Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Sunday 10 December 2017 – The Tatton Yule Yomp


The reason for yesterday’s leisurely parkrun was that Sue and I were entered for the Tatton Yule Yomp, a 10 km cross country race around Tatton Park. I did it in 2014, dressed as a Christmas tree and (as this year) carrying an injury. With a dubious weather forecast I just couldn’t face lumbering round with the tree this time, so a Santa’s jacket would have to do by way of fancy dress, for which this event is notorious.

Having parked at Sarah’s house (thanks Sarah) we strolled to the start at the park entrance and took a ‘selfie’, which Tony ‘bombed’. He was duly given the job of taking a proper photo (above), a version of which will stare from our 2018 calendar next December.


After warming up at the head of the field, we made our way to the back of the 1165 runners for the start. This ploy worked well for me a few weeks ago at the Birmingham Marathon. So once the gun went, we took a couple of minutes to reach the archway where our timing chips were activated.

The first kilometre was very slow due to congestion, allowing us to warm up gently, gradually increasing our speed and steadily moving through the field during the course of the event. We stayed together until a steep downhill section at around 5 km, where my Salomon Speedcross 4 shoes gave me much better grip than Sue’s old trainers. Anyway that made me a target for her to aim at, and despite me speeding up at the end of the event, Sue finished only a few seconds behind me.

It was a cool day, and despite the very jolly atmosphere we didn’t spot anyone we knew, so after a couple of photos at the finish, we adjourned to collect our ‘goodie bags’, which were stuffed with products from Roberts Bakery – who sponsor this race.


Here’s the nifty medal we got at the finish.


And here are a couple of low resolution photos from the Tatton Yule Yomp website, taken during the race.


Here’s the route, should anyone care to repeat it. My Garmin gadget recorded just over 10 km, with over 50 metres ascent.


You may need to click on the following image for a larger version to see how we got on. Both of us are carrying injuries, and we started very slowly, so the time was even slower than my 2014 time of 56.35. I was quite happy to come 4th out of 15 in my age category, and Sue finished 4th in her age group, but based on chip times she actually came 2nd out of 75 in that category. So all the parkruns she has been walking must have paid off, and her Achilles survived without further damage thanks to the leisurely pace on the soft ground.


Everything you might want to know about this event is here. It’s a lovely route through the park, and great fun if you like slithery mud, water splashes, and other features of cross country running. It reminded me of being at school! And it didn’t rain much this year.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Saturday 9 December 2017 – Woodbank parkrun number 432


We were all set to go parkrunning at Wythenshawe, as usual, but icy conditions had us alert to their Facebook page. Sure enough, a message from run director Tristan at about 8.15 confirmed that he had deemed the conditions to be too icy for a safe run.

Whilst others turned up and did the run anyway on an unofficial basis, we knew that Woodbank parkrun in Stockport never cancels, so we popped down there in plenty of time for the 9 am start for 151 runners on the cold morning.

Vernon Park and Woodbank Park are next to each other in Stockport. I had a go at orienteering here in December 2009, and Sue and I did the parkrun here on 16 January 2016, on another icy morning that was too much for Wythenshawe.

There had been a sprinkling of snow, as evident from the top picture taken outside Vernon Park’s posh but rather impersonal (compared with Wythenshawe) café.

Normally, Woodbank parkrun takes place over two laps, including a steep hill. But today’s icy conditions had them using a three lap course that my Garmin measured as a little short of 5 km. Sue walked around in 35 minutes so as not to aggravate her Achilles injury, and I jogged gently round in a little under 27 minutes. We were both registered for an event the following day (see next posting) and I spent some time chatting to a dog walker who was also taking it easy for the same reason, whilst Sue’s walking pace was fairly brisk as she tried to stay on the coattails of a chap called Chris Bryans, running with a numb leg in the 80-85 age category.

We adjourned to the café and watched the tail enders negotiating a very icy corner near the end of the course. This is pictured below, with the finish visible in the distance.


Here’s the café. Rather shockingly posh compared with Wythenshawe’s friendly Courtyard Café.


