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This website was started during the second lockdown, right at the end of 2020.

It is a personal account of how I hope to come to terms with the restrictions of the lockdown and at the same time to celebrate some of the good things in or around the High Peak.UK. even in these difficult times. 

As it has developed this website has become a blog of regular articles of interest, at least to me. It is written from my perspective of someone restricted during the current lockdown. 

If you would like to know what the articles are about the link "Article Contents" above is a brief Table of Contents from which you can go directly to the complete article below.

If you would like to comment on anything I've said, that's fine. To include what you think is "good" or worth others knowing about, or a local photo you've taken, email us at the address at the bottom of the page.

It is intended as a personal reflection of the area by someone who feels lucky to live here even in these restricted times.

This site will be changed and new material added very regularly so well worth coming back to.

The "Gallery" link above will take you to some images that remind me of where I live.

Russ. Email address [LINK HERE]


Winter snow

For comprehensive local weather 24 hours per day go to Buxton Weather Live. From their site you can also get an advanced BBC weather forecast.

Good news

The dreaded virus

The vaccine is being distributed and innoculations are going full tilt. To get the up to date situation and for more information go to  the BBC News Site


Red tulip but ignore rules and the colour you see on hover.

Things are getting better. Lots of advice about what you must as well as cannot do at GOV UK


Friday 30th April 21

As we get to the end of the month and look at what weather we have had during the month I think the answer is everything. Cold frosty mornings, hail, sun, and rain sometimes all within a few minutes. I nearly used a picture I took of a primula with a snow covering but thought the picture of the Llama, if that’s what it was, looks more interesting.

On Thursday Mrs Baker who you can call Ann without an ”e” and myself went for a longer walk. We got up as usual and after breakfast drove to the old railway station at Bakewell which is a Peak District National Park car park. Parking at Peak District National Park car parks is in my view ridiculously expensive. Most people who don’t want to pay park on the road or outside people’s houses I am sure causing unnecessary annoyance. My annual parking permit which costs £40 goes someway to make it more reasonable, provided I use it.

We set off walking northerly ( perhaps ), anyway toward Millers Dale until we reached Thornbridge Hall . Now Thornbridge Hall has special significance for Ann who went there for three years as a student when it was an all female teacher training college in the 1960’s. So, in some ways our looking at the building brought back memories for us both. Ann of course especially as she actually lived in college during her final year. My recollections were visiting there sneaking in and out to avoid the college staff and then usually to catch the last bus from Ashford to Buxton. This inevitably meant walking in total darkness down a long drive from the college to the gate house and sneaking past that to the bus stop.

In 2021 Thornbridge Hall is a hive of activity which you can find more about by following [this link]. It’s history is also worth knowing about and the wealth of previous occupants obvious when you look at the building and its associated gardens. It also has a private access to Thornbridge Station which up to Dr Beeching and his railway cuts was on the main Buxton to London Rail Line. More on the hall can also be found [here]

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get access to the house and gardens as we were too early, but it is certainly somewhere worth a visit especially if you are a member of the R.H.S. where you get a reduced entry fee.

After leaving the hall we passed the back of Thornbridge brewery and took in the smells that only breweries have. We then went on to a nice green footpath across an open field shared only with what Ann thought was a cow. Actually, it was a very large although very passive bull who took not the slightest notice of us.

From this field we walked into Ashford village and back to Bakewell on a footpath parallel to the A6 and alongside the river. I fully recommend this path with its views and at the time of our walk sheep and lambs and an assortment of ducks , geese and moorhens or coots. When nearly back in Bakewell we then came face to face with what we think was a Llama but if you think it was something different let me know. The Llama or whatever was not the least concerned about us and seemed to pose for my photograph above.

At the end of our 6 mile walk we walked up Castle Hill which is similar in steepness to Holker Road. Ann asked me about the location of the Castle but I’ve no knowledge of this. Again, your thoughts on this will be appreciated. The walk was invigorating and for us interesting.

Anyway, that wasn’t all we’ve done this week, but I think I have said enough for now.

We are still hopeful of getting to Wales on the 17th May to see Ann’s dad but there are still decisions to be made by Boris before that.

Talking about Boris I really cannot get too excited about who paid for the decoration of his flat in Downing Street. What I do know is that the Prime Minister is paid considerably less than the recently retired Chief Executive of High Peak Borough Council which somehow doesn't seem right. What do you think?

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them..

Hathersage Church

Tuesday 20th April
Not sure where the time goes but it’s about 10 days since I last rattled on.

The major item for me has been the passing of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and his funeral service last Saturday. It was very different to the “normal” Royal Funerals and much was said that the Duke planned it meticulously himself. The Green Land Rover was a first with the short procession in Windsor all perfectly orchestrated. I watched with envy the way the troops carried the coffin and felt sorry for them as they went up the stairs into the Church. Having done a few carries myself I know how difficult carrying a coffin is even on flat ground.

Everyone taking part including the Dukes carriage ponies and the music was a perfect tribute to the long and full life of HRH. I learnt a lot about the achievements of the Duke that day.

HRH The Queen suddenly to me looked her age and was a frail old lady on her own because of Covid rules. I think the whole country prays for her as she goes on. It also makes me think of the thousands of other people who have lost people dear to their heart and have also had to sit alone because of Covid.

Last week I got out for a smashing walk with my young walking partner. I chose the route from Eyam to Hazelford, and the photo above is one taken from Hazelford of Hathersage Church about 1.25 miles away. Remarkable what medium-priced cameras can do.

The route was fairly hilly with about 1400 feet of ascent, but the weather was great and my companion good company. At the end of the 7-mile route I was glad to sit down and recover although the day after I felt extremely stiff. As we traversed the route, I was able to point out places which had been important at times in my working life as well as discussing our relations the “Hancock” family who were residents of Eyam during the plague. All in all a great day.

