Saturday, December 31, 2016


Approaching the end of the year I've been reflecting on the things that matter. I'm in a good place with respect to most of these, and aware, I hope, of just how lucky I am in being so. To take one example, and a vitally important one, I seem, as does Noi, to be reasonably healthy. We did quite a bit of walking on our recent trip, often wondering if we were hitting the 10,000 steps a day that's said to be so good for us. At the end of our holiday we had firm evidence in the form of data from Noi's smart phone that we had generally exceeded that target in a big way. It seems that the phone tracks the number of your steps even if you don't tell it to. Fifi showed us the figures on the journey home otherwise we would have been oblivious to the good news. 

When I consider the fact that at various times over the last twenty-four years I wouldn't been able to stand for over fifteen minutes without experiencing debilitating pain in my back, or legs, it seems to me a bit of a miracle to now be keen on covering the longest possible distance in a day. This is something I remind myself of pretty much every time we're out somewhere.

Also I'm sort of celebrating the fact that despite consuming fair quantities of various foodstuffs over the last month I've somehow contrived to remain just below my fighting weight. Apart from other considerations I have a suspicion that being reasonably light helps relieve my back problems. What I now need to do is get back into the routine of visiting the gym.

I've also cause to celebrate the well-being of other folks. Just about everyone we visited in the UK looked hale and hearty. We managed to spend an hour at Bob & Cynthia's, for example, who are well on age-wise and they looked in very fine form. It seems that Cynthia is now 75, which is astonishing since she looks so youthful. And it was good to see brother-in-law John not letting the loss of his leg stop him from being as feisty as ever. Sadly there are exceptions to all this good news, but even with these not all is hopeless. Osman is out of hospital, I'm pleased to say, which is surely a good sign. We'll know better when we visit, hopefully soon.

I suppose Maureen is the only case where I can't help but feel a sense of hopelessness. She's dealing with so many problems, chief amongst them her addiction, that it's difficult to see a way forward. When we told Bob and Cynthia about her condition they were really surprised, still thinking of her as the vibrant, very together lady she was at the time of her marriage to John. We're hoping that some of the old Maureen is still in there somewhere, fighting to get out and take control again.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Old Habits Die Easily

Back at work today for meetings ahead of the new term beginning next week. Managed to sleep reasonably well and didn't feel too many signs of jet lag, though awoke a few times thinking I was lost in London. Odd.

As usual after I've been away for some time the waking and rising routine went slowly as I struggled to recall exactly what order to do things in. It seemed strange to shower before praying the Swubuh Prayer after a month or so of doing things the other way round. And I was flummoxed about how to start my own car before setting off for the masjid for prayers having been driving a very different vehicle for almost all the month.

I'm hoping to remember how to teach when work begins properly, although it could be argued that I've never really fathomed that one out.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Killing Time

Now at Dubai Airport, where it is the middle of the night. Our onward flight to Singapore leaves here in about four hours, which means we have time to kill, but we're good at doing that. It's nice not to be having to consider where to drive to next, something which has been of concern to me on almost every day of our holiday. Sometimes having other folks essentially doing the transiting for you is rather pleasant.

Listened to odd bits and pieces from The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Prince, Michael Nyman and Sibelius on the way here. Read a couple of chapters from Daniel Deronda. All highly satisfactory.

Might manage a bit more from DD on the onward flight, but am more likely to sleep.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

From The Bottom Up

Asked Fifi about her impressions of England and Scotland as formed on our little trip. She'd been struck by the general friendliness of people in the cities we'd visited, forming a sense of genuine community beneath the glitz and garishness of the season. It was particularly interesting to note the contrast she saw between this and what she felt was the sometimes false sense of community back on our little island. To her much of that seems driven by the wishes of a government imposing notions of community on those below (though for good reasons) whereas over here the spirit grows from the actions of individuals and small groups acting together.

One example that straightaway sprung to mind for us both was that of Jeanette and her angels. These little woollen representatives of the cherubim (or seraphim, who knows?) were made by Jeanette and other ladies from her church and given out free to folks in Romiley and environs, each coming with a little quotation from scripture. Our three girls were lucky to be given one each - and totally delighted at the lovely gifts. The initiative for this little project came from Jeanette and her chums, with nobody and nothing needing to prompt them except the goodness of their hearts.

