10,000 Steps and Covid

A few months ago I wrote about walking 10,000 steps a day, and how I had never managed it for a full month. Generally this is because at least one or two days a month I might go for a swim or a long bike ride and don’t feel like a long walk as well. However, over a full month I have never managed less than 10,000 steps on average per day (read my post here).

At the moment, I still haven’t managed a full calendar month with 10,000 steps every day. However, I have managed a streak of 46 days from early December up to a few days ago. Thursday morning I went for a gentle five-mile run feeling really good. Thursday night I had the worst nights sleep ever as I succumbed to the dreaded Covid. According to my Garmin, I managed 90 minutes sleep with a sleep score of zero.

I don’t suppose I should have been surprised as my lovely wife had spent the previous four days either in bed or on the sofa. I was hoping that I would be immune. I’m not. I should have had a booster jab at some point, although it didn’t help Helen. Three years, that’s how long we both managed to avoid it. We have no idea where we caught it, but I was in the office on the Monday, mingling with plenty of people and traveling on a packed train.

I’m starting to feel a little more like myself, although I still have absolutely no energy. My total number of steps for each of the last four days has barely been above 1,000.

Covid also ended a streak of over 1,000 days where I had uploaded an activity to Strava. The activity might have only been a two mile walk with Nelly, or it might have been a 35 mile run, either way my Ron Hill type streak has come to an end.

Iron Maiden

The mighty Iron Maiden were the very first band that I saw live, way back in 1983. They had only just released their Piece of Mind album, and the very first date on the Piece of Mind tour was at Hull City Hall, with me in attendance. It was their second album with the vocalist Bruce Dickinson and the first album with their new drummer Nicko Mcbain. It was a fantastic concert and over the course of the next few months I also saw Saxon and then Motorhead.

Fast forward 40 years, and I have bought tickets to go and see Iron Maiden again, this time in Manchester. The band have all of the same members from when I saw then the first time, with the addition of a third guitarist, Janick Gers. The ticket prices have changed.

Iron Maiden have also been immortalized on a series of stamps, so naturally I bought a first day cover edition, stamped in the area of London where they performed their very first gig.

The two sets of stamps consist of eight of the band spanning most of their career, and four featuring Eddie, their long standing mascot. Iron Maiden are only the fifth band to feature on a set of stamps behind The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Queen and the Rolling Stones.

One Year of Wordle

Amazingly, this morning was my Wordle anniversary. I’ve played 365 days in a row. I’m still enjoying it and I’m still using the previous days answer as my starting word. Quite often it isn’t a very good starting word, but that’s just how I like to play.

My stats for the year are 97% win with a current streak of 16 and a maximum streak of 56. I still rush each game, mashing the buttons without thinking hard enough. My wife has started to play again, and has 100% win. We also have a Wordle WhatsApp group which includes her eldest son. They are also playing Contexto, which is way too hard for me.

I was worried that when the New York Times took over the game that it might end up behind a pay wall. This hasn’t happened, which is good, although I will stop playing if I have to pay, along with millions of other people.

Do you play Wordle?

Donut Dust

I’ve had a busy little morning today. I took our dog for a two mile walk and I then went for a short swim. On the way back from the pool I went food shopping, and as a treat bought a packet of five custard donuts.

Once the shopping was put away my lovely wife and I sat down for a brew and a donut. My wife has a brilliant way with words, and when our dog tried to lick some of the excess sugar off her plate, my wife phrased it as Donut Dust, which is one of those phrases which I will now always use whenever I’m eating a donut or other sugary based treats.

Lost Finances

With the cost-of-living crisis hitting almost everyone, like many people I’ve had a close look at my finances. With that in mind I’ve had a look for lost finances.

Premium Bonds

I was given three premium bonds as a very young child. I have the certificates, but I have no idea if they have won anything in the last 25 years as NS&I has no record of me owning them. I went online and filled out a simply form, although finding the simple form wasn’t easy, with the numbers of my premium bonds. I should hear back in 23 days. I might have won something, and even if I haven’t, they will now have my contact details in case I win in the future.

