Monday, January 27, 2014


Bound for France 23rd April, after our visit to Beccles to see family. We'll arrive about 9:30pm at Caen and there will be a few hours drive to Bel-Air. Getting excited!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

My First Solo Bus Ride Using My Old Codgers Pass + Bev Update.

My first solo journey with my bus pass...

I decided to take the bus to pick Bev up at the hospital (apparently the hospital car park is horrendous). Bev passed a stone last night and today they have decided to let her go home even though there is a huge stone in her left kidney. They say that the kidney will not be able to spit this one out, so there's no danger of her collapsing with pain. They'll blast it in a few weeks.

It wasn't a nice day but fortunately the bus runs every 10 minutes to Preston. I then had to take a shuttle to the hospital.

What I didn't realise was that Bev is a child bride and she doesn't get her bus pass for another four years. She had to pay £2.70 for the shuttle and £4.70 for the bus ONE WAY. It's a good job she had some money in her purse because I only had a few pounds with me.

The bus to Preston was a double-decker, so I went up top right at the front. I found that someone had left a daily newspaper, so I had a really good read and a good ride...all for nothing.

Time lost waiting for four buses...approximately12 minutes.
Total savings... £14.80.

Get in!

My Goals Along With My First Decision.

They've arrived! Yippee! Which one shall I read first? Once I've read them, I'll watch the films. I've decided to add a few more to my list as it seems to me to be one of my better ideas to achieve a goal.

Once a year we get together with a group of friends (usually late december or early January) and we each set five goals to accomplish during the year... things we'd like to get done but up to now haven't managed to find time for and, consequently, are forever pushed to one side.

We've been doing it for years and it's a great social evening. We have such a laugh...especially if one of our goals is to lose weight. A trophy is awarded to the person who has achieved most of their five goals. Bev won it for 2013.

My goals for 2014 are...

1. Read a book about the Martin Handcart Company (my great great aunt was one of those pioneers belonging to this company. I watched a film about it and now I'd like to read the book). Then contact living relatives in the US in preparation for a reunion in the future.

2. Read three books made into films that come out in 2014. 12 Years a Slave / 100 Foot Journey / The Book Thief. I'd like to add a couple more but I won't be judged on them.

3. Transfer all of my mini DV tapes onto the computer ready for editing. I have dozens. And transfer all of my vinyl LP's into digital format.

4. I have thousands of bits of, programmes, concerts, achievements and photos of my life over the past 60 years. At the moment they are in various boxes gathering dust. I've decided to get them all organised into scrapbooks and put onto my bookshelf for easy access.

5. Carry out a feasibility study on producing bio diesel fuel for our car while living in France. We don't own a diesel car at the moment, but that will change if I'm able to produce the fuel. As this goal may take a very short time to carry out, I have another goal...but I'll have to shoot you if I tell you what it is.

As you can see, I haven't exactly stretched myself, but I don't want another year to go by having failed on some of the small things I'd like to do in my life.

So, which book shall I read first?

ps, I ate the apple in the photo as I typed this post. That's how easy typing a blog is.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Not Such A Special Night

I took Bev to Chorley Hospital in the early hours of this morning and she is now at Preston Royal and ready for those boulders to be blasted. It may not have been a good night, but I kid(ney) you not that as they and time passes, things are going to be a whole lot better.

It's also time to impress Bev by remembering to take everything she asked for when I set off to visit her in a few minutes.

This is the quickest way to let the family know what's happening...unless Martin has already managed to contact you.

I'll let her know you are all thinking of her.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Special Night

I walked down to 'The Sea View' to watch the second leg of the Semi-Final between Sunderland and Manchester United. There was a spring in my step as I pulled the door open in anticipation of a big screen. All I saw was a very nice fireplace and a group of locals who turned to gaze at me. Sensing that the place wasn't big enough to hold a big screen and seeing no Sky Sports signs anywhere, I turned and hoofed it to the "Hartwood'. Sure enough, they had a big screen...but they weren't able to show live sport. I asked who would be showing the match. "The Sea View", she said. "No", I said. "Yes", she said. I was hot when I pulled the door open at 'The Sea View', and everyone looked at me again. I smiled and delved further into the room and noticed a glow in one of the rooms. My heart sang as I was told the game will be shown in a few minutes.

As I sat down, I chatted to a couple who were about to have a meal. We exchanged life stories (as you do) and I told them about the temple which was just up the road. They agreed it was a spectacular place and were disappointed to have missed out on the open house for the general public. Then the match started. They were Man.U fans and I wasn't, but we still enjoyed the game...and what a game it was.

By the end of the match, the place was crammed with people and I was the only Sunderland supporter. So imagine the scene when Sunderland scored with two minutes to go in the second period of extra time. My arms were the only ones raised and a couldn't conceal the scream, made all the louder by the silence around me.

Imagine their joy and laughter when they scored in the last minute of extra time sending the game into penalties.

