Dear Diary...

This is my diary. How things are. Or something. Please note that the diary is archived month by month, so feel free to click the links for the archives (which now will go back five years maximum):

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Sunday 12th May - The Señor of Snooker

It was nice to be up and have a leisurely watch of Match of the Day, seeing Manchester City do the business 4-0 away at Fulham, and then seeing how the rest of the games fared. In truth one eye was on Manchester United v Arsenal later, but I couldn't see anything but an Arsenal win to be honest. We had some nice breakfast together and during that time Brian the cat decided to sneak out of the smallest gap in the bedroom window and on to the communal garden, hiding in the bushes and snarling at his Mummy with his hissy face on. Eventually he calmed down and got back in.

Today was also the final of the World Seniors Snooker Championship at the legendary Crucible Theatre. It was a battle for the ages: Ken Doherty was looking for a grand slam of junior, amateur, pro and then senior world champion, and that would indeed be a first. On the other hand, the Brazilian señor of snooker, Igor Figueiredo, had impressed during the tournament, smashing Jimmy White 3-0 and making back to back centuries in his semi final win over Tony Drago. You'd have to say he was the favourite, and has Eye of the Tiger by Survivor as his walk on tune, so tune of the day for definite.

Ken Doherty made a century in the first frame to take that, only for the next four to be won by Igor Figueiredo, who put together some solid breaks and shots to make sure that the advantage had been gained and then retained further after the mid session interval. It was then up to Ken to pull a frame back and he did with two half centuries to go 4-2 down. However, the señor was not to be denied, and a superb break of 88 meant that he had clinched it 5-2 and won the World Seniors title. He also got the extra prize money for the highest break and qualifies for the Champion of Champions tournament too, so more money there - it's a big incentive to win.

With that done, and with us having headed to Home Bargains during the mid session interval to get a bag big enough to carry home the Nespresso machine safely in its box, we headed to Track only to find that the taproom was closed for a private event. Instead we headed over to Cloudwater, where they were open and I had their very nice cheeky vimno sour, which was a non-alcoholic 0.5% beer with the sour taste of Vimto. And it was utter genius, and gorgeous. I did have their Piccadilly Nitro Porter later but all was good, and The Love was all happy as she was heading off to see Take That later on.

It was a sad farewell at Piccadilly later for me to get the train but that meant I got back well before the Arsenal and Man U fans were coming out of Old Trafford and getting drenched, and did treat myself to a Seatfrog upgrade to standard premium so it was easier to sit in there and then put the bag between the seat headrests (there's a nice gap in between which is perfect for that sort of bag storage) and once at Euston, a walk to St Pancras and the train homewards, and all good to go. It had been a good end to a superb weekend!

Saturday 11th May - Eurovision Derision

It was nice to have a relaxing morning with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat, who was of course being his usual self and wanted lots of fussing and treats from his Mummy, as you would expect. We got up and had some breakfast and got ourselves ready, as The Love's sisters were coming over later on. We thought it'd be a good idea to get some nibbles for tonight so we could just have whatever we fancied and watch Eurovision later. With all the controversy surrounding it this year, I was just hoping that it'd focus more on the music tonight, but the events have not helped matters whatsoever there.

The Love's sisters came over, and we got the little patio table and chairs out so we could sit out at the front with the paved patio and the nice area The Love has meaning we could have a coffee and some cake there. Both of the sisters were very generous, I got some beers from the Isle of Skye (wow) and also a nice selection of beers from Beermoth as selected by The Love's niece and her boyfriend, always appreciated. I did also get a gift card for a place called The Flower Bowl, just north of Preston. It has all sorts of fun including crazy golf so it'll definitely need to be visited!

Later on in the afternoon The Love and I took a walk down the Ashton Canal, and that was quite nice in the sunshine, and soon arrived close to the city centre. We were going to try the tap rooms close to Piccadilly station, and all of them were very busy: no chance of getting any sort of spot in either Track or Cloudwater, and even Sureshot looked rammed, although we did wonder if some sort of beer event was on as all three seemed much busier than usual, even with the nice weather.

