Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Happy Christmas from my kitchen table.

It has been a long grim year and I will be delighted to see the back of it. And in about 90 minutes from now work will be over. Nothing left to do but drink beer, go home and start Christmas fun.


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Friday, 25 October 2013

It's all gone far too far this time

It's been a long time since I've blogged, hasn't it?

That's because it has been a truly SHIT summer. Not weather-wise, that's been glorious - and as I have mentioned, when I've had the heart to blog, I have had some happy days in the sun.

The shit I am talking about is work. Back in April we were rounded up for the Redundancy Talk. At the the time it was handled very badly - and since then things have got much, much worse.

For the last six months intelligent, hard-working and talented friends and colleagues - good, good people - have been losing their jobs - or being put through the wringer to battle to get jobs on even lower salaries than they had before.

The redundancies are over (for now) and we've been left with a structure - and I use the term very loosely - where we are horribly understaffed and many of those who are left are doing jobs they haven't been trained for, under immense pressure.

Unsurprisingly, we now have a very stressed and sick workforce.

There is only so long you can go on, being shat on and watching your friends being shat on before something cracks. The misery of it all broke the heart of one dearly-loved colleague. Literally. He died.

The grief here is like a thick grey jelly.

Here is how I cope with stress:

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Hare and Hounds (15)

My Hare and Hounds Project is well into its third year and I must admit it has lapsed somewhat. Well actually quite a lot.

Never mind, yesterday I had a day off work and I got myself back on track with a visit to this Hare & Hounds - in Holcombe. It was lovely!

(Photo from Google Streetview.)

It is a bloody good job that we can have days off, go walking in the woods with friends and visit lovely pubs. Back at work today and it's not so good.

Friends are still losing their jobs and there is an air of despond over us all.

On the bright side, we are no longer buried alive in the office with no windows. We have been moved to a new office with windows - not just any old windows either! We can open these ones, and look out onto the trees in the park.

On the other side of the park is the Irwell - which could be nice, but all week it has stunk of rotting corpses. So there isn't just despond in the air, there is stench and quite a lot of flies too. Puke.

Sometimes open windows aren't such a good thing.

I should have stayed in the pub.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Ashes to Ashes

Last Friday I took the day off work and went to watch Day Two of the Third Test at Old Trafford.

I love cricket. I love the whole mindset of the game. What other sport has meal breaks? What other sport allows you to go home at night, have a sleep and then start again the next day where you left off?

Where else can you play the same match for five days and at the end of it all no-one has won?

Cricket is the epitome of English optimism: what are the chances of even getting five days in a row of nice weather in this country? (Actually pretty good this year.)

Here are some Aussies. They look full of optimism too, don't they?

Sky Cameraman. I reckon he could probably see our house from up there.

It is a long day at the cricket and by the evening session many folk like to create their own entertainment, possibly with a craft activity like this: the Lager Snake:

If you click the image and zoom in you can see what an impressive piece of cooperative teamwork this is, especially when you consider that most of these people had been drinking for about seven hours already, and in theory shouldn't even be able to stand upright.

That's enough hoo-ha for one day. Yesterday I went to the hills:


Monday, 1 July 2013

Half Way

It's the 1st July and we're halfway through the year. Work is still shit, possibly getting shitter. Sorry about the language, but there's no easy way to say it.

Luckily, there is more to life than work. Six months in, and I have walked 1,004 miles so far this year. Here are some photos from about 13 of those miles.

Bleaklow, a couple of weeks ago:

About 2 miles, still in the Longendale Valley. That hill is where I am going.

Going up the hill.

And a bit further.

On the top of Bleaklow there are bits of crashed aeroplanes. This one has been here since 1948.
Even on a sunny day it's spooky.

And strangely sculptural.

Also on the top of Bleaklow, the rocks look like they are kissing each other.

It's not always this gorgeous up here.

The long path down.

Nearly on the ground again.

Walk done; Glossop Station.

I hope you enjoyed that little tour. I might share some other days out with you in the near future.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

It's very quiet here. Where's everyone gone?

It's been quite some time since my last post. That's because things here have been grim, very grim indeed.

We are in the midst of another tidal wave of redundancies.

This university is top of Britain's league table for axing staff. When I say 'top' I really mean top. Number One in the whole country. The only other thing we are doing well in is the Bullying & Harassment League.

Can you see a sort of pattern developing here?

When I began this blog in 2009 I thought I'd be discussing literature and libraries and other lovely things, but instead redundancy has been the recurring theme. 

Our library has become a barren and desolate place.

On the plus side, I am off on my holidays for the next two weeks - starting any minute now. Yippee!

Monday, 8 April 2013


She's already closed down three of these furnaces and laid off all these workers.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Early Doors

Tonight we should be here:

Away at Stocksbridge Park Steels. Originally this was our fixture for New Year's Day. I have lost track of how many times it has been postponed...

So it look like another night in front of the telly.

There's been quite a lot going on in Corrie of late, but the thing that has delighted me most is seeing the mellifluous James Quinn revisiting his role as a policeman - last seen in the delightful Early Doors.

I do hope the Corrie scriptwriters have the good sense to let James laugh, at least once; his laugh is truly magnificent.

There's got to be plenty of opportunity, surely, he is investigating the torching of the Rovers.

Elsewhere on Corrie, Fiz's teeth continue to somehow retract in her mouth, the just when you think they've gone for good, they reappear. Thanks Agnes, for pointing this out - I had never noticed this phenomenon before.