Since I last wrote Mrs B who you can call Ann (no e) has visited the hairdresser and face facts where I understand personal close services are given or is it close personal services. Ann is not the only person who due to lockdown has missed her hairdresser and watching TV, the presenters looks have changed recently as huge amounts of hair have been removed. Saying that Thomas Schafernake (Tomasz Schafernake) the BBC weatherman seems to be keeping all his hair and has according to rumour refused to remove it. Well, each to their own, I guess.

Beside my longer walk Mrs B, who you can call Ann, and I have been doing our shorter walks. Today we went on the Buxton Market although we didn’t see anything we wanted to buy. None the less it was good to see it relatively busy.

We have also on our walks this week seen a couple of friends who we haven’t seen for many months and that was a delight. One of them Carroll is a wonderful artist as you can see if you follow [this link ]. 

Talking of people we have not seen for a long time, brings us to Ann’s dad Roy in Wales. He is a very independent person although now well supported by Ann’s sister Sue and family who doesn’t live too far away. Like many people of his generation while very generous to others he doesn’t like spending money on himself. I am pleased to report that "the girls" Sue & Ann have persuaded him to invest in a supa dupa chair which at the press of a button does all sorts of things. While it doesn’t make meals, it will undoubtably make his life at 100 years old more comfortable.

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them..

Union flag

Friday 9th April 21

Today has been one of great sadness for many people, when the death of HRH Duke of Edinburgh was announced. Eloquent tributes to him have been made from all over the world and I know in our lockdown house we share the sadness especially that felt by Her Majesty The Queen.

Well, what a weather week this has been. Temperatures down to minus 3 with weather better today but an anticipation of a minus temperature over the weekend. This morning the sun is shining and, in my shed, where the strawberries currently are the temperature is +6 having been -1 overnight.

For me it’s been a week where things are generally starting to look more positive with restrictions being slowly lifted with our second jab today.
Mrs B, who you can call Ann, has already in anticipation of lockdown restrictions being lifted has appointments next week at the hairdressers and at face facts for whatever they do. I’ve no similar bookings but I do hope that in the next few weeks to get out with my pre covid walking chum for a longer walk on some of the fantastic footpath networks close to here.

A conundrum to relate. Yesterday we returned to the Cemetery at Tideswell where my parents are buried to replace the grave urn which seemed to have been “misplaced”. You might recall two weeks ago we went and put some garden flowers on the grave. Yesterday our garden flowers had gone and been replaced by some plastic ones. I’m not sure who has removed our flowers but I’m sure my mother would not have approved of plastic ones. Anyway, the plastic ones have been replaced in the new urn with some daffodils grown in our garden. My dad was a keen gardener and I hope he approves.

One of the things we noticed as we travelled to Tideswell and back was the number of pubs who now have outside seating for the opening of pubs next Monday. Good luck to all of them and I hope their investment will pay off. My grandparents (my mother’s parents) kept the Peacock Inn in Tideswell for over thirty years. This was at a time when Tideswell had at least seven pubs all as my memory recalls keeping busy . Now there are three I think, and I can only think of one with enough outdoor space to make opening outside next week worthwhile.

We’ve only been out a few times walking this week as the extreme cold turned me into a wimp preferring the inside to out. We did get out yesterday and I hope perhaps later today.
During lockdown online shopping has been the order of the day and I am hoping to get some more plants today from an excellent nursery at Belper who only seem to sell on eBay. I also hope that some garden stakes from Worcestershire will arrive. These were things I previously obtained relatively locally but it seems that the company who I previously used can’t even respond to my email enquiry.

Talking of not responding I can get really upset when I reply to an enquiry from someone asking for help which I for computer stuff or Ann for knitting stuff willingly give cannot be acknowledged with a quick “thank you”. I hope if the question was asked face to face the “thank you” would be automatic but with emails that’s not the case and I’m not sure why.

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them..

Butterflies at work

Friday 2nd April 21
This week has been one of weather contrasts.
Yesterday and the day before was like a lovely summers day with a warm sun, blue skies which welcomed you to go outside. Today is 11 degrees colder at about 4C and if the day was a meal, I would describe it as unappetising. I persuaded myself that our daily walk can miss out today.

Yesterday for the first time in months we risked walking across the field. It wasn’t completely dry as it doesn’t drain well, I think because it is on the gritstone side of town. In gardening terms acid loving plants such as Azaleas and Rhododendrons would grow well although they don’t where I live on the limestone side. I benefit because my garden drains well and my alkaline soil is perfect for Honeysuckle & Perennial geraniums.

There are plusses and minuses or positives and negatives with much of life. I am thinking now especially about the teacher at Batley who showed an image to children in his care who many in his local community found unacceptable.

So, should he have done it. There is no “yes or no” to this. It sounds to me like the teacher was well respected and thought he was doing the right thing. You make your own mind up about that.

What is surely unacceptable is the extreme reaction to this . Not the parents complaints but the threats to kill and the need for the teacher and his family to move home. I was also not impressed with the way the school almost immediately suspended the teacher without investigating the circumstances or the “local charity” who identified the teacher “online”.

Is it a case of freedom of speech being prevented or should some subjects be off the agenda?

A few days ago, we received in the post a plea from Christies Hospital to donate to the building of a Cancer care centre to be based at Macclesfield. Most families have at some time been affected by the curse which is Cancer and I certainly think this is a cause worth supporting hoping desperately that no one in my family needs to use it.

Yesterday we received an invitation to have our second dose of anti covid 19 vaccine. We were delighted to accept the invitation immediately and will visit our local inoculation centre at the end of next week. A massive thank you to all who brought this about.