The results, for what they are worth, are here. There were more participants than usual, possibly because of other cancellations, including a few other familiar faces from Wythenshawe.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Friday 8 December 2017 – A Ten Mile Walk from Navigation Road


This week’s morning walk was due to end at the Aspire Restaurant at Trafford College, where we were booked to enjoy a Christmas lunch with Paul and Jeanette, so a convenient rendezvous point, as they live in Hale, was Navigation Road Metro Station.

Rick sprouted unexpectedly at the start. Having spent most of his working life at FE Colleges, he politely declined any luncheon there, but he was most welcome in joining us for this local walk.

We survived the icy footpaths that led to the stone chipped surface of the Bridgewater Canal towpath. No slipping over here. The top picture shows how the housing development on the old Linotype site is steaming ahead.

On the other side of the grey bridge that is now unusable (what will happen to it?) is some old lifting gear and massive timbers that presumably can be slotted into the canal to retain water on one side or the other. I’ve never seen them in use.


We left the canal by the Bay Malton and strolled down Black Moss Road to Sinderland Crossing, to join the Warrington to Altrincham Junction Railway, the disused line of which now houses the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) cycle route. It was a lovely sunny morning. (NB – better to continue along the towpath for a few hundred metres to the end of the resurfaced section, then turn right through the woods to join the TPT.)

The section of line between Latchford and Broadheath was opened in 1853 and was closed to passengers in 1962. Goods traffic continued until 1985, when the Latchford Viaduct was deemed too expensive to maintain.


The first bridge you come to takes School Lane over the railway. Some sort of construction work is on the go here. Not sure what.


The muddy route was significantly repaired a few years ago, and it continues to be maintained as part of the TPT. Some sections are easier to maintain than others. They seem to have given up in the spot shown below and have created a narrow pathway/cycleway to the side of the flooded trackbed.


We passed the site of the former Dunham Massey Station and continued towards Heatley.

The Bollin Valley Way (BVW) path was then taken. This led us along a mixture of quiet lanes and field paths, leaving the BVW at some point. Tea and cake was consumed at a suitable point near some picnic benches in the vicinity of Moss Wood.

Altrincham Crematorium was eventually passed, beyond which a junction drew us to a narrow unsurfaced lane, Dark Lane, which becomes Dunham Road after crossing the former Glazebrook to Timperley railway line and heads into Carrington Moss.

Dark Lane is the final resting place of a piece of technical wizardry that is now almost beyond identification. My guess is ‘Ford Ka’, but that’s only based on Fords’ reputation for going rusty!


Our luncheon booking fast approaching, the quickest way of getting there was via the trackbed of the disused railway. It’s the Partington to West Timperley line on the following representation of railways in use in 1960.


This line was opened in 1873. It was deviated in 1890 to cope with the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal, with the Cadishead Viaduct being completed in 1892. Passenger services ceased in 1964 when the stations were closed, but freight traffic continued until 1983, when the high cost of repairing the Cadishead Viaduct led British Rail to close the service and mothball the viaduct.

The track as far as Partington was lifted in the 1980s, but beyond that it remains partially intact and now under the ownership of Network Rail. Whilst there’s no official footpath here, the trackbed is readily accessed. We walked along it as far as the new housing estate at Stamford Brook.


The bridge below is near the recycling centre by Malljurs Covert. The only bar to progress along the line is the rampant brambles, which are quite manageable at this time of year.


This line is one that is being put forward for reinstatement. It’ll cost a lot!

We could have continued further along the railway, but it suited us to diverge slightly and stroll through the new housing estate to Trafford College, and an excellent Christmas dinner for four of us at the Aspire Restaurant after we’d waved off Rick.

Here’s our route – 16 km with minimal ascent, taking us around 3.5 hours.


Another most pleasurable morning stroll.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Monday 4 December 2017 – The Tame Valley Stompers at Eagley Jazz Club


Another excellent night out at Eagley Jazz Club in Bolton.

Norman Pennington and his men were on cracking form, and given the number of special requests, together with Terry Brunt and the rest of the band’s usual enthusiasm, the performance overran somewhat, so we were late home, though thankfully this was a rare night when the M60 motorway wasn’t closed, albeit tricky to avoid being directed off towards Liverpool as there’s no proper signage at present despite the need for some nifty lane changes to remain on the correct road!

