2019 – A Review.

Well as I haven’t been great at keeping this blog up to date (as usual), I’ve got a whistle-stop review of the year all in one post. Where I have blogged previously about events, I’ve linked to the post. As I’ve always said, this is for me, to remind me of what I’ve done and where I’ve been.  If you are interested enough to ready it then that’s great, I’m sorry it’s so long! 

Firstly, a crafty review of the year.  After a really slow start, I really picked up the pace from about September onwards and finished up completing 14 separate projects (12 if you count the baby outfit made up of three items as one project).

January saw me complete my first big crochet project with the draught excluder.  This taught me a lot and has stood me in good stead to tackle other things this year. Next up was April with Herbarium, a really pretty shawl done using mosaic knitting which is a new technique to me.  Nothing then until September when the gift knitting and crocheting took over.  I squeezed in the hat (Wynn) right at the end of December to finish the year on 14 completes rather than 13, although I’m not superstitious really. Click on the thumbnails for the larger pictures.

So, onto the year in general. Overall it’s been a good one, lots of weekend breaks, holidays, theatre visits and general getting out and about-ness going on. 

January – Quiet start to the year with the only event of note being Saturday Night Fever at New Theatre with Mason and Rosie. I blogged it here

Colourful fountains

February – Starting to get busier now.  We had the wonderful Knife Angel and the Brick History lego exhibition, both of which I blogged here .   My sister Ann and Sisters-in law Chris and Lynne also recommenced our monthly evenings out for tea.  I really look forward to and enjoy this as without a central hub that we all visit (i.e. my mum!) it has become too easy to lose touch of what is going on in each other’s lives and families.  Speaking of families, we also had a lovely afternoon out with our brother-in-law William, a few beers, bite to eat and then back to the bus station via Victoria Square to see the fountains in full colour glory.

March – I had a couple of volunteer shifts this month. Firstly at the beginning of the month, I did a Sunday morning at the Ferens for the Open Exhibition,I enjoyed this as I just love being able to spend time looking around at the Ferens and if it isn’t a busy shift, there is plenty of time to do that.  Then at the end of the month, I volunteered at one of the public open days of the archaelogical dig of the South Blockhouse, King Henry VIII’s fortifications of Hull. I blogged this here

No Pasaran

In the middle of the month, there was the unveiling of a new memorial to the nine men and one woman from our area who in the 1930s, went off to fight with the International Brigade against Franco’s Facist army in Spain.  Four of these brave volunteers never returned and although there is already a plaque inside the Guildhall (which only has eight names on it for some reason), it isn’t exactly accessible to the public.  Funds for this sculpture were raised by the Hull International Brigade Memorial Group.  I missed the unveiling but went to see the memorial a few days later and I think it’s really eye-catching.  I hope it will make people look and question it’s purpose.  Goodness only knows that in these hate filled times, we need to celebrate those unselfish heroes who were willing to give their lives for the freedom of others.  You can read more about the sculpture here and the International Brigades Memorial Trusts here

April –  Theatre visit this month was to see The Full Monty starring Gary Lucy as Gaz, the whole cast were excellent and it was a fantastic show.  Debbie and I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was just the laugh a minute that we needed.  So, did they do the ‘full monty’ at the end?  Well if you haven’t seen the show, I won’t spoil it for you.

I’ve wanted to visit The Bunker at Holmpton for a while now and I persuaded Patrick that this was a good use of a the first Sunday of the month.  After a lovely Sunday lunch in The Station pub in Patrington, we continued down the road to Holmpton.  There stands an unassuming looking bungalow, the likes of which were built in various parts of the country and which hide beneath their ground floor a nuclear bunker filled with technology to monitor aircraft and other military activity during the Cold War period.  Built in the 1950s as an early radar warning station and used by the Royal Observatory Corps during the 1980s  ,it was decomissioned in 1991 but used for training for several years.  It was sold by the RAF in 2014 and the owners and volunteers have put so much work into creating a fantastic resource for the history of this period.  I found it fascinating and would highly recommend a visit.