In contrast to the above, we also talked about the plight of the homeless rough sleepers who were so conspicuous in every place we'd been, except the small Devon villages, Fifi wondering whether the situations they faced were tied to issues of unemployment. A good question, for which I had no simple answer. I don't know exactly what their ominously sad presence says about this society but I do know there were more of them around than at any other time I've visited the UK since 1988. As we were walking back from the joys of Aladdin the other night across the centre of Manchester to get the car from the Dale Street car park they seemed especially conspicuous to us since the streets were otherwise deserted of shoppers at that time. As we walked I was thinking of times I'd walked across the city as a teenager to get the bus at Piccadilly and not seeing any rough sleepers at all. I don't think this is false nostalgia for a better world in the past; it's just the way it was.

It was bitterly cold last night, by the way. Hope all those poor souls made it through to the morning.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Jeanette and John treated us all to an evening at the Panto yesterday, with Sam, Kate & Rob in attendance also. The show in question was Aladdin at Manchester's Opera House and if you live in this region and have got kids I urge you to go and see it. Actually, go to see it even if you haven't got kids - or have some kids if you think you need an excuse to go. Absolute magic: colourful, funny, loud, cheerfully vulgar; unapologetic fun for its own sake, lovingly performed. It made me proud to be British - panto being a most peculiarly British institution. And Eric Potts as Widow Twanky is the best pantomime dame I have seen live on stage.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Some Help

Yesterday wasn't the best Christmas we've spent at my sister's. Such days are long in the past, irretrievably so, but I'm glad to have had them and enjoyed recalling various moments from those better days. However, due largely to Noi's good offices and magnificently patient efforts in the kitchen, I can't think of a day when we've been able to be of such real help to someone else, so that made the day very much worthwhile. Oh, and I also got to see my grand niece for the first time, and she was lovely and smiling and bubbly and interested in everything and, we hope and pray, has many genuinely joyful Christmases to come and memories to make.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Not Entirely Happy

We're off to sister Maureen's in a couple of hours for Christmas dinner. Noi will be cooking the turkey we bought yesterday in Longsight, plus some curried chicken. John had been sending out mixed signals as to what he really wanted us to get, so we went for both eastern and traditional. It wasn't too difficult this time round getting hold of a halal turkey. I think they're becoming more easily available over here.

It's not a lot of fun for the girls visiting Maureen & John with us, but they're very patient. I think Noi believes it's good for them to visit those facing a degree of adversity and I can see some value in this, but it's a bit of a sad place to be given John's struggles to get around and my sister's general sense of being outside of things - a situation not made any easier by the problems she's experiencing with her eyes: she can't see anything at all out of one of them and vision in the other seems severely restricted. We were all set to take her to the hospital in early December for some kind of operation on the eye that's gone blind - repairing a detached retina, I think - but the doctor had to deal with an emergency so the procedure has been postponed.

Noi is taking the opportunity to do as much cleaning up at the house as possible whilst we're there. A typically practical reminder that only too often making the best of things as they are is all we can do.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Hard Rain

I'd forgotten just how bleakly unrelenting cold rain can be until we encountered a particularly harsh example of a pelting storm on our last evening in Edinburgh, walking home from the city centre to our apartment. The walk only lasted some twenty-five minutes but it felt a lot, lot longer. Once the wet gets in your shoes you're really in Lear on the blasted heath territory, or at least I was. I'm obviously getting soft. I certainly won't regret leaving this climate a long way behind.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Common Politeness

It's a familiar cliché: the big city breeds a general lack of consideration for others and promotes rudeness. It really should be true, but in my experience it simply isn't. In Edinburgh, London and Manchester we've met with unfailing politeness. Of course, the crowds continue to hurry by, but doors are held open, people stand to one side to let others pass, they apologise when there's an accidental collision, and it's 'please' and 'thank you' all the way. I can't think of a single time we've been served in a shop with any degree of abruptness.

