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this page was last updated on 13 August 2014



this is the 'Latest News' I uploaded in 2009


ending the year in style at Belinda's New Year's Eve party ..more photos here



my first great-nephew, Archie James, born New Year's Eve 2009 at 4.08pm weighing in at 7ibs 9oz .. and there was much rejoicing!!



Alexander as the trainee doctor in the family taking our blood pressureBoxing Day saw us going to Beverly's for lunch, tea and party games. The photo shows Alexander [the resident family trainee-doctor] checking Belinda's blood pressure. It was good that we continued 3 days of family Christmas celebrations. More photos of the day here


For Christmas Day I went to Barrie & Jane's to see their brood with their Christmas presents before going off to Belinda's for a lovely lunch. More photos can be seen here. And of course, the annual Queen's speech had to be watched - see it on YouTube here


it was the traditional family gathering at mom's on Christmas Eve where we shared our presents before going our separate ways .. I went off to meet friends at the Hawne Tavern before going to midnight communion at Short Cross Methodist church. Family photos can be seen here with one from the Tavern here


Walking with my neighbour Terry over Bluebell Wood on Wednesday 23rd December in very snowy conditions. very nice ... !! More photos here



My nephew James and Viv couldn't be up for the family's traditional gathering on Christmas Eve, so having travelled to the Midlands to watch the Villa game [they beat Stoke City 1-0 so they were in a happy mood!!] we had a quick session @ mom's to say 'hi' and swap cards and presents.


It was advertised as a Christmas Festive time @ Wightwick Manor [a National Trust property [therefore free entrance for me!!] so I duly went with Judith and Peter & Phyllis - Saturday 19th December. It was a bitterly cold day which literally took the edge off the afternoon, but the choir singing to us festive music made up for that. Then back to Judith's for much welcomed mulled wine!


I went on my weekly walk with my neighbour Terry on Wednesday 9th December over a very misty Waseley Park - I couldn't see where I'd been or was going but strangely enough we found our way back to the cafe for a welcome cup of tea and a bacon sandwich!!


I went with Judith & George and Peter to see Alan Ayckbourn's 'Season's Greetings' at the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham. Not the best interpretation or acting I've seen but we all had a good night out - apart from hearing the Baggies had lost 2-0 to Cardiff. Grrr


Mom, Bev, Amie & me together with cousins Dave & Val Coley went to my Aunty May who at 99 doesn't get out much! We all sang Carols to get her in the mood for Christmas and it was good to share such fellowship with the family - Tuesday 8th December 09. More photos here


I went on my weekly walk with my neighbour Terry on Wednesday 9th December over a very misty Waseley Park - I couldn't see where I'd been or was going but strangely enough we found our way back to the cafe for a welcome cup of tea and a bacon sandwich!!


My nephew Joshua who has been studying at Kings College London,

has just heard he's gained a distinction in his MA on "Intelligence & International Security." Well done Josh, we're all really proud of you.


My cousin Norman phoned me from the USA on Sunday evening 6th December. My phone's ID said 'international' so I thought he was one of the overseas Call Centres that have been plaguing me of late trying to sell me something while I was trying to watch a film .. and I reacted accordingly!! .. but thankfully we soon got through that initial  hiccup and it was good to catch up with the family news!!


The Choir I sing in, Voices in Harmony, sang for an Advent service at my own church, Overend Methodist, on Sunday evening 6th December. Though only ¾ of the Choir were able to come, it wasn't a bad effort - plus a good service, led by my friend Pat Sanger.


I went to hear Handle's Messiah at Birmingham's Symphony Hall on Friday 4th December - an excellent performance by the CBSO and CBSO Choir and a good precursor to Christmas. Then we went to The Bank in Brindley Place for food and wine!!


My former boss Paul, Ian & Nando came her for a meal on Saturday 28th November .. amazingly I cooked, though its consumption was aided by copious amounts of alcohol .. kill the taste buds first seemed a good plan to me!!


I went on a good long walk @ the Wyre Forest with my neighbour on Thursday 26th November on a beautifully sunny but cold day .. other photos here


I tagged along with the Waitrose staff's exclusive evening at John Lewis's in Solihull thanks to George's invite. Seen here returning after a good night out there - free coach/free food/free wine & a 12.5% discount on everything that night only!! Sorted.


I played a game of 'Risk' for the first time for years .. played at my house on Saturday 21st November, I rapidly found my dreams of World domination were just that - dreams!! Oh well, next times eh?!!


