day.

Then on Thursday last, Maundy Thursday, Martin and Lin came along to stay with us for Easter. We had a few beers at the Commercial in Slaithwaite after they’d arrived before coming home for dinner. On Friday, after a relaxed morning we set off with a picnic for a drive around Holmfirth and Upperthong before returning home and walking up to the Golcar Lily for more beers and dinner.

Beer Train Trip

On Saturday we had planned to meet John and Carol in Slaithwaite before all six of us set off on a day-long train ride. We rode to Stalybridge first of all and then had drinks at the Station Bar (and in town) before catching a train to Greenfield, where we alighted once more – this time to The Railway, just across the road from the station. Its namesake in Marsden was the next to welcome us. Once again this pub is right outside the station and like all of the others we visited, serves a selection of Real Ales – which of course if the real reason behind the trip, although we also ate (after a fashion) here. Next stop was Slaithwaite and The Commercial. Here we met Joanne and Paul with their kiddie Florence. There’s a train from each village every hour. So once we’d caught the 17.04 from Slaithwaite to Huddersfield (our next and final port of call) – we’d been on the go for five an a half hours. In Huddersfield we avoided the two on-platform pubs and visited The Sportsman and The Cherry Tree, before going to Kebabish for a right nice curry.

The following day, we were invited to John and Carol’s for a barbecue, something you can’t usually plan even a day in advance, but the weather held well and we had a brilliant afternoon with all of yesterday’s crowd as well as Debbie and Ian.

Martin and Lin left yesterday and we picked Pat back up from Brighouse where she’d been visiting over Easter.

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