Shares

Twenty years ago, I had a couple of friends who worked at a company called British Biotech. Apparently, it was doing really well. In haste I bought some shares. However, when I moved, I failed to update my details and when the company tanked and was bought by another firm, my shares were not transferred. I have tracked down the company that bought out British Biotech and emailed their support team with my details. I’m not holding out too much hope, as it appears that the share offer was 6p. My 25 shares might buy me a pint of milk.

Pension

I spent many years working in a large busy city centre pub in Oxford. As a barman and then assistant manager I wasn’t eligible for the company’s pension scheme. However, I was when I became the manager. I wasn’t earning a huge amount, and I have no idea of how much was paid into my pension. I was also only eligible for 18 months. The brewery I worked for has also changed hands a couple of times since I left. However, there is a government website which lists which pension firm every company uses. On the website for Scottish Widows, I could download a form and send it back. They will then have a look to see how much my pension is currently worth.

While the total money in lost finances for me might at best be a couple of pounds for the premium bonds and the shares, the pension could be worth a couple of thousand, which I can then transfer to my main pension. As an aside, I’ve had my own pension for nearly 30 years, and because of the ups and down in the economy it is worth far less than expected. My parents had very good end of salary pension schemes, and a pension I had with Barclays Bank when I was 18-21 has performed incredibly well, although it lost 20% of its value due to Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s complete failure.

I will let you know how much my lost finances are worth, and I would recommend everyone else have a look behind the virtual financial sofa.

The Royal Lancashire Show

I have fond memories of going to the Surrey Show when I was very young. There was always a marble stall, which for six year old me was the most exciting thing in the world. More recently my parents used to attend the New Forest Show. My mum loved watching the dray horses from various breweries, and my dad enjoyed watching the New Forest Plonkers, who are a similar musical group to the Lancashire Hotpots, but from the south. He also drew a brilliant watercolour of The Plonkers, which is safe with my nephew.

Anyway, the Royal Lancashire Show is similar, in that there were a number of displays, lots of farm animals, plenty of stalls, food and drink, and hundreds of dogs.

First stop was to watch the shirehorses from Thwaites brewery. Magnificent beasts. Huge but incredibly kind and gentle.

We had a good wander around the ground, watched a bicycle display, looked at some pigs, which were very interesting to Nelly. Watched a falconry display, who was having trouble with his birds. One of them tried to attack a Tern, and then the wind was too strong for the owl. We then watched a Shetland Pony grand prix, which was also great fun.

There was a dog agility course which you could pay to have a go with your dog. Nelly declined the opportunity, so instead we entered her into the fun dog show, in the Golden Oldie category.

Nelly wasn’t in the top three, even though she was brilliant. No complaints with the winner. The woman with the green top next to Helen and Nelly won, with her 16 year old dog. She immediately burst into tears, that is how strong the bond is with dogs.

We then had a bit more of a wander and bought some spiced rum from Two Lasses Spirits. The two women had set up their own distillery during lockdown, and their spiced Yorkshire rum was too good not to purchase a bottle.

All in all a great day out, and we even managed to time our escape a few minutes before it started to rain. We’ll definitely be back next year.

Brewery Arts – Kendal

Last night my lovely wife treated us to a night out in Kendal to see the new film Elvis. We generally go to The Dukes in Lancaster if we’re seeing a film, but Helen suggested Kendal for a change. We’d been there before a few years ago to see The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, a 1920’s silent horror film, with a live piano accompaniment. The film was a little dated, but the piano player seemed to be watching a completely different film and pretty much ruined it.

We arrived a little early and enjoyed the view from the top of the centre. The Brewery Arts consists of a Hostel, Restaurant and Bar, Two Cinemas, Art Gallery and a Live Music Venue. The Lancashire Hotpots are appearing there the week before Christmas, along with comedians and tribute acts.