Eventually we went along to Balance and managed to get ourselves a spot in there, so that was a positive to be honest. There were some good beers on selection, most of which though were in two thirds of a pint, so definitely something to note. We did also see that they rotated the beers regularly, and I even spotted the Cloudwater Fresh (their lovely 0.5% beer) and so did that later too which was all good. A short walk via Piccadilly station later and it was on the tram back to The Love's place.

After sorting out all the nibbles and indeed ordering something for the holiday that I needed (a nice new t-shirt and indeed a hat too which would be sort of essential) then we settled in for Eurovision, and in the capable hands of the two Swedish hosts, especially the superb Petra Mede, who is very ace at this and has done it a few times. There were nods to Swedish acts who had done well in the past, and of course there was going to be some reference to ABBA, although when that did come around it was a bit of a disappointment.

Talking of which, the UK entry with Olly Alexander. I can't be the only one who thought that due to the staging and the fact most of the audience couldn't see the performance that it didn't help with the singing, where he didn't sound at his best during the song. I figured the track was catchy enough but wasn't sure how it would fare in the vote. Switzerland's entry with Nemo's The Code not only staged the song much better, but the song felt more of a hook throughout (tune of the day for me) , and that for me was a contender, as was Ireland's rather excellent Goth Industrial sound of Bambie Thug, who notably yelled out "Love always triumphs hate!" at the end of their performance (Bambie is non-binary, hence the they and their pronouns, as is Nemo, incidentally.)

The Finland entry with Windows95Man was plain daft, with ways to cover his middle bits (even though he had flesh coloured underwear on) - and just needing the F1 driver Valtteri Bottas (who does have his Bott-arse calendar by the way) to complete the style there. I also did like the Portugese entry too, and Croatia also had a positive catchy number that might do well with the audience vote, I thought. As the voting started, the UK wasn't getting that many points and Switzerland were romping ahead. Ireland did well initially but faded in the jury votes, and Sweden gave the UK highest with 8 points.

So on to the viewer votes, where all the countries' viewer results are totted up into the classic 1-8, 10 and 12 points, and totalled in. The UK got a big fat zero which was disappointing, and despite my misgivings about the song, thought it wasn't that bad. It meant an 18th place finish overall, with thankfully love triumphing and Croatia and Switzerland getting enough viewers votes to see off Israel (who got 12 from the UK public as it transpired - what the hell?) - with the Swiss winning. Bambie Thug gave Nemo their crown they used in the song, and it was a lovely moment of respect. Well done Switzerland and see you in Bern/Zurich/Geneva/Basel next year!

Friday 10th May - Happy Birthday

It was my birthday today (and yes, admittedly, I am getting old!) and so as a result it was nice to have The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat there with me in the morning as we got up. We had planned a day out so it was good to be up and have a coffee, and then open some presents. I had already opened some presents from my friend (which were ace, the 1986 F1 season review DVD and two new albums I was after on CD too) and it was good to see that on the whole I'd got some lovely stuff. A fair few relations had got me gift cards, which are always useful and so that's always appreciated. And I had Happy Birthday by Altered Images in my head all day, so has to be tune of the day.

The Love explained that her two sisters would drop off something tomorrow (which was fine, no rush) and my brother also mentioned his online order hadn't come yet, but I'd be seeing him next weekend anyway on a family occasion and so would make sense to hand it over then, so all good. The Love had got me this really good book of escapes out of London, some of which we'll have to look into and try out, if we haven't done already, when The Love comes to visit, but then in she came with a big box all nicely wrapped up. Inside that was a Nespresso Pop machine, in the mint green colour wave, and that all looked very nice. You did at least get some starter pods with it to get you going an offer to redeem, so will look into that one. Still, that was very generous of her to say the least!

With everything nicely opened and the cards on display, and some lovely ones too, we got ourselves changed and ready to head out for the day after treating ourselves to a McDonald's breakfast, because we could. We first of all headed to see The Cute Little One and The Cute Tiny One, and they were both adorable as ever, and they handed me presents too from them and their parents. I got a nice little selection of beer and there was also a gift experience for us both to enjoy too, so that was going to be nice to do when the time came also. It was good to see the little ones with The Cute Tiny One holding The Love's hand and being so lovely.