Yes, the world is in many sad ways horrible, but it's intriguingly a nicer place than you think.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Weight Of History

We seem to have visited more castles than usual on this trip. Yesterday we drove out to Stirling Castle in the afternoon and enjoyed a ramble around its precincts despite the extremely blustery conditions. It doesn't bear thinking about what it might have been like to inhabit the place in its heyday, though whoever had designed the various exhibitions there did an excellent job of attempting to take us back in time.

As in Edinburgh Castle there was a whole segment of the building given over to a history of one of the regiments associated with the Highlands. This involved a curious and touching mixture of gung-ho enthusiasm for all things military with an awareness of the probable misery of most soldiers' lives, especially when one entered the rooms devoted to the First World War. Suddenly the colours drained away to leave us adrift on the bleak mud and khaki of Flanders and the like, fortunately in imagination only.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


So far we've spent most of our time here wandering around the centre of Edinburgh. There's much to admire. Yesterday we enjoyed and endured in roughly equal measures a windswept afternoon exploring the Castle. It was considerably colder than on our first day when we'd been warmed by the glow of the Christmas market adjacent to Princes Street. That was just one of several memorable seasonal markets we've had the pleasure of roaming (usually in the gloaming) on our stay, and probably the best, offering  more for kids than the one in Manchester.

We came back to the apartment to the dreadful news of the attack on the Christmas market at Berlin, with coverage of the tightened security at similar markets throughout the UK. It was difficult to take in the unfolding horror. Just as the haunting images from Aleppo over the last few weeks don't seem to belong to any world we know. The trouble is, though, is that they're as real as the happiness of buying tartan scarves and silly fridge magnets.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Getting Fresh

As well as enjoying the pleasures of wandering around various bits of the UK with three teenagers in tow (Fifi is technically no longer a teenager, but still looks like one) I'm getting some reading done in the quieter stretches of our time here. After struggling through the opening chapters of Daniel Deronda, not quite grasping the social milieu in which Gwendolen Harleth finds herself, I'm now rather more at ease with the world created therein by GE and quite enjoying the novel. Part of the fun for me is in not having the slightest clue regarding the directions the writer is going off on. I started reading the introduction to the Penguin edition by Terence Cave which emphatically let me know I should read the novel before encountering his various spoilers and decided to take him seriously. This is working wonders for ensuring a freshness in my reading.

And I'm also enjoying a beguiling freshness in reading a collection of poems by one Paul Farley - whom I've never heard of before - entitled The Dark Film. This is the only book I've purchased over here. It cost less than 2 quid second hand from an antiquarian bookshop in York, near the cathedral actually. (It turned out that a post I wrote earlier moaning about the lack of second hand bookshops in the modern version of the city was inaccurate by a count of 3, according to Google, and we found one of them.) The collection came with a 'Poetry Book Society Choice' sticker on the front, so I thought it was worth taking a chance on, and it fit easily into one of my coat pockets so I reckoned it would come in handy for a brief perusal in off moments, like when imbibing a cuppa. And I was right, though I didn't think so at first. I found the first 4 or 5 poems very heavy going, but now I'm a bit of a fan. Persistence helps.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Up North

We now find ourselves installed in quite a roomy apartment in Edinburgh, having driven up from London over the last couple of days. On the way we stopped over at David's place in Lincoln, enjoying a jolly time with the man himself and his new lady-friend, Sue. He's got a boat there and a house by the marina. All very comfortable for him, and, by extension, us. Noi was very impressed by the centre of Lincoln, around the cathedral, but the time we had to look around was necessarily limited by the dictates of the journey, one of the sad truths of zooming around the country in just a few weeks. However, we're intending to stay put for a few days here in Scotland so that should give us time to assess the joys of Scotland's capital.

(Must say, I hope I'm right in assuming it's still the capital and Scotland still exists, as such. What with various referenda and Brexit and what have you, everywhere appears in a state of existentialist crisis these days.)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Just Looking

I spend an awful lot of time on these trips abroad just looking at things, these things falling into three broad categories: splendid views of various landscapes/cityscapes; items on sale (which I hardly ever buy), ranging from the egregiously expensive to cheap schlock; actual bits of art, usually in galleries. We managed aspects of all three yesterday, slowly taking in the Portobello Road up to Notting Hill, then heading for the river around Tower Bridge (again), and spending a couple of hours doing two floors of the Tate Modern.

