View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Friday, 26 June 2020

Socially distanced music session. 24th June 2020

…with cake!

Ed kindly offered the use of his back garden to sit and play music whilst maintaining a safe and sensible distance from one another. 

It was a rather hot day, knocking 30degC – that’s a lorra lorra degrees C.
We drank refreshing tea, we scoffed delicious Victoria Sponge (baked by Ed’s lovely wife), and played music that left us invigourated, refreshed…and maybe just a bit hot and sweaty.

Up until now(ish) our music sessions have been more or less restricted to online Zooming – along with all it’s limits.

Music via Zoom is all very well, it helps you keep your hand in, but there’s nowt like playing together – separated yet in a group.

So that’s precisely what we did, and that is exactly what we’re going to keep doing until it’s safe to do otherwise. 

We’re waiting for pubs to re-open. Singing and playing music in a pub is likely to be a no-no for a while, most likely until an effective vaccine becomes available. In the meantime the possibilities of playing outside pubs, ie beer gardens, is looking to be the best option. 

Here’s a little of what we played at Ed’s – recorded by Mrs Ed (baker of the finest of Victoria Sponges): 


Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Domestic Stuff 23rd June 2020

I’m preparing to move house, my ‘new’ home is actually my old one. I spent my first 16 years living in it – it’s going to feel more than a bit odd moving back.

I’ve had to spend a huge amount of time and muscle tidying the garden, it had been VERY neglected in recent years – to describe it as an unkempt jungle wouldn’t be far off the mark. Whilst I lack the green fingers of my late father, it would be nice to be able to return it to at least some of it’s former glory. 

So (I hate sentences that begin with ‘so’) as well as clearing the house of junk, rubbish and general muckiness, the last few months have been spent working on the garden, digging out established weeds, trying to renovate the lawn, clearing the greenhouse of triffids, creating an earth system for my aerial system, and quite a lot more.

I should have taken ‘before and after photos’, but the enormity of the task ahead was such that it was the last thing on my mind.

Anyroadup. Most of the weeds and unwanted, old and unruly plants were chopped up in my garden shredder and are being composted. I picked up an old but serviceable compost tumbler bin thingy from Ebay – that’s proved invaluable, breaking down the garden horribleness into usable compost in a couple of months.
 That green thing is the compost tumbler

I should point out that my knowledge of gardening is minimal….probably less than that. T’interweb and a very knowledgeable friend have pointed me in the right direction and have helped me avoid any major disasters. So far.

Dad was justifiably very proud of his roses, unfortunately the most recent occupant of the house neglected just about every aspect of the property – including Dad’s roses. I think I’ve now rescued about 40% of the roses, the rest were sadly beyond redemption. 

The latest state of play is that I’m now growing a load of vegetables and some fruit.
Whilst I’m not going to be self-sufficient by any means I’m hoping to be enjoying organically produced fruit and veg well into the autumn.

Rhubarb (Timperley Early). From Primrose Cottage Nursery. It’s in a large tub and is growing like the clappers. Also another rhubarb (unknown variety, but rescued from a previous home in Timperley. Growing like billy-o in tubs.

Rhubarb in tubs and and potatoes in fabric bags

I'm growing strawberries from Primrose Cottage: growing well but no sign of fruit….yet.
Also Blackberries from Primrose Cottage: growing well and just starting to show signs of fruiting.

Raspberries (yellow) – from Primrose Cottage. Delicious! My dreams of making raspberry jam are unlikely to be realised….I keep eating the fruit. 

Tomatoes, from seed. Loads. Half came from a favourite tomato I buy from Aldi: ‘Regal’. The other half from seed. I can’t remember the variety.

Sweet peppers: from seeds from Aldi peppers.

Butternut squash, cucumber, and courgettes. All from seed. 

There’s a load of other stuff on the go too: lettuce, carrots beetroot, red onions, spring onions, sage, rosemary, mint, loads of potatoes... Oh, and there’s an unkempt apple tree.

One problem I’m facing, garden-wise, is the very intrusive and quite persistent Mare’s Tail. This ghastly waxy weed has made it’s way from the empty property next door.

 Next door's Mare's Tail problem...rapidly becoming my problem too
 I keep digging the stuff up as soon as it appears but it’s an ongoing battle to keep it at bay. I’m determined not to use weedkiller, I gather the waxy skin of the plant makes it very tolerant of chemicals that would see other plants off at a range of 100 metres. 

