Category Archives: Outings

A Fine Day Out (More-or-Less)

Very nice outing to Trentham Gardens with Rosemary & Mervyn, in somewhat belated celebration of their Ruby Wedding.

Italian Gardens at Trentham

The forecasters earlier in the week had promised all sorts of unpleasantness, including thunderstorms, but happily they were wrong again: it wasn’t exactly summer  weather as we might wish it to be, but the sun peeped through briefly and when we did eventually get a shower it was mercifully short-lived.

Really good lunch at David’s Brasserie, marred only by a rather long delay before pudding arrived — serves us right for having a third course that we really didn’t need (though it was good when it came)!

Our Friends From The South

Last week we had the pleasure of entertaining our friends Chris and Phyl for a few days. We regularly visit them in the autumn, and holiday with them on Lundy every May (as recorded elsewhere here), so it was nice for them to come North for a change.

They arrived Monday evening, after a delayed start — Chris has his hands pretty full with churchwarden duties at the moment, and had some last minute  chores to sort out. Anyway, a couple of gins had him soon feeling more relaxed and we enjoyed a casserole that Phyl brought (with dumplings!) and a glass or two of other restorative potions.

Tuesday, we headed for Chester and availed ourselves of the Park and Ride from Broughton Heath — marvelous things, these bus passes! Not a very nice day for walking, so we went into the cathedral: had thought we might get a spot of lunch in the refectory after looking round, but we were greeted with the news that it was closed for cleaning; still, we paid our dues and went in anyway. Can’t say I’ve ever done the cathedral “as a tourist” before — been to lots of services and a couple of lectures, but never looked round in detail: found it very interesting. As an added bonus, we were able to join in a short service of Holy Communion that took place at noon; just us and a handful of other folk. Afterwards, we repaired to Chatwins cafe for lunch, and then had a bit of a walk round part of the walls. A cold wind made it rather less than enjoyable, unfortunately. Called on on Anna and The Boys for an hour or two before returning home. For our evening meal we had the Aldi Four Bird Roast, which proved to be very acceptable.

Wednesday, Chris was all but disabled with a bad back. A browse of the phonebook yielded an appointment with a physio, and forty minutes and £40 later, he was once more ready for action. We decided to stay local, and headed down to Bridgemere for a visit to the Lakeland shop and (of course) lunch in the cafe. I was most disappointed to find they no longer do oatcakes!

Thursday, we were a bit slow to get going, and so decided to forego either of our planned excursions (Williamson Tunnels, or Port Sunlight) in favour of a trip onto Nantwich on the bus. Enjoyed doing St Mary’s Church, once again in tourist mode. Lunched at the continental-style cafe near the Post Office; I was rather disappointed with it — I’m sure it used to be nicer! To Sandbach in the evening, for a meal with Diane and Les, at The Old Hall, recently refurbished. Excellent nosh and a good gossip.

Friday, we put Chris on a train home to Poole. Phyl set off for a trip to Bakewell in search of an old friend, Sue Cullen. She returned home having successfully tracked Sue down, despite having no phone number or address: just the information that she runs a pizza cafe!

Saturday, we bid farewell to Phyl, on her way to meet up with another friend in Oldham

Altogether a most pleasant visit, even though we never did get the planned outings done.

Unusual Views of a Welsh Forest

Interesting but rather muddy experience Last Sunday …

Charity Passenger Rides for Wales Air Ambulance.

A couple of weeks ago, I spotted an opportunity on offer in the August edition of Outpost, the BMMC Northwest newsletter — for a donation of £25 to the Air Ambulance, you could get a passenger ride in a rally car somewhere in the middle of nowhere in North Wales. Obviously too good an opportunity to miss! Posted off my cheque forthwith and in due course got instructions by email to head for a location on the B4501 between Llyn Brenig and Alwen Reservoir.

After doing my duties at the 9 o’clock service at St Lukes, we dashed home to change into suitable attire and set off for the specified location. Opted to go via A55 to St Asaph, thinking the good roads would be quicker, but was frustrated by a lot of slow traffic on the A51 when we set off; and when Google Navigator on my phone elected to take us on a rather tortuous and at times quite narrow route avoiding Denbigh, began think we should have opted for the direct route via Wrexham. Still, we got there in good enough time, in the end.

Arriving at the site, we were directed up a forest track, lined on one side by loads of parked cars; guy arriving ahead of us dived into a vacant slot quite quickly, and we began to understand why as the route became muddier, narrower (with sharp drop-off both sides) and more crowded — wondered what we were getting into! Eventually arrived at the end, and had to be directed backwards to an empty slot where we could park.