Finally to get you to nod in support or swear loudly I think that if there was ever a reason not to be in the European Community this is it.

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them..

Busy frogs

Friday 26th March 21
The frogs seem to think Spring is here , I hope they are right.

We’ve not exactly been busy these last few days but there does seem to be something each day.

On Tuesday it was a visit to Tideswell Cemetery to tidy up and put a few flowers on my parents grave. As I do after I had finished, I had a walk round and as usual saw names from my past history of when we lived in Tideswell. Worryingly, I also saw gravestones of people younger than me some of whom I had been to school with. If there is a colder place than Tideswell Cemetery I have yet to find it.

On Wednesday I had an appointment at Stepping Hill Hospital. I admit I went with some trepidation not because of what they were going to tell me or do as it was only a follow up on a dodgy hip from 2019. No, my concern was that over the last year I have with the exception of Mrs B not met anyone or been in premises where other people are. Anyway, my concern was unnecessary, as the hospital was very Covid aware. From arrival and before entry my hands were sprayed by a doorman who seemed muscled enough to have been a Nightclub bouncer. From then on it was all about social distancing until I was “seen to” by the specialist and released into the afternoon sun.

During lockdown I have subscribed to the Daily Telegraph and read many well written articles on a whole variety of subjects although being London centric.  Agree with the writers view or not they are generally all well-constructed if not necessarily balanced in their conclusions. Now I mention this as one of the continuing articles is the role of China.

I have had some good Chinese friends and had a really fascinating holiday there some years ago. Having said that I do have personal concerns about how China, which may have been the source of Covid 19 is the only country whose economy has grown since the pandemic started. Added to that there are allegations of huge abuse of Muslim people and the (if true) disgraceful treatment of residents of Hong Kong.

Having said that what can I do about it? Not much that’s for sure . Have you ever tried to buy anything not made in China? I admit I tried, and my only success was a new mobile phone which it took me six months to obtain and even then, it was made in Taiwan, expensive and probably full of Chinese components.

There is no simple way I can see to balance the abuse if true and our reliance on items we need from China. Fortunately, there are far greater brains than mine concerned about this. Good luck to them.

Today on a lighter note we went on a trail walk between the showers. It was generally very quiet although we did see a couple walking dogs coming toward us. They appeared to have three dogs with a little one on a lead making a fuss toward us. The larger dog totally ignored us and as we looked at the “third dog” not on a lead we saw it was actually a very small goat. I wish I had taken a photo to show you but by the time I had thought about it they had passed us by in a social distancing way.

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them..

Fruit trees

Tuesday 23rd March 21
Time passes so quickly. It’s almost two weeks since I last wrote anything here.

How have I passed the time? I think the weather has helped, with some time spent in the garden, and a new pear tree now in a large pot on the patio. This is variety Concord, which is said to be semi dwarf. At the moment it is still dormant, although as I look along my increasing row of patio fruit trees and bushes there are some signs of life with new buds starting, especially on the Cherry bush. This bush is called Napoleon something. Not sure what that little chap had to do with it, although I have occasionally marvelled at his Brandy.

Another task which has needed doing for years, is cleaning the patio slabs and conservatory wall. Thanks to the loan of a pressure washer, I’ve now done this and although with mixed results it at least looks a little better. Yes, I did get very wet doing it, but what is the expensive outdoor clothing made for, and so I was well protected. However, if you are considering doing this, don’t think it is easy to do, and my advice is not to do it at all if you have a bad back before you start, as you certainly will after you have finished.

You might recall I fell out with Classic FM, and particularly Alexander Armstrong, well now I’ve found an excellent replacement radio station, Scala Radio. Equally good music, and if you have an “Alexa” in the room just ask it to play “Scala Radio” and as if by magic it does. I’ve also done it with “ Hey Google” and that works as well. If you like to listen on better equipment than Alexa such as DAB radio, it’s on there as well.

While I have not been writing much here, I have been putting extra bits on other websites I do. That made me think about how the English language must be so difficult to learn if it is not your first language. As an example, take the word “hail” which we have seen recently in our weather. That word spelled the same is also used to “hail” a taxi, not to be confused with “hale” and hearty. That’s one example, and I’ve no doubt you can think of many more. I won’t go on too long about this ,but seeing the word too, or is it to, or two- see what I mean. It’s difficult for me to think which word to use and how to spell it, and English is supposedly my first language. Although a friend of mine who was born in Wales and can speak Welsh has offered to teach me that language, she doubts that either of us would have time left to do it. She is so right or is it write!!!!!

You might wonder what Mrs B has been up to. Truthfully, the knitting never stops and since I last wrote she has been asked, knitted, and supplied another Vicar of Dibley jumper. She has also finished another article for a machine knitting magazine. Added to that, the walks we do around a deserted Buxton, and looking after me, hopefully fills the time very nicely.

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them..

100 cardigan

Tuesday 9th March 21
I think today for me has been “America gets up my nose day”. It started with a headline apparently from some one who is claiming to be the president of the USA (although former President Trump believes differently). He not President Trump is drawing judgement on a biased one-sided, sensationalist TV interview claiming someone was brave. I’m not sure of the definition of bravery but in this case, it is multi million dollars brave to make unchallenged statements. If you would like to read what Charles Moore made of it [CLICK HERE]

I am not going to dwell on it but as a self-acknowledged Royalist I am ashamed that the person who I will refer to as the ginger haired poodle could accept and enhance dubious claims about his family. All families have issues but this one is unique and through Her Majesty the Queen it has set standards for scores of years for the world to follow. I did look for a ginger poodle for the caption photograph but they all appeared to have a copyright so at the moment you will have Roy's 100th Cardigan.