April also saw us volunteering at our annual local CAMRA branch Beer Festival. Held in the wonderful Hull Minster, this is a great event. We love to work a few shifts, it’s great fun although hard work.  I have the greatest respect and admiration for the whole committee who take leave from their jobs to dedicate the full week to setting up, working throughout and clearing away.  I don’t think the public realise how much work goes into this, I certainly didn’t give it much thought until I became involved myself.

At the end of the month, Patrick and I visited Skipton for their CAMRA beer festival. We stayed in the most beautiful little cottage and I blogged about our stay here.

May – Our annual trip to Thornwick Bay to the same caravan as our previous two visits.  Unfortunately we were not so lucky with the weather as we have been other years and it was damp and misty all day on the Saturday so I didn’t get to go up the lighthouse which I had planned to do. Sunday was better weather and we spent the day at Bempton.  Blog post about the weekend here.

Also this month we saw Turn and Face the Strange at Hull Truck.  My third time and Patrick’s second, we had also brought along William, his sister Emma and brother-in-law Chris who all really enjoyed the show.  It is a multi-media production documenting the life of Hull born Mick Ronson, one of David Bowie’s Spiders from Mars and a hugely talented musician and producer.  Sadly passed away at the young age of 47 in 1993, this show, written by Hull’s Rupert Creed and Garry Burnett, who act as narrators throughout,  pays tribute to Mick’s lovely, down to earth personality and massive talent.  If you ever get chance to see this if it comes around again, don’t miss it.

June – First outing of the month was with our friends Pete and Donna to Kardomah94 to see L’il Jimmy Reid.  After huge pizzas in the restaurant at the front, which none of us managed to finish, it was through to the theatre in the back for the show.  I blogged it here.   Sadly, Kardomah has since closed, due to ill-health of the owner.  A sad loss to Hull’s culture vultures as this place show-cased acts that wouldn’t draw a large enough audience for other venues.  We don’t have enough small, intimate theatre spaces and this one was rather special.   

The end of June saw us heading to Cornwall for our annual holiday.  I started to blog each day as it happened but lost track half-way through.  I will continue it at some point though and you can read the story so far starting here.  Of course my better half is much better at blogging than I am and you can read his version of events here.

Victoria & Albert Museum

July – Gosh we had a busy one this month.  First up was Hyde Park Summer.  Several weeks ago, Pete and Donna had asked if we fancied going to one of the Summer in Hyde Park concerts with Robbie Williams headlining and featuring Texas on the line-up along with Keane and Blackeyed Peas.  We agreed at the time but then when starting to add up the cost of travel and hotels were actually beginning to regret it. However, tickets had been bought through Groupon and were non-refundable so we set out to make the best of it. After an initial hiccup after booking a fraudulent AirBnB and having to be refunded for that, I managed to book us into the Travelodge at Covent Garden for a bargain price.  We had the most fantastic weekend and although Texas’s set was disappointingly short (I believe they had another gig to get to), Robbie was at his best and had the whole crowd eating out of his hand.  London was as fabulous as always and with great friends to share it with we didn’t want it to end.  Patrick’s blog post here.  During this weekend, we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum for the first time.  Free to enter and far too big to see all in one visit we will definitely be back at this amazing place, we didn’t even scratch the surface!

The main event for me in July was my son, Michael’s graduation with a PhD in Computer Science.  I think the new Dr. Michael Walker was quite pleased with himself.  His dad, brother and I certainly were proud.  We had a lovely day, although Michael got the time of the reception wrong so by the time we arrived in York, we’d missed it!  The ceremony itself for these things is a bit tedious as, let’s all be honest here, the only graduate any of us is interested in is our own son or daughter so sitting through everyone else’s kids isn’t the most exciting thing to do.  After the ceremony, we went into York and had a nice meal at a Thai restaurant called Phranakhon, described as Thai tapas, it was small plates of food so you could sample different dishes.  Wonderful food and a nice atmosphere.  I’d definitely go again.

