Sunday, 22 December 2019


Hello Everybody and a very Happy Christmas to you all.
The  election is over and we can get on with our lives. The media and particularly the tv don't know it's done with and  we are all bored  witless with politics and posturing but they'll catch up sometime half way through 2020.
I hope your plans for the Festival are in hand and that you stay fit and well to enjoy it.
I'm a Christmas person -always have been-and even as the last hurrah approacheth I still get excited and a little emotional but I expect that's the sherry. Here's my favourite card so far

Talking of excitement here's the viewing figure worldwide for this blog yesterday

United Kingdom
United States
Unknown Region
Hong Kong

So Russia are up the top again. Why? I haven't mentioned  Ras (Putin) for a long while -so is it a continuing monitoring by the KGB or are there really 20 Tomskians interested in the ramblings of a sad old drunk. And Ukraine what's that about?
I have a feeling that the people who compile these figures are shoving any old rubbish in. I bet on a Friday afternoon once they are back from the pub they just decide to whack in any nonsense-which nobody challenges- and bugger off back to the boozer sharp at 5.30.
Well, that's what I would have done. It doesn't matter to me but if you were a business with a blog to assist your overseas sales you might worry that whilst you were spending your advertising budget in Germany the place you should be concentrating on is the Ukraine. 50,000 quid wasted all because some acne-ridden youth wanted to get down the Crab and Scrotum in Warren Street.
Anyway make what you will of the figures but none of the buggers have bought my book.

I've been away-again-a week in Litton, Derbyshire.
I stayed there last year and enjoyed it. The cottage I rented is directly opposite the Red Lion, just the other side of the Green/ The pub, the Green, the adjacent Village Hall and Primary School are all beautifully decorated.

The Red Lion, Litton

The Village Green

What the pub looks like if you trip up the kerb when taking a picture of the Christmas lights!

Ady joined me on the Monday and we visited  sister Moira and bro-in-law Tom near Oldham,where Ady and I were fed royally and had a very pleasant time.
Later in the week we were joined  by  Roy and we visited the nearby Angler's Retreat. It was as wet an afternoon as Derbyshire can manage so a light lunch and a couple of beers (Roy's treat) went down very well.

Roy and I went for a soggy ride to Ashbourne-a tidy town even in the rain and on the way back to Bakewell we stopped at a pub in the village of Winster. It was one of those "let's stop at the next pub we see" decisions and when we parked up we didn't think too much to it and certainly thought a Scotch Egg might be the best they had to offer.
Oh Boy! What a find! A cracking pub fullish of locals, good beer and a menu to satisfy anybody.

The Miners Standard is derived from a brass measuring dish presented to the lead miners in 1533 by Henry the 8th. It was known as the miners standard and it was this dish the barmaster (or senior official) of the mining field used to take measuring’s at the mines he visited.
The boom in mining from the late seventeenth century saw the Winster population rise to 2,000 by 1750 and turned the village into a prosperous town, one of the largest in the county. But flooding in the mines became a problem as the workings went deeper, and eventually it forced many of them to shut down. The last working mine here employed a large number of local men until it closed in 1938.

Roy and I both opted for a Chef's Special of pheasant breasts in a mushroom sauce. It was excellent and only cost just over a tenner. We vowed to return. I particularly liked the sign "Badly behaved children will be turned into pies"

Back at Litton and the Red Lion I discovered that the addition of a beer glass on the beermat gave the feathers  on the Welbeck Abbey a strange appearance. Or maybe it was just me. I drew the attention of some of the locals to this and none of them had noticed it but for the rest of the week they talked of little else.


On the last evening Roy and I went for a curry in Bakewell but of course beforehand we went for a pint as Roy can't eat on an empty stomach. Before proceeding may I remind you of the following blog extract from December 2014. The following happened after I'd managed to lock myself out of my car (with the engine running) necessitating the attendance of the AA

I parked up outside my b & b in Bakewell. 
And the fun was only just beginning.

