Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 21 October 2017

Thursday 19 October 2017 – Around Bakewell


I had occasion to pop over to Bakewell to sort a few things for our Christmas Walk on 17 December.

Since I was passing through Stockport, I called in at Alpenstock, the outdoor gear shop where Jose and Hugh are continuing on a month to month basis pending re-letting of the unit and Jose’s retirement. I commend a visit. The weather in Stockport didn’t deter me from continuing on to the Peak District.


By the time I reached Whaley Bridge, the writing was on the wall – ie a huge bank of cloud to the east signalled a fair degree of wetness. I adjusted my walking plans and called in at The Crispin Inn.


Business concluded, I headed off to Bakewell. The town was barely visible through the gloom.


A short walk along the Monsal Trail followed. It was deserted. No walkers. No cyclists.


I stopped under the bridge to shelter from the downpour and dream about days past.


Waking with a shudder, I made my way to the Lime Lounge Coffee House, from where the walk on 17 December will start at 10.00 am. The café opens at 9.30 and will welcome our custom.


It’s very close to the road bridge over the River Wye.


Nearby are two footbridges. The ducks just below the weir were relishing the weather and were using the frothy water to give themselves a good wash.


I continued my wanderings – up past the Parish Church and along some pleasant field paths.


The woodland walk through Endcliff Wood from St Anselm’s school, where they are making a real mess of the surroundings, was pleasant despite the weather. Autumn is still on its way here, with plenty of leaves yet to fall despite recent windy conditions.


Turning back towards the town, I passed an area rich in local history. The picture below was taken from Holme Bridge, a packhorse bridge built in 1664 and used by merchants who wanted to avoid the toll bridge in the centre of Bakewell. In 1777 Richard Arkwright built a cotton mill here, thereby depriving a corn mill that was a little downstream of part of its water supply. ‘Trouble at t’mill!’ as the saying goes…


Returning home via the Cat and Fiddle, I spent some time in thick cloud. But the day was a success, and the Christmas Walk plan is now fixed – details are here. Let me know if you would like to come – you’ll need to choose from the menu.

Friday 20 October 2017

Hurricane Ophelia Strikes Wythenshawe Park


I spent some time whilst sunbathing in our local park the other day observing this seemingly distraught group, waiting for JJ, presumably wearing his superhero costume, to emerge from the wreckage with a new-born baby.

After a while I decided it was more likely that a baby would emerge carrying JJ! So I went back to sleep….

Monday 16 October 2017 – The Harlem Hot Stompers at Eagley Jazz Club


Eagley Jazz Club is seeking a higher profile and a larger audience, so there will be regular reports here, in an effort to help Reg and his fellow committee members achieve their objective. Please do come along.

This was another excellent night of Trad Jazz in Bolton, only a thirty minute drive from South Manchester despite the current M60 restrictions. £5 for members, £7 for non members, and very reasonably priced beer.

The band was pleased to have Ian McCann back after serious heart surgery, and it put on a fine performance. It currently broadcasts itself as follows:

Formed in 1969, the Harlem Hot Stompers have for many years enjoyed residencies at various venues in the Manchester area, following a musical policy inspired by the classic compositions of Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, Clarence Williams, Duke Ellington, and of course King Oliver and Louis Armstrong.

Apart from several radio and TV appearances, the band has supported or featured many jazz artists including Humphrey Lyttelton, George Melly, Cy Laurie, Mike Daniels, Sammy Rimington, Keith Nichols, Pat Halcox, Monty Sunshine, and Beryl Bryden.

Until recently the band confined their appearances to the North West of England but in recent years have enjoyed performing at the Keswick and Barmouth Jazz Festivals, and jazz weekends in North Wales, the Isle of Man and Suffolk. In addition the band performs regularly at jazz clubs in Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Contact Ian McCann email:

The Harlem Hot Stompers @ The Salutation Hotel, Ambleside 2nd Oct 2005

The Musicians:

John Ronan (Trombone) A native of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (where he played with the Rivermouth Jazzband) and now resident in Urmston, Manchester, John has played with several bands in the Manchester area, including the Ian Rose Jazzband, the Louisville Jazzband, and The Savannah Jazzband. A founder member of the HHS, he left the band in 1974 for career reasons, and returned in 1982. Until his retirement, John was Principal at the Bury Adult Education Centre and now lectures part-time on the History of Art.

Bill Smith ( Cornet) Bill Smith replaced Jon Critchley in early 2003 but still retains his involvement with Smoky City Jazz. Born in Stockport , where until the 1960’s a principal industry was hat making, his first band was appropriately The Jazz Hatters led by clarinettist Roy Rogers. National Service in the RAF was followed by a period with The Dallas Jazz Band and the Mike Pembroke Hot Seven. During the mid 1960’s he was involved with big band and dance bands work but returned to the traditional jazz scene in 1969 with the Manchester based Smoky City Jazz. Bill, who lives in Romiley, has now retired from full time work as a decorator, but his excellent technique and versatility means that he is in great demand as a dep. with various styles of band. He lists Humphrey Lyttelton, Harry James, Wild Bill Davison, Muggsy Spanier, Pat Halcox and Alex Welsh as main influences on his style.