Next up was my Christmas present from Patrick, a Pulman dining experience on the East Lancashire Railway.  We’d seen the dining cars last time we were in Bury for the Stumble gig in October 2018 and I’d remarked how wonderful I thought it would be to get dressed up and to dine in one of these carriages on a steam train. I can tell you it was amazing.  It is a black-tie event so the cruise outfits came out of storage for the occasion.  I felt a bit of a twit walking through Bury dressed up like we were going to the Ritz but once at the station, we were obviously part of the crowd.  It was so nice to see everyone in their finery and what made it really nice for me was that a young lady came over to me and told me that I looked stunning.  I returned the compliment, because she did too but it really made me feel good to have a stranger make a point of complimenting me like that.  Patrick looked gorgeous in his dinner suit too.  Once on the train, the food and service were spot on.  We made the mistake of ordering a beer thinking we may be waiting for our food but it arrived quite quickly, before the beer actually so with the wine waiting for us, we wished we hadn’t bothered with beer.  It was a really special experience and both of us said we’d love to do it again.  Patrick’s blog post here

Lastly, at the end of the month, we visited Bolton for the RL Challenge Cup semi final featuring Hull FC.  Bolton is a bit of dump (well the part we saw was anyway), Hull lost (being a Rovers’ fan, I didn’t laugh much, honest) and although we had a giggle with Harry and Janette, it was mostly a forgettable weekend to be honest.

August – A quieter month, at the beginning we had a lovely meal out with our friends ‘The Crew’.  Andy and Jenny were up from Colchester so it was a full complement of eight of us.  We met in Pave, where we sat outside and I had a bee crawl up the inside of my trouser leg!  We managed to rescue it with no harm done to either me or the bee and then Patrick went inside to get some water and sugar to revive it as it was clearly not feeling very well(nothing to do with me I hasten to add).  After all that excitement, we moved on to one of our favourite restaurants, The Persian.  The owner is a lovely man of 70, always friendly and helpful.  A good time was had by all.

Also this month we finally got around to having gates and a fence on the driveway.  All in all the driveway has been costly but it looks lovely.

 

 

On 24th August, we went to Headingley for the fourth day of the Ashes match, due to me bidding for tickets in a charity auction and winning them.  I’ll leave it to Patrick to tell the story of ‘The Greatest Day Out’.  This game will go down in cricketing history and I’m so pleased to be able to say that WE WERE THERE.

Over the bank holiday weekend we made our first ever visit to North Cave Wetlands, a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve.  What a lovely place to visit with excellent, warm and comfortable hides from which to watch the various birds and other wildlife.  It was a really hot day and the highland cattle were keeping themselves cool standing in ponds which made for good photo opportunities.  We’ll definitely go back again.

Finally, on the last weekend of August we had the Freedom Festival.  This annual event has always been my favourite of the year and I look forward to it with great anticipation.  It has grown year on year and got better and better, except for this year and last if I’m totally honest. The event used to be held mostly over the marina area and the local pubs had outside bars where you could get a decent ale to drink as you wandered around to see the various acts.  There was always a tent with spoken word artists on stage and at least two or three music stages with various bands and artists performing throughout the days and evenings.  Dance acts on the Stage @theDock as well as the circus type acts performing in the streets and on pop up stages here and there.  In 2018, the decision was made to move the main festival to Queen’s Gardens, the bars are just generic lager/cider bars, the spoken word tent is no longer and the acts are more foreign rent-a-circus with any music being limited to Zebedee’s Yard.  It has completely lost that vibe and atmosphere and I found it really disappointing.  The one stand-out act for me was the wonderful On  Edge by Justice in Motion which was a dance act highlighting modern slavery in the construction industry with a very moving story.

Justice in Motion perform On Edge at Freedom Festival

One more thing to mention for August, this is the month I started doing the Couch to 5K running program again.  I did this a few years back but then never continued with the running.  This time around, I am really enjoying it and actually looking forward to each day’s run.

View from The Market Cat

September – Patrick’s birthday month so we decided to book a trip to York on the train.  We had a great day and even found a new bar, The Market Cat, with a wonderful view from the top floor.  

The BBC spoken word festival, Contains Strong Language which started in Hull in 2017 is held each year in September and this year I had booked myself a ticket for the opening event, Richard Strange singing the songs of Lou Reed at Middleton Hall, which is part of Hull University so just around the corner for me.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but what a fantastic gig it was.  The musicians were world class, all had great pedigree and had played with the world’s top artists and Richard Strange (by name and nature I think) was just amazing, carrying off the songs like he owned them.  I do wish I had persuaded Patrick to go along because I’m sure he would also have enjoyed it.  It was one of those concerts that you just don’t want to end but sadly it did.  