Taken during a walk along the Kinver canals on 17th November - having been confined to home for 3 days with a heavy & debilitating cold. It was good to get out and about ...


This a well camouflaged bird-watching hide we stumbled across over Walton Hill on Thursday 12th November during my weekly walk.



after the meal & just minutes the drive back south & home!I was in Scotland for a family wedding from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th November, travelling up by car with Bev & Belinda while mom, Jane & Matt went up by train. The wedding was between Lynne Struthers & Martin Tougher and as ever it was good to go back to Scotland and meet up with family & friends. Although only there for 3 days they were packed full of activity; I'm exhausted!!! See the photographs here


If ever there was any doubt that Autumn was here, just take a look at this photo .. a gorgeous bed of golden leaves - taken over the Clent Hills during a walk on Thursday 5th November.


a captured Enigma machine @ Bletchley Park - 24 Oct 09A fabulously interesting day's visit to Bletchley Park, the historic site of secret British code breaking activities during WW2 and birthplace of the modern computer. I wish I'd done my homework before I went as there was a lot to see and take in and at times I wasn't doing justice to the importance of this place. More photos here.


I went to the RAF Museum @ Cosford today, 22nd October, and was pleasantly surprised at how well the refurbishment has added to the museum. It really is a good place to visit .. assuming of course you like aircraft!! We went by train, got absolutely soaked in the half mile walk back from the museum to the station and now have a cold coming. But that doesn't detract from the good day we had there. More photos here.


It was the second reunion this year of the 'Short Crossers' meeting @ Himley on the evening of Wednesday 21st October 09 - we have known each other since our mid-teens when we met at Short Cross Methodist church! Seen here l-r are Pat Nightingale [nee Russ], me, Deborah Hubbard [nee Leedham], Joy Weston [nee Windsor] and Alex Long. Friendship endures, obviously!!


For my weekly walk we went to the  Brockhampton Estate, a National Trust property in Herefordshire - Wednesday 21st October (which just happens to be Trafalgar Day!!(.


I went to hear one of my favourite Choirs, Ex Cathedra, who were singing at The Oratory in Birmingham on Saturday 17th October - and with much baroque music they never fail to leave me wanting more ...


taken over Kinver on a wet day!! 15th Oct 09It was my weekly walking day on Thursday 15th October (I needed to rid myself of the many calories I'd put on @ Torquay) so it was over a wet Kinver Edge we started off .. only for it to get wetter. Hey Ho, wet is good .. I suppose!!


I went to Torquay for a long weekend 9th-12th October, travelling with Joy & Lynton and staying with Lynne & Ian. A fabulous & busy time was had, meeting @ Sidmouth where we had lunch at the Belmont [it's a favourite place of ours and forms the 'food-benchmark' against which all other establishments are measured!!]. On the Saturday, bathed in Sunshine, we went for coffee at the beautiful Bovey Castle on Dartmoor and then we went to Chagford a lovely sleepy village where we had lunch; then onward to the last castle ever built in Britain = Castle Drogo. Sunday saw us strolling around Torquay and had a lovely walk along the sea front. And just in case we hadn't drank enough coffee, our stay in Torquay ended at the Osborne Hotel [the largest example of regency architecture in the town] again basked in sunshine and overlooking the bay. More photos here


singing an Abba songI took mom to see/hear the "Ladies' Circuit Choir" who were singing at Short Cross Methodist on Friday 2nd October .. Paul Bond was the pianist and Jenny & Graham Handley also came. It was so good to catch up .. !!


My weekly walk with my neighbour - this time over the Waseley Hills on 2nd October.



I went to the 'Back to Backs' in Birmingham on Wednesday 30th September, the city's only remaining examples of this type of housing - maintained by the National Trust.   



I went to see the Soweto Gospel Choir at the Birmingham Symphony Hall on Wednesday 17th September. They were excellent - vibrant, noisy, energetic, colourful - and even I stood and swayed a little at the end of their performance [I don't do dancing!!!). 


On 17/9 my neighbour' and 3 of his former work colleagues (I just tagged along!) met at Stourbridge, as they wanted to see and travel on the new 'Parry People Mover' which utilises flywheel energy sources as its main form of propulsion .. sadly when we got there the 2 trial cars had been taken out of service for modifications! But on the plus side we [almost literally] bumped into John Parry, Chairman of the Company producing the cars, who agreed to give us a tour of the nearby sheds were they were being kept. For 40 minutes we had a superb personal tours - I think he appreciated the questions/observations of former BR managers. More photos here.


