Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 2 March 2024

Saturday 2 March 2024 - A Trip to Kandersteg

My first flight since returning from Ottawa in Feb 2020, just before Covid hit.

6:30 - Passenger Cars taxi to Terminal 1 (£19).

Usual problems for me getting through security. I forgot that a Kindle is an electrical item that needs to go through separately.  Anyway, plenty of time, and Sue is able to get the boarding pass QR codes on her phone. My android phone doesn't show them.

Gate 24 at T1 for the 8:45 Swiss Air to Zurich on a cool, overcast morning.

Castlefield Gardens booked for 15 March.

Airbus A320 not full.

Smooth flight and easy train ride to Kandersteg and our base for the week, Seiler's Vintage Hotel, reached at 4:30.

The view from Spiez Station

By 5:30 Sue had explored the sauna, and we had admired views up and down the valley from our luxurious room. It's supposed to be a cross country skiing trip, but it looks as if we'll be doing more walking than skiing.

Nice four course meal at the hotel before writing this (not without 'technical' difficulties), and crashing out.

A view from our hotel room

Friday = Isabella Day (62)

Just a few pictures from today's visit to Little Scholar in Altrincham, after which we cooked pancakes and played at home while the weather slowly improved.

Then a minor problem as our computer seemed to suffer 'death'. Hopefully a repairable 'death'. Grapevine was shut due to a bereavement, so the dead machine was taken to Hazel, who lives near Grapevine and can take it in next week for repair (by the same people who built it eleven years ago and who regularly tell me it's only the bits that fail that need replacing!).

[But this time it was deemed uneconomic to repair, and Microsoft Office 2003 needs to be updated to Microsoft 365.]

Thursday 29 February 2024

Wednesday 27 February 2024 - Dunham Massey Winter Garden


Pedal power took Sue and me to Dunham Massey today. Despite a dull (almost rainy) morning, we enjoyed the 10 km bike ride each way, and admired the flowers in the Winter Garden.

That's enough said. Click on any image for a slideshow - most of the photos taken by Sue.


Silver birch




Coots at the back of the hall

Aucuba Japonica Variegata


Irises by the Orangery, where a rather dim long tailed tit was desperately trying to get out of the building



Winter aconites




A swathe of daffodils

Witch Hazel

(Later) - a visit with Cary and Penny to the Aspire restaurant at South Trafford College, and a lovely three course meal for all of £12 a head, courtesy of some enthusiastic and very well supervised students.

Fish cake with a poached egg and various veg, and (below) a superb lemon tart,
after a tasty mackerel starter

Tuesday 27 February 2024

More Weekend Running, etc, and the British Cycling Championships (aka Sue's Birthday Weekend)

Sue's birthday weekend started on Friday with a trip to Groobarbs field kitchen for a long lunch with Richard and Jenny. Very nice it was too, with a fixed menu, the selection of 'Field Kitchen Nibbles' being pictured above. After that I was enjoying the food so much that no further pictures were taken.

No further food was needed all day. 

Sue and I went to an evening session of the British Cycling Championships at the Velodrome. Littered around the inside rim of the venue are all manner of classic bikes, a couple of which are pictured below.

We've been here before, most notably to the cafe whilst riding the Fallowfield Loop, but also for a taster session, and for the UK Championships in 2020.

I love this view, as the riders warm up and the spectators enjoy an air of expectation.

I'm recording the riders and the events of the evening. Who knows who we were watching 'before they became famous'!

There's a fine sculpture in memory of Reg Harris, legendary cyclist.

Fractions of a second are important as the time trials commence.

The most exciting race of the night was the Women's Scratch Race. A straightforward 40 lap (10 km) race to the line. The winner is often the person who can gain a lap on the peleton. Nobody managed that, but didn't they try hard. That was all after an unfortunate collapse on the start line, requiring a few repairs and a second, more orderly, start.

Then came various 'Sprint' races (very tactical) and 'Pursuit' races where individuals or teams start at opposite sides of the track and try to catch up with their opponents. This is better viewing than the four lap (1 km) time trials.

Saturday was Sue's birthday. She had baked enough cake to feed around 300 runners at Wythenshawe Park, but sadly that parkrun was cancelled due to flooding. So we went, along with 500 others, to Fletcher Moss parkrun in Didsbury. It was a lovely morning and a number of friends turned up to enjoy a run and some cake at a much friendlier cafe than the officious tearoom at Wythenshawe.

Walking to the start

Luckily, unlike at Wythenshawe, the puddles didn't quite encroach the track

It took a while to get started at the back of 500 participants on a track thats wide enough for three or four people

At the finish

We had expected Richard and Jenny, who are not parkrunners, to provide an advance party at the cafe and get some coffees ordered, but much to Sue's surprise they had registered as parkrunners and walked around the course! This was a big surprise.

There were ten of us for coffee and cake, the photos being taken by Cary, our good friend and Wythenshawe regular. Others had come from far and wide.