In the same way as I’ve banned Alexander Armstrong there will be no sound on the TV news until this nonstory is done with.

The second “Get up my nose” in fact was a telephone call from the Customs & Revenue with an American accent saying I would be referred to my local courthouse if I didn’t ring them back. Well good luck with that!

Just remember in these days of lockdown there are many people out there trying to “con” you out of what is yours. If you get a call like this slam the phone down and don’t under any circumstances enter into any conversation or press “3” or any number on your phone and certainly NEVER ring them back. You might also consider registering with the Telephone Preference Service which you can find by [Clicking here]

This afternoon we attempted a short walk from Litton Mill down the trail intending to leave the trail at Cressbrook Mill and walk back along the river. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen because the Cressbrook tunnel is closed from today for two weeks. Actually, the activity is in the Litton Tunnel which is open with contractors generally on scaffolding repairing presumably water damage in the stone and brickwork. Having been involved in Health & Safety issues at my former church I had to live with “Working at Height Regulations” which made the attic in the church unusable. I think the contractors in the tunnel may have heard of it but not all were sensibly acting in accordance with it. Nothing happened needing medical attention while we were in the tunnel but I’m sure Mrs B (you can call her Ann) would have been able to deal with it if they had.

Finally, today a question to anyone reading this twaddle who lives in the Peak District. Can you grow cherries in our unique climate? Having planted a few fruit trees in lockdown I was thinking of having a try at growing a cherry tree in a container on my patio which is the sunniest part of the estate ok house. Advice much appreciated.

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them..

Birthday knitted cake

Wednesday 3rd March 21
Today is the big birthday . Actually, two big birthdays and both for Roy’s. Ann’s dad Roy reaches 100 not out followed by Ann’s uncle Roy who is 90 today. You would not if you know Ann, be surprised to know she has knitted for the occasion. The knitting was a cardigan, a jumper, and a cake. Yes, a cake-see above. If you want to see the items knitted follow [this link]

We have just had a zoom meet with Ann’s dad Roy being prevented from a face to face by lockdown regulations. Roy has had a grand day with a card from Her Majesty the Queen and lots of other cards and gifts. Before he went out for a wonderful lunch cooked by Ann’s sister Sue, he had thirty-one people outside his home all appropriately distanced singing “Happy Birthday” to him. Not organised of course, it just happened that all these folks found themselves there at the same time. Thanks to them all for caring.
Because of lockdown Sue and her family who live fairly close to Roy, support him in all sorts of ways. Many thanks to them from us frustrated Buxton based people.

In a day of absolute positives with us being unable to do much to help we were left very disappointed by Classic FM and especially Alexander Armstrong who is the presenter of a program daily between 10am and 12 noon.

We emailed him personally in good time ( not easy believe me) and asked for him to mention Roy’s birthday, but it never happened. Roy is an inveterate listener to Classic FM, and we ensured he was not otherwise engaged for Alexander Armstrong’s program.

I am really disappointed Alexander Armstrong mentioned all sorts of other “lesser age” birthdays, wild swimming, and all sorts of other less memorable events but not Roy’s big one.

We told Alexander Armstrong that Roy is a veteran of the RAF in WW2 being involved in the early development and use of Radar. He is I think the only one of the group involved in this development who is still alive. I am still considering how to respond to this lack of respect to a worthy veteran.

I will tell you when I have acted.

Thursday 4th March 21
After some thought I wrote another email to Alexander Armstrong asking why if the Queen and other important people had remembered Roy’s birthday why he hadn’t. Not surprisingly I didn’t get a reply, but I felt better for doing it. The overall effect is that Alexander Armstrong will not be heard in this house again. 

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them..

Old man in wood

Sunday 21st Feb 21 to Tuesday 23rd Feb 21
This morning with better weather we went for a morning stroll around town, it was very quiet. While we were out, we saw they were doing Covid testing for people without symptoms in the Pavilion Gardens.
Appointments not being needed and no one in front of us we went in to have a test. The booking in process was using our mobile phone and with significant help from the young man on the door this was completed within about ten minutes. After that and a little more checking in and then straight into a bay for the test. The test is self-administered but there is someone well protected behind a screen to give full instructions. The test is painless and within a few minutes we were outside the hall. Within 30 minutes or so after that we received a text message saying the test was negative. Good news.

This was well worth doing and I would commend it to you. To make matters easier if I go again, and they encourage you to, I will have my hearing aid with me and although not vital if you have your NHS number that also helps. For me not knowing my own mobile phone number slowed us down slightly. If you do not have a smart mobile phone that must not put you off. They have a tablet to do what is needed and as I say the people organising it are very helpful.

Monday 22nd Feb 21
Today was just what we needed fairly warm and a lot of sun. Helps to make you think of Spring. Although getting strange looks from neighbours I decided to see if my petrol lawn mower would start. It did and I ran it all round the lawn with blades high. Very little grass cut but good exercise for me. It was nice to see neighbours out and all hoping to get some positive and optimistic news from Boris later. Our neighbours like us want a steady release from lockdown and no more lockdowns in the future.

Tuesday 23rd February 21
The spring like weather didn’t last. Today is cool with a strong gusty wind although it has been dry most of the time. This morning had some of the frustrations of not being able to meet face to face. In this case to finalise an application for a Safeguarding Certificate. The charity who I hope to do work with need more identification documents and copies will not do. I understand the reason for needing them, but lockdown makes this much more difficult. Without those restrictions I would just have walked around to the home of the representative of the charity and showed the required documentation. Anyhow I think I found a way round it, so hopefully the clearance can soon be given.
This afternoon we went for a stroll to have a look at the market. Unfortunately, there was no market except for one vehicle selling vegan food which is not for me. Nevertheless, it was good to get out even with the gusting wind keeping the temperature down. There were a few people in the Pavilion Gardens with the young children clearly delighted to be out. I think I can sense a feeling of optimism now that our Prime Minister has given his “road map” out of restrictions although each step has to pass a four-way test before it is confirmed.

