Bikers, Bells and Band

It has been one of “those” days today. You know the ones, where randomness happens throughout the day and you just have to shake your head and say, “well, that was a bit good!”

Well my day has been a bit like that.

First of all I went to Stay and Play this morning and saw absolute genius in action. One of our mums is blind, and she has managed her baby very well with the help of either her own mum or a carer who was there to help guide her around and to make sure that the baby was always looked after. The baby has now grown up a little bit and is toddling around quite happily on her own two feet, but today, the mum came without the aid of either her mum or her carer, instead relying on the help of one of the other mums (a friend of hers anyway) to get her into the church hall and to get her seated and so on. The genius bit was this:


A set of jingle bells round the little girl’s ankle so that her mum could hear where she was in the hall and could track her movements easily. We were all astounded at how such a simple thing could mean such a lot – that not only could the mum enjoy some independence, but that the baby could also enjoy running around without getting too far away from mum. Of course there are always lots of people watching out and interacting with the mums and tots in the group so there would never be any real danger, but how’s that for a stroke of genius to help them both enjoy a bit of living!

Nature was also having a bit of genius this morning too. How’s about these couple of beauties?






Still reeling from the gorgeous skies and cold, crisp air, came a demonstration of something deeply moving. At about 12 o’clock, there was an almighty roar of engines going past the church hall as a big group of bikers made their way noisily up the main road. About 15 minutes or so later, they all came back again, this time doubled in number, going half the speed and leading out a hearse and a funeral cortege down towards the crematorium. The flowers on top of the coffin were in the shape of a motorbike, and the flowers down the side of the hearse spelled out BROTHER in black flowers. What a sight, and what a gesture to witness. Here is a video of the tail end of the procession so you can see for yourself.

Then this evening, I had the utmost pleasure and privilege to sit and listen to the Pemberton Old Band as they were put through their paces at a rehearsal for an upcoming contest. I have been going there for the last couple of months with Ethan, who is playing bass trombone for them, and I have heard the piece they are playing take shape and get generally better and better each week. The band has a great sound and tonight they were pushed to really play proper pianissimo and fortissimo, which was fantastic to hear. There are another couple of rehearsals to go before the contest at the end of the month, and it promises to be a great performance. Looking forward to it.

So there you have it, a couple of things that have made up my day today. Random? Or simply a reflection of the eclectic life I have?!

Either way, today has been a good one.



3 Things

Just a little something to get my bloggy head on again! If you fancy joining me please copy and paste my post into your own (new) post, and replace my answers with your own. If you’d like to let me know how you got on drop me a link to your post in my comments and I’ll visit you in return. Here goes!


Three names I go by
1. Pam
2. Pamelle
3. Mum

Three places I lived
1. Higher Blackley
2. Oldham
3. Blackley

Three places I have worked
1. ICI
2. Forsyth’s (music shop)
3. Middleton Technology School

Three things I love to watch
1. Stormy weather beating on the windows
2. Running water – rivers, waterfalls, the sea
3. Candle flames

Three things I love to watch on TV
1. Strictly Come Dancing
2. Sport – especially football, swimming, snooker, darts, diving and cycling
3. Masterchef

Three places I have been
1. Holy Island
2. Niagara Falls
3. A vineyard in the Loire valley

Three things I love to eat
1. Cheese and crackers
2. Chocolate pastry twists, especially if they are accompanied by a cappacino
3. My mum’s shepherd pie

Three things I am looking forward to
1. Going to bed with its clean bedding tonight
2. Playing carols with my band tomorrow night round the streets of Todmorden
3. Having a day of pure writing tomorrow

Three things I did this year
1. Appeared on a TV quiz show (“The Chase”)
2. Played in the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
3. Delivered my first sermon

Three things I’m going to do next year
1. Write more
2. Blog more
3. Enjoy life more


Right – over to you. See what your list of 3’s will be!


Share Your World

I am taking part in Cee’s “Share Your World” meme this week, and you’ll find my answers below. If you would like to join in too, click the picture and you will be taken to Cee’s host site. Welcome aboard!

Are you usually late, early, or right on time? 

I’m usually early but for some reason today I have been late for both things I had a meet time. I don’t know why! It was as if my clock was conspiring against me today and was thieving time from me in 5 minute slots. One minute I had 15 minutes until I needed to leave the house and the next I was 5 minutes after that time. How? HOW?! I hate being late. I think being late for something is the height of rudeness so to be late – twice – in one day today is something unusual and something of which I’m not particularly proud.

If you were or are a writer do you prefer writing short stories, poems or novels?