I just love this sign [seen today @ Stourport [16th Sept 09) as it reminds me of my worst nightmares in my English lessons at school where I didn't know if it was describing a singular or plural possessive quality .. if in doubt (as in the sign) just put the apostrophe above the 's'. Oh happy memories ... not!!!!!



jacuzzi time at J&GsEnjoying a good soak in Judith & George's Jacuzzi on Tuesday 15th September.



Matt, me & JoshMe with my nephews Matt & Josh [15 Sept 09] who swapped SatNavs with me [mine has the Western Europe maps] as they're off driving tomorrow to the Munich Beer Festival via the Euro Star .. good luck to them ,. I did warn them about the French driving habits, in particular!


So this is how we get the word 'The Clink' .. obvious really, I know, but still interesting the longevity of the word in today's parlance.        



Christiane Moran, singing at the Birmingham Conservatoire on 13 Sep 09 as part of the Arts Fest Interesting how you meet people! While waiting for the bus on the Saturday night (12/9) after the Arts Fest, and while reading the catalogue of the day's events, a lady asked if I'd enjoyed the day and if I was intending to go in on the following day/Sunday. She turned out to be Christiane Moran who was singing a recital in the Birmingham Conservatoire a programme of classic French & Italian songs. She was a delightful person and we talked much on the bus back to Halesowen. I did decide to go in on the Sunday afternoon and hear her sing and it was lovely indeed!!      


Ex Cathedra singing in the Town Hall - and showing off their junior Choir tooIt was Birmingham's Art Fest weekend (the UK's  biggest free arts festival) and I went in on Saturday 12th September 09 with Judith, Phyllis & Peter. It was a gloriously sunny & warm day and we spent an hour on 'the beach' in deck-chairs just soaking up the sun & atmosphere. We went to four indoor concerts, two separate out door Concerts not not mention the belly dancers!! The highlight was the concert by Ex Cathedra in the Town hall .. absolutely superb! More photos of the day here


I went to see a good production of Cabaret at the Birmingham Rep on Friday 4th September with Ian & Nando - set in Berlin during the rise of Hitler's fascism it gave opportunities for laughter and pathos - and included one of my favourite melodies "tomorrow belongs to me." We then went to a number of nearby pubs and I was 'made' to stay out far longer than my poor little & frail body normally allows me to .. !!


Photo taken from the canal paths walking through Kidderminster 2 Sept 09, while having a good walk out with Terry; then tea at J&Gs' before welcoming a new Local Preacher at a special service at New Road Methodist in Stourbridge.



It was part two of mom's 87th birthday celebrations when we met at Bev's for a meal on Sunday 30th August 09. More photos here



I accommodated overnight [27th/28th Aug] Mike who is a friend of my next door neighbour Terry, and we spent two days of walking, visiting local attractions as well as eating much food! More photos of the two days here


It was mom's 87th birthday on Wednesday 26th August. She spent the day out with Barrie & Jane and then others in the family met on the evening. We continue the celebrations on Sunday at Bev's with yet  more of the family ....


This is Aime's second scan - in her third scan coming soon she'll be able to determine the sex of the baby.

It's what I called a Wigwam Tree - branches [unusually] right down to the ground with an opening like a tent .. taken in the grounds of Himley Hall on Wednesday 19th August during our weekly walk! And the sun shone :)


Yet another birthday celebration, no not mine I've stopped having those!! It was Peter's 55th birthday today 16/08 so we spent the afternoon eating & drinking at his house. Sorted. More photos here


It was my weekly walk today 13/08/09 with my neighbour Terry, in fact it was the first time we'd been for 3 weeks. We kept it local to Wazeley Park but the sun shone throughout which aided the shedding the few pounds I put on through over-indulging with food and wine this weekend gone [see below].


I went to see We Will Rock You at Birmingham Hippodrome on Friday 7th August - it was excellent and perhaps an even better production that the first time I saw it in London. We all then went back to stay the weekend at Joy & Lynton's from where o the Saturday we went out for the day to Tenbury for a good walk before going on to Bewdley and then onto Ribbesford House where the Free French Forces trained during WW2. On the evening we celebrated Lynton's 65th birthday with champagne and a superb meal. On the Sunday we went for another walk and yet more food. We were lucky the whole three days were basked in sunshine. More photos here.