If you are wondering about the photo above it is produced using reasonable priced software to merge different images and to remind that you should never trust a photograph.

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them.

Strawberry table

Friday 19th February 21
Two full weeks have passed since I last hit the keyboard to give my thoughts on how I made the best of the lockdown. What I have been doing in that time has to a large extent been influenced by the weather. Last week it was snow which was on the ground in some form for a full week and that often dictated that staying in was the safest thing to do. How long have I done safe!!! Perhaps since I fell and found it hurt more than I remember. Memories can play tricks.

If it wasn’t snow it was generally rain & wind making getting out unpleasant and doing jobs outside in the garden impractical. Saying that I have had two things I ordered come which reminded me of the summer to come. The first thing is a strawberry table- see image. It came in kit form and fortunately Mrs B who you can call Ann is a wiz making things, as I’ve mentioned before. With minimal assistance from me – well actually I was only tightening the screws, it was up. No strawberries of course yet but they are on order to go on the table when spring is here.

The second thing that came a few days ago was my long-ordered patio fruit tree collection. I ordered them in October from a professional well known tree grower and I knew they would not be sent until the right time. Well, the right time for the grower coincided with our heavy snow and rock hard soil so they have been in the shed for a few days until yesterday when after giving them a good drink, I potted them up in very large pots with the recommended John Innes soil based compost. They now sit proudly dormant on the patio all staked up and hopefully in a couple of years full of apple or pear or plum fruit.

We have had a few walks over the last fortnight mainly local and repeats of what we have done before. On Wednesday I was able to go a bit further with my enthusiastic companion for good company. We walked from Millers Dale up to Tideswell using the route I walked many times when coming home from school in Buxton. My normal routine then was to get out of school a few minutes before official finishing time and “leg it” to the railway station to hopefully catch the train to Millers Dale. Once I got to Millers Dale if I was lucky my dad would pick me up on his way home from work. More often, I was left to do the walk I imposed on my companion to Tideswell. On Wednesday we were in Tideswell only 45 minutes after leaving Millers Dale. I found that hard to reconcile with my memory from my youth where the walk seemed much longer. Of course, as a schoolboy I had a school bag, short legs and for a while a violin.

The violin was in a heavy wooden case and I was supposed to take it home to practice. Unfortunately, I soon didn’t bother but really unfortunately got caught by the music teacher, who I won’t name, who told me in no uncertain language I was sacked from the violin class and he followed that with a tremendous flat handed hit to my head nearly knocking me over. I still recall his words of dismissal “take a clip boy”. If the music teacher was still alive, I might have sued him for making me lose my hair prematurely.

Anyway, back to this Wednesday. After reaching Tideswell we had a very brief tour telling my companion, who kindly pretended to be interested, about the Tideswell of my youth. I enjoyed recounting what was where when I lived there. We then walked back to Millers Dale by a different route ending on the trail between Litton Mill & Millers Dale after walking through Tideswell Dale.

Tideswell Dale was a bit upsetting, as dozens of Ash trees said to be a danger were to be or had been felled. Surprisingly, many just left where they had fallen even if across the little brook travelling toward the River Wye. Hopefully, the area will recover quickly but on our walk, it looked terrible and it was clear from the noise of chainsaws that many more trees still faced being brutally cut down. I hope that every tree cut down posed a legitimate danger and that the decision to cut them down was not a "just in case" decision.

Fortunately, we reached Millers Dale without further incident after, at least for me, a great mornings walk. So dear reader that about sums up my days.  Next time more about the big if not enormous birthday and how we hope to celebrate it within the confines of Lockdown.

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them.

More snow

Friday Feb 5th 21
Well, here we are in February. Snow seems to be forecast for the weekend after only leaving us a couple of days ago. If it isn’t snowing its raining at least that’s what my pal the jobbing gardener says. Truthfully, he has been unable to work during January for three out of every five days. The worst I’ve evet known he continues. I can’t disagree. Perhaps more snow over the weekend according to one of the forecasts.

In the garden a few brave bulbs are trying to poke their noses up above the soil and snow. With the exception of the garlic which all seem to be doing well the rest generally are a bit miserable. At least the days seem to be getting lighter for longer and this helps me think Spring is not too far away. With that thought I was encouraged to order for later delivery some strawberry plants and a strawberry table which apparently ensures the slugs don’t feast on your fruit. There is even a net to keep the birds off. Time will tell.

On the pandemic front we (the UK) seem to be getting on with the vaccination at speed with some days almost 500,000 people getting inoculated. Yesterday speaking to a friend, he told me that while he had his inoculation without any side effects the same could not be said for his wife. Although her side effects were fairly mild some of their family had headaches which one described as like having a hangover. It’s a long time since I had one of those, but I can still sympathise.

We are still getting out to exercise and yesterday because our car needed a run, we went to one of the trails. While the walk we did was a linear one it was most enjoyable, and we even resorted to taking a few photographs with our phones to try to identify a small flock of birds we saw which we were not able immediately to identify. The pictures didn’t help as the birds were camouflaged with the grass, but we did later identify them as “Fieldfare” Fieldfares are large, colourful thrushes, much like a mistle thrush. They apparently in large numbers overwinter here but are native to Scandinavia & Russia. So, I learnt something .

Talking of learning things, I am spending a lot of time using my web design software CoffeeCup. I’m not sure if it’s an age thing but after doing something slightly more testing an hour or two later, I can’t remember how I did it.