Also back on for the festival, an event that we’d missed out on during Freedom Festival.  Fair Winds and Following Seas was a collaboration between Hull poet Vicky Foster and Hull band, Broken Orchestra.  It was a walking tour of the River Hull with ethereal music interrupted by Vicky’s poetry at strategic points along the way, all done by GPS (modern technology, what a marvel eh!).  So, I’d booked tickets for the Sunday and the weather was seriously bloody awful, windy, cold and heavy rain.  We had arranged to meet William too and we all arrived at Scale Lane bridge,wrapped up in waterproof clothing with our headphones and the app for the walk all ready to go.  We had a briefing inside the bridge before setting off, weather was dry at this point luckily.  It was really clever the way the poetry started up as you reached certain points on the walk.  The highlight for me was getting access to the inside of Drypool bridge in order to cross Alfred Gelder Street safely.  We went up inside, saw the inner workings of the bridge and looked out of the window and then back down the other side and out again.  I was made up I can tell you.  I’ve always wanted to go inside the bridges since I was a little kid.  Further along the river and back along High Street and the rain started again, by the time we got to the end point at the pier, we were soaked and freezing and the Minerva pub was a welcome sight.

October – A big moment for me this month, after completing C25K I joined with the East Hull Fitmums 2 mile group.  It was a bit of a struggle keeping up but thankfully there was another newbie with me who struggled a bit too.  We managed the whole run though and everyone was really supportive. I was in the walking group previously but always intended moving up to the runners.  Sadly the next run I did was the last one of the year as my knee started to really hurt and despite having physio, is still painful now. It’s nothing serious,  just ‘runners knee’, quite common apparently. I managed a short 2km run last week but nothing since as it is too painful.  I may need more physio or just strengthening exercises.

Also in October, we went with our local CAMRA branch to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway beer festival.  Patrick has blogged here.  A good day out but I think a bit too expensive and we probably won’t do it again.

Theatre outing this month was to see Blood Brothers.  I’ve seen this four times now and it was Patrick’s second time and Debbie’s first.  It was great but I think I have probably seen it enough times now.  It doesn’t have the same impact after this many viewings but the comedy and music is still brilliant.  We had tea at Operetta before the show and although the service is incredibly slow (to be fair, the waiter looks to be about 80), the food is always very good and prices reasonable.

November – Yarnfest, blogged here. Theatre outing was Kinky Boots.  We had seen this in London with Coral and William and loved it.  It is one of Debbie’s favourite films so she was looking forward to it and we met Lizzie and her fella Charles at the Kingston Theatre Hotel for a bite to eat before the show.  The food was a bit disappointing I thought.  Most of us going for chicken chasseur from the specials board, the chicken was overcooked and the portion wasn’t overly generous for the price.  The food here used to be really excellent but I’m not sure I’d rush back again.  The show was spectacular and we all loved it.

Later in November, we had a lovely evening at our house with the crew.  We had decided on a tapas theme and cooked a variety of dishes including an experimental chicken and chorizo stew which was delicious.  There was heaps of food so lots of lovely left-overs! 

December – On 11th, I met up with Shona and Colette in Walkington for lunch.  We haven’t met since this time last year and it was lovely to see them both again.  Colette is looking great and still fighting hard against pancreatic cancer.  We all said we really must make more of an effort to meet up more often in the coming year.

