Tag Archives: Meadowhall

Christmas market

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Quakers’ Bottom (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Well, that was a weekend-and-a-half – and we had it as a holiday too.

We started on Friday with a trip out to the Christmas market in Matlock, which was very well-organised and laid out, and parking was free after 2pm too, as it is throughout December in the town on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. And, of course, the dog was welcome too.

We bought a small box of fudge for me and a ginger beer plant for the poet, and he nipped to one of the local shops to get us something to eat.

I had a fancy for Whitby scampi & chips, which was available inside the market at £6 for 7 pieces, plus extra for chips. At the local chip shop, scampi and chips cost only £2-odd! The poet had fish and chips and the dog helped us eat it all.

We chose a car park halfway between Matlock Bath and Matlock town and a had a nice, easy walk down and back. There are photographs, but they’re not on the computer yet, so for now we have another one from the Quakers’ Bottom walk last week.

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When we got home, we took the cat to the vet (again). She was only there a few weeks ago needing an emergency operation to close up a mysterious hole that had appeared in her side, and now she had a lump at the base of the scar.

The vet wasn’t very worried about it, though, and stuck a needle in to drain most of it. She thought it must be a reaction to the internal stitches and said it would probably go away on its own but we were to monitor it into the new year.

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The poet really wasn’t feeling very well on Friday either, but he didn’t want me to miss out on the Christmas market and he wanted some fresh air. But on Saturday morning when he woke up he was so ill that he cancelled Saturday night’s gig. I’ve known him to be very poorly and still not cancel a gig, but when he lost his voice as well, he didn’t really have a choice.

We managed to find another band to take their place Saturday night, and then we had a bit of an idle day and evening, and the same on Sunday. But yesterday, as he had another day off work booked, we went to Meadowhall to do the Christmas shopping and he did really well.

We had to keep going back to the car to drop things off and we did stop to have something to eat too – and book our table for mad Friday next week. And when we got home he was ready to drop as well. But we got all but about 2 gifts (apart from each other’s), including something for each of the pets, so we were very content with that.

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All over the weekend we had a bit of a Harry Potter-fest. I’ve read the first book, watched the first 2 films, and played the first 3 or 4 games on Xbox, although I may have abandoned the 4th one as it was quite hard. He’s never seen any of them, or read any of them. So when I saw that the box set was available on Sky Movies for free, I talked him into watching at least the first one … and we ended up watching all but the last one so far.

We won’t be able to catch up with that one tonight as we’re going over to his parents in Doncaster to keep his dad company while his mum goes out for her annual Christmas meal with some of her colleagues. We’ll watch the last one tomorrow night, I think.

The poet still isn’t feeling great and could have done with not going to work this morning. But at least we’ll just be sat indoors this evening.

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I’ve had a busy morning so far but don’t seem to have achieved much.

Saying that, I’ve pitched for 3 new jobs already and have another 10 to consider, I’ve done some pro-bono email work and I’ve done the daily competitions. I’ve also had a bit of an email-fest as I forgot to turn on my out-of-office auto-reply and had a few messages I needed to at least respond to.

I also cleaned some parts of the bird table – one of the feeders and 2 trays. They need a good jetwash and some disinfectant throwing at them, but at least it’s cleaner now than it was so I don’t have to worry about the birds catching any nasty germs.

All I have left to do today, now, is some editing. I have 2 books in I want to finish before breaking up at the end of next week.

Long weekend

IMG_4002aHad it been a much nicer day last Saturday, this would have been a cracking picture. As it is, I still love the way he caught that water droplet on the bottom of these berries.

We have tomorrow until Monday off. I was going to schedule this to post tomorrow, but decided to do it today instead. I already scheduled a post for the gig list for Monday morning. I hope that one works.

Tomorrow, we were going to Lincoln for the Christmas market. I’ve never been to Lincoln and I’ve wanted to visit the Christmas market ever since I moved up here 12 years ago. And tomorrow, we were finally going … until I found out that they don’t allow dogs.