What else have we been doing. I suppose very little although we were pleased to see at a distance our daughter and grandchildren who seemed to be enjoying the freedom of running up and down our garden. We also benefitted from another cake which was delicious and possible because it’s a wellbeing day (no schoolwork today) we might even get another one tomorrow.

I don’t recall ever having been able to use my mothers kitchen to bake as a child and am delighted that our grandchildren don’t have that restriction on them. I think they are doing dinner today “Mexican” style. Sounds good to me that they already have that sort of confidence.

You might or not recognise the hill in the distance on today’s photo. As a clue look around Earl Sterndale. Answers in my next commentary.
Keep safe.

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them.

More snow

Wednesday 27th January 21
Amazing how time passes, and you don’t realise. I suppose it’s similar to the way life passes by so quickly. I was emailing a friend and he mentioned a name of someone until recently I hadn’t seen for over fifty years. It wasn’t unfortunately good news about this person who now has severe illness not Covid related.
Well, the snow came and after a few days went. The only thing of note during that time was that I managed to fall, on my own, outside steps. Not only did I feel a fool, but it hurt but fortunately the fall was on the most padded bit of me so no long-term harm. Having said that a few years ago in similar icy conditions I had a fall while out walking alone a few miles away and thought I had broken my wrist. I managed to walk home unaided and after a later visit to our local hospital was told that the good news was that I hadn’t broken my wrist in that fall but the Xray showed I had broken it at some other time which I didn’t know about.

With the snow came the good news that it was our turn to have the vaccine and before the prescribed time we walked over to the surgery where it was taking place . I cannot praise enough the way it was done. Everything properly observed, questions asked as needed, 15 minutes observations and I was out by the time my appointment was due- and it didn’t hurt. Thanks to all who made it happen including the volunteers outside in the cold directing people to the right place.

With the snow and ice gone we got out for a local exercise walk into town . It was really quiet in town with hardly any cars in the main car park where sometimes finding a hole is difficult. As we came past the park there were a few children with parents who were enjoying the fresh air.

It is the children who I worry most about during the pandemic. Yes, online schooling at least here, is well organised but the children are totally missing the social interaction that school brings. Because there was officially a no school wellness day at the secondary school, I was delighted to receive a lovely chocolate cake made by one of our grandchildren. What was even better was to see them while they delivered it to our backdoor step. They both seem well and know more about social distancing and all the other necessary things to do or not to do but they need traditional schooling.

During the last few snowy days I spent a fair bit of time rewriting one of our websites https://andycrafts.co.uk . I’ve only just gone back to using the software made by the delightfully named CoffeeCup, but I am really enjoying it. What is even better is that I know either of my two expert friends in Norway or Java will get me out any hole I dig with the software.

Finally, today. Even more in the saga of NS & I which I’ve mentioned previously. While not boring you again with this I’ll just repeat I’ll never ever deal with them again. If there is a more inefficient financial organisation, they would be bankrupt. NS & I will no doubt get bailed out.

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them.

Finished Crescent

Sunday 17th January 21
Delighted the snow has all gone after heavy rain but with a clear dry cold morning we got out for a morning exercise leg stretch.

While it was really quiet, walking through town we did notice the local cafe's doing takeaway coffee with a reasonable take up. One of the cafes even offered free coffee for anyone a bit hard up, thanks to them and the person(s) who have donated to allow this to happen.

One of the few shops open were two who sell cheap goods. Not totally sure how they get around the regulations for "essential shopping only" but that's for someone else to answer.

As there were only a few people about I was able to get a new photo of the Crescent now completed, see above. The huge restoration project has been going on for literally years, and I'm not sure I ever thought it would be completed. It looks spectacular from the outside and absolutely as I remember it from years ago. When the restrictions lift I'm sure the hotel which is part of the project will be a real success. Strangely although it was extremely quiet we met a couple of people we know as we passed down toward "Broad Walk". As we got to Temple Road we were immediately aware of someone in a fluorescent jacket guiding people to available parking spots in the car park of Buxton Medical Centre. The reason, this is the place they are using for vaccine innoculation and although we were only passing by we could see it was busy. 

Ann's dad Roy who lives just outside Abergavenny is a little tired today and at 99 years old he is entitled to be. He thinks it is an after effect of the vaccine injection yesterday. He may be right but it also might be the build up to going and the breaking of his routine. When I spoke to him yesterday after just coming back from the process he was delighted to tell me his injection had been done by an RAF bands woman. His delight was extended by the fact that his wartime experience was in the RAF and he had been able to have a little chat with her about it.

Roy is a remarkable man whose brain is so sharp, albeit his body makes him less mobile than he would like. Thanks to Ann's sister and family and very good neighbours,  he can maintain his independent living. The lockdown has meant we have only seen him once since March 20, so thanks to all who support him. We were able to "zoom " in on him at Christmas a process he said he enjoyed .

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them.

Snow this morning

 Friday 15th January 21
Getting up to temperatures said by our friends at Buxton Weather of Minus 4.5 but a lovely clear day. The snow still sits there with some ice patches to make getting about interesting. The Robin seemed pleased to see me or was it the food I put out for him/her.

Wandering down the garden in fresh snow I could see one set of large animal tracks coming up the garden in the usual place and later going out, presumably after visiting which ever of the neighbours it is who leaves food out for him. The badger is a creature of habit and I have noticed over the years it never varies on its route by more than a few yards. At this time of year it doesn't matter but in Autumn when he becomes they the family of badgers cause a lot of damage to the garden as well as leaving "calling cards" for clearing up.