Well, I am a writer, and I prefer to write short stories but I have a dream one day of having the discipline to write a novel-length piece. I know it’s a simple matter of discipline because I have got notebooks and files and folders full of scraps of paper with notes for characters, plots, plot twists, story frameworks, little snippets of conversation and observation etc, but it all needs writing up, and that takes discipline. Which I lack.

I have written some poetry but it’s not very good. Or very poetic for that matter. I tend to write comic verse, or really predictable rhyme schemes that are not at all sophisticated but they entertain and challenge me so I will probably keep that up. Nothing worth sharing though!

Where did you live at age ten?  Is it the same place or town you live now?

I live in a lovely part of Manchester called Blackley. I was born here and moved away briefly when I first got married but I have lived here for the past 17 years and can’t ever see myself leaving it. I love this place and I love the people here. I wrote about my home town on this page if you want to read more about where I live.

Would you rather be able to fly or breathe under water?

Hmmmm tough question! I have a recurring dream where I am under water, but by getting my mouth up close to the underside of the surface of the water I can breathe quite easily. For some reason, in this dream, it’s important that I can breathe under water and it never occurs to me to put my lips up a bit further so I can breathe the air above. That’s the nature of dreams I guess. But, if had to make a choice of that or flying, I would have to choose flying. I’d quite like to be a bird, preferably one that flies long distances at higher altitudes, so not a sparrow or something. I’m more of an eagle or red kite kinda bird.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful for the safe delivery of my cousin’s baby William last Tuesday. He’s the first baby to be born on that side of my family for a long time and he is a little cutie pie.

This week, I’m looking forward to the clocks going back on Saturday. I love that “different” feeling on the day after the clocks have changed, especially when they have gone backwards in October. There is a different quality to the light during the day, and there is a different sense of settling down and being home-y as dusk falls a bit earlier. I think I ought to have been born as a grizzly bear because I would love to start hibernating at this time of the year. Just imagine what it would be like to close the door on winter, settle down with a cupboard full of food and lots of loving friends and family around you to share stories, play games, sleep and generally resting and restoring yourself for a little while.

W is for Weather

It’s day “W” on the Blogging from A-Z challenge, and we have arrived at the biggest obsession my country has and that is the WEATHER.

If you saw my blog yesterday you will have seen the photographs I took in Blackley yesterday morning. You will have noticed how beautiful and blue the sky was and what a stunning Spring day we enjoyed yesterday.

This morning began in pretty much the same way: clear blue skies, bright sunshine, cold air and a little bit of a frost early on. Gorgeous, my favourite type of weather.

It stayed like this most of the day until about tea-time and then we were hit with Armageddon-like rain and wind. At one point, the rain was so severe the wipers couldn’t keep up on the car and I could see sleet in it.

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On the way back home, the rain stopped but the sky was giving us a demonstration of its awesome power with huge, towering clouds playing tag with sunbeams. I tried to take some photos to show you the contrast and this is one of the better ones I achieved:




What it lacks in detail it makes up for in contrast, don’t you think?

Not long afterwards, they sky yet again gave us one more treat and this is a shot from my upstairs window:



I don’t know if it’s because we are an island nation and we are the first port of call for any travelling Atlantic storms that we get such variances in our weather, but from the rapid changes I saw tonight and tried to capture for you, you can see why it is endlessly fascinating!


I is for Irk

We have reached day 9 of the Blogging from A-Z challenge, and today is letter “I”. I have chosen to share with you some memories and a bit of historical detail about the River Irk. 

The River Irk forms the basis of lots of my childhood memories, usually the ones where I ended up wet, cold and laughing my head off.

River Irk
My “patch” of the river as a kid. The motorway roundabout wasn’t as big as it is now back then, and there is a big Sainsbury’s supermarket on the site where the old mill was. The river still runs past the site though although I doubt the monkey swing we built all those years ago survived the redevelopment.

The two main places I played in it or alongside it were along the stretch it ran through the old mill site (which is now a Sainsbury’s supermarket site), and further west where it ran through Blackley forest between Victoria Avenue and Blackley New Road. That part of the river was just on the other side of my primary school railings, and I was drawn to it long before I was allowed to play out on my own and go into the forest on my bike with my friends.

I never considered from where it came or where it was heading, I just knew my “patch” and loved being near the water whenever I could. I remember some very strange looking weeds and plants growing in it on the Middleton side of Victoria Avenue bridge which now I think about it were probably down to the amount of pollution in the river at the time. I’d heard about a chemical works further upstream, but at the time it never occurred to me to question why the water looked a funny colour or why the weeds grew to such huge sizes on that stretch.

