Monthly Archives: August 2017

Canada Trip – August 2017

August 31, 2017

Before I share some thoughts on Canada then it is only apposite to mention that we never nearly made it to Manchester Airport. The drive from York suffered delays due to traffic jams. After reaching the M60 via a tortuous route over Saddleworth Moor, we started to move nicely for the first time in over an hour. At a junction an old Audi came onto the motorway and in heavy traffic made a dash for the outside lane. The only problem was that he was steering directly into the side of our car at 70mph. I swerved toward the barrier in the centre, our car hit the grass and gravel and we slewed along as the Audi made the outside lane but kept accelerating. Thanks to presence of mind and a great car, with superb handling, we kept control, didn’t hit the barrier, go into a spin and take out the cars behind us or those beside us. This fool could have killed 5 or 6 people in a heartbeat.

Anyway more than a little shaken we made the flight to Toronto. I’d been here in 2015 and thought it fabulous. Arriving and exiting by bicycle was a very different experience to that of doing it by car. My time on the bike was spent by Lake Ontario and then when arriving at Niagara I only ever saw the Falls (not the town) before continuing south into the USA via Buffalo.

Toronto is organised and attractive but busy. Our hotel was massive and choked with international tourists passing through. Our city bus tour was remarkable for revealing that Toronto might be modern and important but it had no history that you could repeat or remember. In fact I remember more about the Toronto Blue Jays playing baseball at the Rogers stadium and the window cleaners at the large children’s hospital dressing as Super Heroes to entertain the young patients than anything else. The tour involved a trip across the harbour to some islands.

The main reason for this stop over in the east before heading to the Pacific was to show Anna Niagara Falls. The drive to Niagara Falls was on a rammed motorway and when we got to the waterfalls we saw the resort, just off the main drag past the Falls. This rather reduced the magic of the natural phenomena. It is literally ‘kiss me quick’ hats, burgers and amusement arcades. However, you cannot take away the majesty of these wonderful waterfalls and I can barely imagine the impact it had on the first Europeans who came across it.

From here we drove to Niagara-on-the-Lake and it was simply delightful. A small resort on Lake Ontario at the head of the Niagara River (that is part of the waterway between Ontario and Erie). This quaint and historic town is beyond manicured and full of tea shops, restaurants and most things that would carry the tag of ‘upmarket’. The flower beds and hanging baskets were a vision to behold. 

Needless to say there were many other tourists there. The surrounding area is planted with vines and it appears a considerable wine producing area. We tasted some ‘icewine’. This is fermented from grapes that are frozen at the time of picking in winter. It was very sweet, like dessert wine. After this it was back into the traffic and back for a vegetarian meal in the centre of Toronto.

Our flight to Vancouver, to complete the journey west was another four hours. This is a very large country with the 4th biggest land mass as a country but only 36m inhabitants. You quickly learn that everyone lives broadly up against the US border and some Provinces (out of the 10) such as Yukon, only have a total population of 36,000! Clearly the terrain and climate offer no incentive to live there or many places north.

Vancouver is a fine city and Anna booked us into  a more luxurious hotel this time near Downtown where we were to discover the first of a lot of German tourists. They flood across from Europe and love the west coast of the Americas. We did a Chinatown walking tour on our first morning, which was surprisingly engrossing. The Chinese came in the 19th century to build the railways. As part of British Columbia becoming part of Canada it needed a rail link. The Chinese, from the Pearl River Delta, can be viewed just as indigenous as many of the Europeans. However it was a long road for their equal rights, they even had to overcome racists laws in the 20th century. Our Canadian Chinese guide slightly gilded the story of local ethnic Chinese heroes bringing about change. I’m sure their efforts were vital but in fact the post war Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN in 1948 meant things had to change for the Canadians. (The plonker with the Mohican is from Australia…)

Coming up to the present day then several conversations talked of ‘Asian’ immigration or property buying throughout the main cities. These properties were not always to live in but as a speculative investment. (A lot of nations in post communist countries buy property speculatively outside their homeland e.g. Russians in London). In addition there were hundreds of Mainland China tourists in the resorts. This even led to the recycling bins having script in Mandarin to ensure tins didn’t go in the wrong bin! Like York then they are bringing considerable revenue to these tourist destinations but the cultures of China, Europe or North America do appear uncomfortable together at times. 

