Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Friday 13 October 2017

Thursday 12 October 2017 – Tia Brazda at Lancaster Music Festival


I doubt many readers will have heard of Tia Brazda. Conrad and I went down to the Wagon & Horses pub in Lancaster to see her perform. Here’s what the flier said:

”Tia Brazda has established herself as a sparkling presence on the jazz scene in Canada and beyond, performing from Montreal to Paris to Amsterdam, and at such notable festivals as the Vancouver International Jazz, Toronto International Jazz and Bestival (UK). Her debut EP, Cabin Fever burst onto the scene in February 2012, hitting #1 on the iTunes Canada Jazz chart as well as receiving play on CBC Radio 1, Jazz FM 91.1 and college radio stations across Canada. Originally from Vancouver, but having honed her cutting-edge sound in the clubs of Toronto, Tia’s sassy songs and pin-up girl style have made a startling impression, paying homage to the golden era while still remaining daringly modern.”

The venue wasn’t ideal, but considering the fact that Tia had just arrived from Canada, and had never met any of her band members, who indeed had never met each other before, until the morning of the gig, everything went remarkably well, with both the band and the audience appearing to enjoy themselves.

They are performing at different venues (here’s the schedule) for four nights, culminating with The Sphere on Sunday. If you get the chance, I commend a visit.

Some readers will recognise the guitarist. Well done Mike, you came through that challenge with flying colours.

Thursday 12 October 2017 – Arnside Knott


After nearly two hours of root canal treatment with Afzal (I’m getting used to it – that’s the third tooth in recent times) I felt like a bit of fresh air. So after meeting Conrad and his friend Pete for tea and cake and a long chat at Café Ambio by the auction mart building near junction 36 of the M6, I headed off to visit Ian and Rona in Arnside. Ian kindly joined me for a stroll up Arnside Knott, thus assuaging the demand for some fresh air. Conrad would have joined us but he has a very troublesome knee at present.

The Howgill Fells became more visible as we ascended the hill after walking around the bay for a while.


There’s not much of a view from the trig point, despite some recent tree felling.


We descended via Red Hills, down a field occupied by Highland cattle, with views of the railway viaduct along which there is some talk of creating a cycleway.


Here’s our route – 7.5 km, 170 metres ascent, taking 1.5 hours. An excellent little outing despite it being a rather dull afternoon, and good to see Ian and Rona.


Then I adjourned to Conrad’s house, where he had been busy knocking up an excellent repast. Thank you Conrad.

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Tuesday 10 October 2017 – The Throstle Nest ‘lollipop route’


For a bit of exercise, I quite often cycle along the Bridgewater Canal as far as the Throstle Nest bridge on the Rochdale Canal link, where I join the path beside the Ship Canal, crossing that via the Media City Footbridge and heading along cycle lanes through Eccles to Barton Swing Bridge, from where the main branch of the Bridgewater Canal gets me home after 26-27 km, in a bit less than an hour and a half.

The route is often affected by various works being undertaken by Peel Holdings, who seem to own most of this part of the world. Currently it’s clear as far as the Throstle Nest Bridge, where the canal can be crossed if you want to continue to the Castlefield Basin and on to the City Centre. My route doesn’t cross the canal, instead heading alongside the Manchester Ship Canal for a while. Currently that path is under reconstruction, so lately I’ve had to use a short stretch of pavement to get me to Sam Platt’s Pub, beyond which the waterside path could be rejoined.

However, Sam Platt’s has suddenly disappeared. Here’s what it looked like until recently.


Then it closed, and this happened.


It has now degenerated to a pile of bricks. The sign that’s still in the top picture is just to the left of the picture immediately above this text. I’m sure Peel Holdings have some elaborate plans and the area of desolation will evolve into something meaningful, if not another pub.

Having eventually regained the canalside after passing by the long stretch of rubble, I found the Media City footbridge closed due to some sort of technical problem – twisting arches or something. A partly waterborne team was trying to mend it, so hopefully it won’t be closed for long.


Luckily there’s another bridge nearby, so the only downside is a few hundred metres of road cycling rather than off-road. But never mind.

Having regained the Bridgewater Canal beyond the Barton swing bridge, I paused for a break about half way back, near the Watch House Cruising Club that can be seen in the distance.


On this ride I noticed quite a few birds, including the resident mallards, Canada geese and black headed gulls. Mandy the sole mandarin duck is still living nearby, pretending to be a mallard, and just near our house the grey wagtails are so yellow that I must check that they really aren’t the rarer yellow version. There’s also a lone cormorant that, like the local herons, has lost its shyness, and if you wait for long enough at the bridge over the River Mersey you should eventually see a kingfisher. There are lots of LBJs about as well, but I’ll leave them to another time (after I’ve been accompanied by someone who knows more about birds than I do…).

