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HOLIDAYS: 2007 holidays in Buxton and Porthmadog
2006-

Llandudno again. Why the same place four times in nine years? Continuing problems with rail services restricting our available routes elsewhere, plus every time we go we find more places to visit and see. Food is easily obtained (we especially like The Greenery on Lloyd Street) and good transport. We noticed some reduction in services though - the Conway Valley railway is now down to a single carriage running every three hours- grossly insufficiant. The bus companies this year did a bad job advising the Council of their services, so many were running unpublicised services empty. Notably KMP, who had three timetables- the one published by the Council, the one on the bus-stops, and the one their drivers ran to!!! Unfortunately they have a virtual monopoly of buses to Llanberis so our attempt to visit that place again this year was thwarted. We stayed in Wales for two weeks this time. And I never had to put my raincoat on once.
Probably our best visit, with some quite rugged walking - the hottest July ever resulted in some fine growth of bracken, gorse, and brambles. We enjoyed a beautiful walk around the back of Penmaenmawr, all the way up the steep hillside (from 0 to 384 metres) up beside Cefn Coch , past Ffridd Wanc, and then an easy stroll around Foel Lus. I like this town.
Not such easy walking at Llanfairfechan where we found numerous public footpaths illegally blocked by landowners, and most recommended routes not surprisingly on roads- even the North Wales Path is largely on roadway around here.
We explored parts of Llandudno Great Orme we had not yet visited around Maes-y-Facrell, revisiting the old cromlech there, and for the first time around the Little Orme for some good views of Rhos and Colwyn Bay.

Our walk around Trefriw this year was on paths 4, 5 and 7, past Klondike works to Llyn Geirionydd, birthplace of Taleisin, then over a VERY rough rockface to Llyn Crafnant- although we took so long over the first part of the walk we never saw the second lake! On our return to Trefriw we found a very old footbridge and an overshot waterwheel near Gymannog.
We had a couple of days in Conwy (Conway) walking the town walls again, having homemade lemonade in Anna's, and wandered around Conwy Morfa. We made our first visit to the Butterfly Jungle where there were some very fine Monsterra Deliciosa plants in flower and quite a butterfly collection. We also walked down to Groesfordd on a very hot day.

We enjoyed a stroll around Llanwrst, through Coed-y-Felin and Coed-y-Garth, seeing a heron on our walk. In Llanwrst we discovered a very fine local museum made out of the old Almshouses, with some excellent local social history publications.
We purchased some slate pieces in Caernarfon, and saw off the fine Manchester built Beyer-Peacock locomotive on the Welsh Highland Railway - but Caernarfon is a disappointing place, being little more than the Gwynedd County Council offices, with no-where to sit, and a large but excruciatingly boring Tourist Information Centre.

Indeed, in North Wales the official Tourist offices seem dedicated to driving you out of Wales, being random collections of commercially donated flyers, a few commercially published books and maps, and little of real local interest. At Llandudno the TIC has only the very unreliable walking books from publisher Gwasg Carreg Gwalch (insufficient erroneous maps, very poor route descriptions, and quite a bit out of date). In 2007, following a walkers death using a book from this publisher, the Western Mail reported (news report)- upon some negative comments by Detective inspector David Gerwyn Lloyd at an inquest in Caernarfon ... information in the book and the map attached was useless... I believe the book was an inappropriate choice and it was so misleading it was impossible to follow." The publishers strongly disagreed with these comments.

In Llandudno at least, you can go to the Visitor Centre at the top of the Great Orme where there is a huge collection of local walks booklets. Although many of these are of the "go to kissing gate. Go to kissing gate. Go to kissing gate" variety- where the gate may no longer exist, will not be visible from the last gate, which could be 10 metres or 10 miles away, and ignoring the route choices you are forced to make in between!