Now, the Lincoln Christmas market is being held in the town centre, i.e. a public, open space. So I didn’t understand why they won’t allow dogs. And so, as you do, I asked, expecting them to say something along the lines of “Oh, it’s in the castle grounds and they don’t allow dogs in the castle”, which would be fair enough.

What I didn’t expect was “Because they’ll get under everyone’s feet” and “Why would you want to take your dog anyway” and “Leave your dog at home [alone, for 8, 10, 12, enter figure of choice here hours]”.

Well, if it’s simply because it gets unbearably busy, then wouldn’t a more pertinent announcement be something like “While the market is being held in a public place, it does get very busy so we don’t recommend you bring your dog”? That would have been fine.

But to ask me why we want to take our dog anyway, and why don’t we just leave him home alone for hours, like what they obviously do, is out of order. That’s like me asking why they’d want to take their child or someone who uses a wheelchair. It really is none of anybody else’s business why we want to take our dog anywhere. All I was asking was, why aren’t they allowed?

After several hours of to-ing and fro-ing, and not a single organiser from the Christmas market bothering to reply, someone suggested Matlock Victorian Christmas market instead.

So I researched it, and I called them up and they said “The only place we don’t allow dogs is in the food marquee”, which is the usual and reasonable response. And when I told her why I was asking, she said they “wouldn’t dream” of trying to ban dogs from their town centre.

Guess which one we’re heading for instead. And, weather permitting, we might have some more pictures to share next week. I don’t think I shall ever make it to Lincoln now on the back of this recent experience. Not ever. And, to rub salt in, someone else said that they would also go to the Matlock market instead, for the exact same reason.

I don’t know what else we’re doing over the weekend until Monday, apart from a gig Saturday night over in Doncaster – surprise, surprise. We might try another walk, we may do the regular weekly shopping, or we may have another go at putting the garden to bed for the winter. But on Monday we’re off to Meadowhall to do our Christmas shopping.

So that’s another 2 x 4-day weeks on the trot.

Whatever you’re up to this weekend, make sure it’s a grandun. 🙂

Northern Rail (***rant alert***)

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The poet (in the hat) with our friends Sam and Steve at Tramlines (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

Tramlines 2015 started on Friday evening in Sheffield, and we had tickets for the whole weekend. We jumped on a train in Dodworth and in just half an hour, and for just £11.60 (apx $18) for both of us return, we were there.

We thought that was excellent value, especially when you take into account the price of petrol and parking, and – of course – vehicular wear and tear. And we wondered why so many people complain about the price of rail fares …

We went to City Hall to collect our wristbands, and it was actually quite hilarious. It wasn’t very busy yet at all, but the organisers still had us walking in in single file, queuing at the right desk, and then exiting via a different door … all 2 of us …

Most of the roads around the festival stages were closed, and quite rightly too, but we were able to get a taxi to the main stage area and pick up 2 of our friends on the way. We’d only gone to see The Charlatans, and they were excellent – my very first time. I recognised the lead singer, Tim Burgess, and when I said to the poet, “That’s the only one I know,” he thought I was being funny … I didn’t realise one of their famous songs was The Only One I Know

It was great to see Sam and Steve, and the rain stopped before we were all drenched, but we had to dash to catch our train back and we had no idea how to get to the station. We were eventually directed to the nearest tram stop and got back to the station in time for a Burger King supper too.

The next day we wanted to see more of our friends, Bang Bang Romeo. The bass player is the son of the bass player in Monkey Dust and the poet has pretty much watched him grow up. This time, however, we were very disappointed with the trains … so here’s that …

*** rant ***

On a Saturday there is one train per hour going from Huddersfield to Sheffield stopping at all of the stations, which is fair enough if people aren’t using them. However, everyone knew there was a major festival happening in Sheffield. Everyone, it seems, except for Northern Rail. Did they put on extra trains for this huge event? No. Did they add extra carriages to the existing trains? No. And I’d like to know why.

Hundreds of people bought their tickets in advance to attend the festival. We had to. They sold out very quickly. And this is a city centre event with lots of venues and outdoor arenas, not just one venue.