At least Sue had to cater for only 10 people, not 300, so we are still eating cake...

It was one Sue's 300th parkrun, and another Sue's 50th outing.

Full results are here. Virtually all our little group (other than me) got 'Fletcher Moss PBs'.
Someone has written an amusing, if rather lengthy, run report that I'm appending to this posting*.

A lovely morning for it, with Didsbury very nice in the sunshine, here near Mike and Sarah's house where we parked.

Sunday and another sunny but cold morning. And another 5 km run - the Wythenshawe Community Run, for which I often volunteer as a marshall. Today I was 'Tail Walker'. It was very much a walk, as I trailed around the course with a lady called Val who was unable to run. We finished ten minutes after the othe 100+ participants, but that's fine - the lady got 5 km of good exercise that she wouldn't have benefited from if the event wasn't held. However, Rosa, marshalling at the bridge, may have got chilblains!

Sue enjoyed her jog around in about 28 minutes and came to meet us for the last 1.5 km, so it was all quite jolly. Here's Paul making his speech at the start.

Monday evening saw us on a regular visit to a Tame Valley Stompers performance at Eagley Jazz Club. We arrived at our usual time to find more space than usual in the car park, and a rather sparse crowd, despite this being a fine, popular band, and Committee member Ann having enjoyed 15 minutes of fame and advertising on Radio Manchester the previous Wednesday. It turned out that a car load of elderly jazz fans had crashed on its way to the venue, thus blocking the road and preventing many others from arriving on time. Apparently the rescue/ambulance services were quickly on the scene, and we hope everyone is ok.

Here's the band - the legendary Terry Brunt on trombone, Peter Smith: Bass, Roger Wimpenny:  Trumpet, Tony Denton: Reeds,  John Gordon: Banjo/Guitar, and Karen Johnson: Drums (she also performs with the Dixiebeats). 

It was a great evening - two hours of jazz for the princely sum of £8.

* Fletcher Moss parkrun #194

Date - 24th February 2024
Participants – 509
Volunteers – 20
Weather & Conditions – 1°C , clear skies , muddy underfoot

Good evening everybody, and welcome to the run report that should have never been, brought to you by the runners who should never have run Fletcher Moss today (including one of us who officially didn’t run it!)

Today’s report is brought to you by Benjamin and Sara Fish, who had planned to run Alexandra, until they realised that it had been cancelled at 08:50. This run report contains their adventures on a frosty morning in South Manchester, but before that, we’d like to begin with a summary of today’s event.

The only place to start is by thanking the 20 hi-viz heroes who enabled this morning’s event to take place. A big thank you goes out to the following people:

Michael BEAN, Philippa BROWNING, Louise CHEETHAM, Nick DAVIES, Benjamin FOSTER, Diane FROST, Jamie HANSON, Daniel HARDY, Sumeet KANDALE, Alexander KENNEDY, Ivan LEUDAR, John LYONS, Matthew MACCANN, Scott NUGENT, Joshua ROGERS, Jayne STAKES, Abigail STERNE, Mia TEASDALE, Alfie WARREN, John WATERTON

Next up, we’d like to congratulate the 509 participants who ran/jogged/hopped/walked today’s parkrun, including the 139 who ran Fletcher Moss for the first time, including the 36 people for whom this was their first ever parkrun. parkrun is an amazing community, and we really hope that you’ll decide to come back next week.

A massive congratulations goes out to the 79 participants who recorded a PB today – whilst conditions were generally favourable, there were still some big puddles to hurdle over and numerous slippery and muddy patches, so it was really impressive that almost 1 in 6 people who took part today did so in their fastest ever time.

Notable milestone run shoutouts today go to:
• 25 runs - Ruiyang Yan and Billy Fawcett
• 50 runs – Susan Williams
• Naomi Miles (200) and Sue Banfield (300)

Today’s female podium was made up of Lucy Armitage, Isobel Hall, Sophie Armitage who were the fastest three female finishers. Congratulations ladies, with some incredible times.

The fastest three male finishers were George Noble, Tim Ye and Oliver Bernstein. I (Ben) was lucky enough to applaud George as he crossed the finishing line in a super speedy 17:06, seconds before I started my run today. I’ve occasionally been lapped at parkrun before, but never experienced somebody finishing before I’d even started, but it was a strangely fascinating experience, which I’ll come on to shortly.

Today’s run, told through Ben’s eyes
I woke up this morning intending to attempt a sub-20 parkrun at Alexandra, with my work colleague, and friend, James Benson goading me in to attempting it for the second time in 9 months. When he tried pacing me to 20 mins last June I was suffering from a fever, with my attempt fizzling out on the second lap, but today there would be no excuse. For the first time in a long while I woke up nervous on a Saturday morning, with the sense of anticipation in the air – this was going to be the day that I ran sub-20 at parkrun for only the second time, but the first time in 6 months.