Even more energy sapping was being behind two people who’s first language was not English in a shop. Such was the accent that they either spent sometime repeating things to each other or, even worse, one poor lady at a fast food joint I went to only partially got what she came in to buy. Who’d be an immigrant? This partially explains the lack of integration I expect.

In Vancouver we tried to get over the jet lag, ate well, rode bikes around Stanley Park and soaked up the more laid back vibe of Canada. Eventually we picked up our second hire car and headed for Victoria Island. I paid scant attention to the holiday booking details and getting a ‘compact’ car seemed fine. It ended up being a little small and under powered. The power was undermined by the statutory North American automatic gearbox. To dust off an old politically incorrect comment then our little Nissan couldn’t pull a sailor off your sister. This meant that on some busy winding roads putting your foot down to overtake took courage and blind faith. I am a Leeds United fan: I coped.

To get to Victoria on Vancouver Island (on the south tip of the island) meant an hour and a half ferry and we absorbed the majestic views before we disembarked and made our way to the hotel. 

Here one of the staff, a chap called Waddingham, told us of his family’s origins in Hull. All good although we did correct him on his name’s pronunciation of Waddingham and not ‘Wardingharm’! Victoria is the Province capital of British Columbia and has a legislature and fine older architecture. I find it quaint that they still have ‘British’ in their name and, frankly, any residual attachment to the UK. In 1931 Canada gained their independence and any involvement of the British Parliament went in 1982. The Royal Family is still affectionately regarded. Will and Kate visited Victoria fairly recently but frankly when the Queen passes I think the majority of the Commonwealth, let alone Canada, will call time on any remotely formal connnection.

We saw the city by bicycle and here Jessica steered us up and down hills and kept us away from traffic. Vancouver Island was the first settlement in British Colombia and hence it became the capital despite being detached. 

Today Vancouver is several times larger but the Parliament resides here. I expected a distinct difference between the USA and Canada to be evident: it wasn’t. The Canadian’s accent, TV channels, road signage, chain stores, cars, types of food, ambience etc seemed just a continuation. Even detail like the yellow school buses were evident. To this end the shadow of the USA looms large and not larger than Trump. In fairness he has freaked out the world with his language, behaviour and perceived priorities. He has many people all caught like rabbits in the headlights and for better or worse then sensibilities and fears of many are heightened to the extent that he is a preoccupation. I sensed it in a few conversations and as always you could rely on the ubiquitous CNN to talk negatively 24/7 on all things Trump – I don’t doubt some of the negativity is well earned. 

From Victoria we weaved on a motorway and then minor roads to Ucluelet on the west coast of the island. There are several names that originate from the Native Indians or First Nation people who were here long before the Europeans. In this small coastal town there was tourism and also facilities for fishing trawlers. The trawlers brought ashore hake (for McDonalds!), salmon and other white fish. We had a fabulous trip off the shore in a launch with other tourists. The expedition was to find Grey Whales but sadly there were none to see. However we saw many Sea Lions, Sea Otters and Bald Eagles. The tranquility of the sea near the shore and the clear fresh air were glorious and enervating. Back at our apartment we dipped in the jacuzzi and ate our store bought provisions. The following morning we sadly had to depart but not before a quick hike around a trail directly on the shore. Wonderful and I think we’ll be back.