We got on the train at an unmanned station, which means that we won’t get arrested for not buying our ticket at the station. There are lots of unmanned stations between Huddersfield and Sheffield. That means lots of passengers get on the trains and buy their tickets from the conductors.

Because there was only one train per hour stopping at these unmanned stations, and because no one thought to add any extra carriages to existing trains already going that way, the 2 coaches were rammed.

They were so rammed, hundreds of passengers didn’t manage to get on – loss of potential revenue #1.

They were so rammed, the conductors couldn’t get through to sell tickets to those hundreds of passengers who had managed to get on – loss of potential revenue #2.

There were no ticket staff installed at any of the usually-unmanned stations – loss of potential revenue #3.

There are no ticket barriers at Sheffield Station – loss of potential revenue #4.

And those who did buy rail tickets in advance and then didn’t get on their train will be reclaiming their fares – redemption of revenue.

Now, I’m not a rocket scientist (no really, I’m not), but even I can see where Northern Rail passed up an amazing opportunity to earn (and keep) money. So many passengers would have got through on those trains completely free of charge. And because no one was policing it, they’ll get away with it too.

If they didn’t have the staff, they could have hired temporary staff. If they didn’t have the rolling stock (excellent excuse usually rolled out), they could have hired temporary stock.

Not only did Northern Rail lose revenue themselves, they also lost Sheffield city centre and the Tramlines festival all of that custom from those who didn’t make it. Not to mention disappointed fans who couldn’t get there in time to see their favourite bands.

The festival itself was excellent, very well organised, very well laid out, very well catered, very well attended. It was a joy to join in. So why didn’t Northern Rail (and others) cash in on that success?

*** end of rant ***

Bang Bang Romeo sounded, looked and were great – the best we’ve ever seen them. We were also able to watch another band straight after them, who we didn’t know, and we had another few hours with Sam and Steve before they headed back to Nottinghamshire. We were close enough to walk back to the station this time and were half an hour early for our train …

*** rant #2 ***

So there we sat, on the designated platform (1b), where our 16:36 train was “on time”. There were 3 other trains at this platform in the time we waited, but they were all previously late trains. At 16:30 we were told over the tannoy that the next train to arrive at platform 1b was, indeed, the 16:36 to Huddersfield …

… only it wasn’t. It was the delayed 16:something-or-other to Doncaster.

And so we sat and waited patiently for that one to clear, and when it did, at the same time that another announcement came over the tannoy, we saw our train … at another platform. At precisely 16:36 we were told that the train now leaving platform 2b was the 16:36 to Huddersfield … and we had to get up the stairs, over the track and down the other side before the doors closed.

Fortunately we weren’t the only ones and the conductor had the decency to make sure there was no one else over on platform 1b. But oh, what a shambles! And our next train wasn’t for another hour.

To say we were disappointed with Northern Rail by the end of the weekend is an understatement, and now maybe we know why there are so many complaints.

*** end of rant #2 ***

We didn’t make it ourselves to the Sunday. We wanted to see Buzzcocks and more of our friends, The Kavaliers (the drummer is the son of the drummer in Monkey Dust … do you see a theme here?). But heavy rain – and the difficulty of getting there on a Sunday, if Saturday was anything to go by – put us off.

Instead we had a trip to Meadowhall where we replaced a silver chain of the poet’s and some sleepers of mine. Then we were home to a pork casserole with parsley dumplings for tea (made in the slow cooker by himself) (and the dumplings – his first ever) (and our own parsley from the garden!), and an evening in front of the telly.

This week, at work, I’ve knocked one of my daily “tasks” on the head – the daily competitions (again). I’ve not won anything for ages, and that half hour I’d sooner spend writing or reading or something else now I’m so busy with work. I still have plenty to be going on with, with several short stories to edit, another technical paper, and 2 books.

I think I have a pretty normal, straightforward week ahead.