Voices in Harmony choir sang in Worcester Cathedral @ lunchtime on Saturday 25th July 09, an informal affair where we were given 30 minutes to sing. George & Judith, Peter & Phylis and Belinda and me then went on for a picnic at Hanbury Hall - for once this week in the sunshine!! The day was rounded off with VIH singing in Concert at St Andrew's church Worcester raising funds for church needs. More photos here - and which includes 5 short video clips of our midday singing on YouTube


I went to the weekly Flower & Produce auction in Kidderminster on Thursday 23rd July 09 .. my first time there. Some great bargains but all I bought was a hanging basket. But I'll be going again!!


Katie gets her Graduation certificateMy niece Katie gets her 'Mathematics and Sports Science' degree at the Loughborough University Graduation ceremony held on Friday 17th July 09. This photo was taken off their live webcam broadcast.


A fabulous day out on 8th July at the former Fencote Railway Station - it was closed in 1952 but was later bought my colleague's father who has over the years attempted to restore the station & signal box to its former glory! They have laid track, bought some old rolling stock and, to me, the jewel in their crown was the restored signal box where they had bought the complete innards of a closing London box - it took them 3 years to restore it but it now operates 4 different sets of signals on their limited tracks. More photos here


Part 2 of Belinda's 50th birthday celebrations - a BBQ @ her house on Saturday 4th July. the weather is still good so we didn't have to endure my usual experiences of BBQs where I watch sausages being cooked from the protection of an umbrella!! More photos here



Part 1 of my sister Belinda's 50th birthday celebrations - a meal @ the Hagley Golf & Country Club on the evening of her birthday .. Thursday 2nd July 09 More photos here. (And it was my first evening out for just over 2 weeks because of my shingles - how good it was; to get out that is, not the shingles!!




Yet again, a text message showing Belinda & Deb on their cruise ship leaving Barcelona on 22nd June 09 - how nice! Meanwhile I'm still rubbing cream into my spots ,,   :(


Belinda, Judith & Deb onboard their cruise ship mid-Mediterranean on Sunday 21st June 09 as sent to me via text message



At the Hawne Tavern (which was the first ever pub I ever went in from way way back!!) with Ian Lacon helping him to celebrate, with others, his 40th birthday - Saturday 20th June 09.


My sister Belinda with Judith at the Trevvi Fountains in Rome on Friday 19th June .. she's there with others as part of a Mediterranean cruise. The legend says " Throwing in a penny ensures your return to Rome, throwing in a second grants you a wish."



It's no wonder I had achy legs on my Wednesday walk, and cancelled my night out on Thursday; and because I 'felt unwell' after a worrying night of pain and discomfort I went to the doctors on the Friday morning (19/6)  ..  and is reluctant to announce he has Herpes Zoster .. but feels the need to say its aka is shingles .. and which causes pain & discomfort (it does!) for 2 - 4 weeks. My social life has therefore been hit by a pause-button and feels the need for sympathy to be administered in oodles


over Clent - Wednesday 17th June 09over Clent with George .. we went for a (for me!!) strenuous walk over both Clent & Walton on Wednesday 17th June ... my legs still ache!!



visiting the Art Museum in Birmingham on Tuesday 16th June ... more photos here ... and where the stained glass windows from Graingers Lane Methodist church in Cradley heath was donated on the demolition of the church. It was at this church mom & dad were married and where my sisters Barbara and Beverly were christened.


over Clent on Sunday 14th June, in brilliant sunshine  ... more photos here




The 'Castle Folly' as seen over Clent during our weekly walk on Wednesday 10th June ..



On Friday 5th June 09 I went to the CBSO Centre in Birmingham for a concert .. part of which was given by 'A Cappella Birmingham' which is a chamber choir whose aim is to "sing fine music in fine places" and who specialise in church music from the Renaissance (their repertoire includes music from William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, John Dunstable, Mozart, Purcell and Monteverdi). I was in seventh heaven!! My type of music .. no one ever borrows my CDs, I wonder why  :)


A lovely walk from Bewdley along the river bank & paths towards the Wyre Forest - Wednesday 3rd June. We came along this lovely well-maintained phone box out in the middle of nowhere. As we were taking this photo the local postman told us BT were anxious to remove it but the locals were petitioning them to keep it. In the age of mobile phones they're hard to justify, but hey it looks good [enhanced by me?? No? Oh thanks!!).


Also on Sunday 31st May the 3rd part of the Songs of Praise form Birmingham Town Hall was broadcast. More photos coming soon .. !!



from Clent Hills overlooking HalesowenSunday 31st May saw the 11th anniversary of the untimely death of my beloved sister Barbara. As we always do, the family met at church at Short Cross and then after lunch out we went to the Clent Hills to scatter petals over the spot where her ashes had been scattered.