So another ferry and then a straightforward drive up to Whistler. Whistler is a skiing resort but in the summer there are some scenery seekers, like ourselves, but also hundreds of mountain bikers. When we got there we discovered competitions which brought in many young chaps on expensive bikes. However many others with the right head and body apparatus took the lifts to the top of the mountains and came down on the trails. During the winter then these would be the various ski slopes. It looked great fun for all ages as the gradients, like ski slopes, were graded. We were in a hotel with some catering facilities and on arrival popped out to the supermarket. Licensing laws meant that the store didn’t sell alcohol and as it was 9 pm nowhere else was open. To rectify this crisis I went to the hotel bar and returned to the lift with 2 pints to ascend to the room. A crowded lift turned toward me to note my 2 pints. I felt clarification was necessary and I did blurt out”they’re not both for me!”

It was here that it struck home how expensive Canada was. Two people eating out with a drink and basic fare would bash £50. I wouldn’t pretend that we didn’t budget for this but you do get to a point where it isn’t as if you are doing more than refuelling at a high cost. 

Whistler hosted part of Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic set up and it is a well laid out town with great facilities, links and transport for skiers. However, frankly it wasn’t suitable for folk like us passing through with just scenery and relaxing in mind. I think it’s reputation blinded us and so we went. Don’t go unless you’re on a mountain bike or skis. 

One notable thing to mention about Canada is pedestrians, of which Whistler had many, and the car. The pedestrian has priority and courtesy is shown by the motorist at all times. Not only do the cars wait for walkers to complete their progress to the kerb but hold back some distance. This courtesy is extended to cyclists. It’s just in the culture. There is endless debate in the UK about making the roads safe for cyclists. Solutions include car exclusion, cycle lanes on roads, specially built cycle paths, execution for offending drivers by beheading etc. Frankly a good start would be the elevation of the pedestrian and cyclist, when sharing the same space, to be respected and protected. Costs nowt an’ all.

The drive to Kamloops, the biggest town in this part of the Rockies, was tough. It was single lane and slow traffic made the going miserable. On the odd occasion that an overtaking opportunity arose I gunned the poor little Nissan within an inch of its life past a bus or dawdling SUV. I’d never heard Anna pray out loud before…

Our first stop for some lunch was Lillooet where our sandwiches were prepared by a lady from Glasgow. Her escape to this absorbing scenery and clear mountain air made a lot of sense. This small settlement has had many incarnations, not least as a rail stop and mining town. The heritage of the town is preserved by a number of graphics that mainly hark back to the 19th Century. However, one piece of recent history was the incarceration of the Canadian Japanese population in WW2 after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Many were shifted from the coast, where they traded and were fishermen, to the interior. In retrospect then this seems very harsh and wrong. If, given the issues, you can understand that then maybe not the confiscation of Japanese property and assets which they received scant compensation for, if any. They weren’t allowed freedom of movement until 1949 or an apology until 1988. 

A brief stop at Blue Water was to again break the journey and buy an ice cream. This settlement had experienced forest fires and the road had been closed recently. It was pleasing to see that a sign in the Welcome Center offered fire fighters free drinks. Attached to the Center was the Gift Shop. The Canadians are no slouches in every part of British Columbia or Alberta at flogging swag. As I sauntered back to the car my bride bought four very nice coasters made of slate and etched with the images of elk or moose. Pleased with her purchase as we drove off I volunteered that a First Nation Indian had not spent a winter’s day sat on the unheated clay floor of his wigwam holding the slate between his feet whilst he chipped away with tools made from flint and animal bones. More like that a man called Mr Lee based in a large factory on the outskirts of Shanghai had been the machine operative who was producing about 500 coasters per hour. Naturally this ‘negative’ comment was dismissed until she established the country of origin on the box. She was partially correct in that his name probably wasn’t Mr Lee but Mr Wang.

Kamloops is a large town and due to the lack of other big towns miles around it seems to be the centre for every car dealer, motel, lawyer, appliance showroom in the area. We were located just outside of town at a hotel that might be described as more of a ‘country club’. It had a gym, bikes to ride, swimming pool and a wedding! We partook of the first three and then drove back into town for dinner. The weather was getting warmer and despite being in the Rockies, and our experiencing some rain, then we were regularly above 20° C.