Here’s what Norman currently says about the band, pictured above, left to right – Terry Brunt, Pete Smith, Roger Wimpenny, Norman Pennington, Paul Broomhead, John Gordon:

The Band was formed in 1999 by myself, Norman Pennington, after I was asked to put a rock band together in the local pub, when I said I would prefer to put on a jazz quartet. Hence the Band was born: the line-up was Noel Broadgate, piano; Pete Smith, bass; Paul Broomhead, reeds; and myself on drums. The pub was called the Swan Hotel, so the Band was called 'The Swanee Swingers'.

Quite soon, the success of the Band meant we needed a new venue so we moved a few doors down to the 'White Horse' pub, consequently changing our name to 'The White Horse Jazz Men'. After a few months, Noel left the Band and I was lucky enough to get the very well known pianist Alan Howarth to join us: he had at one stage backed Shirley Bassey and had performed extensively both in the UK and abroad. Such was the quality of our Band by this time.

In January 2000 we were approached by the Beaconsfield Conservative Club in Ashton-under-Lyne to move there, which we did, and the Beacky Jazz Club was formed: we are still there on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month, with a special guest at every session. Once again our name had to be altered and as the River Tame runs at the back of my house in Ashton-under-Lyne, the 'Tame Valley Stompers' was born.

Shortly after moving to the Beaconsfield, we took on another residency at the 'Red House' pub on Monday nights, where we were fortunate to be joined by the ever popular trombone man with scarf and beret – Terry Brunt. During our time at the Red House, Alan Howarth became ill and luck was with us again when Noel Broadgate was able to rejoin us.

After 3 years at the Red House we moved to our new, and present home at the `Turnpike Hotel' and at this point we had the good fortune to take on the wonderful trumpet player Roger Wimpenny, whose own Show Band in years gone by were the performers on the Benny Hill Show signature tune – though, unlike Benny – they didn't get to chase the mini skirts (that we know of)!

After starting our residency at the Turnpike some 18 months ago, our Band acquired yet another, additional, name as "Terry's Dead Good Boys – The Tame Valley Stompers", which the exuberant Mr Brunt bestowed on us when our playing was delighting him even more than usual! This has stuck with us and we are sometimes featured under this name when Terry is with us.

Note: dates given are approximate due to the passage of the sands of time

We do at present have a pleasingly pretty full diary and regularly play at a number of Jazz Clubs and events in the North West. Should you require our Band for any kind of function in- or out-of doors, please ring

Norman Pennington on 0161 330 1226 FOR LOVERS OF BETTER MUSIC.

1 to 4 December 2017 – Center Parcs revisited


Last Friday saw the start of our regular weekend trip to Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest.

Peg and Jim returned after a two year absence; Robert and Lyn did the organising as usual; Stuart brought shortbread; Louise arrived on Saturday due to illness; and Roger ‘lost his deposit’ due to being in Patagonia.

The site is littered with reindeer at this time of year. The runt in the next picture was soon removed to a hospital ward.


We tried a new game – Football Pool. Quite engaging for the whole family, with Robert opting for his own strange footwear code.


Apart from that there was the usual Hydrobikes, Swimming, Short Tennis, Table Tennis, Line Dancing, Squash, Badminton, Floodlit Tennis, American Pool, etc. Plus of course the ‘normal’ pool in our games room, and a nightly sauna that’s attached to house number 889. And ‘Balderdash’. Not everyone participated in everything (in fact nobody participated in everything) due to a variety of mental and physical ailments …. knees, back, shoulder, brain, gastroenteritis ….etc.

Much good food was consumed, closely monitored by this fat chap.


The firework display on Sunday was very good, albeit I failed to capture the true quality of the event ‘on film’. One of my early Canon digital cameras had a good ‘Fireworks’ setting, but later ones, including my current Lumix, seem to lack that feature. We watched from the beach that features in the top picture.


