Archive | December 2016

George Michael

I caught the breaking news last night regarding George Michael.

I wasn’t a great fan and whilst I recognised his voice and songs (both solo and with Wham!), I don’t actually have any of his music on the CD racks or on my iTunes setup.

The guy was talented though, reaped a host of rewards via his talents, but also came unstuck with a series of high profile problems or incidents along the way which weren’t covered up or made to disappear as is sometimes the case with some major stars. Allegedly.

The tributes are all out there on TV, online and presumably in the papers too ( I haven’t been into any shops today and there weren’t any lying around in the pub that Caroline were in at Malham this lunchtime.

I suspect that more will be coming our way in the coming days, weeks and months and that his music may be heading back into the charts here in the UK when the latest single and album charts are announced on Friday…

Rick Parfitt

I’ve mentioned a couple of times on wisepacking that Caroline and I had a great night out in Blackpool earlier in the year when we went to the first night of Status Quo’s Last Of The Electrics tour.

It’s sheer coincidence that we watched the latest Quo compilation DVD on Thursday night as there was nowt on TV and it was only lunchtime today that I was looking at the band’s website.

Little did we know what was going to be announced a couple of hours ago…

I’ve seen Status Quo play at least five times now – Caroline only saw them for the first time in Blackpool – and I interviewed Rick Parfitt twice during my days as a music journalist.

Rick was one of the best interviewees that I’ve talked to. No airs and graces, friendly and a good laugh too.

There’s quite a bit online already, but The Guardian has this as part of its’ range of tribute features. The reader comments are worth reading too.

In a world of bland music and blander ‘stars’, Rick Parfitt will be missed..

Holiday fever?


UK or not UK? That is the question…

Plans and bookings have been made for 2017 and there are ideas in the melting pot for others in the UK and Europe.

Airlines, holiday companies and hotel chains are already sending me emails regarding their offers for next year whilst Expedia have just awarded me + Silver status on their rankings, something that goes alongside the Genius status awarded by earlier this year.

[I will hasten to add at this point that I personally don’t regard myself as a genius in any way, shape or form – I know what my school results were and that my degree from University Of Sunderland is a Desmond (a 2:2).]

But I digress. I suspect that there will be a few more emails over the coming months giving me more details of what their promotions are.

Yes, I’ve unsubscribed from one accommodation provider’s email list as I was getting so many emails alerting me to deals going on in places I’ve already been to over the last twelve months and to deals in places that I’ve already booked for in early 2017.

I already know what Rohan’s sale items are though as a catalogue arrived via snail mail earlier in the week and this has been backed up by an email a few minutes ago.

Items of interest have been identified and that’s to my advantage as I decided not to take up the offer on a 20% off full price stock voucher for use in the Leeds store a couple of Saturdays ago.

Have the prices gone down? Yes, and by more than 20% – one will have a 30% reduction whist the other has a 50% reduction.

They’re both fleeces, but they will come in useful as a couple of existing fleeces have seen better days.

A couple of t-shirts have also caught my eye too as selected colours in the Element T and Merino Union 200 T ranges are also being given the 30% off treatment come Tuesday 27th…

The above will come in useful as Caroline and I head off to either European destinations or those here in the UK.

We haven’t been up to Scotland for a while now and whilst Caroline has been to both Northern Ireland and Isle of Man, I haven’t – yet!

I’ve not been up to the Borders for a while and it’s a few years since we spent time in the Lake District. Our North Norfolk hideaway has changed management recently, so a few days may be spent in one of the hostel’s en-suite rooms or on one of their campsite pitches.

A return visit to Suffolk could be on the cards, as could London or Brighton and Hastings. My last visit to Brighton was way back in the 1960s and whilst Caroline and King Harold have seen Hastings, I haven’t…

Anything else? Have a good holiday season, wherever you are in the world!

And that pic?* Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, Wales

TV or not TV II


Wells, Somerset – or is it Sandford, Gloucestershire?

Well, I missed two films when I looked through Radio Times yesterday…

The first is on tonight on ITV2 at 9pm – Hot Fuzz.

Good cast, good lines and a mad shoot-out near the end as the good guys take on the opposition. Cornettos are optional!

The second is on ITV3 at 8.55 tomorrow morning.

The script has loads of quotable lines whilst the soundtrack includes a bone fide hit single too. Bogart, Bergman and Peter Lorre are all in there, as are the usual suspects…

The film?

The one and only Casablanca…

Here’s looking at you kid.

TV or not TV?

Yes, the holiday fortnight is upon us, as is the seasonal selection of programmes and films destined to be on our screens (or not)…

We gave Strictly, SPOTY and The Apprentice a miss and as Caroline was out on Saturday night, I caught up on an episode of Endeavour series 3 and the first couple of episodes of To Play The King (with Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart).

Last night’s viewing was two episodes of a sixties classic – the first series of The Man From Uncle in glorious black and white. Sharp editing, sharp suits and a hint of what was to come gadget-wise too. Not much screen time yet though for Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum gets more in his average appearance in NCIS fifty plus years after his role as Napoleon Solo‘s Russian sidekick).