Cinema snacks in hand, we were told that you’re not allowed to bring in your own snacks. They turned a blind eye when we purchased a couple of beers, non-alcoholic for me as I was driving.

What was the film like? As expected from Baz Luhrmann it was visually stunning. It was seen more from The Colonel’s viewpoint, as he was quite rightly made out to be the bad guy, played brilliantly by Tom Hanks, as was Elvis by Austin Butler. The scenes from Elvis’s early days were more fun, but you can’t gloss over the fact that Elvis died aged only 42, overweight and addicted to painkillers. He would have undoubtedly have become a star without The Colonel, and might have been an even bigger star. With the right team surrounding him, could he have been headlining Glastonbury a few years ago? He definitely would have toured beyond America.

Anyway, the film was very good and the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal is well worth a visit.

Music Magpie

As I have mentioned, I’ve become slightly addicted to the Jack Reacher series of books by Lee Child. As they are one of the biggest selling series of books ever, they can often be found in second hand book shops and charity shops. Unfortunately, it can be a bit hit and miss which books in the series they might have.

I had a little look on Amazon, specifically the second hand sellers, and the prices when you include postage means that any book isn’t that much of a bargain. Very good if its the only place where you can find an obscure out of print book.

I then had a little search on the big G, and found a list of good places to buy second hand books. Music Magpie was one of them. As the name suggests, they specialise in CDs, but they also buy and sell books, as well as various Apple products.

I had a search for Jack Reacher books, and they were all there. They were also on offer, probably because they have so many copies, five books for £10, with free postage. That’ll do nicely. I ordered them on Tuesday and they arrived today. Five Jack Reacher books that I’ve not yet read, all in fairly good condition. One of them has a sticker from a charity shop with a price for £1, but that’s OK. In a couple of weeks I will probably look at buying another five books from the series.

On the negative side, the website is a little bit clunky and slow. Also, if you’re looking for books that are less well known, or by an author not generally on the best seller list, then Music Magpie isn’t the best site. Finally, they also buy as well as sell books and CDs. The reviews are not great if you’re selling. If a book isn’t in pristine condition you have to pay to have it returned, or they will send it to a charity wholesaler and you get nothing. What they give you for books is also not very much. I would suggest giving books to charity shops instead, although if we all did that, it would take me ages to find all of the books in the Jack Reacher series.

An Interloper

We have a bird table in our back garden, along with a bird box, bird bath and a number of feeders. The bird seed on the table is mostly eaten by a couple of fat pigeons, but one of the feeders contains a couple of fat sticks, very popular with Blue Tits and Sparrows. Yesterday I spotted a newcomer tucking into the fat sticks.

The photo was taken on my phone, but there was little mouse, happily having a feed for about five minutes, cheeky little interloper, you’re not a bird!

Maryport

Is it me, or does Maryport sound like a place name from Game of Thrones?

It was raining and cloudy this morning, and we had 8 tired legs between us. We decided to visit Maryport, only 4 miles from where we were staying.

We had a little walk along the coast and then stopped at a tiny cafe for coffee and cake. I can’t remember the name of the place, but no one seemed to object when Nelly spread out.

From the cafe we walked along the coast in the other direction to the site of an old Roman Fort.

The museum didn’t allow dogs, so we took her home, had some lunch, and returned to the museum, and very interesting it was too.

Maryport was the site of a very large Fort, and has the largest collection of Roman alters found anywhere. The site has been featured on BBCs Coast and Channel 4s Time Team.

When we got back to our cottage we took Nell out once again for a little walk. There was part of an old Roman road near the cottage which was great for Nelly to stretch out.

This road would have formed the main route for the Romans from Maryport to Pabcastle, which is the site of a former settlement on the outskirts of what is now Cockermouth.

Overall an easier day for us, but incredibly interesting.