Christmas happened.  It was lovely with the boys here for the day and we all enjoyed an Indian banquet rather than a traditional Christmas dinner.  I got some lovely presents, including a beautiful watch from Patrick.  The blanket I had crocheted for Michael appeared to be appreciated and they all got hand knitted socks and a neckwarmer for Patrick.  After Christmas, Patrick developed a nasty chest infection and it was touch and go whether he would be able to travel down to London when we were to take Michael home and then spend a night in London.  He rallied round like a trooper though and off we set on the Friday.  It took a while to get down there but we arrived safe and sound.  We decided to get ready meals from the Tesco in the town as Patrick wasn’t up to going out.  Michael’s new flat is much nicer than the previous one.  It’s a maisonette in the small town of Rickmansworth just North of London and it looks to be a nice town from what we saw of it on the Saturday morning.  We got the train into London which took about 40 minutes and as we couldn’t check into the hotel early, we decided to find the nearest Craft Beer Co pub which was about a 15 minute walk away.  After a couple of beers we made our way back to the hotel to get freshened up for the evening out.  I wanted to see the Christmas lights of central London so we made our way to Oxford Street to start with.  There seemed to be some sort of dickhead-drivers rally going on with a convoy of extremely expensive sporty (and very noisy) cars revving their engines whilst stuck in the heavy traffic of central London.  The lights were spectacular and we spent a good couple of hours wandering around enjoying the atmosphere.  Patrick’s blog and photo slideshow does the whole thing more justice here.

So, that was 2019, sorry for the overload in one massive blog.  I think I need to make sure and blog more regularly in 2020! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cock O’ The North…and other things

Last weekend, Patrick and I went to Hipperholme in Halifax.  Why would anyone do that you ask?  Well it was specifically to visit The Cock O’ The North pub which is the tap of the Halifax Steam Brewing Company.  We had had the place recommended to us by a couple of guys in our local pub The Wellington Inn (which doesn’t appear to have it’s own website any longer).

So, The Cock o’ the North then.  At first glance from the outside, we wouldn’t have ventured in here.  It is built of portakabins and doesn’t look like the greatest place to spend a Friday night.  I am so, so glad we had the recommendation though (thanks to Blakey and Paul) because inside, it was like a temple for real ale fans.  The long polished granite bar (which the bar staff kept scrupulously clean all night) has a beautiful backdrop of two huge fish tanks.  I only had my phone to take pictures  but please follow the link above and have a look at their own picture gallery to see what I mean (although the fish tanks did have fish in them when we were there).  Plenty of table and chair seating around the room and nice comfy wooden bar seats so we could contemplate our next beer choice and watch the fish at the same time.  Ten real ale pumps spanned the bar, all boasting brews by Halifax Steam Brewing.  We decided to work our way along, both of us sampling a different drink each time so to give us maximum tasting treats!  We did get to the end and start on our way back down again actually ;-).  My particular favourite was The Dark Side, an absolutely scrumptious dark beer tasting of chocolate and coffee.  The Cock O’ the North beer was also very lovely with caramel notes.  The two that seem to be their regulars, are Aussie Kiss, a very pale and hoppy brew and at something like 3.8% a real session beer and Uncle Jon a dark but mild flavoured beer which at 4.3% is also very drinkable!  The other beers I believe rotate as and when.  I do tend to prefer dark beers but having said that, the paler, blonder ones on offer were also very nice.  There wasn’t one beer on offer that I would say that I wouldn’t drink again.  Quite an achievement with ten different ones! 

The manager/owner (didn’t quite work out which) was a lovely guy who spent a bit of time chatting to us and when he found out where we were from and our local, was delighted to be able to tell us that he knew of the Wellington guys from their previous visits and was full of praise for our fair city of Hull as well.  All in all The Cock O’ the North is a highly recommended visit for all you real ale fans out there, heck there is even a camp site out the back if you are mad enough!

We had a good weekend all round really.  We had arrived on the Friday afternoon to stay in the Premier Inn at Halifax.  What a lovely location it was in, right on the canal side and the rooms had their own outside front door, kind of like American motels that you see on TV sometimes, but nicer.  The only drawback was that although it was only 3 or 4 miles away from Hipperholme, the taxis both ways cost just shy of a tenner!  So a bit of false economy with the cheap place to stay really but as it was so nice, we’ll forget that little annoyance.  This picture was taken just outside our front door.  