We headed off on the motorway and before long and after heading around Preston, we were on the A584 heading along the Fylde Coast and to Fairhaven, just the other side of Lytham. The Love had spotted a nice crazy golf course there and was going to indulge me a little, and the lake itself looked nice to walk around too. We did get a parking spot for free on the car park next to the crazy golf, and then did that. It was a very good course indeed, 18 excellent holes and I was surprised to get a hole in one on the first hole! We did both play well though and The Love did some excellent shots throughout too, so it was good fun.

After stopping for a coffee we headed around Fairhaven Lake, including seeing the Spitfire mounted on a tall plinth at the far end, and the Canadian Geese with all their little tiny cute babies at that end too. We did walk via the Japanese Garden to the sea wall before then rejoining the lake and heading around - it was rather nice it had to be said, and definitely something different. We did notice a fair number of dog walkers and I suspect a circle around the lake was a good amount of exercise for both dog and human, so looked like it was popular, which was a good thing.

We then headed to Lytham and managed to get a parking space on the car park not far from Lytham Windmill. Yes, the windmill is still there and it still works, and on certain days (not today though) you can visit it too, which I'll definitely have to try out sometime. We did then walk into the town centre and admired lots of independent little shops and charity places too and with the Victorian frontages on some of them really did make the place feel really nice, it has to be said. We were thinking about where to go for some lunch and then I hit a brainwave, and it worked out!

We ended up going to Ego, a Mediterranean restaurant that used to have a branch in Manchester (and in Sheffield) and we used to love it there. The one in Lytham is still going, and thankfully, just as nice as ever. We did their lunch menu and The Love had the chicken milanese, nicely flattened with some fresh salad and fries, and I had the chicken supreme, which was delightful and had a nice creamy sauce, some mash, and some green beans. It hit the spot excellently, as did the beer we had in the Craft House later down the main high street, sitting outside in the sun with a nice beer. As you do!

After a quick jaunt to St Annes (where the pier was closing at 5pm so we had around 10 minutes for a quick mooch) and then heading up the seafront in Blackpool, wishing I was going into Coral Island (one for the future there) we then headed back homewards, having had a nice day out in some very good weather. We settled in and fussed over Brian the cat before then watching the likes of Gogglebox on the telly to effectively put the seal on the end to a rather lovely day all round, and one that really did make the most of the time off we both had. Yaay us.

Sunday 5th May - Lazy Sunday Afternoon

It was nice to be up and about on the Sunday morning, with a coffee and some breakfast, and some extra cuddles and preening for Brian the cat, who as ever wanted full attention from his Mummy, because he can. With the weather set fair we thought it may be a nice idea to head out for a walk later on, and to maybe take in the city centre a bit and the makers' market in Ancoats too which always has some nice things - and maybe some lunch if we fancied it. The nice thing is that we can just do that as we like, and after seeing the players come out for the start of the World Snooker Championship final, off we set.

Close by to The Love In My Heart's place is the Ashton Canal, and this takes us past the new Co-Op Live (which still doesn't look anywhere near finished looking at it from the outside) and then past the Etihad Stadium in the background. The Regional Athletics Arena sounded like it had an event on from the tannoy, and we then followed the canal towpath around the former gasometers and to the back of former mills and factories that front on to Old Mill Street. The towpath is well used by cyclists and dog walkers too, so there are always plenty of people about.

We got to the marina at New Islington, following that around and then over towards Ancoats itself, past the lovely Elnecot (was so tempted to book Sunday roast in there as it's lovely) and to the Makers Market. There were some lovely stalls including one who makes all sorts of baby knits, embroidering the likes of Paddington Bear and Peter Rabbit onto their designs, and looks fab. We did also see one stall that had nice Summer dresses but The Love wasn't sure by the sizing, but one blue and white dress did catch her eye so we decided an outside drink at Seven Bro7ers Beerhouse nearby was a good call.

