Guide Dogs, Gateshead & Geoff Boycott – Week 1 : 2018

January 8, 2018

When you meet other people, if you’re retired, they are often flummoxed as to what to ask you. After all, in their minds, you are close to death now and given that it is the winter and you cannot tend your garden or visit the bowls club you clearly must be at home in your slippers watching Jeremy Kyle drinking soup. What on Earth is there to talk about? However, if on the very rare occasion where they actually do ask you it is hard to know what to say you’ve been doing! This is because none of it adds up to anything very weighty or sounding important like, “Oh, I’ve been in Newport for two days talking to customers”. (Probably talking bollocks with no useful outcomes more like). So, anyway, I decided to wrack my brain and write up the diary for the week.


All the daughters gone! Having the house back to ourselves meant that we could turn off the radiators in the spare rooms, clean the bathrooms, restock the fridge and get back to normal. Such pearls of ‘millennial’ wisdom will be lost until they next appear. Katrina observed, when making a ragu, that our fresh carrots were ‘out of date’. Never in all my long years have I worried about the ‘use by’ date on carrots. In fact they are usually boiled to death or made so small that any flavour is lost and it seems their age is not critical. However, we can all agree with “what do I know?” 

The Favourite Youngest’s best moment came when recalling one of her Christmas nights out in York. One of the party had brought along a dog to the nightclub. Not unreasonably the bouncer stopped her taking it in. At this point indignation, hurt and subterfuge kicked in. It was explained that Fido was a trainee guide dog. As part of its training then it was being familiarised with social situations. The sceptical bouncer relented. In fairness the dog had been a trainee guide dog but failed the programme and was now a pet. Kids eh?

One downside of the daughters’ departure is that I will have to watch Season Two of ‘The Crown’ on Netflix all by myself.

With this tranquillity I managed to write an album review for the Americana Music Show. In fact it became one of my ‘Records Of The Week’ – Grayson Capps. I had quite a lot of affection for this release not least because I nearly cycled past his home in Alabama. Another chore was thinking about renewing my car insurance. You will know the situation where a renewal quotation comes in the post. The new quotation is usually an uplift, over the previous year, of 25 to 30%. With this you go through the procedure of going back to the comparison web sites to get quotations from other insurance companies nearer your current cost. I’m used to this administration but I do hate them for it. Imagine the truly older folk who blindly renew and incur all these pointless extra costs.


The Holiday Inn Express was our destination before a night at The Sage in Gateshead with Candi Staton. (You can see my review of the concert under ‘Music’). The hotel Reception was crowded with revellers checking in; one girl was stood there in full make up but with her hair in curlers! On the streets of Newcastle we passed smokers. However, it wasn’t tobacco but marijuana that they were smoking. The Geordies were dressed to the nines and many were not wearing a coat, hat and gloves (like this wuss). Before departing from Yorkshire my evening attire was discussed. Anna suggested a new favourite shirt that I recently bought from John Lewis. I did point out that the shirt was checked and that Candi was more Soul than Country & Western…

A wonderful night and one of our better New Year’s Eves for many years.


New Years Day saw all the shops shut! Anna had to abandon Newcastle city centre without a retail experience. Nothing was open on this Bank Holiday. We drove home by the resort of Tynemouth to Yorkshire. It had been a late night and so a few pints of beer were sunk. I made a decision to not drink anything for the rest of the week. (Friday night may see this pledge abandoned).

As always the football engages us and we were waiting for the Leeds United result – a disappointing draw at home to Nottingham Forest. The expectation of so many LUFC fans is so hard to fathom. If Leeds ever do get promoted then I think West Yorkshire will be alight.


I wrote sometime ago about a dodgy knee and it remains a priority to restore it to good health. I attended the local gym in Acomb. After lots of rehab then the recovery continues and the programme includes following a number of exercises, some on equipment and some on the mat; with a set number of repetitions or time allotments. All this progress allows me to dream of a summer pedalling through Europe. Bliss.

A bit more mundane was the task later to visit one of our rental properties to inspect a damp patch on a downstairs bedroom wall. Not a crisis but not a good situation. The resolution requires removing all the plaster, inserting a protective membrane and then re-plastering. Anything that involves old or new plaster is the filthiest job in construction. We’ve asked for a quotation and await the bad news.


I don’t like Pilates. The instructor, Lou, is fabulous and patiently answers all my questions about which muscle group she is attempting to reawaken with the latest convoluted stretching. I do it because it is vital to keep supple and keep you body in balance. However, when it is over I am happy to have another week between me and the floor mat. It seems to be the ladies who turn up. More men need to take this up. At £5.50 for an hour I may be saving the NHS a lot more in due course.

Some good friends, Jane and John, came around later for our thoughts on their planned holiday to Canada. It was good to share our recommendations and thoughts so soon after our trip.


I felt that after a week off the road that I needed to get back on the bike. I set off well wrapped toward Cawood. The temperature fell to 2°C and steady rain became heavier and penetrative. As I started to literally freeze then an intended short cut via Ulleskelf wasn’t available due to road flooding (due to the River Wharfe rising). I ended up doing a painful and saturating 30 miles. When I got home my hands thawed with immense pain as I peeled off sopping wet kit and I then dived into the bath. I wonder why I cycle in warmer climes!

At W H Smith’s I picked up a copy of the end of year copy of Country Music People. It contained a couple of my reviews and had a full page of my end of year Top 10 records. Fame at last!

I went out early evening to a public meeting with our local MP (Julian Sturdy) about the delays in installing Superfast broadband in three local villages. Open Reach’s performance is beyond appalling and the meeting vented their feelings on the MP and a representative from the client (who appointed Open Reach). It was interesting to talk afterwards to the MP about the General Election result. At the meeting was an old Moores’ colleague who I’d guess I hadn’t seen for at least 15 years – Bob Redwood, our former Export Sales Manager. He and his wife looked well.

Back home I typed up some notes to circulate around neighbours about the meeting. I doubt most will care. Anna cares! She’s sick of me swearing at the computer as it seizes when opening a web page.


On the count down to the in-laws house being sold (they have moved to a rather splendid home in Pocklington) then it is all hands to the pump to facilitate the sale. I initially stayed at home to receive four items of furniture that were being relocated to our house by two chaps in a white van. Two pieces are apparently being stored for the Favourite Eldest, as and when she buys a property. I reckon they’ll be going to the charity or community furniture store in due course, as that will never happen!

Then I got to drive to their house across York to dismantle some large furniture that we cannot palm off on a charity shop. Either it has glass in it or they couldn’t get it down the stairs. Speaking to other people who have emptied houses then they were similarly rueful at letting things go to the Household Waste Site or charity shops. We would have loved to have passed several quite expensive items onto a good home of someone we knew. Sadly no one has the need or space. When I got to the Household Waste Site it had a long queue and some folk were still unloading Christmas trees.

The reward for all this was lunch at Café 68 located within Cycle Heaven on Hospital Fields Road. Talking to Piers, the co-owner, he regaled us with a story about stopping at cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott’s house in Boston Spa, with other cyclists, for a bacon sandwich recently. GB was the complete host and the invite came through him knowing one of the cycle party. In fact after a couple of hours they all wanted to get off whilst Geoff kept talking!

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