We paid a return visit to Bodnant- a National Trust garden, where many paths were this year closed due to instability. They now have toilets in the gardens, but you still have to leave to eat in their fine but costly restaurant. There are NO picnic facilities anywhere- they allow you to eat your picnic in your car in the car park, which is of little use if you travel by bus.
For our last day we looked at the map for somewhere that looked interesting and took the bus to Abergwyngregyn, where we found a superb new cafe (so good we returned there on our way back later), and an easy walk to Aber Falls. The big one (Rhaedr Fawr) is fed by Afon Goch, which becomes Afon Aber later, and has the steepest gradient of any river in England or Wales. The falls are 100 metres according to the current site leaflet, but older sources quote one hundred feet! I guess it depends on what you are measuring- the falls are slightly stepped - and even after a very dry Summer are still magnificent. The best falls I have seen. Before passing the falls there was a working dig by Bangor and Sheffield, slowly excavating a Bronze Age burial mound. After the larger falls, the path became extremely rough leading to the small falls (Rhaedr-bach). Note: The alternative rough path to the larger falls is extremely rough at the top end! This was a lovely walk through ancient woodland, with gurgling streams and waterfalls, And so home!


2007 holidays - in two parts! Part one...
A week in July in Buxton for the first week of the Buxton Festival (and Fringe Festival). We rented a large 7 bedroom house in the old town, and for the first weekend we were joined by George's friends Chris and Jen who joined us for an odd fringe show- "Norman Lovett's Slide Show"- in a peculiar underground venue quite unsuited to anything visual due to very low ceilings and narrow room- maybe the front dozen people saw what was going on as Norman showed some of his odd collection of slides and made witty comments about them. After this we decided to miss the other highly visual shows at this venue!

We spent about six hours of the weekend playing an odd game "The War on Terror" (no, really, a board game based on oil production, empire building and terrorism) which turned out to be well thought out and very playable. Our rented house had radio, tv, dvd, vhs tape, cassette tape and cd players, and there was a Freesat service available- hundreds of channels and nothing to watch. I remain very uncertain if we are going to bother with digital tv when they turn off the analogue transmitters in the next year or so. The most interesting channel was Bonanza tv, which showed a western tv progamme and several other old U.S. shows which may have been out of copyright.

We visited the old St Anne's Church which dates back to about 1625 although the building itself may be older. This little church had closed and reopened several times, from church to day school to church to day school to Sunday school to mortuary chapel to abandonment to church! Since 1885 it has been a very "high church" and has amongst many other indicators, 14 stations of the cross on the walls.

The first Saturday was dedicated to street dance and we enjoyed some enthusiastic displays of various forms of Morris Dancing. A free concert on Sunday hardly seems to have happened. Indeed the festivals had their fare share of cancellations and no-event happenings. Festival events we did attend in addition to Norman's were an organ recital at St John's, a one hour talk by Lionel Blue in the Opera House (sold out- 800-ish seats sold) and a walk about town by a blue-badge guide talking about Vera Brittain (whose books we have read and enjoyed).

This was also the week of the local well dressings (well flowerings) where ancient (mostly dried up or moved) wells are decorated with boards filled with mud and with petals, leaves and wool stuck in the mud to form pictures. We went to the service of blessing for the St Anne's Well, which is still in constant use. St Anne's Well produces the original Buxton Water, as sold in very many shops. Odd really, the shops keep it in chiller cabinets, but the well produces it at a constant 28 degrees Fahrenheit. There are often folks there with five gallon plastic drums to fill up with free Buxton Water. This well has been in use since Celtic times and Roman offerings were made there as early as Claudius reign. Thomas Cromwell closed the well for a short period but not for long- and the healthy waters were available on the NHS at the (now closed) Devonshire Hospital.. The local swimming baths remain watered from the well, so it is still possible to bathe in the Buxton water, unlike at so many spa towns.

The weather stayed dry enough for us to enjoy a walk around Grin Low Woods and Corbar Woods- as Buxton is on well draining limestone, there wasn't much mud around despite the very wet Summer. After many years we revisited Poole's Cavern - quite improved since our last visit and much in the way of improvements in progress, the highish entry fee is being put to good use. This is another of Buxton's water resources that was known to the Celts and the Romans.