We went to Judith & George's Saturday 30th May 09 for an afternoon of sunshine, jacuzzi and BBQ. Nice .. !!



over the Licky Hills - 29 May 09The good weather continues .. and Terry, my next door neighbour, and I went on our weekly walk, this time over the Lickey Hills - Friday 29th may.



my new light fiting - as seen in the shop!!Grrrr .. with my return to home-proper imminent, another set back tonight (28/05) when the electrician attempting to fit the replacement light fitting for the one over which all the water poured way back in January only to find a major wiring fault caused by the volume of water .. it seems a re-wiring is on the cards!! Not good news


At last, it was a fab sunny weekend Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th May 09. On the Sunday evening after church @ Kinver we ended up at Judith & George's for a spot of supper alfresco.


I went away to the Snowdonia area from Monday 18th until Wednesday 20th May staying at a smart cottage and spending a lot of time travelling on local steam trains .. it kept my compatriots happy!! A good break away from home with fantastic scenery .. more photos here


Adam Hayward @ Manchester UKI had Adam Hayward stay with me from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th May - his first foray into Birmingham - and during which time I was dragged into Birmingham city centre on the Friday night to sample 6 different bars .. at 3.00am I realised I couldn't take the 'high life' anymore and had to call it a day - no staying power we older folk!!! This photo was taken at 0100 and to see mine @ 0200 click here


doorstop sausage sandwich over Clent 12 May 09With the sun still shining, breakfast alfresco over the Clent Hills called me .. !! A doorstop sausage sandwich and a cup of tea. Nice - shame about the calories!!


A beautiful sunny day, Monday 11th May 09, so after the sadness of going to a funeral for a Choir member, I went back with a few others to sit out in the sun at Judith & George's and then a Jacuzzi. Can't wait for a decent summer. More photos here


"Oh we tiptoe through the tulips .." - well, not quite, more a good pace through Bluebell Wood [near Clent] and though the bluebells were in abundance I did feel the need to highlight them on the photo .. just in case you can't see them!!! Oh how good I am to you , and how much I needed this walk after the excesses of the afternoon tea at the Midlands Hotel in Manchester!!


on the balcony of the Lowry HotelAnother great few days in Manchester 4th-7th May. It was wet wet wet but hey, as ever, a great time was had. I met some great new people & had afternoon tea at the Midlands Hotel for Cameron's birthday before moving on to the Lowry Hotel - where I sat on a table next to Nigel Havers and across from David Ginola (no wonder the drinks were so expensive!!). Being in a city centre pub watching the Man U v Arsenal UEFA Championship semi-final was an experience in itself!! Very partisan, very passionate & very noisy but good to be there. Just love this city!!


the final leg, down The MallMy nephew Alexander ran the London Marathon for the second time on Sunday 26th April 09. His time was 3 hours 21 minutes 43 seconds - 5 minutes faster than previously. (This is last year's photo!! Too soon yet to get this year's photos.)



Michael Collie [BBC Midlands Today], Hilary Crowhurst [soloist] and Stephen Bradley [VIH's musical director]It was our Choir's annual St George's Day Concert on Saturday 25th April - another good evening where we were joined by the Langley Band, soloist Hilary Crowhurst and we were again lucky enough to get Michael Collie from BBC's Midland Today to compere our evening. It was good to be able to wave those flags and sing the old Proms' favourites!!


I went to Clent again today, Thursday 23rd, and sat on the bench at the spot where we scattered dad's ashes .. I always try to come here on his birthday .. and took this photo and 'played' with it via the apps on my iPhone .. do you think I should get a job to keep me busy!!


It's the 23rd April so happy St George's Day folks .. It would also have been my dad's birthday - a proud Scot born on England's patron saint's day; he never lived it down!!



I went to see the comedy 'Boeing Boeing' at The Rep in Birmingham on 22/04 about 1 bachelor and 3 fiancés, all air hostesses who he keeps apart courtesy of their airlines' timetable, and which obviously descends into chaos when air traffic disruptions mean they all turn up at once! A bit Brian Rix farce-like at times but it did make me laugh out loud which isn't easy these days!! 