The penalty shoot-out will go down in history as the worst penalty shoot-out in history and everyone's nerves were in tatters before a penalty was eventually scored. Both teams squandered their chances. It was down to the last penalty. If they scored, we would be out of it and if they missed, we'd be in our first final in 22 years. Everyone in that room had their hands on their heads...some barely able to look.

Their penalty was saved! The place erupted!  I was overjoyed! I just couldn't help applauding my team. No one else could believe it, but they were such good sports, they let me live.

I'm still smiling and I've been back an hour.

This is the sign on my door as I arrived home...

This was a very special evening for me. I know it's just a game of football, but I just can't help getting excited when a team like mine... that I've supported since a nipper, rises to a big occasion and repays all of those hours, weeks, months and years of under-achieving. We beat the big money boys.

I know we haven't won the final, nor is it likely we will, but we are happy with getting there and will enjoy the day.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Last week we were at last on our way to find the birthplace of my grandfather in Dunfanaghy (Ireland). We drove from Dublin over to Donegal, then on our way along the stunning coast road to Dunfanaghy.


Walking up to Slieve League (the highest cliffs in europe). David is in the background driving the car up to save us too much of a walk.

Quite steep isn't it, Bev?

End of day one and we couldn't have had it better.

Day two, and it's a tricky drive through the mountains which had ice on the road.

Stopped at a gallery here to admire the views.

At last we arrive at our destination.We parked here (as the sign suggests), and walked along the lane in search of the old farmhouse where my grandfather was born. After a while we gave up and decided to ask at the above house where we parked the car, if they knew of any Stewarts in the area.

Would you believe it...this is the very house where he was born. The house is over 300 years old (doesn't look it), and the Stewart family is still living here.  In fact, they are all over the place, and this is Mavis telling us all about it.

This is cousin Desmond...a real character.

He's a keen fisherman.

The family all together in the local Cemetery.

My family came from the shore just beyond the rainbow. My Great Grandmother came from the area I'm standing.

I haven't enhanced this photo.

I didn't enhance this one either, which is further north at Port Stewart. We stayed overnight just fifty yards from these crashing waves.

Back in Dublin.

I would be upset, too!

A shame we didn't get to hear the music.

Inside the sweet shop.

The famous O'Connell Street. O'Connell is worth reading about, by all accounts. That isn't his statue, incidentally.

The plane home ending a brilliant trip to Ireland.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Officially Old

At last! I'm officially old. I picked up my bus pass today, so David joined me (two old codgers) on a tour of Nottingham. We took the bus to Nottingham, of course, then the tram from the centre.

So, the route was...
Bus to Nottingham
Tram to Hyson Green (Asda)
Tram back to town...galleries and shopping.
Bus to Clifton
Bus to Queens Drive B&Q
Walk across Clifton Bridge
Bus to Trent Bridge Cricket Ground
Bus to Radcliffe Road (Davies Road)

Cost: £0:00

College lecturer who is 60 but has to wait another 4years for her pass.
Gallery managers
Bus Drivers
Till operators
Pedestrian...speaking about the gas leak at Clifton.
School children who filled a bus we were on...they finish school early on Fridays.
And with each other...David never stopped!

A good experience.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Well, here we are again.

I last reported (4th Jan) that I'll be off to see Sunderland play Manchester United at the Stadium of Light in the Capital One Cup Semi-Final. I mentioned it would be a tall order for us to win the game. was a great atmosphere, a great game and a great result. We won 2-1 and go into the second leg with a goal advantage. Anything can happen at Old Trafford next week, and I really fancy our chances of reaching the final.

The Sunderland visit wasn't all about football.  We spent some quality time with the family as well as two and a half gruelling days of work at Brinkburn, largely taking care of securing the shower base for our tenants.

It was really good to be near the sea again.

The stadium of light. The pitch is below ground level.

I was born and grew up near the tall buildings to the right, by the river.

They make statues of managers who win cups here in Sunderland. Yes, this is the only one...Bob Stokoe I remember it well (as a 21yr old).

Showing United what we are made of.

First blood to Sunderland...and well deserved.

Level terms but still Sunderland playing the best football before scoring the final goal. The place erupted. No photograph can capture the atmosphere. It was special.

Tomorrow's post will feature our Ireland trip.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Film, Football, Flights, Family and Friends.

Enjoyed watching 'Shadowlands' with Anthony Hopkins...actually, it was with my wife and friends... feeling relaxed after a hard day.

On Wednesday we'll be off to Nottingham and at the weekend will fly to Ireland in search of my grandfather's family.

We'll then have our annual 'Goals' evening with friends in Nottingham before driving back to Chorley.

Sounds good to me.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Over Christmas

Bev looks happy being with the family over Christmas...and why shouldn't she be?
We travelled a bit, but managed to be with everyone other than Martin & Sarah, Liliya and Grace. Thank goodness for Skype.

 Nothing like starting the day with a good breakfast.

Thanks, was lovely to see you and we had a great time as usual.