Caroline and I had a great night out last Thursday.
First night of the latest tour by Status Quo in a standing venue in the wilds of Blackpool (and it was wild thanks to the combined effects of wind, rain and hailstones as we made our way from Blackpool North railway station to the guest house we were staying in for the night).
It was a great show with all the hits and a bit more. This was the fifth time that I’ve seen Status Quo, but it was the first time for Caroline and she was more than happy when they opened the show by playing her song – Caroline!
I can honestly say that it’s the first time that I’ve been made to bounce up and down in a venue as the show was taking place in the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.
The Empress Ballroom has a sprung wooden floor and boy did the floor move when everyone started to react to the songs being played onstage.
There will be more about the gig and Blackpool over the next week or so, but there are a couple of things that I didn’t understand about the audience.
Yes, I took a few pics on a digital compact camera, but many were consistently raising their phones to take shots throughout the show or to take video clips.
Now I could understand this in a gig with an audience of teenagers, but most (but not all) of the perpetrators were blokes around the 50 year old mark.
One person did however take the biscuit.
A bright young thing to my left decided to take shots on her phone throughout the show and also tweeted or received messages every couple of minutes or so.
Did I hope that she would drop her glass of whatever and black over the phone? Maybe…
Did I hope that she would drop the phone and it would somehow be kicked into oblivion when it fell, never to be used again?
You might think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment…
Greetings from a partially snow covered Yorkshire.
It’s bright, it’s sunny and there’s snow on the ground – just a light cover mind, but snow nevertheless.
It’s not going to last though.
The brisk walk up to the local shop an hour ago wasn’t through a full covering of snow and a quick glance out of the window now I’m back indoors has revealed that the multicoloured gnomes in the back garden have lost their frosty coating.
There is a breeze though and the temperatures are low, hence the choice of layers for that walk.
Which were pretty much the same as what I’d have chosen had I been heading out for a wander through the woods to the pub or for a day out with a pack in the country or on the hill.
First up was an Icebreaker merino base layer, then a Patagonia Snap Neck fleece pullover and then a North Face Nuptse 900 LTD down jacket. On the legs were a pair of Peter Storm soft shell trousers, a pair of Bridgedale socks and a pair of Salomon boots.
Result? Warm and toasty all the way there and back…
If I had been in the country or on the hill, then the chances are that the Nuptse would be in my pack and used when lunch or coffee breaks were declared.
I’d probably be wearing a fleece gilet and a soft shell instead (the old faithful TNF hooded soft shell has just been reproofed with Nikwax Soft Shell proofing) and have a pair of gloves and a mountain cap in the pockets, just in case. Oh, and a pair of base layer leggings too.
The choices aren’t too far removed from what Caroline was wearing earlier when she took Frosty The Snowbike out for its first spin. Frosty is her old Dawes hybrid bike that’s had winter tyres fitted and works a treat (especially now that the brakes have been fixed – the tyre fitter [not me or Caroline!] forgot to reconnect the brake cables)…
A base layer, bike shirt, fleece and reflective waterproof jacket do the job in virtually all weathers on both her leisure rides and her early morning/late evening commutes to and from work.
But layering doesn’t have to be used solely outdoors. We both wear layers around the house over the winter months – they keep us warm and comfortable and help keep the bills down so we’re not laying down the foundations for big gas bills later in the year.
Does it work? Yes, as it was a tactic I first used thirty-odd years ago as the first house I had after leaving home was an exposed, not very insulated farmhouse with single glazing.
We’ve also used the same techniques elsewhere too, most recently in a place that had a wood burner in the lounge.
Not saying it was cold, but we were both in there wearing merino base layers, fleece pullovers and down vests and were just about warm!
Mind you, it was even colder down on the beach the following day – thank goodness for high quality down jackets!
I’ll be going into more layering next week as there’s a round-up of base layer principles and some product reviews too happening on wisepacking.
The snow may be melting now here in Yorkshire, but it’s going to be back…
And we’re prepared for it – right down to the home baked cheese scones that are being baked this afternoon and a good bit of comfort food for tea.
Beef stew with dumplings and mashed potatoes. Cooked from scratch, not from a tin or a supermarket freezer section!
Yes, we’re twelve days into 2015 and if the news/opinion/conjecture is anything to go by, it could be a good year for travelling.
Will the exchange rate (pound v euro for example) stay favourable?
Will air fares come down thanks to the price of oil and changes to APD charges?
Will George bite the bullet on Budget Day and drop APD charges as a sweetener in the run-up to the election in May?