Signed in and had a “briefing” — this amounted to, “Don’t touch anything. If you feel it’s too fast for you, raise your hand. Use the sick-bag if you need to!” There was obviously going to be a bit of a wait, so I returned to the car and we ate our butties. Then I joined the queue to borrow a helmet, then stood around for maybe a quarter of an hour until my turn came to get in a car.

My ride was in a 40-year-old Saab, probably a 96, though could have been a 93, driven by a guy who looked like he’d been rallying for about the same number of years. The run lasted about three or four minutes, I guess, though I didn’t time it. Definitely an interesting experience! Most noticeable thing I think (apart from the speed at which the trees flew past) was the noise of the gravel, rocks or whaLlangoltever hammering against the underside of the car. You’d probably want to do it a number of times, to fully appreciate the skill involved.

Once I’d handed back the headgear and exchanged a few pleasantries with the lass in charge, the remaining challenge was to N-point turn the car without sliding of the edge of the track. That accomplished, we made our way back to the main road.

Returned home via Llangollen, with a stop “for comfort” in Corwen. Llangollen absolutely heaving — I’d thought we might have a coffee there in passing, but the car park was rammed, so we kept going up to the Horseshoe Pass and drank our flask there. Thence to Wrexham (bypass) and so home.

Spent some time on Monday morning removing quite a lot of North Wales from the wheel-arches and driver’s foot-well!

Senna The Movie

To the cinema yesterday, for a matinee screening of SENNA, the movie.

Can’t remember the last time we went “to the pictures” but it must be five years or more. On this occasion we went to the Vue screens at Cheshire Oaks. The attendance for a 3:35 programme was, as you might expect, pretty thin.

The film was good, though I wouldn’t have minded a bit more driving footage; but this movie is not really aimed at motorsport fans first-and-foremost — it’s obviously intended to have wider appeal.

It was particularly interesting to get the background to Senna’s life, to see the spiritual dimension to his personality (though I’ a bit dubious about his theology!), and to be shown something of the inside view of F1 motor racing as the context of his all-too-short time at the top.

The behind-the-scenes politics that affected his career, and specifically the influence and behaviour of the FIA president at the time, struck a particularly resonance in view of the present goings on re the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix!

Inevitably, the film has a bias in favour of Senna, and I have to say I think there are negative aspects to his attitude and approach that were played down. An interview with Jacky Stewart was especially relevant: in that interview, JS pointed out the astonishingly high incidence of “contact” in Senna’s overtaking manoeuvres, as compared to any other contender for the soubriquet “great racing driver”; Senna had no response beyond indignant bluster.

There is no question, though, that the man was a genius behind the wheel, albeit a flawed genius. This insight into his family, background, personality and influences, is on-the-whole well done; and well worth seeing for anyone with an interest in motorsport.

(update) Tiff Needell summed it up pretty neatly on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/tiff_tv/status/79303597136949248

Liverpool Cathedrals

To Liverpool last Friday for a day out with Chris and Phyl.

Following a not-too-early start, and passing by Sainsbury’s for lunchtime provisions, sailed up the M53 and through the tunnel without problem — and furthermore (mirabile dictu!) navigated straight to the intended car park without error.

Coffee at Costa in the Albert Dock, then walked up to the Anglican cathedral, passing through Chinatown.

Arrived to find the place swarming with university bods decked out in mortar boards and gowns — seems the cathedrals are used for degree ceremonies for at least two of the city’s three "universities". On this occasion, JMU was in residence, but fortunately we arrived after the morning session had ended and before the afternoon one got started, do we were able to fit ourselves in. Suitably impressed by the size of the place, and liked most of what we saw, though found it a bit ornate in places – almost continental in some ways. Stained glass not a patch on some that we saw in Paris recently.

Lunched in St James’ garden, which is a kind of sunken park in the shadow of the cathedral – nice spot that we hadn’t visited before.

Up Rodney Street, looking for but failing to identify the house that once housed the office of Lancashire and Cheshire Child Adoption Council — the "place where we got Anna."

Called in to admire the interior of the Philharmonic Pub, opposite the ditto Hall — the gents’ toilet particularly worth seeing!

And so up Hope Street to "Paddy’s Wigwam".

We particularly wanted to see the Lutyens crypt, and made the mistake of following signs outside the cathedral that simply caused us to walk all the way round the outside for nothing. Eventually went in the main entrance and there discovered we were just in time to catch the last guided tour of the day. A very nice lady escorted us and several other folk into the crypt, and we enjoyed looking round, though were perhaps not as impressed as we had expected.

The cathedral itself is interesting and impressive in its own way; in fact, I think perhaps I prefer it to the Anglican! Would certainly like to go to a service there some time.