Here’s my route. It’s useful at this time of year as it’s off road apart from 2 km in Eccles, and it’s entirely free of mud. A flat 27 km, taking about 1.5 hours.


Tuesday 10 October 2017

Sunday 8 October 2017 – The Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon


Just Robert and I turned up for this year’s CMBM, other regulars having alternative commitments. They were not alone, as numbers were seriously down from previous years, with only 150 or so taking part. As has now become normal, I set off right at the back on my 1990 Shogun bike that behaved impeccably as usual, once a minor fault with a new mudguard had been rectified.


Robert made his way through the crowd and rode in the middle of the field, whilst I stayed right at the back, nursing my hamstring injury.


After a few wetish days we were blessed with pretty much perfect weather for the ride, but conditions were very ‘wet’ underfoot (undertyre?).

The support points were great, with drinks, bananas, flapjack and jelly babies available in copious quantities.

I realised how slowly I was going when riders started to worry about ‘cut off’ points for slowcoaches! Yes, I was going along at a very gentle pace, avoiding any danger by descending slower than usual on the greasy surfaces.

“No need to worry” were my thoughts, as I joined the line of stragglers fighting their way across the sludge that had developed on Midgley Moor.

From the point where I took the next three pictures, I walked over the moor as cycling involved just a bit too much strain on my injury.

Here’s Amanda Lees, who later finished up walking even more than me on the difficult descent to Luddenden.


I think this is Simon Midgley, struggling to contend with his eponymous moor. You can just see the string of fellow stragglers ahead of him.


There were good views towards Stoodley Pike across the sunlit Hebden valley.


Robert finished in 3 hours 12 minutes, and came back down to the Rochdale Canal to meet me. Thanks Robert, and my apologies for finishing so slowly by walking up the final hill. I’ve rarely done that before, but today it was wise under the circumstances. My leisurely pace has avoided any unpleasant after effects.


Thanks to the finish marshal pictured below who took the above photo. Also seen in the picture is the eight year old boy who finished nearly half an hour ahead of me. Well done him!


Robert and I were the only riders adjourning to The Church Stile Inn, ‘Open as Usual’, but not for long if the limited availability of beer and the filthy condition of the place is anything to go by. It was nice outside in the sunshine.


Here’s the route – 42 km (26 miles) with around 1100 metres ascent, plus a kilometre or so to the start. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

It’s a bit different from previous years due to a closed path. The change in route to replace some cobbled and boggy sections with a long stretch of tarmac should have resulted in faster times, but was countered by the slow sections through mud following recent rain.


The results are here, and a brief summary of our results over the years is in this posting, whilst all my blog reports are here.

Today’s Statistics:

Winner – 1 hr 59 min – 154 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 5 min
Robert: 3 hrs 12 min – 85
Martin: 4 hrs 20 min – 146

Finally, congratulations again to the organisers for making the event run so smoothly and for providing lots of drinks and food along the way and at the finish.

Monday 9 October 2017

Saturday 7 October 2017 – Wythenshawe parkrun Number 309


A weekend based at home always starts in the same way these days – by way of a sociable morning at Wythenshawe Park, which was glowing with autumn colours on this occasion.


A shower arrived shortly before the business end of the morning got going. To the right in the picture below, you might just be able to make out (click the image to make it larger or go to the parkrun photostream) old Oliver using Andy Holloway as his ventriloquist’s dummy in order to brief the first timers, whilst the rest of the 247 participants mill around before run director Charlotte delivers her ‘speech’.


I’m still ‘injured’ so as no marshals were required I ambled around near the back of the field, successfully knocking about twenty minutes off my previous week’s time. Here, the tail is wending its way past Oliver.


Over 200 runners stretch into the distance as we leave the soggy grass in favour of the puddled tarmac that’s a feature of the course at this time of year.


I enjoyed chats with Kate H and with Cary, and for the slower runners the sun came out before we reached the funnel, where Syd was on fine form directing shattered runners to collect their tokens.


Sue had finished long before me, urged on by 25 minute pacer Nick to yet another personal best time of 24.19. This is getting boring! Well done Sue!

Meanwhile, several people were taking it easy in preparation for the following day’s Chester Marathon. Well done to Ron Carter, who finished that in 5.14, about the same time as he managed for the Manchester Marathon earlier in the year. Well done also to Jackie C, who yet again broke the 4 hour barrier despite her advanced years, and to husband Frank who got very close to Jackie on this occasion.

Finally, and nothing to do with the rest of this posting, whilst wandering around Timperley recently I noticed this fine specimen of a Ford Mustang with a 1966 registration plate….