The good news is that I messaged my very knowledgeable friend earlier, after she’d stopped laughing at my predicament she promised to pay me a visit and suggest a battle plan. 

This very enjoyable project continues :-)

I spent some dosh at Styal’s very excellent Primrose Cottage Nursery. Caroline, who runs the show, really knows her stuff. If you’re local to South Manchester / North Cheshire, that’s the place to go. None of your coffee shop / craft shop nonsense, just plants. And knowledge.

Monday, 22 June 2020

A Rural Bike Ride 22nd June 2020

Rob (not THAT Rob, the other one) has entertained his neighbours once a week for the last couple of months of Covid-19 lockdown, sitting outside his house, playing music & singing not-at-all rude songs.

I cycled over to Lymm to join him for a couple of hours, along with Mark & Jan. It was a pleasant way to pass a couple of hours.

Half my route was on quiet roads and cycleways, the rest was on the canal towpath and the Transpennine Trail. It was around 10 miles each way – not very far at all.

At Rob’s we were well spaced-out (physically, not mentally), yet close enough to be able to communicate clearly.

Rob is, amongst many other things, a motorcyclist – visiting his man cave gave me the chance for a good drool:

We were treated to a flypast of the guppy:

Once we’d bored the socks of our street audience we retired to the back garden for butties, a cuppa, and a bowl of Rob’s very excellent spicy tomato soup.

 The Bar
Then it was time to go, retracing my route back home.

 Horrible Giant Hog Weed by the River Bollin

The Bay Malton pub – soon to be a house:

Marguerite's boat:

 The redevelopment of the L&M site continues:

Any idea what this is? It looks like the base of an old lamp post - but on the Bridgewater Canal towpath:

I've watched these little 'uns grow over the months:

So that was it, thanks to Rob for the invitation and his hospitality – It was a very welcome diversion from house renovation, gardening, feeling sorry for myself, brewing beer, making wine etc.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Summer Solstice 2020, Alderley Edge 20th June 2020

For the last few years I’ve walked up to Alderley Edge, home of Wizards, Witches, King Arthur & his Knights, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, footballers etc, to celebrate the Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year.

Summer Solstice 2018 

Summer Solstice 2019

This year the Solstice fell on 20th June.
I usually camp out, but this year camping wasn’t possible, Covid-19 and all that. So….

At 3.40am (that’s the 3.40am in the morning) I drove to Alderley Edge and met up with fellow members of Bollin Morris, and some new(ish) and older friends who know the area, both above and below ground, rather well.

You might want to read about the very fine Derbyshire Caving Club's very significant involvement in Alderley Edge's mines, caves and it's history.

Sunrise was due at 4.41am but a bit of inconveniently placed cloud meant that the sun’s golden orb wasn’t visible until a couple of minutes later.

No matter.

It was incredibly peaceful, the silence only disturbed by a not very loud morning chorus.

 Suzanne celebrating the Solstice Sunrise

When the sun made it’s glorious appearance the moment was celebrated by the blowing of a horn. It was all quite magical, very special – witnessing it all was very much a privilege.

The slight mist became illuminated before slowly burning of in the warming light.

As the sun rose long shadows appeared on the lower ground. colours changed, it was what photographers call the golden hour. Not much use to me, I’m a rubbish photographer – not like Rob who’s photos are always imaginative and catch the eye. And they’re in focus and exposed properly. 

Nowt like mine then.

The Morris danced, songs were sung, and stories were told. 

 Rob's video of Bollin Morris dancing on The Edge

It was a very happy and quite extraordinary occasion – you really had to be there to appreciate it.

Alderley Edge is riddled with tunnels and caves, the side has in invitation to dance underground at some time in the future - now that really WILL be fun!

Many thanks to everyone who turned out, and to Suzanne, Steve and friends for being so welcoming!

Photos of the day, from Me, Rob, Patrick, Vanessa, Suzanna, Hannah, maybe more…I’ve lost count.

Suzanne’s Hearth of Albion blog – WELL worth a gander.

Socially distanced music session. 24th June 2020

…with cake! Ed kindly offered the use of his back garden to sit and play music whilst maintaining a safe and sensible distance from one...