John Reade (Piano) A retired University Lecturer in Mathematics, John lives in Alkrington, Manchester and is a founder member of the HHS having previously played in the Savoy Jazz Band and the Idle Hour Jazz Band in Cambridge, and also the Birmingham based Zenith Hot Stompers. He has made two cassette tapes of ragtime piano and has broadcast on radio on the subject of ragtime and stride piano styles. John is also responsible for many of the band arrangements.

Ian McCann (Banjo/Guitar) Ian joined the band in 1975 having previously been with the Wigan based Rainy City Jazz Band who played most of their gigs in the Liverpool area. Retirement from his occupation as the Personnel Director of a major brewery has allowed Ian time to concentrate on his musical activities and he is in great demand as a dep. with both semi-pro. and pro. bands as well as regular gigs with the HHS, and his quartet 4 to the bar.

Fred Boggan (Drums)

Fred Boggan (Drums) Fred joined the Harlem Hot Stompers in October 2015. His musical background started on joining the army at age 17 as a bandsman to study music, cornet and percussion. His army duties included being the Regimental Trumpet Player. He has since worked in big bands and theatrical pit orchestras and most recently has been playing for many years with the Blue Magnolia Jass Orchestra.

Dave Parr  (string bass/tuba) - Also an ex-Rainy City member, Dave, who hails from Croft, near Warrington, joined the band in 1976, originally on string bass, but more recently has also taken up the brass bass to give a more authentic sound to the Classic numbers and marches.

Dave Thomas (reeds) - Dave started playing the clarinet at the age of 15; he played with a few little groups in Liverpool one was alongside George Harrison  (before he became famous!). He then went into the R. A. F spending most of his time in Cyprus were he formed a jazz band playing at all the R. A. F bases across the island. In 1962, back in civvy street, he joined the Original Panama Jazz Band based on the Wirral and is still a strong member after 53 years.

Over the years he has played with various bands throughout the North West and has had the opportunity to play in the Sacramento Jazz Festival in California the Isle of Man, Norway, Germany and the South of France. In 2013 he was asked to join the Harlem Hot Stompers and over the last two years has enjoyed playing at a variety of venues with the band.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Sunday 15 October 2017 – The Birmingham International Marathon


After completing the Toulouse Marathon last October, I thought it might be a good challenge to try one of these events every year. I was a bit nervous about going to Toulouse again as I doubted it could match up to last year’s experience, so I chose Birmingham’s first event of this nature in recent years.

Getting there was a bit easier than getting to Toulouse, as Sue’s parents live in Birmingham and it was an easy 30 minute drive to the Alexander Stadium for the start.

I’d tried to get vaguely fit for this by running for 4 km every now and then (about 16 times) whilst on our recent trip to Canada, plus three parkruns, on the last of which one of my hamstrings ‘pulled’. That was nearly a month ago and I hadn’t been able to run properly since then.

I decided to take part anyway, and to walk round the course if necessary. So I took up a place at the very back of the 5200 strong field of runners. Half of them had set off at 8.30 in the ‘red’ wave of faster runners. I waited behind the ‘longer than 6 hours 30 minutes’ flag for the 9.30 start. Everyone was very jolly and relaxed; there were no nervous ‘elite’ runners here.


The official start is out of sight to the right in these pictures. We watched about half the field start, then there was a three minute gap before the next ‘surge’, and those of us at the back eventually got started around 9.45.


I’d been chatting to an interesting chap, Taiwo Opesan, a 48 year old of Nigerian heritage who lives in Hale and coaches amateur footballers. We stayed together for the first hour, until I had to stop to slacken a shoe lace. That’s not happened to me before, and I had to stop later to slacken the other one. Apart from that my feet were fine despite being in trainers that are past their sell by date, and so long as I shuffled as opposed to striding out, my hamstring wasn’t too painful, though I did get some soreness behind the knees that took a few days to subside.

I caught up with Taiwo again, but even though my own pace slowed, he fell behind, finishing in 5.41. The support around the course was excellent, with lots of water and jelly babies being handed out. Sadly the only person with bananas was Sue, whose banana handout sped me towards the finish.

There was lots of chatting, with an assortment of folk. I find it takes my mind off the continuous effort of running if I can chat to somebody on such an occasion. The running is so slow that getting out of breath isn’t a problem, it’s the legs that are suffering…

Anyway, despite not being able to match my Toulouse timings I only gradually slowed, and like many of those around me (“we can slow down now, we’ll meet our target”) I managed to finish in under five hours quite easily, if totally unexpectedly.

Sue and I adjourned for essential rehydration fluid after I’d finished. We could look down on the course, which finishes with a rather cruel hill, so there was no last minute sprint this time.


Café Rouge is really a restaurant, but they seemed quite happy to serve only fluids.


Ah, now I’m feeling much better!