After checking in and stowing my gear I went off shopping round Bakewell including an obligatory visit to The Wee Dram, a whisky shop of repute. After half an hours window drinking I blasted a hole in 80 quid and came away with enough anaesthetic to see me into February. Marvellous.
With other bits and pieces purchased I returned to the b & b to park my booty and head out for a well earned pint and dinner.
Uh Oh!
(3)The key to my room would not turn despite my best safecracking techniques  I had to seek the help of mine host(ess). After some more fiddling with the lock and some hilarity we gave up and whilst the locksmith was summoned I went off to get a spare toothbrush and toothpaste in case entry could not be effected and I had to sleep sans luggage in another room. 
So in the course of 24 hours the keys had been left in the front door, I'd locked myself out of my own car and locked myself out of a bedroom in Bakewell. 

After dinner and a couple of beers plus leeching onto a quiz team (2nd actually since you ask) I returned to base where I found the bedroom now accessible and retired, knackered; the day had been tiring but funny in parts. 

Then the bed collapsed.
The lady of the house must have thought the lodger from hell had visited but another room was soon sorted and I went to sleep vowing to lose weight.
And stay away from locks.

So as we sat supping I was relating the above incident to Roy a group at the next table were also chatting away. When the lady who was sat with her back to me turned round it was the aforementioned b and b hostess, Janette. It was great to meet up with her-sadly no longer running what was an excellent b and b- but in good form. 
Then to the restaurant (Rajas) where we were surprised to get the last table at 7.30! The grub explained why-very good.
 As was the whole week.

We returned to Cow Roast and met Carrie (sans Mac) and Jane for dinner at the Half Moon Wilstone. Simple fare but good value and a fun time was had. Poor Mac couldn't attend as he was due a knee replacement at Glasgow Infirmary-which was postponed anyway because he'd bruised his leg on the hospital bed.


Talking of Cow Roast the work at the pub isn't exactly storming ahead but fairly major works have been undertaken in the garden but we don't know why. 
The Lamb, however is up and running and generally well received. Except this very night they had no beer on which bodes ill for Christmas

Anyway our preparations for Christmas are proceeding apace and I'm looking forward to it with my usual enthusiasm.
I hope you are too. Have a good one.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Welcome gentle reader.
A short pissy pithy  post to alert you to the good news that the Christmas Quiz will be available from 6th December-at no charge-for your entertainment over Christmas. There are 70+ questions all well within your capability. If you want a copy please let me know and I'll email it. As I say there is no charge but if you're passing a charity box drop a quid in. If you want the answers as well they'll be available from 27th December and I'll send them to anyone who has so requested . It's very easy (probably, well, bits of it...) but more fun and challenging if you don't google the answers. If you want a hard copy (i.e. on paper rather than more difficult) let me know.

I'm writing this post from the village of Wing in Rutland where I'm enjoying a week's break together with the worst cold any man ever had. Such bravery. Such fortitude. Such a wimp!

The ague has been so virulent I have yet to start writing any more of the proposed new book although tho be fair Pam has been here for two days so the opportunity wasn't really there as she enjoyed a short break amusing herself and listening to the  host coughing and sneezing and bemoaning his luck. She is a most saintly woman. The Mother Theresa of Berkhamsted. Sadly Pam has returned home so I can wallow even deeper in self pity/loathing/abuse

The excellent Kings Arms
Where I'm staying in Wing is 25 yards from the local pub (and half way there is a phone box with a defibulator)' The Kings Arms is excellent-except it's Monday and they don't open Monday. Still a combination of "I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue", University Challenge, the excellent Canal Boat Diaries (BBC4), the remains of my splendid stockpot and the crossword will soon mean it's Tuesday. We ate in the pub, the Kings Arms, on Saturday. It was very good-we both had Halibut with mussels and were very impressed. Obviously I haven't lost my appetite with the current ailment which is obviously more than just a cold-TB perhaps or worse but I must keep my strength up to survive.


Last week we met Philip, Caz, Florence and Mathilda and Polly of course for lunch in Epping Forest-or rather at a pub in Epping Forest. It was a very jolly do and the fitter members of the group had a wander in the woods.