Our trip to the Tate Modern was our second London gallery, having had a look in the National Gallery on our first full day here. I must say I much prefer the modern stuff. It's embarrassing to admit it but put me in front of a Titian and I've got no idea what I'm supposed to make of it all. Monumental yes, but in the dull sense for this viewer. On the other hand I could spend hours just sitting in a room of Rothkos just feeling happily overwhelmed - especially if that room happens to contain the murals from the Seagram Restaurant commission. Bliss - the dark variety.

The problem presented by the Tate Modern is the wonderful fact that there's too much of it. Two floors was one too many in my case.

Friday, December 16, 2016


Who would have thought it? I spent an hour in England's premier bookshop, the branch along Charing Cross Road, and emerged bookless (and DVD-less and CD-less, a point worth mentioning since they sell quite a number of tasty items in those domains.) Why so?

One factor involved was a degree of caution as to overloading our luggage on the way back. In truth though I could easily have purchased quite a few books or disks without creating a problem. No, the key factor related to the fact that I will be able to get hold of the most enticing items perused on-line if I really feel the need to and I still have quite a bit I need to do justice to before expanding the range of stuff I really must read, watch or listen to.

A simple example of this: I'm less than a quarter of the way into Daniel Deronda and I'm wary of being distracted from my reading by anything that might seem more accessible (like Andrew Motion's biography of Keats a tome I've been seeking out for the longest time and found enticingly in Foyles.) It's proving a tough read, though I'm beginning to get a sense of its rewards.

The younger me was a happily promiscuous reader; the older self recognises a need for focus and discipline, a need that can so easily be compromised by abundance. Wasn't life so much easier when there was so much less available?

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Enjoyed a good few hours rambling around central London yesterday, ending up walking along the south bank of the river, from the National Theatre to Tower Bridge. We found a nicely varied set of stalls setting street food near the bridge and the kids set about their various soups with gusto - chicken noodle, beef noodle and fishball. Strange to be so keenly reminded of home at such a distance. Noi and I found ourselves reminiscing about the first time we walked together on the south side of the river and how completely run-down it was in those days. Several cheers for urban renewal.

And I'm almost won over to the charms of the smart phone given just how useful Fifi's turned out to be in getting us safely back to our apartment in the evening. We're based a fair way out of the city in Leyton, where it's comfortable and cheap and excellent for halal food, but rather distant. The bus journey into the centre was direct enough, and didn't take too long, but getting the return bus would have involved retracing our journey across the city to Oxford Street and at one point we found ourselves on a tube line with a train going out to Leyton. We decided to take this, though we didn't really have much idea of any bus that might take us from the Leyton tube station to our abode.

This is where the phone proved of inestimable value. Fifi found an app with details of the local buses and little maps of the area. It wasn't exactly easy finding our way home but I strongly suspect it would have been impossible without the technical assistance provided. I'm now wondering how I ever found my way around the city in the old days, though, of course, somehow I did.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Not Listening

We're now installed in our London apartment, which we've rented for the next three nights. It's warm and offers plenty of room, so we're happy with it. And we can thank goodness for the GPS in the car that got us here since I have zero idea of directions in which to drive in the capital.

Having arrived in the early evening we bought supplies at a little shop round the corner and elected to stay in, watching, amongst other offerings, an odd little programme entitled Muslims Like Us. This was the second of two parts, featuring a disparate group of ten British Muslims, sharing a house in York for a couple of weeks, almost Big Brother style. I'm not quite sure what it was intended to achieve, but it certainly managed to show just how diverse Muslim belief and even practice can be. Unfortunately conflict was inherent in the selection of the various occupants of the house with one guy who represented a particularly extreme version of the faith, to the point of caricature, causing no end of disagreement. I was very struck by the fact that no one involved seemed any good at all at listening, but I suspect the film-makers were never intending to show boring footage of folks listening attentively to each other in an attempt to understand how other Muslims saw Islam. (Must say, though, how much more reasonable the ladies involved came across as in contrast to the gentlemen.)