There’s more of a travel feeling to a programme highlighted in the Radio Times at 6pm on BBC2 over the next three nights – The Real Marigold Hotel. Six personalities head to India and it’s interesting to see who they all cope with the experience.

Four are back for follow-ups on experiences in Miami and Tokyo soon and there’s a new set of names heading to India for the second series of The Real Marigold Hotel.

In the meantime though, there’s always the film that inspired the reality show – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which has been given an early evening Film 4 slot on Sunday 25th – albeit in an edited format (I somehow suspect that the DVD of the same title will hit the player around the same time as a way of avoiding edits and adverts).

The Beeb are showing a of their few home-grown films too – The Lady In The Van, Pride, What We Did On Our Holidays and Saving Mr Banks.

Anything else? Well there’s a bit of Yorkshire in the air at 9pm on Thursday 29th as The Brontes come to the fore on BBC1 whilst over on BBC Four there’s a bit of slow TV as The Flying Scotsman takes to the tracks of the Severn Valley Railway at the same time…

There should have been another programme to watch at 9pm on the same day, but that’s been pulled from the schedules. Truck mechanic, bike racer and adventurer Guy Martin started an attempt in early December to ride around Britain on a pedal cycle with the aim of covering around 4800 miles in twenty days.

After 800 miles in four days and eight hours, an achilles tendon injury brought the attempt to a close at John O’Groats. One suspects that Guy will try again once he’s recovered from the injury problem…

Will we be watching It’s A Wonderful Life again? Possibly…

And might I be watching the film that’s become my favourite one set on December 24th?More than likely, even though it will be at home rather than in a cinema this time. It’s Bruce Willis, that colour changing white vest and Alan Rickman

Yippie-ki-yay, it’s Die Hard!


A useful link…

Don’t usually do links to charity stories on wisepacking, but this story has just caught my eye so I am making an exception!!!

Silent running…


Ola… or should that be Hola?

I’ve been sorting a few things out over the last couple of weeks or so since my last post, have visited one or two places that I’ve never been before and I’ve been trying to do some shopping.

Food is always the easiest one to sort out, even at this time of the year, especially when supermarkets are kicking out discount vouchers left, right and centre.

Not that I’m complaining, but the thirty odd pounds worth of coupons from Tesco and Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s have ensured that we’ve stocked up on coffee, food and drink before the seasonal madhouse usually found in UK supermarkets at this time of year.

Our baskets and trollies have been empty compared to some we’ve seen, even though supermarkets and other shops are typically closed for one day over the next fortnight or so.

Our last minute shopping run is probably going to be confined to milk, bread and any bits and pieces we’ve forgotten about rather than a humungous pile of stuff that would probably pile on the pounds (or kilos depending on your location) and increase the waistline.

The supermarket loyalty cards aren’t the only ones kicking out vouchers or offers. The M&S one ensured that I got two plain black cotton t-shirts priced at £6.00 each for a till total of just £4.60 thanks to a 20% off t-shirts promo offer and a simultaneous £5.00 Just For You code being added onto my card when I checked it on the in-store terminal.

Shopping for stuff that’s been around for a while has also paid dividends – £5 for the first series of the Kevin Spacey take on House Of Cards was one offer that was taken up, as was that for a long sleeved Rohan Stratum polo shirt that’s just been ordered (£47 reduced to 37.50 with the added benefits of free delivery) and a rare decision to buy some Merrell shoes from John Lewis as a) there was a 20% off promo on the go b) free delivery and c) the added benefit of having a £5 gift card that was sent to me by the John Lewis loyalty card people earlier in the week…

Playing ones loyalty cards right hasn’t been the only way that we’ve saved money recently.

My folding bike needed some new tyres, and Caroline needed a new spare for her bike too. As neither were needed immediately, I tried to get them three weeks ago at a bike shop in a nearby city. And failed, largely because the assistant got a bit arsey with me…

The same company got the sale for that Panaracer Gravel Kingfor Caroline’s bike, two Schwalbe Marathons plus three Schwalbe inner for my folder , but over the Internet rather than in their local branch.

Savings? £2 on the Panaracer and £6 each on the Schwalbe Marathons compared to prices in other retailers…

Fortunately it’s been a different story in other bike shops recently where the staff were only too happy to help out, even though we were only in search of socks, energy bars and new skid lids.


Caroline at Tan Hill Inn, North Yorkshire, May 2016.

Step forward then Sowerby Brothers in Mirfield and the Leeds branches of Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative and Evans Cycles.

Caroline had had a spot of work done on her bike at Sowerby Brothers a few weeks ago whilst out on a club ride, so she headed there to sort out a bike service last Thursday whilst I stocked up on Clif Bars.

Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative have been a pleasure to do business with for years now, as have Evans Cycles.

A set of lights plus a fluorescent Specialized helmet was bought by myself a few weeks ago (Caroline renewed her lid there too) and when Caroline needed some warm merino wool based cycling socks a fortnight ago, these came courtesy of Evans Cycles, as did an extra front light for the folder.

So, will the money we’ve saved be used to buy coffee, beer and tapas in Andalucia next year?

You might think that, but I couldn’t possible comment…