It was such a beautiful day my neighbour Terry and I had a quick-burst walk over the Clent & Walton Hills - Wednesday 22nd April 09 - which cleared my lungs of debris!! We obviously had to have a cuppa afterwards at Nimmins Cafe .. more photos here


me & george in the audience for the Songs of Praise @ Birmingham Town HallAnother Songs of Praise 'do' was held at my house on Sunday 19th April for the second part of the Messiah broadcast, from the Birmingham Town Hall - the photo shows me in the audience!! Vain? What me? To see a few more photos taken off the TV click here


It was Mal's 60th birthday party in Halesowen tonight, 18th April. I didn't do much in the disco but I gave the buffet a good effort .. !! More photos of the party here


Christopher Hill, a former Boys' Brigade lad, popped round Saturday 18th April to show me his new baby Ethan, who apparently is a good sleeper!! Lucky them ..



I spent the day with friends at the Midlands Railway Museum at Butterley, Derbyshire today, 16th April, on a wet and bitterly cold day!! More photos here



Judith & George had a 'Jacuzzi' evening on Wednesday 15th April - it seemed rude not to go .. !! More photos here



It was Barry Blunt's 70th birthday party on Easter Monday, 13th April 09, and held at the Hagley Golf & Country Club. Barry is decidedly unwell so it was good to have this opportunity to share fellowship with him and his family. To see more photos click here


My niece Abigail was home for Easter so we had the opportunity as a family to help her celebrate her recent 30th birthday. We met at Bev's on Easter Monday 13th April; the sun shone and all was well .. Alexanger won the 'who can jump the highest' on the trampoline - Belinda & Bev's efforts were a sight to behold!! More photos here


The Choir I'm in formed part of the massed choirs singing the Messiah at Birmingham Town Hall as part of a BBC's Songs of Praise. It was broadcast on Easter Sunday evening so the gang came back to my house after church to see who we could spot and whether to prepare to sign autographs!! We saw a few and rather grainy photos taken off the TV can be seen here


I went with my former boss Paul on Saturday 11th April for a meal at Ian & Nando's - we last all met in August 07! Having only eaten one bowl of muesli all day prior to getting there the first G&T completely hit the spot followed swiftly by another .. the food never seemed to catch up with the effects of the alcohol, hence me laughing like a hyena on these photos here but a good fun time was had with excellent food and better company!!


with my own personal simnel cake .. 10 Apr 09Good Friday saw the traditional happenings .. the early morning service at Short Cross Methodist @ 7.30am with mom; and then on to the Hierons' for my Easter egg hunt and toasted hot cross buns - we didn't sit outside this year because it was raining!! I've been doing both now for well over 35 years; the service was moving and I later found my egg quickly for once! both an excellent start to Easter! More photos here


It was 'National Trust day' for our weekly walk!! We went to Croome Park, of which Wikipedia says " .. is a landscaped country park surrounding Croome Court, near Besford in Worcestershire. It was 'Capability' Brown's first complete landscape design, begun in 1751 for George Coventry, 6th Earl of Coventry. The mansion house was also designed by Brown and is a rare example of his architectural work." So there ... !!


Abigail & me in Windsor on 8th April 09I went with George to pick up his son from Heathrow airport today, 8th April, and had an hour spare it gave us the opportunity to meet up in Windsor with my niece Abigail - the first time I'd seen her this year. And very pleasant it was too ..


Shirley & Jan mid-performance @ karaokeIt was Paul Westwood's 40th birthday bash on Saturday 4th April, celebrated at a local Thai restaurant. I remember seeing Paul for the first time in the Junior Section of The Boys' Brigade at the age of 10 .. was that really 30 years ago??!! And how lovely a friendship has endured. The evening ended off with a karaoke .. needless to say I was a watcher! To see more photos of the evening click here


I've just returned from a few days in Manchester .. 1st/3rd April .. and I really do love this city. New friends met, old ones renewed and Theatre on the Thursday afternoon to boot. The sun shone and the pavement cafes were open. How a bit of sunshine makes everyone seem happier!! Will soon be back there ..



undefinedIt was tea first at Judith & George's.
then going on to an amateur production of Abigail's Party on 31st March in Stourbridge. The plot, according to Wikipedia, is "Beverly invites her new neighbours over for drinks. She has also asked her divorced neighbour Susan, whose fifteen-year-old daughter Abigail is holding a party in their house. Beverly's husband Laurence comes home late from work, just before the guests arrive. The gathering starts off in a stiff, insensitive, British-middle-class way as the virtual strangers tentatively gather, until Beverly and Lawrence start sniping at each other. As Beverly serves more drinks and the alcohol takes effect, Beverly flirts more and more overtly with Tony, as Laurence sits impotently by. After a tirade about art, Laurence suffers a fatal heart attack. Within this simple framework, all of the obsessions, prejudices, fears and petty competitiveness of the protagonists are ruthlessly exposed." It made me laugh out loud & I really enjoyed it.