The plan was for my mum (Jean) to push our daughter (Charlie) in the pram for the first lap, with me grabbing it off her before she started the second, with Sara having the chance to run a parkrun unencumbered, which is a rare experience. Normally I’d tried to get involved with volunteering when we tourist, but today I thought I’d take the day off, especially given that I would most likely be on my backside following my sub-20 run…

Getting from East Lancashire (local parkrun being the rather hilly Witton, in Blackburn) would be a 45-minute commute for us, so this was no small undertaking. Normally I’m well on top of parkrun cancellations but I thought nothing of it this morning, despite an early warning sign coming when I had to defrost our car at 7.45. Nevertheless, we arrived, four-strong, at Alexandra Park at 8.45. Just as I was about so shed a few layers ahead of the run a nice young lady informed me that today’s run had been cancelled due to ice, together with South Manchester and Stretford. This was an unexpected bombshell. My knowledge of the area was limited, but was advised that the closest non-cancelled parkrun was Burnage.

Starting to panic, I whipped out the 5k app, and established that it would either be Burnage, or Fletcher Moss. Given that we had 10 minutes to get to a start line, the 12-minute commute to Fletcher Moss edged out the 15 minutes it would take to get to Burnage. My sub-20 pacer James, and his entourage, were just receiving the news of the cancellation, but due to circumstances we weren’t able to speak with them again until almost an hour later. We were now on our own. Abandoning all plans for a sub-20, I now just wanted to complete a parkrun.

Arriving at the place Google Maps told me was the closest entrance to the parkrun, I jettisoned Sara, Jean and Charlie and went to find a place to park. The time was already 10 past, and it would take me another 3 or 4 mins to find a place to park. Factoring in the 4 min run commute, I made it to what appeared to be the start line not long before 20 past, where a few kind volunteers pointed me towards the starting line, just as George was galloping towards the finish:


So I set off, hurdling the mud and puddles as best I could, taking a slight detour at the first marshal point as the cones were now pointing in the opposite direction. It’s at this point I bumped into Sara, who I realised had also taken the same detour, approximately 10 mins earlier. Whilst I knew I’d be able to make it to the finish line before the tailwalker it would be touch and go for Sara, whose parkrun PB was 42 mins. So I re-routed and set off again.

I wasn’t prepared for the run, so did it without any accompanying audiobook or playlist, which gave me the chance to experience Fletcher Moss in all its glory. Once I got past the tailwalker I was finally able to enjoy the run, so was then able to take in the magnificent setting, even appreciating the muddy patches and big puddles. When I eventually did finish, officially after 44 mins but according to my watch just over 24 mins, I was able to chat to some of the volunteers, explain to James where I’d got to, and then welcome home my mum and daughter as they crossed the line (they hadn’t detoured). But where was Sara? And would she beat the tail walker?

Today’s run, through Sara’s eyes
Thrown out of the car in a hurry and running to the start line holding my daughter’s hand who was laughing her head off, trying to beat me (which she did as she runs 2k as fast as I do, though she’s a junior parkrunner so she’s good at running). Once we got there, we apologised to the base team for being late, as we ran past them to try and catch up to the tail walker which (spoiler alert) I never did, though I was very close in the end. As Ben has told you in his part of the report, I did take a wrong turn, not because of the volunteers but because the cones had already been switched over in anticipation for the fast runners coming through. So, I took a little detour which in the end turned out to be 1.2km longer but that didn’t matter to me, I still wanted to complete the course in its entirety so I decided to forget trying to get a time and to instead enjoy the course and to simply finish as fast as I could. Luckily, I was wearing my Garmin watch which told me that I completed 5k in 45min, which is about par for the course for me. I’m what I like to call a tourist park runner. I don’t run every week and very rarely run at our local event, but I always try to do a parkrun when we’re travelling, be it in the UK or abroad, so despite being late and far behind I was happy to have completed it. The course itself I thought was great, muddy yes but pleasant still. And I liked watching the cows in the middle as I ran past them feeling happy and content.

As I was coming up on the last 500 meters, the final volunteer making his way back saw me and ran most of the way with me to the finish line to try and help me get in on time, and though I never got a time, I really appreciated what he did and thoroughly enjoyed my time this morning. Thank you, Fletcher Moss. I’d like to say I’ll be back but as I’ve said, I’m a tourist park runner so we’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll see you again one day.

So, we were all united again, after what had been a bizarre but unique morning. We took the advice of Philippa and headed over to the park café, before deciding to head into Didsbury to raid the dozens of charity shops, but not before asking Michael whether he’d let us write a run report. It would have been a shame for Sara to have visited such a great venue without having any record of it, so at least this way we’re able to share our story, and stamp it on our parkrun CV.

Whilst we won’t be joining you next week, we know you’ll put on another great event. Michael was telling us at the end how he was supporting Philippa and Ivan who were run directors in training, you’ll both do a great job, because you both care, otherwise you wouldn’t be volunteering week in week out.

Until next time Fletcher Moss, take care,
Ben and Sara