Now I can't stop noticing.

Where do Fiz's teeth go?

My guess is somewhere in the back of her head, looking for a brain. What do you think?

There may be a small prize for the best answer.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Win - Lose (Draw)

In a strange twist to normal life, this weekend our football was moved to Sunday, which meant Saturday was walking day.

I fancied a walk with a concept, so I set out on a Win/Lose Tour. Starting from Bamford I walked up Win Hill, down in to Hope then up to Lose Hill.

(pic from PeakDistrictInformation.)

The weather was glorious and the day still young so I continued on to Mam Tor.

This changed the concept of my walk: no longer just Win/Lose, it was now The Hope Valley Three Peaks.

Everywhere has Three Peaks, if you care to look for them.

Of course, you could just walk along the ridge from Lose Hill to Mam Tor, but that isn't really in the spirit of a Three Peak Challenge, in that every peak should be climbed, and you should go up one way and come down another. Much more fun to drop down to Castleton, then head up to the summit via the Broken Road and the Mam Tor Wall of Death. (Actually I don't think that's its real name, it is just what we call it because it was blowing a gale the first time we ever climbed up it.)

Finally, down the dark side of Mam Tor to Edale and time for a quick pint before the train came.

One Sunday, FC were at home to league leaders, North Ferriby. It was a Draw, 1-1.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Go Green

What's that? You might well ask.

It is an exciting event that is currently underway at this university. Under the guise of environmental sustainability, we are in the midst of a month of activities showing us how to grow our own food, mend our clothes, darn our socks and ride a bicycle.

All of which suggests that the next round of redundancy packages are going to be meagre at best.

Ah well, at least none of us can say that we haven't been prepared.

Today's activity was 'How to Make a Valentine's Card'.

I could have spent my lunchtime pissing about with coloured card, glue-sticks and glitter, creating something to surprise Mr Crab with tonight.

But I didn't.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Happy Germination Day!

They reckon it takes seven years for a Strelitzia to flower. It is true.

This is a Strelitzia Mandela's Gold which I grew from seed.

On this day in 2006, that seed germinated.

Look at it today!!

Happy Birthday, Lovely Flower!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

January. It can be a bit difficult.

Last Wednesday night we were meant to be playing at Ashton United. The pitch looked like this:

The match was postponed until tonight.

Now the pitch looks like this:

No, in no sense of the word is that an improvement. No football for us tonight. Sigh...

On the other side of Manchester, where we live, the snow has melted and the world is dry and bright again.

Anyway, moving on. I think we are far enough into the New Year to look back on the old one and make resolutions for the new one.

In brief, 2012:

Miles walked - 1,961. This is 182 miles less than the year before (it was a very wet summer), but 91 miles more than 2010. This works out at an average of 1,991 miles a year - which I think is perfectly adequate.

Hare & Houndses visited - 4. This is a pathetic effort by anyone's standards, but I think I can take some comfort that two of the pubs were far away. The other two were very close, in fact one of them is across the road from Ashton United's snow-bedecked and frozen ground (as seen above).

Away Games - 30. This is a new category for 2012. I have included the first team, the youth team and the women's team; league, cup and friendlies in the tally. That's a lot of miles and a lovely amount of football, isn't it? Now I don't feel so sad about tonight.

New Year's Resolutions:

Actually that should be resolution - I have only made one:
When I was doing my Pennine Adventure last year I could see it in the distance, and I've seen it in the distance when travelling to some of those Away Games (above). I have got a hankering!
I haven't worked out the details of my resolution yet (it still is only January, after all) but it will almost certainly involve a bit more Pennine Way. It might also involve a Yorkshire Three Peaks walk, or possibly a Twin Peaks walk (the latter isn't an official thing, it's just me not being arsed to trudge all the way over to Whernside). I might like it so much that I try all three options.

Oh, this is going to be a brilliant year!

Friday, 11 January 2013

So many things to celebrate

That's the first full week back at work staggered through. It hasn't been too bad.

On this day, back in 2005, I got run over by this bus on my way home from work.

(Photo by maljoe)

Arriva 2251
(It's amazing how you can find a picture of almost anything on Google, isn't it?)

Anyway, back to the bus. It shot around the wrong side of a traffic island just as I stepped of the kerb and splattered me. Three nights in hospital, then they let me go home.

To this day, I am still rather delighted with myself for not being dead. Yay me!

Okay, I know it's not the greatest anniversary to celebrate, but it's January, it's cold and it's dark and right now we are all clutching at straws. Things will get better.

PS. In case you are wondering, I broke its windscreen.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Here Comes the Summer!

Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you've all had a festive season that was merry and bright.

On Saturday morning we packed up Christmas and put it in back in the cupboard. Just the decorations, that is, putting mince pies and cake into long-term storage is just asking for trouble.

On Saturday afternoon we were off to South Cheshire, for an away game against Nantwich Town - always a lovely, welcoming club to visit. And they have smashing sunsets!

(pic by Matthew Wilkinson)

Sometimes we win, sometimes they win. This time it was our turn to win, 3-2.

Yesterday I was out walking in East Cheshire - Middlewood to Bollington, up here (White Nancy) for some views and a sandwich, then back along the towpath to the station.

(pic by Andrew Huggett - Geograph)

And that was my weekend - lots of Cheshire, lots of sky.

Oh dear, I may have spoken too soon about the summer. I've just noticed it has started to rain.