Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Thursday 18 January 2024

Tuesday 16 January 2024 - Snow in Timperley

Tuesday morning, and a snowy scene greeted us.

Time for a breakfast ritual! (Wordle)

The bin man turned into Action Man!

The view to Brooklands.

And the view towards Altrincham, from Timperley Bridge.

By Thursday morning the snow had gone, leaving a cold canal under a layer of ice, and a frosty towpath. Sue and I walked in to Sale, pausing on our return at Marsland Bridge (Brooklands) for the next two pictures on another blue sky day.

Monday 15 January 2024 - The Harlem Hot Stompers at Eagley Jazz Club


I usually take a photo near the end of the performances at the Jazz Club, but today I was foiled by circumstances.

After wrestling unsuccessfully with their microphone's amplifier, the vocalists of the band struggled manfully, but not entirely successfully, to project their voices across the 100 seater hall.

They were much in need of a break, and the trademark pasties, after nearly an hour on stage.

Sue and I were overdue a raffle win, and a bottle of Prosecco was a welcome reward tonight.

After more futile attempts during the break to get their voices amplified, the band pressed on. They did very well under the circumstances, especilly when after asking for requests they were confronted with yet more vocal challenges.

The vocalists really were pretty hoarse by the time Derek announced the last two numbers. At this point double bass player Dave Parr put them out of their misery by collapsing in a heap. His instrument was rescued, and first aid applied, but clearly this was the end of a difficult night for the band.

In the absence of a photo, the flier for the evening is shown above. We do hope that Dave fully recovered, and we look forward to seeing the band, hopefully with a working microphone, again on 18 November.

Wednesday 17 January 2024

A Wintry Walk to Dunham Massey

Sue and I enjoyed a 'Blue Sky' morning by way of a walk to Dunham Massey and back. We've done this many times. My last visit was in the dark on a Christmas run (see here), quite a contrast to today's stroll.

I'll comment only by way of captions. Readers can click on any picture (in web version) for a better version or a slideshow.
The canal was frozen in Timperley. The ice was just strong enough to hold a Canada Goose,
but when they sat on the ice they soon plunged into an icy dip as they warmed the ice

The towpath beyond the former Bay Malton pub is generally muddy at this time of year, 
but not today, thanks to the hard frost

All this sunny weather has faded the Swan's pub sign!

The River Bollin is crossed here, by way of a narrow footbridge

The old mill was converted into luxury apartments many years ago

The weir, pictured from the bridge, is another sign of historic power generation for the mill

Just beyond the bridge, a restricted byway, thankfully firmly frozen, 
leads to the grounds of Dunham Massey

The old mill next to the hall has been in use for over 400 years

The blackamoor sundial that graced this spot in front of the hall for many years has become a subject for controversy

November 2010

We enjoyed a brief whizz around the Winter Garden.

Himalayan Birch

Daphne odora

Witch Hazel


There are many snowdrops sprouting, but the Winter Garden is only really just starting to get going. We've visited it many times before, as recorded here, and expect to see more in coming weeks

From Dunham Massey, it's a pleasant walk to the golf course and thence to Altrincham

We passed St Margaret's Church, where Sue rings the bells

Our plan to get a tram home was foiled by problems with the points, so we walked, 
passing a minor road closure that is predicted to last for ten months!

Beyond the Navigation Recreation Ground, Timperley Brook used to flow under a mass of vegetation dominated by Himalayan Balsam. A team of volunteers (I assume) spent many happy hours in the autumn, clearing the land around the brook most effectively. That didn't take ten months!

Two Sparkling Bikes

 My bikes didn't get their usual services last year, as BikeShak closed down.

So after popping in to a new shop with Paul and Jeanette, I decided to entrust the bikes to Ed Stuart, who has set up this new shop on Moss Lane near the centre of Altrincham. It took him less than a week to sort out both bikes and get them running smoothly. Ed trades as Stamford Cycle Co and seems to have done a good job on my bikes, though I may have to go to a seatpost specialist to free the jammed seatpost on the red bike. His website is here. I would certainly recommend Ed, who provides a comprehensive workshop report to supplement his invoice. He is a 'Cytech Master Technician'.

People spend £1,000s on their bikes, so I wondered what mine had cost. Their mileages are low as I don't really cycle on roads, going shorter distances over rougher ground than many cyclists. 