Rain greeted our residual drive to Jasper. The first thing you feel is the deep local welcome when you get there: from Australia. There appears to be an acute shortage of bar staff and shop assistants throughout the Rockies. Australia (and New Zealand) has stepped into the breach. Many of these millennials have been here for some time. We talked with a few, usually the opening line was, ‘you’re a long way from home?’ Many had come and stayed. Given the flight time and cost to the Antipodes I can see how they had ended up residents. By way of variation the present Mrs Ives had booked us into a log cabin on the banks of Lake Patricia.


Everyone likes a picture of a train, be honest.

Jasper is small, mainly summer driven, resort overwhelmed by Brits, Germans and Chinese. It is on the famous Canadian Railway line and hosts the tourist train that pulls through every day. It is also ideally located for local lakes – Maligne, Pyramid and Patricia. It’s on the latter that we stayed in a log cabin. (Just to return to an earlier theme, then on Lake Pyramid you could hire canoes by the hour – $40). We tripped out to see the lakes and absorb the beauty. It was chilly and overcast for some of the days and the beauty is cast into monochrome only to fully hit you when the sun comes out and glorious Technicolour abounds.

Anna had so wanted to see bears and as you drive along then there are many road signs warning of wildlife. Needless to say our sightings were limited but we did see one bear on a bank near the road. That was it. Elks were not so hard to find and this moose was caught early evening grazing.

The Icefields Parkway is the 180 mile stretch of road that takes you south in a long valley. Either side are lakes, glaciers and creeks can be found often with bus loads of other tourists. 

Our pleasure was taken in a steep hike to the top of a very tall hill/mountain to look down on Lake Peyto. The colour of the water is made by a fine silt that is found in the lakes.

Our last stop was Canmore, a mere stone’s throw from the famous Banff. This is an upmarket little town full of expensive second homes and a main street selling specialist bagels, artisan coffee, gifts and craft beers. Our B&B was exceptional and a very Continental breakfast afforded talking to the other guests who were mainly Canadians. Topics from Bonnie Raitt, Alberta oil sands, speaking French and that bloke Trump (again) were discussed. There were a selection of great eating options and one owned by a brewery that did small samples for $10.

We drove back to Banff to see what the fuss was about and it was just a little bigger with more tourists and shops selling stuffed elks, key fobs, cushions with Mounties on them and similar tat. I believe it is more important in winter when the skiing season will fill all the hotels on the outskirts.

Back in Canmore we rode bikes along the river, drank coffee, drank beer and headed back up the road past Banff to see Lake Louise. It was so named after Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter. The graphic telling this described Victoria as the ‘Queen of England’ – slightly disappointing to read given Canada’s place in the Commonwealth.

To celebrate our disappointment we ascended 1,000 feet for over 2 miles for a cup of hot chocolate and a large piece of banana bread – a fair exchange in my book. The step count on the iPhone said we had ascended 79 floors!

A return to Canmore for a bagel was bewildering. I was asked by the young man, resplendent with tattoos, hat and piercings, what I wanted? Such was the enormous choice that I took some time to answer. Like all attentive youngsters dealing with older people he patiently smiled and then repeated the question. I did gently ( a major concession on my part) say that I understood the ‘kin question but was considering my choice. His mother loves him.

It would be remiss not to talk about what the Canadians have done to our language. Despite some British spelling then they mangle ‘aluminium’ like the Yanks. Their metal is pronounced aloominum and Hyundai is bastardised to Hundi. By way of forgiveness we did enjoy some of the language such as a dog accessories shop was called ‘Mutt Hut’ and the children’s section of the menu at one restaurant called ‘Cub Grub’. I would add the establishment was called The Grizzly Paw.