Seeing the lovely sun, we decided to go for a stroll after lunch. We wrapped up warm with suitable footwear but quickly realised the pavements and roads in part were sheet ice. We diverted to Temple Fields and walking in snow felt much more secure . A few people about all social distancing although the same cannot be said for their dogs which were clearly loving the snow. I do not know much about moles, but snow and ice doesn’t stop them making fresh “mole hills” , another obstacle to avoid.

We were only out about three quarters of an hour or so, but it was enough. As we approached home it was a real bonus to see two of our neighbours going out and shouting to us that they were going for their anti covid injection. Both of them in their eighties and well in front of us on the list and they looked excited at the prospect.

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them.

Cross Trainer

Thursday 14th January 21
After a broken night’s sleep, I got up to heavy rain now turned to snow. It is a little like snow you see on a Christmas card and likely to become less as the day goes on.

I was delighted to receive an email today from my friend in Java. Wayan who has helped me with website design issues many times, has written to me today about his New Years Eve. Without going into the details, it was far more interesting than mine. I can also easily see significant differences in the way the culture of Java (Indonesia) is, compared to the UK.

With the weather being as it is I’m not sure we will get out later for our exercise. What we do have in the garage is an exercise device. I think the correct description is a cross trainer. To use it fully you need hand and leg coordination which I don’t seem to have. On the other hand, or leg “she who must be obeyed” seems completely at home with it. Before lockdown Ann went to the gym three times a week and I guess used such a device.

Ann anticipating a lengthy lockdown ordered the device in March. It came very quickly but then needed assembly. Now Mrs B is very good at assembly taking after her dad Roy the 99-year-old I have mentioned previously. If it had been left to me, it would still be in bits or if constructed, unusable with lots of bits spare, but Mrs B completed the task in a short time with little grumbling.

Ann whose website at https://andycrafts.co.uk gives some indication of her other skills, had practice early in our relationship with my Black Austin A30 first car a good buy at £30. It went from black colour one weekend to white by Sunday afternoon thanks to Ann’s efforts. It worked well until the big ends went. Having limited resources I was determined to prove I had mechanical skills and decided to replace them mysel. You might not be surprised to know it never went properly again and had to be scrapped. When it went the best and most expensive part was a a very loud “air horn” like you hear sometimes on lorries. 

Before the “big ends” went, I took my driving test in this white car . I am not sure I passed this time or not (it took me three goes) but I do remember the driving instructor telling me not to use this loud horn or I would automatically fail.

Today what with the snow I never intended stirring far but thanks to the most inefficient N S & I have had to go out in the snow and post a form. I have a small savings investment account with the said N S & I which has now reached the end of its fixed term. It is all online so going into it last week I made a fairly simple withdrawal, or so I thought. Having done everything, it then asked me for the name of my first pet or first school. Now I could have guessed but as I use a password manager to record things like this I looked, and I had not set these questions up.

Because I was unable to answer the questions it logged me out and prevented me from going back in again. Today I received a letter from NS & I with a temporary password warning that once in I would need a new password so prepare. Prepare I did and having got in using the temporary password I was told to enter my phone number and when it rang put in that the number now on screen. Well, there was a number on screen but when tried to enter it, the phone cut me off and on screen said I must print a form send it to them and get another temporary password. I appreciate I am a Grumpy Old man but please just send me my money to the account you agree I have with a bank in Buxton. I did everything right and you have got my money.

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ from [THE LINK] here.
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them.

NHS rainbow

Monday 11th January 21
Somehow a week has passed since I last wrote. and while not a lot has happened to me , sadly lots of people have caught Coronavirus-19 , the hospitals are full to overspilling and record numbers of people have died.

Because of the weather our idea of exercising each day by walking has failed. If there wasn't snow on the ground, there was ice and if neither of them it was very cold. Today it is heavy rain and cold. I suppose because we've not been out a lot I can feel smug because i've certainly not breached any guidelines.

Even when walking around town you meet very few people. From my phone contact with people I regularly keep in touch with, I am in no doubt this lockdown is causing people more problems than the previous ones. I spoke to someone today who lives alone in a small flat in a housing complex. They have not been out for several weeks. This persons groceries are obtained by a good samaritan and left at the entrance to the complex. The complex itself sounds like a prison. Residents are not allowed to use the communal lounge- it is locked, even though social distancing is understood by the mature residents. Pictures have been removed off walls, and rails to help the less mobile go down a corridor have been removed. There is no face to face contact and for this generation generally "Zoom" is something younger relatives might mention. The idea of keeping physical mobile has been taken away. I think it is a disgrace.

I couldn't help comparing this with an article I read in one of the broadsheet newspapers that said millions of pounds worth of flat screen TV's had been installed in prison cells. The generation of the person I spoke to today , is one we should revere and not punish on a management interpretation of how Government guidelines are observed. These mature people have lived their lives and can make their own decisions and we should let them continue.

For many years the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales has been served extremely well by a local charity originally based on Buxton Market Place called Peaks and Dales Advocacy (PADA). I must declare an interest, as for a very happy few years in the early 2000's I worked part time  with them. The group of "paid" people were all part time and paid only a modest amount and they were supported at all levels by volunteers who gave their time and skills freely. The service they delivered to the community was immense. Their role was to support as partners people who needed support to put forward their views or needs. PADA covered the whole spectrum including people with mental health issues, older people and people with learning disabilities. PADA were "partners" in a supporting sense to people who were often desperately in need. I mention this now as from the end of March the organisation will not exist, a victim of cut backs in funding and of course the pandemic. The loss to the area will put extra work on other paid services who are already busy enough.

I suppose I must mention what is happening in the USA. You like me will have your views on it. Hopefully that nation will get through it and move on with a new president.