The bike on the left is a Specialised Stumpjumper FSR Comp, dating from 2006. It cost £1500 new, but my friend Dave sold it to me for £500 in 2011. Since then it has done about 4,000 miles on rough ground and including the purchase price has cost me around £2,200.

The bike on the right was at the time it was bought from Harry Hall's (who sadly closed for good in 2023), a fairly high spec mountain bike - a Shogun Trailbreaker 3, costing £329 on 28 April 1990. These days I think it would be regarded as a hybrid or gravel bike, but for me it has done around 14,000 miles - many of them over challenging ground. Including the purchase price it has cost me around £3,400.

The bikes are now probably worth very little in monetary terms, but they both hold valuable memories for me, and they continue to provide enjoyment, albeit more on the local towpaths and looplines these days, rather than the more challenging routes that require a drive to reach, though I still very much enjoy the latter.

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Weekend Running

Sue and I went with various other 'Wythenshawe' runners to Fletcher Moss again for our Saturday morning parkrun. It's a very nice, slightly undulating course, and there is a choice of cafes afterwards, all of which allow dogs. So Rufus can enjoy his run and snuggle under a table, rather than shiver in the courtyard at Wythenshawe.

We were not alone in choosing Fletcher Moss. Having had their second highest attendance ever last week, today the record was broken, with 522 folk turning up. I started near the back, as has become my custom, and enjoyed a very slow first kilometre. Sue and Jeanette and the others rushed ahead.

Runners stretched into the distance ahead of me

Anyway, I did pass a few folk and finished in position 386, in 31:32, though the 'official' timing was slower due to a two minute queue at the finish, as the volunteers tried manfully to cope with so many more people than they are used to. Sue and Jeanette both got PB's for this course - 25:23 and 27:59 respectively, whilst Laura was the first female - but no doubt peeved to be pipped to the post by her brother, whilst Paul was dragged in by Rufus, a few places ahead of Sue.

Full results are here.

Greg's family, Victoria, Isabella and Samuel, joined us afterwards for coffees, and a good time was had by all.

Sunday morning: Sue was bellringing and I toddled off to the 5km Community Run at Wythenshawe. It was a lovely sunny morning, if a bit frosty, as Paul and Alison gathered the troops - 109 of us today, of whom 48 were just doing 2 km.

You need to click on the next picture to see it properly, but there are two aircraft in the shot. Paul pointed out that one of them was a nearby drone, and not to worry if we heard a strange buzzing noise as we ran. The last I heard was that the drone footage was being edited...

There was a camera at the finish line, which I reached in 31:03 - an acceptable time given that I was quite warm under three layers of clothing. Position 34 out of 61 - that makes a change from coming nearly last!

Carnivals, Contests and Coronations - by Richard Nelson

Our good friend and neighbour, Rick, popped round the other day with his 434 page tome covering the history of Morris Dancing in Trafford up to the Second World War.

Rick's meticulous research has unearthed a wealth of interest, and as old documents are further scanned and digitised, more information will be forthcoming. 

Here's the synopsis provided by Waterstones:

Morris dancing was very popular in towns in Trafford in the 1920s and 1930s. Huge crowds turned out for lavish carnivals and pageants staged to raise money for health care. Amongst the main attractions at these events were dancing contests which drew in large audiences to watch morris and entertaining troupes from all over the North West compete.
Carnivals, Contests and Coronations is much more than a book about morris dancing. It reveals the story of the people who danced and those who organised the troupes. The local history of carnivals and Rose Queen festivals is considered in detail alongside the evidence for morris dancing.
Drawing on newspaper collections, archive material and film from the North West Film Archive, this is a well-illustrated and thoroughly researched book by an author who is both a morris dancer and local history researcher. It makes a significant contribution to knowledge of morris dancing in the North West and to understanding the early development of the Girls’ Carnival Morris movement.

Rick formed Shuffleback Press to publish the book, and he provides more information here. The book has received great acclaim from the Morris Dancing community and beyond. A particularly pleasing review came from a giant of the Morris Dancing world, Michael Heaney, who asserts 'Every student of morris should buy this book'. I am not one such student, but nevertheless I'm enjoying dipping into the content and reading about some of the characters and activities of the past.

Well done Rick. You have produced a masterpiece. It's available from here.