Our last day was spent in pursuit of retail joy. We found two malls that sold CD’s and vinyl LP’s and Anna found Gap and Coach. The Canadian economy benefited. 

Whilst waiting for Anna to pay for the unbelievable ‘bargain’ purchase I chatted with the young lady handing out ‘50% off’ vouchers at the entrance. She is a student and this is a Summer job. She hopes to become an optician. She suggested that the 27° C weather outside would soon fall apart and that Calgary would be cast into a freezing winter and only emerge in May. No thanks. The Mall attracts a lot of tourists and many from Mainland China bulk buying – Anna followed a lady at the till buying 9 identical bags no doubt for redistribution back home.

We wended our way to the Airport and dropped off the hire car. A diligent chap looked around the car for damage, checked the fuel and what not. I did advise that the engine was missing. Now usually my profound hilarity is met with ‘tumbleweed rolling across an empty street’. However, being a bright bunny he did reflect and surmise that such an underpowered car in the mountains was sluggish and disappeared to provide a $5 free coffee card and a free car upgrade the next time we rented with Alamo. Being a prat does on occasion pay off!

The flight home, via Heathrow to Manchester, was routine. 

So Canada? Kind, beautiful, genuinely interested in the environment, organised, quite expensive compared to the USA but similar in taking a lead from, culture, food, language, appearance and system. A bit ‘vanilla’, somehow too gentle and giving the impression of a new country that’s still finding its identity.

So where next?

Record Of The Week # 25

August 28, 2017

Yes – Close To The Edge

It seems quaint to recall but for my 18th birthday I received a number of record tokens. I was just starting to devote my life to vinyl and predictably had a long list of potential acquisitions to spend it on. On the list was the current Yes album, Close To The Edge, released the preceding year in September 1972.

So armed with said ‘Voucher of Joy’ I found my way to The Sound Of Music in Harrogate and did a swap. I have to say that my attachment to this album has now been complete for a very long time. In fact it wasn’t until 2015 before I saw them live – at Newcastle City Hall. An iconic 1970’s rock venue if there every was one. The line up wasn’t as per the album but they did play the whole album. However Steve Howe was on guitar and Chris Squire was on bass and it was these guys who drove the album for me. (Sadly, Chris Squire has since passed).

There are only three tracks – welcome to Prog rock – and the words were generally Jon Anderson compiled gibberish. In any case the vocals were like a musical instrument and made a sound to complement the instruments. On this basis Anderson could have worked his way through the local Chinese takeaway menu for me rather than the recollections of a dream he later claimed drove the title track.

The album and its complexity seems bewildering for an age that luxuriated in 12 bar blues and songs about girls in red dresses. We start with a building yet intense cacophony of birdsong giving way to a complimentary guitar echoing the high pitched frenetic sound. All the time the fabulous jazz loping and compelling drums of Bill Bruford provide the foundation before Jon Anderson unleashes his harmonics. You start to notice the bass lines underpinning the rhythm with a fat spelshing thump of a sound.  

We wait for over 11 minutes before Rick Wakeman makes a grand appearance on organ by now we have several distinctly different tunes welded together separately in the studio by Eddie Offord. (He was originally their live sound engineer but went onto become a producer of choice for many rock bands).

Over 14 minutes of captivating rock, an imposing track. 

“Down at the end, round by the corner

Close to the edge, just by the river

Seasons will pass you by

I get up, I get down…”

And You And I begins with acoustic guitar and an echoing organ chord way back in the mix. It is altogether lighter in tone and instrumentation. The melody weaves it’s magic throughout with the chorister clarity delivery of Anderson. Wakeman can dominate anything with his ability to create a symphony with a handful of keyboards in front of him this he does as the song and rises into a wall of sound before the folk song resumes.