It's funny, isn't it, how rarely playwrights depict two people talking at each other simultaneously, yet how often this is the reality of what passes for discussion.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Counting The Cost

This has been my first ever visit to the South West of England and, as expected, I've thoroughly enjoyed it, as have the rest of the team. Over the last few days we've spent time in Appledore, Clovelly, Barnstaple, Westward Ho! and Bideford and it's easy to find positive things about all of them. Today we move on to the nation's capital and, I suspect, a somewhat faster, more cosmopolitan way of life. I haven't seen anyone here begging on the streets, though that's not to say there are no problems of homelessness. It might be just that less visible, or I may have been looking in the wrong places.

Generally my sense is that England is an expensive place to live. Noi and Fifi reckon that supermarket prices compare reasonably favourably with those in Singapore, especially for items like salmon, but eating out is extremely expensive and you can pay a fortune for parking - though it's been a lot cheaper here than it was in York. For reasonably prosperous middle class folk like us this is all very well, but I wonder what it's like for those struggling financially. Not a lot of fun, is my guess, made worse, I would think, by living cheek by jowl, as it were, with those who can afford a decent lifestyle.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Not So Good

Got some bad news yesterday from Rohana about Osman's health. He's had to undergo an emergency operation for a problem with his colon. The diagnosis doesn't sound too good, but we're hoping and praying for the best. We've shared some lovely times with then over the years - in York and Chester and Morocco and Spain, to name a few - and we're hoping for more.

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Came back to our snug and warm abode after a wet afternoon at Barnstaple market yesterday and revelled in its sheer, unadulterated cosiness. Fifi, Fafa and I agreed that despite the many merits of life in our Far Place, the word 'cosy' means little in its context. Here it means everything.

I'm cosily writing this in a warm kitchen on a cold morning, having just been handed my crumpets. Bye!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Strange Times

On the way down to Devon I bought a copy of the Times Literary Supplement when we stopped off at one of the services between Birmingham and Bristol. In previous visits to the UK I've generally purchased magazines and newspapers quite freely and, as a result, found myself with too much to read. This time round I brought with me on the trip the recent copy of The New York Review of Books I picked up in Holland Village and only half read, and an untouched issue of Philosophy Now, with the idea that I'd only start buying new stuff when I'd got one of these out of the way. (Buying The Big Issue I count as a necessary exception.) Since I completed the NYRB issue the other day I now feel free to get hold of some new stuff. Mind you I'm still a bit wary of buying one of the thick Sunday newspapers here with all the various enticing supplements. Much as I've enjoyed these in the past they take quite a bit of reading, leaving little time for actual books. (I'm moving on in Daniel Deronda at the moment, but progress is slow what with having so much to do over here.) Indeed, it took me a couple of days to do justice to a unexceptional mid-week copy of The Guardian such is the depth of coverage provided by the quality papers.

Finishing the issue of the NYRB proved to be quite a melancholy experience, by the way. It was the 'Election Issue', printed before the results of the presidential election became a surreal, bitter reality. It featured a number of commentaries by the great and good and sensible, only one or two of whom took at all seriously the possibility of the result which we actually got. That result is dominating the news here, along with the bewildering puzzle of how the equally irrational Brexit is to be achieved. Strange times.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Christmas Spirit

We're now down in Devon, in John & Jeanette's lovely little house in Northam, near Bideford. We drove down in the late afternoon and evening yesterday generally to the accompaniment of Radio 2, taking in an entire live concert by Robbie Williams. Not exactly my cup of tea, but it served to pass the time on a rather boring drive. I'm sure we passed through some scenic countryside, but that's meaningless in the dark.

However, we did start the journey to the strains of Dylan's Christmas album,  Christmas in the Heart, which I bought from the HMV in York along with the first eponymous album from The Imagined Village. The Dylan album was released when we were last in the UK in December (of 2009, I think) but I'd hesitated to buy it then since the critics seemed to deem it a bit of an incongruous novelty, and I'm not really that keen on Christmas songs these days, overplayed as they are at this time of year and, sadly, incongruously, even earlier. Funnily enough I remember a short interview featuring the Bobster being published in The Big Issue when the Christmas album was released in which the great man sounded very convincing as to the real value of the project. Anyway, it turns out that Dylan was right and the critics wrong, as is ever the case, of course - well, to these ears, that is.