The lunch was good though others found the beef a bit chewy -mine was fine but for me there is no such thing as bad beef.-, nor apparently for Polly.

Talking of pubs...
Whilst we are on the subject of pubs work on The Lamb continues apace so the opening before Christmas looks promising. It all looks very smart when peeping through the window-all very exciting.
The Cow Roast Inn however seems to have stalled-rumour has it a delay with the electrics has slowed down progress. Fingers crossed they can get it sorted. Unfortunately it comes as no surprise to those of us that used the pub over many years. Vatious owners but especially Punch Taverns failed to do any maintenance and what little we saw of the electrics would have blanched the bravest face. Punch have walked away from all the businesses they ruined. Terrible.

I watched The Laundromat the other night. It is all about tax evasion on a grand scale (in the States) but it's international racketeering so we're in it too. Terrible to see what goes on without proper legislation whilst the rest of us further down the pile are assuming there must be a law agin it but there aint. Come the Revolution....
Last week some of the Cowroastians, past and present with others attended Max Deverill's funeral. It was a tough call as these sad occasions always are but Lesley and family made a brave and touching job of it followed by a get-together at Dunstable and District Boat Club in Pitstone. There was a wonderful display of photos of Max in happier times-very evocative, and a grand spread. Plenty of boaters and others all remembering a top bloke.

If you are looking for a CHEAP present for your nearest and dearest or even someone you don't like why not grab this £5 Bargain?! Buy it off me and I'll sign it. What a snip!

A Review in the Winter Editions of the Berkhamsted and Tring "Living" Magazines
Mike Wall – Me and Some Other JokesBy Michael Wall
Kindle £2.50, paperback £5.50
Mike lives in Cow Roast and calls this his ‘first and probably only’ book. It’s a book full of jokes, interweaved with stories of his life. It’s essentially a celebration of the art of joke telling, which Mike fears is on the way out, by a man who clearly loves to make people laugh. It’s an easy, happy read and nicely written. You won’t regret giving it a go.

Available from Amazon or email me at

Friday, 15 November 2019

The last time I posted (and the gaps between blogs seem to be getting longer-am I getting bored or is it you?) I was not long returned from hols on the canal with the usual suspects.
Now I'm planning a repeat of last year's cunning plan to avoid some of the nastier bits of Winter aboard-the mud and ice and dark afternoons about covers it.
So I'm taking a week out of each of the next 4 months to spend under a roof with central heating and a flushing toilet.
Of course there is a rationale behind the venues. November, for instance, is in Rutland withing spitting distance of the home of Isaac Newton, Woolsthorpe Manor and more importantly the apple tree from which the apple fell thus sparking Newton's Gravity Law.Coincidentally the apple was of the type Flower of Kent (see below)
Now why would I want to do that? Well, since you ask I'm attempting another book. (Bet you wish you'd read the last one or rather you wish you hadn't). The working title is "I'm Sorry I was Miles Away" and the idea is that I will cover 2 or 3 subjects which although I was taught about them  I wasn't paying attention plus a couple of things that have changed later in life when I wasn't looking. One of the chapters will be on Newton's Law;hence the trip.
Watch this space.

In December I'm returning to Litton in Derbyshire for a week where I hope to start the second chapter on Archimedes so if you hear of a bald,bearded, fat bloke arrested in the Peak District for running naked down the street shouting "Eureka" you'll know it was me. 
"What did you do on your holiday?"
"Fell walking"
"Oh dear. Be more careful this year!"
We went to Faversham  and had a splendid Sunday lunch in the Sun Inn with Florence and Matilda in grand form. I commented that with the addition of a serviette Florence had a passing resemblance to Vermeer's "The Girl with a Pearl Earring" so everybody else wanted to join in, some more enthusiastically than others.

We stayed in the Sun overnight and were chatting to a couple in the bar that evening, Gerry and June.
The conversation turned to from whence they had come.
"Epsom way" said Gerry
"I've got a mate in Ewell-he's my neighbour on the canal "said I
"Where does he drink?" asked Gerry
"In the Wheatsheaf" said I
"What's his name?" asked Gerry
"Roy" I replied
"Ullah" said they
Looks of amazement all round.
Small world.