We also spent a day in Bakewell, where of course we enjoyed the unique Bakewell Pudding. We each ate two in the town, and bought a large one to take back to Buxton. George also bought a Homity Pie from Bloomers. Walking the field paths at Bakewell was not really practical due to the mud, but we did visit the excellent old house museum, built around the 1530's, and the somewhat rebuilt (but in the old style) parish church. Odd to see an old high nave with ceiling fans, but at least they were oak coloured. There was a large something which could have been a sculpture of some sort, very dark reddish above the altar, which could be the mentioned reredos by Gilbert Scott the Younger. Very dark and light absorbing it was impossible to make out what it could be, a huge dark scabrous thing with a definite air of evil. Very odd to find in a church.

Buxton has a wealth of quality eating establishments, so we mostly ate out. There is also a good wholefood shop (Wild Carrot), and an excellent five story second hand book shop (Scrivenors) where I found a new-to-me 1950's English SF Magazine, "Authentic Science Fiction" which I bought a couple of copies of. An extremely wet final day left us free to run to the local Museum in Buxton which has an excellent collection of Ashford Marble and many other local items of interest. If only they took the care to properly illuminate the "ghost pictures"- fine engravings made in the dark black marble, visible as a fine picture when lit from the right angle, but otherwise looking like a scratched rock. A book of engravings on display was of sufficient quality that my son wondered about the high quality of such old photographs (he did not think you could obtain so many tones in an engraving). It was a first class page of lithographed illustrations, carved in Switzerland, and very sharp and fine.


Part 2- August 2007 holidays

A week in Wales- Porthmadog this time (prior to 1974 known as Portmadoc).

We hired a two bedroom flat over a financial shop, in a Grade 2 listed building which was very close to the harbour - Porthmadog is a small port on a river. Built to serve the slate mines uphill in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Porthmadog has a famous narrow guage railway, and a slightly newer less famous much smaller one, The Welsh Highland (Porthmadog). There is a long history of costly dispute between the two lines, now settled with the WH(P) owning the rights to a small strip of line, and an agreement that they can use (when built) the full line to Caernarvon (operating Caernarvon up to Rhydd Ddu in 2007). At present the northern stretch from Caernarvon is operated by the WH(C) railway. We didn't ride on any of the narrow gauge trains this year. We did see a Bury based mainline steam loco, 76079, at Porthmadog- running one trip each weekday from Machynlleth and then back again. Publicity was very poor, you had to ring up for trip details and to book tickets, and short local journeys were not possible. It had under three dozen on board when we saw it.

In the wettest year ever, with floods and overfull rivers, walking was always going to be a problem. For two of our days there the Met Office had a severe weather warning out, so we spent those days exploring the lovely little local paths, which were fairly secretive but most enjoyable. Coed y Nursery near to the station is a pleasant woodland walk and we also passed Tremadog and its former church with an odd Coade stone arch decorated with elephant heads; a walk along the Cob and back is envigorating, or a walk along Llyn Bach (with views of the intended link to the Ffestiniog Railway), or a walk along the lane opposite the fire station, which crosses the WH(P) rail track, which has a footpath on its route in both directions.

We spent three days exploring the Coastal Path- badly waymarked, and often either none existant or under water! The walk from Porthmadog to Morfa Bychan is pleasant, spoiled only by the strange scarcity of waymarks around the golf club. We all managed to safely jump the river across the beach! The pleasant little village of Borth-y-Gest is passed en route.

We also walked East from Criccieth (after visiting the Castle) along what started as a pleasant pathway but with stretches diverting along the beach due to collapse, and one section close to collapse. When we came to the river (Afon Dwyfor) we hit trouble, with almost a kilometre of the pathway essentially underwater, with ankle deep mud and bog- the very moist sort rather than clingy mud. We reached Llanystumdwy, which has a creative town leaflet, lacking a map, and walked the full length of the bus route (off the main road) without seeing anyone or anything of the bustling busy village described.