Will more people head off to foreign shores as a result?
Or will they stay at home in the UK and take advantage of the current lower fuel prices?
And lower food prices if self catering thanks to supermarket wars?
Will travellers cut down on tech and talk to real people in hostels and destinations rather than immersing themselves in what’s onscreen on their smartphones, tablets or laptops?
Or realise that you can travel on hand luggage only, even if it’s a three-six month trip?
(I suspect that the lady Caroline and I were talking to in Tavira may have cut down on her bag sizes after seeing our Osprey packs. A few Brits staying in the same hotel were similarly gobsmacked when they saw us checking out on our last day there…)
Or realise that by flying hand luggage only, you can cut out hold luggage and bag in the cab boot charges – more money for nights on the town, a better meal or sightseeing…
Or realise that staying in one, two or three places rather than five, six, seven or more can be a more worthwhile experience as you can see more, pay less, relax and linger over breakfast rather than rushing out for a train to get to the next port of call…
(Best example of this is the American guy I met who had arrived in Bergen that morning, had joined the Norway In A Nutshell tour and was heading to Oslo from Myrdal then onwards to Stockholm and then to Helsinki – Scandinavia ticked off in 24 hours! D’oh…)
Our trip list for 2015 has been discussed, but there’s a couple of late suggestions going into the melting pot.
One is a visit to Northern Ireland to visit Bushmills, Giant’s Causeway and the Armoy motor cycle road races.
The other is to visit a place that’s been mentioned a few times, but has come to the fore once more thanks to the book I’ve just finished reading, watching Casablanca last week and news stories over the last few days.
I’ve walked in the Jura and in Provence, but we’ve never been to Paris.
Greetings from a sunny and chilly West Yorkshire!
A good reminder yesterday of how good food is in Yorkshire without having to go to an establishment with stars…
A good bacon buttie that wouldn’t defy a politician’s attempts to eat it for lunch whilst the car was being sorted out in the Brighouse branch of Kwik Fit next door and then some fine Yorkshire cooking before a classic film last night.
Chicken Dansak with rice for Caroline, Lamb Bhuna with chapatis for me plus a meat mix starter and salad delivered to the door. Empty food containers and very clean plates tell their own story!
The film? Not Puss In Boots that’s for sure – we watched something in black & white that has a load of quotable lines.
Here’s looking at you kids!
Most enjoyable films
Most enjoyable piece of music
Happy by Pharrell Williams – the only song that caught my attention in 2014. Yes, the music scene has changed somewhat since my days of seeing more than 160 bands in a year!
Most enjoyable television programmes (as seen here in the UK – not sure whether they’re available elsewhere!)
Great Continental Railway Journeys – is Michael Portillo stepping into Palin’s (Michael, not Sarah!) shoes as our leading travel broadcaster?
Speed with Guy Martin – still crashing (at 90 miles an hour with just a scratch on his crash helmet in the last one of the latest series), but getting various records along the way.
Marshall amplifier documentary on BBC4 – can’t remember the exact title, but it was the story of the UK’s iconic rock amp brand
My Autobiography by Guy Martin
The Moon’s A Balloon by David Niven
The People’s Songs: The Story Of Modern Britain In 50 Records by Stuart Maconie
UK Destinations (further afield on the agenda for 2015!)
Suffolk – unexpected pleasure that’s going to get at least one return visit. There will be a piece on here in early 2015.
North Norfolk – the place of many visits now. Relaxing, peaceful and a delight. There will be a piece on here in early 2015 too!
Langdale Valley – two visits in a month. No mobile phone reception and the week in an apartment was nice and quiet – unlike the two campsites visited over the August Bank Holiday weekend. That weekend was a one-off, because I don’t usually head off on a Bank Holiday!
Up the Langdale Valley from above Elterwater Village
The view from Southwold Pier – complete with inland lighthouse…
Take your pick of those on the North Norfolk coast…
Flixton Air Museum, Suffolk – wasn’t in the guide books, a poster was spotted on the notice board at a camp site.
National Media Museum, Bradford – first visited in 2000, plenty of other visits since!
Salt’s Mill, Saltaire – galleries, a good book shop, art shop, home shop, outdoor shop and a busy diner too.
Fodder Bailey’s Torte at Treeby’s Gallery Cafe, Keswick
Bacon, sausage and egg bun, Devil’s Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale – look for the motorbikes and you’ve found the right place!
Lamb Rogan Josh and Chapatis at The International, Bradford – good choice before or after a film at the nearby National Media Museum or a show at The Alhambra (or a gig by The Mission at Rio’s).