The following day we collected apples from Caz and Philip's garden for turning into juice at the wonderful Chiltern Ridge in Chesham.
Chiltern Ridge picker-not really.


Back at Cow Roast the swans-who are pretty bloody-minded at the best of times, have taken to using the roadbridge by the lock rather than swim across the canal. The only problem is that not giving a toss who they inconvenience they like to stop for a smoke and a chat half way across and no amount of tooting or waving will shift them until they have finished whatever swans talk about.


Sadly we lost Max off our Moorings (Hart of February) at the end of October. He had been ill for some time with the re-occurrence of a brain tumour of some years previous. He and Lesley had been on the mooring for too many years to remember and his presence is much missed. He was a good and kindly man , very supportive of our charity events at Cow Roast and of those at the Dunstable and District Boat Club. Our thoughts are with Lesley and family. May he rest in Peace.


The picture on the left is one that I sent to Canal and River Trust suggesting that someone take a look by the black post in the foreground where I think there is some subsidence-it's in the same spot they had to fill with bags of concrete a few years back.I also mentioned the parlous state of the path along the Mooring; something I've been moaning about for years.. I do not anticipate any action on either but you never know. 


A few things that amused me recently.

I did my first casserole of the winter and very good it was too-healthy, wholesome and comforting. So comforting in fact that my dinner guest was asleep before he had his pudding.


Do you recognise this man?
Of course you do. It's Rick Stein in a picture taken 10 years ago when , with Ady and Peter I visited his restaurant in Padstow.

And here we all are. It was a grand meal and the man himself was in attendance.

As we left, Rick Stein was handing out the coats and shaking hands with Ady and Peter. As one would, I took a photo of each. When it was my turn I posed with Mr S assuming that either of my fellow diners would take a snap. 
My arse! They both waddled off without a backward glance.I have hardly mentioned it since....maybe once or twice a year for the last 10 years.
Anyway, Peter is now forgiven.
Here he is in France last year and who's that behind the bush on the phone. No the bush isn't on the phone , silly, it's Mr Stein. He was there filming the series currently airing on the BBC which accompanies his new book.
A few weeks back Peter was visiting offspring in Monmouthshire and RS was doing a chat and book signing session nearby so Peter went along and told him about both the France and Padstow occasions

Imagine my delight to receive in the post a copy of the book, which as you can see is inscribed to "Michael A fellow author-Memories of Padstow-Rick Stein"
Thank you Peter and Kay-so chuffed.................................................................................. Ady is still on the Unforgiven List.

( I have to admit when I first read it I thought it said Michael A fellow wanker but obviously that is not the case.)

A picture of Independence taken from the opposite bank-not by me but by GoogleMap which I screenshot.


This was sent to me by Roy from Spain.
I don't think he met anyone that knows me.
While I'm away in December the General Election will be held. This does not fill me with glee as I fear that it will resolve little of what afflicts the nation and certainly won't benefit me. We have 5 weeks before then filled with the awful posturing of the parties as to what will buy your vote. I'm sick of it already as I suspect most are. I have a Postal Vote and will use it but  the option of voting tactically is not much of a choice as a donkey with a blue rosette would get elected around here even with the deselected Mr Gaulke standing as an Independent. 
There has been some debate in the canal world and elsewhere as to whether the diktat issued a couple of years back that ducks and others should not be fed bread as it was not good for them. Now I've always taken the view that I'm feeding bread to the fish and it's not my fault if the ducks, swans, geese nick it before it sinks to the fish. Anyway now the brains that decide these things have announced that some birdlife, particularly swans, are suffering. mainly through the Winter, from an absence of bread! What isn't clear is whether this means it's ok for ducks and others to be given a slice now and then or just swans. Surely the whole waterbird world should be allowed to decide for itself. They should have a referendum. Let's call it "Bredsit"
Bye Bye

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