Monday, 22 January 2018

Thirsk...

Stayed in Thirsk over the weekend: not quite snowed in, but as good a place as any while the roads were icy…

Sad to hear that Jimmy Armfield has died. As well as being a great footballer for Blackpool and England (though injury forced him out of the 1966 World Cup team, being replaced by George Cohen), he worked as a summariser for Radio Five Live. He had the kind of reassuring voice you don’t hear much any more during football commentaries. He knew his stuff, but was unfailingly modest, and seldom had a bad word to say about anybody. He never resorted to mirthless ‘banter’, like so many ex-players going into the media…

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Hawes...

I read an entertaining article in the Guardian, about match-winning (or match-saving) last wicket stands. When recalling the great exploits of my own cricket career, I’m not overwhelmed by choice. But here’s one…

When I started playing for a team in North Leeds, it was called Cardigan Road Methodists (a lot of the teams we played were attached to churches). By the time I left Leeds the name had been condensed to Cardigan Road, because, though we had a Sikh playing for us, we no longer had any Methodists. Most of our cricket was played locally, in North Leeds suburbs or the surrounding villages. We also had a few regular fixtures further afield.

A favourite fixture was Hawes, in Wensleydale. It was a proper day out for all the family, and cricketers enjoyed playing against a backdrop of Pennine hills rather than smoke-blackened mill chimneys. The only downside was that it took an hour and a half to get there. On this particular occasion - it must be forty years ago - we batted first. Disastrously we found ourselves reduced to 23 for 9. After driving all the way up the Dales, it looked like the game would be over in an hour. The only bulwark against utter humiliation was me, walking out to bat at number 11, and my bowling partner batting number 10 (I didn’t used to score many runs; having one eye probably didn’t help. Me going into bat was generally the sign to put the kettle on for tea).

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we put on a record 102 runs for the last wicket, for a total of 125 all out. My batting partner got a half century, I got 35. I opened the bowling, got five wickets and, against all the odds, we won the game. Every dog has his day!

Friday, 19 January 2018

Laptop...

Electrical power - its provision and prioritisation - is a constant preoccupation for a nomad. In winter, when I need power the most, the roof-mounted solar panel is of least help. It’s hard to keep my laptop fully charged, especially since the days are long gone when it might last five hours or more on a single charge. Worse, I’m finding that cold weather can make it lose a charge; I may open it up in the morning and see nothing but the red, blinking, ‘dead battery’ icon. The remedy, on cold nights, is to slip the laptop into my sleeping bag…

Licenced this pic today (the search was for 'brownfield')...

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Ollie...

Saw nephew Ben, Hem and baby Ollie, who has changed so much in the few weeks since I last saw him: able to roll over on his own, and no doubt keen to become even more mobile. I was impressed by the little gadget that allowed Ben and Hem to watch and listen to Ollie, in his cot, and even to play the soothing sounds of waves against a shingle beach, to help him fall asleep. They could change the ambient sounds, remotely (which presumably don’t include thunderclaps, or heavy metal music or the 1812 Overture). With snow settling, I stayed the night…

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Blue Monday...

Yesterday was ‘Blue Monday’, supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. Christmas and new year are over, but the credit card bills still need paying… and the weather is crap. The concept was first publicised as part of a 2005 press release from holiday company Sky Travel, which claimed to have calculated the date using “an equation”. The idea has caught on, and seems to have found its place in the calendar…

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Leighton Moss...

I spent the morning at Leighton Moss. Plenty of wildfowl, particularly ducks: maybe a thousand teal, plus wigeon, mallard, tufted duck, shoveler, pintail, gadwall and goldeneye. Other sightings included little egret, great egret, redshank, lapwing, curlew, snipe, a solitary marsh harrier quartering over the reedbeds and an otter swimming across one of the lakes…

Then watched the football in a pub. Sunday roast, pint of beer, football on the telly and Liverpool clinging on - the last few minutes were rather tense - to beat Manchester City 4-3. Hooray!…

Licensed this shot today, of a pub in Petersfield, Hampshire...

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Crosby...

I parked up by the sea in Crosby, to get some writing done. It was intriguing that Anthony Gormley’s figures emerged from the waves as the tide receded…