I would never have thought "dustbins" would crop up in anything I wrote but the pandemic has reduced so much face to face contact that when fetching your empty bins in you might meet a neighbour doing the same and at a social distance of course , exchange pleasantries. This wouldn't happen if the refuse disposal people hadn't emptied your bin in the first place, so thanks to them and all the other groups and individuals who keep our life during this pandemic tolerable.

Some more good news the vaccine is now being rolled out and the mammoth job of injecting those who want it has started. Yes it will be a while until we are all offered it but I'm pleased to say that my 99 year old father in law who lives in Wales will go for his next Saturday.

Keep safe.

Don't forget if you would like to comment email russ@russb.org.uk
I don't promise to include your comments in this blog  but I will read them.

Tony Parkes 1972

Monday 4th January 21
An early visit to my shed after feeding the birds shows 1.6C on my absolutely inaccurate thermometer- but it was cheap.
Today we decided it was time for the Christmas decorations to come down which means a double trip to the loft. It's not so difficult now thanks to investing in a loft ladder fitted by the excellent Dave a nice bloke and very reliable in an almost old fashioned way. Anyway decorations down and back in the loft until December.

You might recall I mentioned yesterday my support for a proper football team Buxton FC known to me as the Bucks . At least that's what I shout when I can watch them. I have watched them since at least 1961 , and I can recall even now how they were cheated out of a win against Barrow in the FA Cup. Strange how I can remember that but sometimes not much more recent stuff.

In the 1970's we had at Buxton a brilliant footballer in the team called Tony Parkes (see image above). He only did I think one season with us but he scored a lot of goals. He came to the attention of Blackburn Rovers who signed him for a fee. It was great to follow his success over several seasons after that and how he was a Blackburn Rovers regular. From then he became a coach and several times while still at Blackburn was "caretaker" manager for several short periods after they sacked their manager's. The ones I recall Tony replacing were Roy Hodgson, Graeme Souness and Kenny Dalglish although there were others. He left Blackburn after 34 years and sadly at the end Blackburn treated him badly with him finding he had been sacked after his daughter read or heard about it. Tony went on again to Blackpool doing similar good work until about 2008.

Now why did I mention that. Sadly Tony who is younger than me has Dementia or something similar and now is in a care home in Blackburn. He is  seemingly forgotten by the football world which he served for all those years. Whether Tony was affected by heading a football which has affected so many of his generation is not clear, but it is a sad chapter in his life. If you wanted to read more abot Tony click on this link.

Still on football. I cannot understand why Premier League players earning huge sums of money can behave in a way which effectively puts two fingers up to the rest of us who are following the restrictions. Today there are examples of breaking lockdown and other suggestions of reckless driving.

Football at that level creates role models for young people and that kind of behaviour is inexcusable. With my "grumpy old man" head on, I could also go into the way they now cheat to gain advantages over the opposition. It is not a fair argument to say "they all do it".

Methodist Church Westminster Central Hall

Sunday 3rd January 21.
A lot of snow gone overnight and perhaps a little warmer at 1C.

Normally the first Sunday in January I would before lockdown have gone to Fairfield Methodist Church to the annual Covenant Service. This is the way Methodists choose to renew their relationship with God. Unfortunately there is now no Fairfield Methodist Church as it became impossible to keep it going with a small number of elderly members, some property issues and finally lockdown preventing any of us going into the church for many months. Today as far as I am aware there are no Methodist Churches open locally due to us being in Tier 4. I could have gone to a  local "Zoom" service but I chose to watch the live "You Tube" service from Westminster Methodist Central Hall (see above). It is very professionally produced by a sartorially elegant presenter whose dress would, I feel sure , make our local minister Andrew envious. Doing this allows someone from a small town (me) to see how "Church" is in a cosmopolitan city. It is very different but also very similar in as much as the key elements such as the Covenant Service are the same.

This afternoon we got out for an hours exercise walking on quiet roads in the town. We were careful to avoid ice . Although there were few people about where we met others walking toward us one or the other moved to create space. Normally this was followed by a "thank you" from the people not having to move. It was good to see at a distance Ian who I played football with almost 50 years ago and I've only seen a few times in the intervening years . I suppose the fact that we both recognised the other after all that time says something.

Talking of football ,while I am delighted to be able to watch my Premier League favourite team on the TV, especially when they win, I can't wait to get back to watching live my first football love "The mighty Bucks". They play at the Tarmac Silverlands Stadium said to be at the highest altitude of any football stadium in England. I miss the football and the humour of the people who in normal times I stand with and also watching opposition supporters complaining they are cold , their clothing not suitable for the Buxton climate.

Snow on 2nd jan 21

Saturday 2nd January 21.
Lovely day but really cold with the temperature about minus 1. Birds fed and normal visit by a very shy robin to get first go at the seed. A lot more snow and ice gone but care needed with what is left. Vehicles are hard frosted over and with forecast to stay close to 0 temperatures and even snow during the day they might stop like that.

2pm as forecast we have some heavy snow likely to become lighter before it stops.

Have to admit at midnight on Thursday 31st December I was tucked up in bed but certainly aware of some very loud fireworks.

Friday January 1st 2021. Welcome to the new year with lots of promise for one better than last year. No Brexit to get in every news (hopefully) and with the new vaccines some hope of relief from the pandemic which is Covid-19. In Buxton it is slightly warmer than yesterday. Walked around town area for exercise in early afternoon avoiding the ice patches, hardly saw anybody.

Happy new year to all.

The photo below of Chrome Hill, Nr Earl Sterndale is a link to our  photographic file. CLICK on photo. If you would like to add some of your photos please send them to me at the email address at the bottom of the screen

Chrome Hilll

Chrome Hill, Nr Glutton Bridge. Pronounced Croom.

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