A new gadget

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Bracket fungus. Langsett Reservoir. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We didn’t really plan to do much over the weekend beyond a dress fitting and a visit to Birmingham. The fitting was over and done by and we were on the road at 10:30am.

The long drive gave us the opportunity for me to iron out some reservations I have with CATCH THE RAINBOW, and the discussion helped me to focus more and get rid of a big problem, a blockage, something that wasn’t quite working.

I think there’s going to be a shift of protagonist, or maybe more than one protagonist, and the story is a lot bigger, deeper, than the original plan. Now I panic that I don’t have it in me – either the knowledge or the stamina. Or the expertise. We also discussed a few other projects and I think things are clearer in my own mind, what I want, why I’ve not been going for it.

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Looking out across Langsett Reservoir. (Picture: Diane Parkin)

I was very happy with the conversation, particularly as I get to buy more books. Much of the information I need is available online, but as we know, some of the “facts” are only as accurate as the original volunteer information. And anyway, I like books.

I did start to read one of my existing books on Friday, ARMED STRUGGLE: THE HISTORY OF THE IRA by Richard English. But it’s a bit heavy for what I want, and – following our chat on Saturday – what I actually want is a history of Sinn Féin. And even then, I’m not sure I want a very deep understanding of it, but more of a passing awareness – if you get my drift.

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Langsett. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We made good time to Birmingham and so stopped off at Elmdon Park to eat our picnic and give the dog a quick walk. Then we had a couple of hours with Mom and Dad before heading back. We dropped the dog back home and then went back out to Meadowhall.

We didn’t find any books on the new subject, but we did get a birthday present for my mom for next weekend. We also treated ourselves to a Pizza Express and our favourite, Grand Chicken Caesar Salad … very scrummy.

New gadget: MapMyWalk.

On Sunday, we made another picnic, and this time headed over to one of our favourite walks, which is less than 15 minutes from our house now: Langsett Reservoir.

I also downloaded a new gadget for my mobile phone, MapMyWalk. I’d wanted something similar before but I only had a Windows phone, and there aren’t many apps I like for those. But now I have my android, I was able to download the app and the picture to the right is just one example of what it does. I still have lots to learn, but I think I’m going to like it.

It didn’t really take us that long, by the way. I just forgot to pause it while we had our picnic …

We’re both slimming at the moment, and we burned over 1,000 calories on our walk, which meant we could enjoy a slap-up meal for tea, cooked with love by the poet. He’s lost half a stone now and is doing very well. I’ve lost a couple of pounds, but I’ve also lost a couple of inches.

This week, then, I approach the WiP with a new energy and new idea. I have editing work to do as well, but I also have a non-fiction book proposal I want to complete and send off – they’ve been waiting for it for a very long time and I don’t want to miss the boat.

The book I bought this morning is THE PROVOS: THE IRA AND SINN FÉIN by Peter Taylor. If you have any other suggestions, then please do let me know. Ta. 😀

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Diane and Ian at Langsett.

Derwent Reservoir, 28 February 2015

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Around Derwent Reservoir. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Last week was the poet’s birthday, and we kicked it off on Wednesday evening with a run out to the pictures. We went to the Vue cinema at Meadowhall to watch Jupiter Ascending … well, actually, we were going to see Kingsman: The Secret Service, but we couldn’t get there in time for that showing, perhaps we’ll make it next week to see that. So we saw a later showing and before that we indulged in a KFC for tea. I do know how to show my man a good time … although he did insist on paying for the KFC.

On Thursday – his actual birthday – he was supposed to be at band practice at 7pm, but he’s been so busy at work he’s not had time to learn the new songs, and he was so busy on Thursday too, he couldn’t guarantee he’d be home in time. So he cancelled that and we had a chilled evening when he did get home, in front of the telly.

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The poet at Derwent Reservoir. (Picture: Diane Parkin)

On Friday we were at the pictures again, this time to see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at Penistone Paramount. We had chips from the corner chippy for tea, which was just closing, and we had pop, popcorn and chocolate while we watched the film, which we thought was very funny and quite nice. We do like the Penistone Paramount, and the poet declared on Friday, on our way home, that it was his favourite pictures. He quite liked the Vue at Meadowhall too, having popped that particular cherry last week.