Canalside Premier Inn
Canalside Premier Inn
On the Saturday, after a hearty breakfast/lunch at the Wetherspoons I had spotted in Halifax town centre the previous night on our way to Hipperholme in the taxi, we decided we would drive home the scenic route rather than the rather dull M62.  I wanted to go to Haworth for a wander up the High Street, I haven’t been for some years and Patrick had never been before.  The weather was so beautiful, one of those gorgeous Autumn days that are sunny and calm, yet really quite chilly.  This is my favourite time of year and weather, as I may have mentioned before, I’m not a sun worshipper in the least.  We enjoyed a meander up and down the High Street, walked through the church yard and I popped into the church hall to have a look at the local craft fair, I was a little sad that I had eaten such a large breakfast because there were some seriously delicious looking homemade cakes.  I was temped to buy a piece for later but it would have ended up all squashed before I got home knowing me.  We then stopped for a cuppa in one of the many tearooms along this delightful, cobbled (and very steep) street and I couldn’t help noticing that there was a poster in the window for their Knit and Knatter group, how very fab to have a knitting group in such a lovely location.  I decided I want to live in Haworth, just so I can go to the Knit and Knatter.
Haworth High Street
Haworth High Street
 I’m sorry my photo of the High Street is so rubbish! I’m sure you can find a much prettier and brighter one on the web if you are so inclined.  Note to self; remember to take the camera with you when you go away!
 
After a pleasant couple of hours in Haworth, we set off for home, deciding to take the A59 route over the top and through York.  It is a much longer drive but Patrick agreed, better than the boring old motorway.
 
We stopped for a break in Knaresborough to stretch our legs, visited the beer shop there for a little supply of Belgian bottled beers and had a walk around the castle.  I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even know there was a castle at Knaresborough but sure enough, there is and with stunning views to boot. 
View from Knaresborough Castle
View from Knaresborough Castle

I am quite pleased with this phone photo.  The stunning viaduct over the River Nidd as photographed with my little HTC phone from the walls of Knaresborough Castle.  We had a little wander around Knaresborough town centre and I now decided that I want to live in Knaresborough as it is so pretty :-).  It was turning a bit nippy by now and we were flagging a bit after our day of sightseeing so we started off for home, having thoroughly enjoyed our West/North Yorkshire weekend break.

Keep on Running

Back in May, I started on the Couch to 5K  running programme, I didn’t blog about it at the time, not sure why but I didn’t.  Well to cut a long story short, I fell by the wayside following a couple of setbacks and haven’t run really since July.  I was really enjoying it but I fell ill with dizzy spells, then a bad cold so had a break.  When I went back to it, I struggled so much more than I had first time around and was suffering from shin splints so I threw in the towel.  It has always been my intention to start again though, I am incredibly unfit, leading such a sedentary life as I do.  So, last weekend, I went off to the running shop and got fitted for a pair of proper running shoes (instead of the trainers I had been running in, which were probably what caused the shin splints!).  The shoes cost more than I wanted to pay really but I feel that if I’m going to stick with this, then I need the proper equipment to help me. 

So bear with me and indulge me because I need to have some accountability to make me complete this programme and blogging it will give me that. 

Last time I was doing the C25K, I had got up to week 7 but I knew I couldn’t jump back in there, when I tried to go back in at week 5 some time ago, I struggled badly with the 10 minute runs.  So I decided to go back to week 3, which is equal intervals of running and walking, alternating between 90 seconds and 3 minutes.  It might not sound a lot but I challenge any of you who are not already doing some form of physical activity to run for 3 minutes and see then how long you find it to be!!  I did a couple of repetitions of the week 3 runs and last night moved up to week 4.  This is the first week that you actually run more than you walk, it’s two repetitions of run 3 mins, walk 90 secs, run 5 mins, walk 2.5 mins.  It was hard work but not too much for me, I felt I still had something left in the tank after the final 5 minute run so I’m optimistic that after 2 more of these runs, I’ll be ready to move onto week 5.

My immediate aim is to get up to the 30 minutes of continuous running and then track my distance.  I want to do Parkrun in the new year and I want to be able to run it all and not walk any of it.  Next year I will enter the Race for Life and again, I want to run it all otherwise there is no point, how can I ask people to sponsor me if I am not challenging myself? 

So, here I am starting on a journey.  Some people have started this way and gone on to run Marathons!  I somehow don’t see me in that category though, I’ll be very happy to reach my 5k from the couch!