Next was a visit to Pwllheli, and a lovely local nature reserve ( Cob Bach) then Eastwards along what is called the South Beach. We walked out on the high level (risking high velocity golf balls from the golf course crossing the path) and returning along the beach, seeing kites (birds and toys) and cormorants and oyster catchers. A very pleasant final day of our holidays. For almost six kilometres of beach we seemed to be the only people on it (admittedly the beach past Careg y Defaid was under water at the time...).

Naturally I took the opportunity of a further visit to Wales to purchase a selection of Welsh music, from soprano female singer, folk traditional , female singer with harp, light pop, and even a recording of Welsh bagpipes (pibddawn - only one drone plus the chanter). There were many bookshops in Porthmadog, and we left with more books than we took - second hand from charity shops, which had a good range. Local food was excellent and apart from our first day we did not visit the large supermarket near the station. The local bakeries were lovely- and I introduced Cathy to a new experience- buying a loaf and having it sliced to order - she had never heard of such a thing! There was a good wholefood shop (Vegonia) and for meals out, baked potatoes were readily available (we enjoyed the baking at Georgies) as well as fresh smoothies and fresh salads (Big Rock Cafe and Hotel (and Church)). We had previously met up with Cadwalladers Ice Cream in Llandudno, but on this holiday we met their other three establishments at Porthmadoc, Pwllheli, and their original shop in Criccieth. Evening food out was restricted (as we had previously discovered in Llandudno) and apart from one Indian meal out, we generally had Indian take-aways from Spirit of India. Very pleasant. George even managed to find a digital watch he had been searching for for some time - not the ever present Casio, but a Lorus (Seiko), whose mode switching he prefers.

We saw our first ever tornado, over Porthmadog- quite attractive white snaky tube against a very dark cloud.


===End of Holiday Section===

2006-

Even more cinema outings - goodness, have we gone main stream? Perhaps not... we enjoyed the Japanese anime Steamboy, which commenced locally, with a journey on the Heywood-Bury-Manchester railway (now partly the East Lancs Railway and partly the Metrolink)- beautifully researched, the train journey terminated in the correct platform at Manchester Victoria...

And Mirrormask, a low budget UK film, with some voice acting by well known actors, written by Neil Gaiman. Good film. When we got home we watched another of Neil's creations, his episode of Babylon 5.

February saw us at G-Mex (formerly Central Station and now renamed Manchester Central !) for Collectormania- the local version of Birmingham's Memorabilia but a little smaller and with more actors signing autographs. However, whilst the 1998 Birmingham autographs were just a fiver each, the Manchester autographs were twenty a piece, resulting in very short queues and probably a reduced income for the actors. Excellently organised, we obtained an autographed DVD by Robert Llewellyn which was excellent, and Robert Picardos second CD, also autographed. Picked up a second hand autographed autobiography by Michael Sheard (we bumped into him at our first Manchester Trek convention some years ago).

Having heard that Kenneth Cope was going to be there, I made up an A4 sheet for him to autograph - of screen grabs and reduced film poster from his first movie (X-The Unknown, 1956) where this fresh actor got sole full screen coverage - just before being killed about seven minutes into the film. Kenneth is still working, and was in The Bill in 2006 - he has appeared in many films and tv programmes, but remains almost unknown - apart from starring in Randall and Hopkirk. I did another print for Kenneth and also a computer disk with the images on, which he was pleased with.

We bought a few other things- notably a large Gremlin head cushion, and some film cels and stills from Lost, Firefly, and Wallace and Gromit.

Remind me not to run for a bus...ooops. March saw me do a high speed flying shoulder roll with the ascent terminated abruptly by a large shoulder bag, resulting in a posterior shoulder dislocation and a small fracture to the humerus. Ouch just about covers it. Fortunately near to a bus stop for a bus to the local A and E, probably faster than waiting for an ambulance. The intravenous morphine didn't do a great deal for me, but a neat little drug ensured that the joy of resetting the joint never made it into my long term memory. A few months of ongoing discomfort here, and some restricted movement to follow. Accch. I did a great shoulder roll, normally guaranteed to avoid injury. You come up as fast as you go down, so there is little real impact. However, wearing a heavy large shoulder bag, as I rolled back up, the strap kept my shoulder back. They should have health warnings!

