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Leeds v Manchester!

So much for spending today in Manchester!

Caroline and I took an early bus towards our preferred railway station this morning, only to find that trains heading west were either running very late or cancelled altogether.

Plan B was easy – get the bus to Leeds and do our shopping there. Simples!

Managed to get everything we were looking for (new bike lights and inner tubes for Caroline in the wake of last night’s club ride and some socks and a new copy of the classic Bogart and Bergman film Casablanca for me).

With lunch at Roots and Fruits and some good coffee and cake at M&S’ cafe, it was quite a grand day out!

Here’s to 2018!

thumb_DSCN2365_1024Here’s to 2018!

Nothing has been firmed up yet for 2018, but there are a few ideas in the melting pot that may (or may not) reach the fruition stage later in the year…

Clues? Where we’re going, we don’t need clues!

Spainpacking on Rohantime!


Down the avenues and alleyways in Cordoba..

As you may have gathered, Caroline and I have bought a few bits and pieces from Rohan over the years and regularly use their clothing along with items from other brands when we’re off travelling or even when we’re just mooching around Yorkshire.

My recent Spainpacking post from wisepacking has been posted on Rohantime this morning along with a trio of photos that you may recognise…

Thanks again Sarah!

The links to Rohantime and Rohan’s sites…

Weather or not…


One fine day… just not today!

We were expecting to wake up to find snow covering the roads, pavements and car here at Wisepacking Towers given yesterday’s weather forecasts.

It may arrive later of course, but we have things to do and places to go, so it may or may not impinge on our plans.

Whilst the forecast wasn’t right for this morning, yesterday’s was spot on – high winds for most of the day with some disruption.

For most of our surrounding area this meant that there was a spread of rubbish and a batch of disposed disposable nappies over the road and pavement as bins had been put out for collection by the bin trucks last week rather than today when the collection is supposed to take place…

No nappies here though – just a neighbour’s trampoline invading parts of our back garden after being lifted up and deposited by the fence around 3am.

Parts of the trampoline structure ended up in our garden whilst an ornamental chimney pot suffered the same fate as a few garden gnomes.

The trampoline has been moved and weighted down, but there’s a bit of repair work that needs to be done to the fence.

And the garden gnomes? We can rebuild them without consulting the Gnome Office or a copy of Rolling Gnome magazine.

One tube of super glue should do the trick as there’s no need for any to them to become the Six Million Dollar Gnome as none are modelled on Lee Majors (yes, that’s a gratuitous 1970’s TV series reference just there that some may have to Google to find out more about…).

So what can you do when the weather’s taking a walk on the wild side?

Get the guidebooks out and start planning the next batch of trips or sit and watch some travel based TV.

We made a point of watching Rick Stein’s programme about a weekend in Lisbon last night whilst demolishing one of Caroline’s home made fish pies.

Plenty of memories of time spent in Lisbon, Sintra and beyond and yes, there were a few places that we’d been too and eaten in too.

Whilst we’d both pass on seafood dishes or any potentially cheeky pork stews, we have eaten well on our visits to Lisbon, Sintra, Porto (see below) and elsewhere in Portugal.

Some have featured in guidebooks, others haven’t and yes, I have spotted one or two Hollywood names eating out a table or two away from us.

None of that matters though so long as the food, wine and beer are good.

We don’t take photos of our plate or frequent places lauded by foodies or loaded down with stars. We don’t need to be in flash surroundings either, something that we do have in common with Rick Stein after watching that Lisbon programme last night…


Regaleira, Porto – no pretensions, but good food and drink!

All is quiet…


Sunshine – but not today!

Well, it was a quiet night last night – no noise from the neighbours and only mild use of fireworks.

Looking out of the window at the moment and yes, it’s still raining so it’s a day in rather than heading out anywhere (one of our local pubs doesn’t do grub on New Year’s Day and the other one serves beef that can be pink and bloody whilst our favourite veggie place is rather closed today…).

So there’s books to read and programmes to watch plus time to look at the weather prospects for Monday and Tuesday so we can get out and about.

No Internet or bricks and mortar shopping though – the Rohan sale order was placed and has arrived whilst the other items I wanted were bought in the visit to the big city last Wednesday.

In the meantime, this restaurant review made me smile earlier…

Yes, Jay Rayner strikes again and doesn’t chicken out either!

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!


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…