All I can say is that I totally, entirely, wholly loved every moment of Christmas in the Heart, which is titled with unerring accuracy. It's a gloriously warm, funny, charming evocation of the sound of Christmas as would have been experienced by the young Robert Zimmerman, a mythological Christmas that I'm aware of from songs from my own childhood and films and tv programmes from the States. Dylan's gloriously raddled voice and the rock solid band he selected, with their perfect arrangements of the old songs, add the necessary edge that somehow adds to the sweetness of the songs. (Pedal steel from Donnie Heron to die for, as on the later albums of standards.)

For the first time in years I felt in my old heart the Christmas Past that I thought I'd lost.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Painful Issue

Bought a copy of The Big Issue yesterday in York. I was beginning to wonder whether the magazine was still being sold since I hadn't seen any vendors previously. In a way I'm glad it's still going, providing those who sell it some much-needed financial support; but at the same time it's sad there's any need at all for a publication supporting the cause of the homeless.
Actually I've got an uneasy feeling that I'm seeing a lot more people begging on the streets here - and not always begging, but just seeming to be finding places to sit and get themselves warm. It's frightening to imagine the difficulties faced by the down-and-out, especially in weather as cold as this, and it's good to know that folks like those behind The Big Issue are doing something of practical value with regard to all this.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


As we were walking around the Shambles in York yesterday I was telling Fifi about the bookshops dealing in second hand books you used to be able to find in the area in the early 1980s or thereabouts. They'd disappeared by the late 1980s, so they've been long gone. Indeed, that was generally true of such bookshops throughout the country, or the parts of the country I got around to, at least. I reckon that well over half the books I bought at university and in the years immediately following came second hand, from such establishments.

Which makes me wonder where old discarded books go to in our brave new world. There are lots of charity shops around nowadays, and they invariably have a shelf or two of old paperbacks, but this is nothing like the space the old bookshops offered for unwanted books. It's a pity to think they may just be thrown away.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


We're now in York, staying for a couple of days at Ann's place. Drove over to the sounds of the latest Van Der Graaf album, Do Not Disturb. Not exactly instantly attractive with its sudden changes of style, tempo and mood, but clearly offering lots of engrossing possibilities and sounding amazingly young for a trio who are, well let's face it, old. At times that's inspirational in itself - a reminder to get out there and get things done in whatever time you're given.

So we'll be trying to pack plenty of York into the next few hours, despite the cold, which is still with us.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sounding Good

There are, unsurprisingly, fewer big record stores around Manchester than in days of yore. My old favourite, the big HMV opposite the Arndale Centre has gone, but there's a branch inside the centre with a fair range of stuff - though the classical selection is very poor.

I picked up some CDs by King Crimson, Steven Wilson and Van Der Graaf Generator, which has saved me the trouble of ordering them on-line. So far I've only been able to listen to the Crimson set, featuring the seven-headed version of the beast Live in Toronto, in the car - but what a set to listen to. All right-thinking musos need to acquire this. Trust me. Genius.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Something To Remember

Had a very good time just pottering about around Romiley and Ashton yesterday, followed by a curry nosh-up at a restaurant near John & Jeanette's. Paul & Joy and Sam were in attendance, with Sam back home for the moment from his mountaineering exploits in the alps. Much laughter, for no particular reason, which is always the best kind. The evening concluded with John serenading us with Jingle Bells played on his new accordion. Definitely unforgettable.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Out And About

Yesterday's quote of the day came courtesy of the Missus, following a discussion as to whether we were going to find somewhere to eat in the early evening: I'm hungry and it's my birthday! I think you might be able to guess who got her way. Her birthday burger at an eatery in Longsight, where it's very easy to find halal food, was most palatable.

We'd spent the afternoon down Manchester, checking out the German Market around the town hall. All very Christmassy in a good way, as opposed to the false cheer of the malls in Singapore. Generally the city seems to be in a positive place, looking a bit less run-down than the last time we were here, but these are early days to be trying to take the pulse of the nation.

Friday, December 2, 2016


Fifi summed it up nicely when we were in Hyde town centre yesterday looking for somewhere to eat: I'd forgotten just how cold it was over here. I hadn't really forgotten, but that doesn't make dealing with the big chill any easier.

Fortunately we've got the warmth of John & Jeanette's welcome to help us adjust.