The consultant originally thought manipulation under anaesthetic would be needed but having ascertained that I could not injure myself, I put great efort into the physiotherapy exercises, pleasing both the physiotherapist and bringing a welcome smile to the fracture consultant. Reasonable recovery after six months but still slightly uncomfortable to lie on that side.

Regular medical check on blood pressure causes an alert, with full blood check and ecg to follow, then 24 hour pressure monitoring, and possibly medication for life. Fortunately the cardiac consultant felt that although my BP was on the high side of normal, the increased risks matched rather well the small risks of medication, and left me off medication (for the time being anyway).Ho hum. Old age catches up. Being distinctly overweight (always have been) doesn't help much.

The TV program Lost, Season Two was a huge dissapointment, mostly shot in the dark in common with most modern American action drama, and with much ramped up conflict. Even outdoor shots were against the light, revealing nothing. Why bother with an image at all if you can't be bothered whether it is visible? Oh well. Stopped watching it. I gather original director Abrams went on to do some action movie or other.

Brought George home from Aberystwyth at the end of his fourth year, just a short visit back then for Graduation in July. A few months job hunting and then he started a job on a gross just a few hundred less that I earned at the bank after 35 years (and then three pay rises in 8 months leaving him on much more than I ever earned...). He does however have a student loan to pay off, the need to fund his own pension, and much increased housing costs compared to what we faced.

Enjoyed a local presentation on the stage of Pratchett's Lords and Ladies, presented by one of the oldest amateur dramatic societies in the land (founded 1901). A couple of prompts, some lines a bit too fast, but fun. You did need to have read the book to follow the stage action properly.

One of my old photographs (1974) was printed in a railway book- several folk have pictures of gas lamps at railway stations, but I seem to have taken one of very few of a railway station lit by gas light in the seventies- with the lamps lit.

Misfortunes again as our cat Paws seems to have been clipped by a passing car, injuring his ankle. He wore a light cast for four weeks and was left with a limp. Just the first day's treatment cost as much as I earn in a month... but Paws was clearly still his old bright self, still wanting cuddles. In view of his age the vet didn't want to go for surgery. 12 months of special diet seem to have pushed his heart and liver function back into the normal range.

We were at last able to let Paws out into the garden once the cast was off, and he was very good at staying in the back garden, struggling to the back to sit under a bush, and also using his scratching post. The temperature in the 30s (centigrade) did not seem to please him but he was alert under the bush, watching and sniffing everything. We had to leave him in a cattery when we went on holiday (next door to our vets), but he has always been happy there. This year I had a feeling he might not be seeing us again and said my farewells before we left him. Alas we had the phone call from the vet to tell us that Paws had got up on the morning of 8th August, greeted the cattery worker, and then died of a heart attack. The vet was immediately at hand but could do nothing for him. So I bought a slate slab and Paws is now back under his bush.

Around 10am waiting for a bus on the 8th I had a feeling of cat/ lost/ fright (to clarify- not terror, just the sensation of suddenly finding yourself somewhere else but where and how?) And subsequently I felt it likely that Paws had left us. For the next few hours I was also very appreciative of the sunshine coming through the trees and the sound of the birds. When we got home we found a message on the phone timed at 09.30 from the vet asking us to ring him- which we could not do until the morning of 9th.

For the first time for 32 years we are not owned by a cat. Things are very quiet.

There was an Autumn Collectormania, which we again went to this time obtaining the autographs of two of the Goodies, as well as having a chat with Leslie Philips, and the autograph of one of the voice actors on the BBC TV programme The Moomins (he said no-one had mentioned his work on the show before - he was better known for his voice work for Gerry Anderson). We again met and had a chat with Dwight Schulz, who is now mostly doing voice work. Bought an autographed copy of Robert Llewellyn's latest dvd - an odd little comedic drama in the IT vein.