in front of Windsor CastleI went with George on 25th March to pick his son Jeremy up from Heathrow Airport, having spent first a couple of hours in sunny Windsor. More photos can be seen here


It was Judith's birthday today, 23rd March, so we popped round for a bit of food and some wine. A nice way to spend a Monday night!! A few more photos can be seen here


Mothering Sunday, 22nd March 09, saw me with mom at church and then to Belinda's for lunch and watching old cine-film of the family - now thankfully copied to DVD. More photos here



At last .. I'm officially 'dried out' (and I do hope they're referring to the house and not me!!) and the five dehumidifiers and four large fans [as shown in the photo] were taken away today - Thursday 19th March 09. The decorating is yet to begin .. watch this space!


I went with Joy to see the Young Queen Victoria at Merry Hill, had a bite to eat and then we went off to meet up for our old gang's Reunion @ the Dudley Arms .. it's always good to catch up on the gossip and see how each family is getting on. We next meet up in June!!


Terry & I went to the Wyre Forest for our weekly walk on Wednesday 18th March 09 and were glad that George was able to join us for the first time. The day was a beautifully sunny one and we walked for 2 hours! (It's a lot for me these days .. there were a lot of lumps & bumps in the topology!!) And of course we had to then have lunch out .. we'd deserved it me thinks!!


It's 'Red Nose Day' - Friday 13th March 09 - and it started off with comic relief cakes @ Belinda's [see photo], followed by a tutorial on Windows Movie Maker given to me by Nicki, me finding my long-lost marbles [don't ask!!], Judith popping round for a hot chocolate and finally us sending George a 'goodbye to work' message on his last day at Watsons Glass in Wolverhampton .. each event mentioned duly recorded in photo. To see click here


The truth is out ... my nephew Matthew is Superman!! If you need any confirmation just watch this video here - he seemed such an unassuming guy too 


I went to the Birmingham Rep on Thursday 26th February to see 'The Hounding of David Oluwale' - based on a true story about the battered body of a 38 year old man being pulled from the River Aire in May 1969. An internal police inquiry revealed how he had been the victim of horrific, systematic, police brutality. It was a good production, though disturbing in its content


it was Bethany's 14th birthday on Wednesday 25th February .. as usual the family [and some of her friends] gathered .. !! More photos here


my house is seemingly refusing to dry out, so the kitchen tiles had to come off today, Monday 23rd February, to aid the drying process, thus making the house seem even more derelict & desolate.


seen here with Judith & George after our 6th glass of wine!! I hasten to add they were only tasters at a FairTrade wine-tasting evening in Stourbridge on Friday 20th February



eddie straaszeni from Worthing & Medway - in Halesowen, February 2009Eddie Straaszeni, a friend of mine from Worthing & Medway stayed over a couple of nights 19th/20th February - my first B&B guest in my 'new' [pretend] house - seen here relaxing after the 4 hour drive up & after a few Stella Artois .. !!



It was my Aunty May's 99th birthday on Thursday 19th February - there are a few photos from a visit on the Tuesday before [where we had a celebration because some in the family can't make in on her birthday] and her birthday itself. A tremendous age .. now bring on The Queen's telegram next year!!! See the other photos here


Matthew's had a new car .. seen here .. and now the McBain's new driveway has been 'done' they have plenty of car parking space! With their 5 cars neatly parked, as seen, they make the TV programme 'Butterflies' family seem like amateurs!!!!


A spontaneous evening's get together! Judith & George popped round to see me and my [now new] neighbours Peter & Phyllis saw us and decided to join us. Then a knock on the door showed Belinda, Nicki & Shirley had popped round too. A good couple of hours of gossip, opinion, and copious bottles of wine followed. Nice!! More photos here


over a snowy Clent on Sunday 8th February 08Lynne & Ian came up from Torquay for the weekend 7th/8th February 09 and I stayed with them @ Joy & Lynton's - they were due to come up on the Friday (6th) and then to to me for a meal but used a lame excuse that the M5 was closed due to snow. Is my cooking so bad? :-) But we had a good couple of days when they were able to get up to the Midlands, a highlight being [a] seeing young William Weston (Ben & Emily's 2nd child) for the first time [b] the 'Short Cross-ers' winning at TP on the Saturday night and [c] a superb walk in the snow & ice over a sunny Clent on the Sunday morning. More photos of the weekend here


It was our weekly walk on Wednesday 4th February .. we went to Waseley Park were the snow was still on the ground but it was a beautifully sunny day making the trudging through snow almost a joy!! Scenes we haven't seen for a long time, including a skier as shown here, just adding to the day. More photos of the walk are here


I went to see Jack Dee tonight 29th January 'in concert' at Dudley Town Hall - he was superb! 'Nuff said.