Siberian Khatru ends side two with Squire’s bass thumping away whilst harmony vocals recall some nonsense. Of course Howe carries the melody with Wakeman ever present, not least, on an occasional harpsichord. (Anderson had no idea what Khatru meant at the time of composition…)

An endlessly satisfying 38 minutes with its selection of melodies, remarkable musicianship, jazz like complexity, mind boggling creativity and simply a bench mark for any Prog rock act to try and emulate for the following 45 years.

Record Of The Week # 24

August 28, 2017

Courtney Marie Andrews – Honest Life

Courtney Marie Andrews came into my life thanks to Vinyl Eddie’s in York. I was swapping notes with a bloke about Americana. He was there thumbing through the new releases. He was acquiring the latest Steve Earle LP, something I had first hand experience of thanks to reviewing it for the Americana Music Show. He recommended this album and I dutifully invested. What a beautiful 36 minutes and 39 seconds Honest Life is.

Recommendations are the finest way to discover music and this is a gift. Ten tracks that might fall into a number of genres including ‘Singer Songwriter’, ‘Folk’ and ‘Americana’. Her distinctive voice and delivery is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez. However that comparison is a a heavy load to bear and she is her own voice. You are drawn in to the delivery and expression as well as the words. A comment on Joni was that if you were her lover then you would end up sometime later in a raw and emotional lyric, I can’t help but wonder how many beaus are nervously playing this album.

The instrumentation is always simple and delivered by a gentle rock band – drums, piano/ organ, bass, guitar and harmony vocals but they seldom intrude on a vocal performance that commands the centre stage. Equipped with a mellifluous tone and killer tunes each track is captivating. She wrote all the songs and has the talent to find a wonderful tune and lyrics that are life stories mainly about her tribulations in love. Clearly at the tender age of 26 she is serving her apprenticeship in matters of the heart.

“Only In My Mind” starts with Joni’s Blue era piano and the vocal recounts a failed love story as luscious strings accompany her through her delusions. “Not The End” introduces pedal steel, clearly this is one of the greatest pieces of machinery known to mankind, and again our heroine reflects on the lover she adores and seeks reassurance that she is not about to pass into his past. “Table For One” brings the lonely life of a touring musician into sharp relief. Homesick, eating and drinking alone, straddling the immense distances of the US and missing her lover: we enjoy the lilting acoustic track underpinned by pedal steel bringing sweetness to the bitterest of stories. 

Irene has a soaring vocal and concerns itself with advice to a friend who lacks confidence in the direction her life is taking her. She doubts she has control over the choices available. Organ and guitar have their tasteful moments as the rhythm finds your hips.

If this doesn’t grab your attention then you don’t have any handles and this will be on my ‘end of year’ list.

Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters – August 5th 2017

August 8, 2017

I was taken by surprise of what a trip down memory lane the destination would be. I seldom go anywhere in the city of my birth, Leeds, nowadays. The venue for the concert – Seven Arts in Chapel Allerton is nearly next door to the first Primary School I attended over 55 years ago – Chapel Allerton Primary School. Memories flooded back such as making a clockwork bear walk through puddles in the playground: not the best thing for a primitive mechanical device to do. Also I spent a couple of undergraduate summers working at a stores depot for Leeds City Council just around the corner from here. However nostalgia apart I made my way to the venue quietly thrilled that one of the best Americana acts of 2016/17 were playing on my proverbial patch.

This was Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters first ever UK tour and Seven Arts, in Leeds, was privileged to be their second stop. With a four piece band to back her Platt took to the stage in this small but packed venue and launched into “Birthday Song”. This was the first of several songs off her latest critically claimed eponymous titled album. The album has gained traction in Americana circles in the US but it is clear, as she ran through songs off this and the preceding two albums, that she’s been producing exquisite Country Americana for some years now.

The UK seems to be an adventure and Facebook posts recording the delights of discovering steel rather than plastic teaspoons in her hotel room and the possible pleasure of eating fish and chips and finding a real British pub suggests that this adventure may spawn a song or two but it is certain that Platt will garner some new fans in the Old World.