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A bit blurred, but the poet getting up close and personal with his new camera. (Picture: Diane Parkin)

On Saturday we thought we might be having the best of the weekend weather, and so off we pootled to Derwent Reservoir. This is the one in Derbyshire and not Derwent Water in the Lake District – but it’s just as nice, and it’s where the Dambusters of WW2 practised their bombing raids. The reasons for going are many, but it was another of his birthday treats, he’s still breaking in new boots, he wants to practise using his camera, and we all benefit from the fresh air and exercise – Rufus too.

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The insides of a tree. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Derwent Reservoir is less than an hour from where we live and is the latest in a string of places I’ve shown the poet – and he’s the local lad! 😉 We were here last year to see the Lancasters flypast 2014, and I was here the year before when he was too poorly to come with me – again, for a Lancaster flypast, but the 70th anniversary that time. I’ve also been here before walking where I took pictures and blogged about it again. (The link to that is here.)

When we come here again we’ll probably do one or more of the many walks. There are several, of varying lengths and accessibility. Plus there’s all of the Dambuster history we want to look at, and the poet wants to get a picture of the sheepdog memorial stone and another of the Dambuster commemoration stone.

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Diane and Lord Rufus. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We took a picnic with us and ate it in the car. Next time when we go, we’ll take the deckchairs. In fact, the deckchairs may become a permanent feature in the boot anyway because we’re hoping to get out and about a lot more now that things are settling down for us again.

On Saturday evening the poet’s band was playing in Doncaster and quite a few of our friends came along to watch. It was a good night. And very busy.

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I think this is Ian’s current favourite picture of me. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Sunday we had a leisurely start over a leisurely breakfast. With the wedding just 2 months away now, we decided it might be nice to lose a few pounds … well, I decided, he agreed. 🙂 So we’re down now to replacing what we usually eat with more healthy choices, no eating or snacking between meals, apart from fruit, and set meals throughout the day including breakfast. Every day. So far we’re doing okay, but it is only Day 2 today …

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Derwent Dam. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Then we headed out to Doncaster (again) to replace my walking coat. I’ve had my old waxed jacket (seen in these pictures) for a very long time. Probably 15 years or more. (I do buy clothes to last.) But last weekend, when we went to Slaithwaite, we noticed a rip in it. I’d already bought the poet a new walking coat for his birthday so he said I could have one for mine too, even though he’s also paid for my fiction writing course. So off we went to get me a new walking coat …

We came back with new trousers for me too, gaiters for both of us, and several tops for him, some of which were paid for by my dad for his birthday present. He’d already bought me a new pair of walking trousers, to match a pair of his (we’re like a proper Howard and Hilda), but these new ones have zip-off shorts. We should both be suitably attired now for our walking.

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Derwent Dam. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The new clothes will also be for the first half of the honeymoon, when we’re touring some of the west of Scotland for a week before flying off to Cyprus for another week. Now we just need new clothes for Cyprus …

On the way home we dropped off at the pet superstore to get flea treatment for all 3 pets, for 3 applications each, and bird food for the garden visitors. Then we had a Subway lunch before going home, and he made us a mushroom omelette for tea.

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He’s getting a bit good at that blurry background thang. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

This week he’s at home all week, which is quite exciting as we don’t have any other plans either, and no band practice. We may go and get the materials for some new shelves in the living room one evening, and he may have a go at making them. But I think he’s going to be mainly recharging. He has his annual review at work this week too, when we hope to have some news confirmed.

I’ll be mainly editing the big book and writing in between. I’ve already started to work on the gig list again and I have my fiction writing course to continue with too. Don’t forget, too, that the book giveaway runs for another week. Thanks to all of those who have already joined in.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. I know this slows down the rendering for some dial-up users, which is why I’ve started to make them smaller.

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He has a remote control for the camera now, it’s not Rufus taking the pictures – honestinjun. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth – yes, really.)

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