I moved in to my temporary accommodation today 28/01/09 and Peter & Phyllis and Judith & George came round on the night with bottles of wine to help me settle in .. it did!!


I went for my first walk of the year with my neighbour today, Wednesday 28th January, with Terry, my neighbour. Because of all the work still needed on my house I only had time for a quick burst, which we did for about an hour & a half around Haden Hill park


It was our first 'reunion' of 2009 on Tuesday 27th January where our 'old gang' from my teenage years [yes, I can remember that far back!!] met at the Fox Hunt in Hayley Green for our usual menu of gossip, families catch-up and generally putting he world to right! 'Grumpy Old Men/Women' was based on us, me thinks .. !!. Only Pat, Joy and me were able to make it - this is an older photo from a previous get-together.


My niece Abigail had her graduation ceremony @ York University on Friday 23rd January. Well done Abi, more photos here



I spent a long weekend in Bristol 23rd/25th January eating, drinking & taking in the sights with some new found friends .. ending up at Weston Super Mare on the Sunday - least said about that place the better!!



Dinner at Joy & Lynton's on Friday 16th January .. nice to be feted with good company, good food and good wine.



I went visiting the Sick of the Parish today, 16th January 09, when I went to see Kevin Beale who is recovering from home after surgery on his shoulder. More photos here.


Photo taken with Nicki when I popped in for coffee [and to see what a warm, tidy & cozy house looked like .. !! And no, we're not in uniform, purely a coincidence that our views on 'sartorial elegance' collide!


Day 6 of the flood: a humidifier is now in place but as there is only one socket working they can't use the other three needed! The electrician has been asked to come back and sort it out. The Claims Assessor also made an appearance today.


my nephew Josh with Gareth GatesMy nephew Josh was invited to the post-Pantomime party of Cinderella at the New Wimbledon Theatre, London, where he met up with and chatted to Gareth Gates dressed here as 'Prince Charming' (well I hope he is!!).


On Saturday evening 10th January George & I went into Birmingham to meet up with Belinda, Pat, Judith & Peter all of whom were singing the Hallelujah Chorus at the Town hall as part of the BBC's 'Songs of Praise to be broadcast at Easter! We went for a lovely Italian meal before going off to watch the recording. Unbelievably it took 4 hours to record the half hour programme .. the other four of our group had been at the rehearsals since midday!! More photos here


moving the furniture over the sodden carpets - saturday 10th Jan 09Day 3 & 4 of the flood: electricity finally restored at 8.30pm the Friday night of 9th January .. and in the loft two burst pipes found by my favourite plumber Barrie - my brother!! On the Saturday Paul & George helped me clean out the final bits of my carpets!! Now all in a sodden pile in the back garden awaiting collection. The house is slowly returning to normal though still can't be lived in for at least 1 week. More photos here


Day 2 of the flood: My house is in absolute chaos! The flood damage looks as great in the light as it did when first viewed by torchlight on Wednesday evening, though water is no longer pouring through the living room ceiling! The photo shows me standing in water which is just coving the carpet .. not easy to see from the photos but take my word for it!! (And my house isn't normally as messy as this - truly - it's just everything needed to be piled on chairs and free spaces.) Carpets are now ripped out, dryers are booked [once an emergency electricity cable can be installed to operate them, that is!!] and my poor cold & damp house seems to be forever filled with assessors all telling me someone else will be in touch to arrange to do something .. after literally 8 call from 3 different Groups/Companies, nothing's yet been done!! Meanwhile I'm in hotel accommodation!! More photos here


Gareth Wright @ Manchester - 6th January 09I've just returned from a good few days in Manchester 5th-7th January 09 where I went for Paul B's [a former work colleague] 50th birthday celebrations and also to meet up with Gareth Wright, a friend of mine. I also took time out to (try to!!) educate myself by watching a superb adaptation of Dickens's 'Great Expectations' at the Central Library's Theatre - their creative production brought to life a potentially stodgy play. Sadly I came home to find water flooding into my living room from a burst pipe in the loft!! All electricity blown and the house uninhabitable ..


It was my niece Katie's 21st birthday party on Friday 2nd January 09, held in Stourbridge, for both family and Katie's friends - I was thus able to move seamlessly from old to young without any problem of identity .. honest *coughs .. more photos here

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