Whilst her vocals and observational lyrics are the focus throughout then she is blessed by a band that sympathetically and expertly fit around her. As Platt strutted her stuff up front then the band shared ‘off camera’ grins and nods as they took their solos. This is a bunch of pals on tour with an easy dynamic.

Matt Smith switched regularly between electric guitar and pedal steel. To the delight of the audience this came to the fore during “Texas ‘81” where its tones were as much a siren as her beautiful voice. Evan Martin underpins the sound with keys/organ throughout especially on “Diamond In The Rough”. Platt played 22 songs over two sets and highlights were frequent and many but “What We’ve Got’ reached a certain intensity that lit up the crowd and “Me Oh My” was truly rousing.

The audience enjoyed the vistas of Texas, Carolina, Indiana and places a long way west of Yorkshire but they also enjoyed the banter about her anxiety of eyebrows on a video shoot or the preponderance of deformed villains in Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracey movie!

For a couple of numbers the band left the stage whilst she sang a couple of songs alone with an acoustic guitar – “Learning How To Love Him” and “Angeline”. This stripped down sound was a joy along with the acoustic final number “The Road” with Rick Cooper (bass) and Josh Milligan (drums) providing harmonies on the chorus. She has a way of expressing the emotions and troubles of every day folk and to have her close her eyes and tell you with her head tilted to one side and the lights dimmed was like receiving a private audience with a sage.


Biscuits, Kettles & The Wisdom of Women – Week 30 : 2017

August 1, 2017

Firstly, ‘Wife Report’ – it may not come as a surprise to learn that I have been promoting the idea of the present Mrs Ives getting a job to more usefully occupy her time. I was pulled to one side last week to have critical advice imparted to me by my bride. I was overfilling the kettle and as a consequence boiling water that I didn’t immediately need. This apparently has implications for our monthly electricity bill. I feel that such wisdom must be sorely needed elsewhere as I certainly have had my fill (geddit?)

Other pearls of wisdom from the opposite sex were given at Tesco. At the self check out I had in some way caused the till to seize and advice was given by the bloody machine to ‘call for assistance’. At this point I did express, loudly, some displeasure. A matronly figure sashayed toward me with a bright “Good morning’ resplendent in her Tesco uniform. Sensing my irritation at the inanimate object causing me distress she opined ‘its because of the biscuits in your bag’. I was grateful for her diagnosis and replied “I bet you say that to all the boys’.

The Favourite Youngest parted company with her first car (Twiga) this week although it put up a fight to stay! Sophie has been promoted and is now slumming it in a company BMW. I was detailed to sell the Peugeot 107 and we had an interesting week. AutoTrader chucked up two traders who pretended to be buying it for their family. Despite an asking price of £2,250 one said £1,700 was their offer.

As the week passed and no one contacted us I took it to a small independent dealer in York. He hummed and harr-ed and then returned to tell me all the things wrong with the car and, through sucked teeth, generously offered £1,500. Sex and travel came to mind as I exited the showroom.

We reduced the price to £2,100 and continued to pray for calls. One of the earlier dealers rang again to offer £1,750 but there was hope in sight when a young lad rang saying he’d bring his dad for a spin and he only lived 15 miles away.

They duly turned up and had a drive in biblical rain and offered £1,800. They seemed quite firm but before we could start haggling Sophie, home for the weekend, took a firm stance on £1,950 and ‘hope’ turned on it heels saying they had another car to look at and they’d let us know.

Next day a text arrived saying that they had found another car. Glum with this news I contacted Evans Halshaw and asked if they were interested. We got an email saying they would at a price of £1,886 subject to inspection and a drive. The car was presented and we expected the usual catalogue of reasons to reduce the price but hopefully something interesting would ensue. To her undisguised delight (she should never play poker for money as her face was a picture of joy) they offered £1,890. She accepted and Twiga was gone.

Lastly the photo below is magic and truly is the wisdom of… some women.