My favourite part of the river was when it flowed through Blackley forest, on the other side of the railings from my primary school. (I wonder if the name “Bowker Vale” came from the vale the river cut as it went along?) It was one thing to watch it from the school playing field, but once I was old enough to go and ride my bike in the forest on my own, the river took on quite another delight for me. Building dams, trying to get across it on the stones and rocks on the river bed, climbing up trees and seeing how far over the water I could dangle before I got wet…oh the memories!

I’ve since done some research on the river and found that it isn’t really that long and runs for only around 10 miles or so from Royton, where it rises, to Manchester city centre where it empties into the River Irwell. I rises on Tandle Hill, and has several other streams and brooks that serve as its tributaries along its length including the Wince Brook which joins it in Middleton, the Moston Brook which joins it along Rochdale Road in a culvert, and the Boggoart Hole Clough Brook which is a little under a mile long.

The natural course of the river was changed a lot at the time of the Industrial Revolution to make room for the number of mill seats that sprang up along its length. It became massively polluted and down near the point where it joins the Irwell, Friedrich Engels noted at the height of the Industrial Revolution, that it appeared to be a stagnant pool of black foulness which was dangerous to health. It regularly overflowed its banks and helped spread cholera and other water-borne diseases in the cramped slums in that poor part of Manchester. In 1830,  The New Gazetteer of Lancashire said that “the eels in this river were formerly remarkable for their fatness, which was attributed to the grease and oils expressed by the mills from the woollen cloths and mixed with the waters.” There are still industrial and chemical plants along the banks of the Irk but the river itself has undergone a substantial rejuvenation in recent years and is much cleaner than it used to be, and as far as I know, there are no eels living in it any more.

If you ever do get a chance to go and walk alongside the Irk, the stretch between Middleton and Blackley is a lovely place to be and it’s well worth taking a camera with you too. If you fancy a different section then my old stomping ground through Blackley forest is equally beautiful. Not bad for a post-industrial water course deep in the suburbs of Manchester.


 To find out more about the River Irk, this article on Wikipedia will give you more information.


Misty Morning

Mist and fog hit Manchester early this morning. Here is the view from the main road near my house on the way to church at 9am:



And this is what St Peter’s in Blackley village looked like in the mist when I got there. Very atmospheric!




I think this is a sign that Winter may be over (after all that ridiculous hype and jumping about last week from the weather forecasters) and Spring is on her way.

Who can tell? Maybe the mist today is not a sign of anything significant and it’s just one of those days today – misty, moisty, foggy and dank.

I hope it was sunnier in your corner of the world!







Daybook Entry – 24th November

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Outside my window… Blackley is settling down for the night under wintry skies and a temperature of minus 1 degree Celsius. All’s quiet on the main road (no sirens yet tonight) and all the neighbours seem to home and parked up for the night.

I am thinking… about why we grieve for people when they die. That’s not to say I question whether we should or not, but more along the lines of why do we grieve for different people in different ways especially when we know that for some, they have been released from a life of pain and misery into a life of peace in heaven.

I am thankful… that my 14 year old son isn’t the stereotypical teenage boy portrayed in the press and on TV.

In the kitchen… we had pork in hoi sin sauce with noodles and peppers for tea tonight. Down to the dregs in the freezer and cupboards now – roll on the Christmas shop!

I am wearing… my sleepy t-shirt and a duvet.

I am creating… a fisherman’s jumper for Kevin’s Christmas present. It’s a bit of a tricky pattern though and I’m not committing myself to saying exactly which Christmas it’s for!

I am going… to have a little read before I settle down for sleep when I’ve done this.

I am wondering… whether I will actually get some work before Christmas. I’ve been promised a fortnight’s work but I haven’t heard from the boss yet so I don’t know if I’m on the rota or not.

I am reading… I’m between books tonight and I haven’t decided what to read next. I just finished “Children of the Mist” which is a historical story about the clan feud between the Campbells and the MacGregors. I enjoyed it as a story but am in serious doubt about most of the historical detail. I’ll be doing a book review in a day or so.

I am hoping… my bike doesn’t need its tyres pumping up. I want to go out on it tomorrow but can’t be bothered with all the faff if they’re flat.

I am praying for… some people in my church family who are suffering health problems and bereavement; for Sam and Josh who lost their Nan last week; for our Messy Church next Saturday.

I am looking forward to… Thursday morning. I can’t tell you about it yet, but I will when I have some good news for you.

I am learning… about how to write a proper academic essay (thank you David!)

Around the house… things not so messy as they were last week but there’s still a way to go before it’s Christmas-ready.

I am pondering… biscuit or toast?