Here are a couple of screen dumps from the results website.


There were just over 5200 participants, of whom about 44 were aged over 65. One of the other people in my age group was a TGO Challenger, Stan Appleton, who took just 4 hours 18 minutes. My time, 17 minutes slower than my time in Toulouse, placed me 16th out of 31 men in my age group, in which there were also six women, all a bit slower.

Great news though – my sub 5 hour time makes me eligible to enter the 2019 London Marathon on a ‘good for age’ basis, so I won’t need to try to enter via the dreaded ballot. That’s some way off though; anything can happen before then. Meanwhile, here are (mainly for my own benefit) some more stats.


Wednesday 18 October 2017

Saturday 14 October 2017 – Wythenshawe parkrun Number 310


Sue and I were due in Solihull for lunch, but made time to complete another parkrun on a warm, sunny morning in Manchester.

Paul, with the ‘250’ shirt, and Sue (‘50’) got ready for Tristan’s countdown and dashed off whilst I lingered at the back nursing my hamstring injury.


I walked with Andy H for a while, with a dog walker called Pauline who was unresponsive apart from saying she was doing the parkrun, and she was stopping to read the grafitti.

This meant that by the time we were lapped by Richard, well clear in 4th position (but it’s not a race), Andy and I had only just about reached the 1 km point.


Pauline gave up at the first bridge, so Andy and I could catch up with Zoe at the back of the field. I briefly had to go ahead to avoid being lapped by Sue and Joe (Richard’s son).


They finished in a shade under 27 minutes – no PB for Sue for a change, and she finished with a sore Achilles’. So now we are both injured…


So having been lapped by over 70 of the 229 participants, I pottered around the second lap with Beth and Jasmine, just ahead of the ‘sweeping’ quartet of Jenn, Andrea, Zoe and Tail Walker, Andy.


The 5 km took me over 51 minutes, so it wasn’t too energetic and the injury certainly didn’t worsen (which is a Good Thing). As it was my 150th parkrun I provided about 60 portions of cake, regular doses of which seem to be appreciated by some of the participants.


Full results here.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Friday 13 October 2017 – A Bollin Valley Stroll


Today’s victims were JJ, Graham B, and Sue and John B who had returned for another outing after enjoying the last one from Irlam. We started from the small car park at Lindow Common (SJ 833 814) and took a country line past Morley Green towards Oak Farm. Some dampish conditions were encountered. Sue’s olfactory sensors correctly informed her that this was not exactly ‘mud’. Ankle deep in slurry, John B was heard to mutter “the wife’ll kill me!”.

Once past the above obstacle I managed to take the next photo before JJ snatched it for his next ‘road kill pie’.


We came upon this useful sign directing us along the Bollin Valley Way footpath.


We marched off, in accordance with the sign, along Dooley’s Lane, which becomes a narrow track, to the right of JJ and Graham in the following picture. An irate couple harangued us, demanding that we walk on the ‘footpath’, rather than the track, which they claimed was their garden. JJ had encountered them before. An unpleasant pair who spend their days shouting at walkers who deign to use the (public?) track that leads to Shadygrove Cottage. We obliged by not walking on ‘their’ track, though I suspect we had every right to walk along it, and we will next time.


The field paths led inexorably to the magnificent tunnel that guides the River Bollin under Manchester Airport’s second runway. A self-timed photo was attempted, but the lighting unfortunately left us as a silhouette. We forgot to take another picture, so this adjusted version is the best I can manage of today’s motley crew.


It was drizzling outside so we enjoyed a cake break admiring stalactites in the shelter of the tunnel.


We then headed across Altrincham Road and into Styal Woods. Prior to Hurricane Ophelia this Giant Redwood tree stood 300 metres high, towering over the woods. Despite its 50 foot girth, it may not have survived the storm, so this photo may be a collector’s item. (Offers on a postcard, please.)


After a while, steps led down to Giant’s Castle Bridge (perhaps named after the giant tree above??!)


The River Bollin meanders quietly over a weir just here. This view from the bridge before the hurricane may now have completely changed…


Soon, Sue snatched the camera and ran ahead to take the following two photos before JJ could bag the subject matter for his pie.


“Hang on JJ, you missed these beauties".


Sadly there has been an outbreak of an infectious plant disease, Phytophthora ramorum, in the woods, leading to the need to fell all the larch trees rather than leave them to the mercies of Phytophthora and Ophelia. The area of devastation, not fully reflected in the picture below, will be allowed to regenerate naturally. Expect willowherbs to dominate the scene for a while.


The gardens at Quarry Bank Mill were closed, so we took the high path to join the entrance drive near the new entrance building that wasn’t there last time we visited in March.


A quick coffee all round in the café at the mill provided a short break before the walk beside the Bollin to Twinnies Bridge, then up the hill to the car park at Lindow Common.

An enjoyable and very jolly outing despite a bit of drizzle and slurry – here’s the route – 10.8 km, 120 metres ascent, taking 3 hours including breaks.


Here’s what really happened…