Did some work on my website, introducing some use of access keys and light use of style sheets. More collecting of old records and videos.

Have now added the splendid monthly Ashton Sunday market to our list of places to buy high quality food - and we can even have black peas for our lunch.
Ashton can boast a huge range of "home made" cakes, Fitzpatricks excellent dandelion and burdock, sarsaparilla, and blood tonic (raspberry) cordials. Also some lovely Jamaican patties, beautiful very fresh goats cheese (and meat), lovely Lancashire cheese, vegetarian black pudding, and very fresh vegetables right from the farm. WE have even found fresh samphire on sale there (from Lancaster). Great place to visit.

Ashton has now largely replaced our monthly visit to Manchester Farmers Market (where we can also buy cakes, and some very nice meat - notably sausage and burgers with over 90% meat). And our resource for really good meat remains a great butcher in Glossop (superb burgers (the lamb burgers are out of this world) and sausage but also local lamb and beef. And nearby in Glossop is a splendid fruit and vegetable shop, whilst lunch can be had for a very low price. There is also a Glossop bakery that does a really nice Sally Lunn.


2007

At last Cathy joined me in Manchester Crown Court in a job share arrangement with each of us working a half week. For reasons best known to itself the Probation Service renominated us as "Case Administrators" and imposed a job description which had only the most distant and surreal resemblance to the work we actually do.

Comments about other years being wet are nothing compared to 2007, the wettest year on record. Fortunately the East coast took the worst water and Stockport avoided flooding, but we often got rather wet in our essential travels.

I rediscovered new anime and again started obtaining fan subtitled recordings from America, now of very high quality due to the digital process. However as DVD-R disks may not last as long as pressed DVDs, I have taken the old fashioned precaution of taping them to VHS as a long term backup (so long as we have working VHS players anyway).

Our outings for the year included coffee mornings at Stockport Plaza with three hours of music on the Compton organ, some Wurlitzer concerts at Stockport Town Hall, including what may have been the last by Arnold Loxam, who later announced his retirement (at age 90), and lunch time concerts at St Anne's Manchester. Also concerts at the Town Hall by Stockport Symphony Orchestra. We went to several films at the Plaza including the modern film Venus, which was introduced in person by Leslie Philips. We hugely enjoyed a concert by Barbara Dickson at the Plaza. Nigel Ogden made a return visit to St Elisabeth's Church in Reddish. A few brass band concerts at Vernon Park, Stockport Schools Brass Band in the Town Hall, and a concert by Poynton Youth Brass Band in Stockport's Hatworks museum.

We made our Good Friday pilgrimage to Ramsbottom and found a new way from the Peel Tower, going along what looked like a very old route through the church-yard. As well as visiting the Victoria Baths (just commenced phase one of restoration) we made our first visit to Gaskill House - the Manchester home of the the author Elizabeth Gaskill, which is in dire need of renovation. Little of the original ground floor decor has survived a period of use by Manchester University.

Heard from my original girl friend, Vivien, both I think happy to find we had survived our traumatic parting many years ago. Oddly Viv also now has a legal career.

Following the 2001 open day at Newton Heath Train Depot, the next one was in 2007, and we all went along. The remarkable instability of the UK privatised railway system meant that the depot was now in entirely different hands- no longer First but now Serco/NedRail. Many of the guest attendees never made it, however Serco had laid on a full depot tour, involving hi-vis vest, hard hat and safety goggles, which was quite different. They also had one of their three "fast" grinding trains there to look around, Loram C21-01. This was a special 7 car train - starting off as a class 47 diesel - with 64 grind stones capable of pro active rail grinding at 8 mph in one pass.
Steam engine 76079, which we met at Porthmadog the month before, was visiting with its Bury shed plate (26D) modified for the day to Newton Heath (26A). We travelled to the Dean Lane station nearby in a DMU 150268 with one carriage named The Manchester Rambler- Benny Rothman. I had known communist / socialist / walker Benny during my time working for the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society. We had a pleasant return journey to the Manchester Bus Museum on an old half-cab open platform double decker.