A favourite quote for today: “We give thanks for the life of Nev; he has now at peace”.

One of my favourite things… is watching my team beating Tottenham Hotspur by six goals to nil. (BLUE MOON!!!!!!)

A few plans for the rest of the week: A very mixed bag this week – Stay and Play in the morning, two funerals on Tuesday, an audition on Thursday morning, another funeral on Friday and Messy Church on Saturday morning.

A peek into my day…


This is Bare Bear and as you can see, he is naked. If you remember a couple of weeks ago I said I was praying for a little girl called Ruby who was going to have a major operation to mend three holes in her heart. Well, she had her operation and (can you believe this) she was out of hospital and home again within four days. She is absolutely amazing and she was at church this morning, full of beans and as gorgeous as ever. This is her teddy and she has asked me to make him a jumper to keep him warm, because “you’re really clever and I know you can make anything” (she said, fluttering her eyes at me….). She has also asked for some gloves and boots for him, and a hat. But not a scarf (apparently, he will be too warm with a scarf on and besides, why make an easy scarf when you can make a really tricky and fiddly jumper??! This picture shows me measuring the length of his arm against my finger so I can judge how big small to make it. Eeee the things you do for love eh!

That’s all folks….see you tomorrow.



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Daybook Entry – 23rd June

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FOR TODAY – 23rd June (my husband’s birthday)

Outside my window… grey skies, drizzly rain, dusk is falling. My garden is showing promise with several peony heads burgeoning and about to burst forth.

I am thinking… about a lot of things have come to mind and settled in my mind over the weekend. We have been away with a group of people from across the parishes in our Mission Partnership to a Christian outward bound/young people’s centre in the Lake District (called the Kepplewray Project) where we have been thinking about “mess”, and what it means to have “messy lives”. We have been talking and praying and thinking about why God gives us mess to deal with; where does mess cross the line with “sin”?; what happens when we leave our burdens with Christ?; how do we use that gift of experience to help others? It has been a wonderful experience talking things over with people we wouldn’t usually get chance to talk to, and I can honestly say that some solid friendships were established this weekend.

I am thankful… for the opportunity to think about what God is saying to me; to my parents for looking after things back at home while I’ve been away; for my husband for putting up with my snotty tears and emotional dam-bursting session last night.

In the kitchen… lasagne for the boy, a cup of tea for the grown ups. We have been fed like kings this weekend!

I am wearing… comfy sloppy joes.

I am creating… a new style/technique blanket based on the “cluny” stitch.

I am going… to get to bed early tonight. The last two nights sleeping in a kid’s single bed in an outward bound centre has played havoc with my spine!

I am wondering… what real change can be brought about in my community following our exciting and inspirational discussion last night.

I am reading… “Watch Over Me” by Daniela Sacardoti.

I am hoping… that my Dad’s health isn’t about to take a sinister turn. I can’t talk about it yet, but I will do when he’s been to the doctor this week.

I am praying for… the people of Blackley; my parents who have got a lot on their plate at the minute; guidance, wisdom and strength.

I am looking forward to… some time to myself this week ahead.

I am learning… to control my irritation with things that are beyond my control.

Around the house… things are a bit messy. Well, it is the evening after a weekend away…!

I am pondering… another G&T before bedtime.

A favourite quote for today: “God is for life, not just for Christians” (as said by my husband this morning).

One of my favourite things… is driving in our lovely countryside, especially over the Lakeland Fells.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Stay and Play in the morning, a couple of meetings about my role in church, and plenty of crocheting.

A peek into my weekend…

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As you can see, we had some time away from the centre to enjoy the Lakeland fells and my favourite place on earth, Wast Water. We also had some fun as evidenced by the “quiz table” and the trick shot on the pool table. We had a great time!!

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Blackley FC

A while ago I posted a blog entry on my hometown, Blackley. I have been overwhelmed by the response from people all around the world either with their comments on the post or directly to me by email.

One of the lovely people who have contacted me is a chap called John who is trying to trace anyone who knows anything about the local football team around 1913. John has very kindly sent me a copy of a photograph of the team and I’m throwing it open to anyone who might know anything about the club or any of the players and where they played.

The information we have already is that this picture was in the Middleton Guardian in 1913 following a match where the team were the victors, winning 4-2 (we don’t know who they played so can’t check out the details of why the story made it to the local papers). The family name Sutterby has been mentioned in connection with this picture (three brothers Harold, Percy and Albert (Bert)), and they were related through the previous generation to a grocer and butcher by the name of Frank Hulme of Moston.

If you can shed any further light on the people in this photo or any details about the club then please do get in touch. Many thanks!!