By Sunday night we were, after the main course of Normandy pork, down to just five active participants. Jim and Peg went home due to a commitment on Monday, and Louise fell ill again. That left a fruit and almond Clafoutis for eight to be shared between five of us. It’s maybe just as well they went home, as we just about managed to scoff the lot!


Earlier in the day we’d spent half an hour in a hide near our house. This was the only time Sue’s camera appeared during the weekend, some of the results of which are shown below. The birds on the feeder are blue tits, a great tit and a coal tit. Scavenging on the ground below were several squirrels, three rabbits, blackbirds, wood pigeons and a moorhen. Scavenging from above was a kestrel, or was it a sparrowhawk? Anyway, it was so quick that it was hard to see whether it succeeded or not. Nearby we saw a tree creeper, bullfinch, jay, carrion crows, woodpecker, swans, Egyptian geese and more.


Before we knew it the weekend slewed to a halt after a swim in the pool on Monday morning. We drove home via Chorley, with Sue driving Louise’s car so that the invalid could be an invalid at home rather than be stuck in Nottinghamshire.

Thanks go to Robert and Lyn for organising.

Our various trips to Center Parcs are recorded here, if anyone has time for some amusement.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Thursday 30 November 2017 – Dunham Massey again


For what was billed as a repeat of the walk I did on 20 October, I was pleased to be joined by Rick, Paul and Jeanette on this occasion.

We enjoyed bright sunshine on the frosty morning – a perfect day for a stroll such as this, though if we’d had more time a visit to the Lakes or North Wales would have been brilliant today.

These first two pictures were taken near Dunham Town.


Dunham Massey house looked serene under the cobalt sky. There were very few folk around today.


The driveway has changed since I passed through on 20 October. The leaves have now dropped.


After coffee and cake at Lavender Barn Tea Room (note that the tea room will be closed from 11 to 27 December), we headed on along Rick’s preferred route back to Altrincham. It’s better than mine and took us past Devisdale Sunken Garden, a gem of a place that has recently been recovered from dereliction by volunteers.


The garden is right next to Denzell House, a building housing offices. There’s more information on the gardens, etc, here.


Apparently agricultural fairs were once held in Devisdale, which is now an area of grassland on the edge of Altrincham.


Jeanette directed us to a folly situated in dense woodland that has recently been cleared sufficiently for people to be able to approach the tall brick column.


Nearby lurks a crocodile that once looked immaculate but which is now slowly dissolving.


Paul and Jeanette were keen to inspect the wear and tear on the poor beast caused by the elements.


Brief pauses for shopping in Altrincham didn’t prevent us all from getting home by lunch time after this most enjoyable 14.5 km perambulation with around 100 metres ascent, taking about 3 hours including stops.


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Another Red Tractor


One of our esteemed European Tractor Correspondents has come up with this latest image, which he has imaginatively titled ‘Another Red Tractor’.

Thanks, Nick – perhaps AlanR can manoeuvre himself off his sick bed to provide a more informative subtitle!

…. With the speed of a sickly bullet:

“It’s a McCormack, International Farmall D 430 2 wheel drive from the 1950s I like the registration plate MB and AR, what a coincidence.”

Thanks Alan

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Saturday 25 November 2017 - Wythenshawe parkrun number 316 – Too Much Cake!


The gazebo came in very handy as a cake and person shelter, though by the time they got home many people would have been soaked by the heavy showers of ice cold rain.

There was no shortage of cake, with Andrew Ratcliffe bringing a child size object that masqueraded as a raspberry sponge #100club cake. Well done Andrew on joining the 100 club, as did Craig Bradbury, who celebrated by being first home. Cake was also provided by others, including Michael Wymer, in celebration of his 200th parkrun outing.

The full results are here. Only about 5 PBs, and that reflects the very wet conditions, with muddy passage starting to live up to its name again despite this year’s remedial treatment.

Sue and Jeanette walked round but despite encouragement from the last corner they just failed to break their 40 minute target. Lots of us adjourned to the Courtyard Café for the post run social that has become as important as the run, and possibly more enjoyable on showery days like this.

I only took the one photo, so to brighten up this posting here’s ‘The Last of the Leaves’, on the Bridgewater Canal near Sale, a couple of days earlier.