At last the five rotten windows were replaced with uPVC windows- now with the obligatory 16mm double glazing width, and safety low-emission glass. One of the wooden lintels was very badly rotted (and very wet) and had to be replaced - with a mere 12mm thick slab of stainless steel. This also involved the removal and replacement of some rendering and repointing of brickwork- two of the bricks had been wet so long they had become rather soft. The water seems to have entered at a joint in the rendering that had opened up. Due to the building work this year we missed the Great Northern Brass Festival.

Then we had a visit to the 2007 Fairground Organ Preservation Society North Western Rally at Victoria Park in Widnes. This time we went on a Saturday and found rather fewer organs than previously. In 2006 we bought some 16 organ CDs, but this year none were on offer- the statutory obligatory copyright monopolies, who do not pay anything to smaller composers, seem to have made the recording of unique niche music quite impossible. Some of the organ music exists only on one antique music roll (composer, title, arranger all unknown) - and will disappear completely when that wears out. Some video clips of organs at the rally were found on YouTube.

A couple of new organs for us were a medium sized organ from Wilhelm Bruder Sohne, called "The Royal Bruder", and the Lythgoe families "Marenghi" organ- possibly the loudest present. There were a lot of tiny organs, including the two listed from Aberystwyth. Two new private build organs quite took our fancy- one called Christina with a separate xylophone, and one from John Smith which had a melodeon and a lovely amplified set of chimes. There was also a midi-based duet between a medium sized free standing organ and a free-standing accordian.
The Reeder Family Gavioli was there as was the former Tom Smith's Gavioli plus Whites formerly Mammoth Gavioli (cut down in 2000 and bearing the awful word Millenium, forever now to be associated with short term endeavours, poor taste, and design disasters!).

The Sunday following we went to Ashton market and I picked up a limited signed edition set of audio tapes read by and autographed by Spike Milligan, his war-time biography, some 18 hours of audio. One of these tapes appears to have been badly manufactured and was in reverse - as the cassette was sealed I could not take the -in any case risky - option of respooling, and instead used a very useful audio computer programme Audacity to recover the recording. Whilst in Stockport bus station we saw a very unusual black half cab double decker bus, quite an odd shape. We discovered that this was a 1956 build (AEC / Regent) for East Yorkshire to pass under Beverly Arch. All withdrawn by 1972, East Yorkshire bought one back in 1990, and this was the other one, in private hands, going on a trip from Halifax to Staffordshire and stopping off at Stockport for a rest and a coffee.

George has made his first international plane journey, his first trip outside the UK, without incident, on behalf of his employer- at extremely short notice!

After a gap of many years I revisited the Birmingham Memorabilia show - on my own as George and Cathy were not interested. I met and chatted with Leslie Phillips, Geoffrey Bayldon, Norman Lovett (who was selling his new stand-up comedy DVD), and two lovely ladies of about my age. First up was Caroline Munro, star of the odd Italian made SF film Starcrash (for some reason sold in the USA as Female Space Invaders). Caroline was pleased that I recalled her appearance with Frankie Howerd and indicated she would like to have done more comedy.
Then on to the beautiful Madeline Smith, who was delighted I remembered her on The Two Ronnies and also her appearance with Frankie Howerd. She indicated that she would very much like a photo of herself with Arthur Lowe, and as I thought I could oblige, she gave me her phone number and home address. I was able to help her with this and later had a very nice letter of thanks.

We have discovered -at last- somewhere to eat in Stockport, although only in the evenings - an Indian restaurant somewhat outside the town centre, called Coriander Lounge, very low key and nearly unknown, hence very quiet, but with a large menu, and the dread word "curry" not to be seen anywhere. (And it closed very shortly. Aaagh).


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