And was it ever - we ended up having two drinks sat outside, so had the Satin Stout first of all, always lush that one, and then the gorgeous Iron Brew Sour from Vault City Brewing after that. Yes it was very sugary, yes it tasted like a famous Scottish soft drink, and yes, it was lush! Not everyone's favourite, but definitely need to source some of that sometime. The Love went back to the stall for the makers' market and after some chatter to the stallholder, bought the dress, which fitted superbly when she tried it on later, so epic win there of course!

We then walked over to the Abel Heywood for Sunday lunch, and the upstairs part was open so we went up - and why didn't we do that before? We normally go downstairs which is nice, but felt much comfier and cosier here, and with less noise too which was nice. In fact that did mean we could chill out more, and I had the fish and chips whilst The Love went for the Sunday roast ham which looked gorgeous. It was all lovely and a nice way to do lunch, before it was off to Fierce Beer. I did try a nice new 0.5% beer that one of their collaboators had on which was fab, and The Love had her usual Cerveza, very nice too.

We got back later on the tram, fed Brian the cat his tea and I settled in for some of the snooker during the evening. I did like both players really going for it, and Kyren Wilson's walk on music, Fire In Your Eyes by Chase and Status (which mentions his nickname Warrior in the main chorus, and sounds very like The Prodigy) is tune of the day - with Jak Jones going for a bit of Stereophonics, no bad thing of course. The final frame of tonight's sessionw was proper Crucible drama, with a black ball to decide the fate of the frame, crucial as it would happen to be...

Saturday 4th May - Haaland x4

It was a nice relaxing morning with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat after I had headed up to Manchester last night. For once the train was pretty much on time, and I had the Manchester City versus Wolverhampton Wanderers game later at the Etihad. But first, a quick trip out to Ashton under Lyne on the tram, and with it being Star Wars Day, we did have a stormtrooper in disguise heading around the town centre, and someone playing the iconic set of film themes in the background, as you do of course. Nothing doing in Rewind Collectables and Games but good to get out there nonetheless.

Later on it was off to the Etihad, and with Arsenal winning 3-0 against Bournemouth earlier, we needed to win to keep up the pressure. I for one wanted to see a return to form from Erling Haaland after his goal last weekend, so captained him in Fantasy League as he was back fit. I set off a little earlier after watching the last bits of the World Snooker Championship semi final with Kyren Wilson overcoming David Gilbert to get to his second final, all good there and nice to see Kyren doing well again it has to be said (I quite like David too so was happy either way to be honest.)

At the ground, I decided on pie and a pint, and the nice thing is now there's a machine you pay by debit card, put the recyclable pint glass in, and out comes a fresh Asahi into the glass. And it's 10% less than using a kiosk too as a nice incentive, and was good to relax and enjoy that before the game, keeping an eye on the other scores with the 3pm kick offs. All looked good and as City warmed up I was hoping for goals, more so because Wolves did beat us at Molineux earlier in the season, and last time here we won with an Erling Haaland hat trick, so maybe my faith wasn't displaced?

The game kicked off and early on City got a penalty - which looked a very dodgy decision to be fair. Josko Gvardiol got ahead of the Wolves defender, but looked like a 50/50 challenge to me, and the ref pointed to the spot, and no VAR overturning it either. Erling Haaland stepped up and despatched the penalty for the opener, and before long he would tower above the defence from a deep Rodri cross to head into the opposite corner for 2-0. I was already feeling mighty glad to have captained him, let me tell you.

City pressed onwards with some good chances and before half time Erling Haaland was one on one with the Wolves defender, ran past him and initially we thought it was a good tackle, despite protestations from the City players. Eventually the ref went to VAR and overturned his decision for a penalty which narked off the Wolves fans. Erling Haaland took it and buried it into the bottom corner for a first half hat trick and 3-0 at half time. A defensive lapse however did let in Hwang Hee-Chan to make it 3-1. But that would only be for a brief moment..

The ball went to Phil Foden, and he curled forward an audcaious forty yard or so pass to Erling Haaland. The striking Viking took it in his stride, cut inside the hapless Wolves defence, and curled it into the top corner for a majestic finish and 4-1 City, with Haaland having scored all four. My Fantasy points were looking good, 18 so far and surely he'd get the bonus 3 points as well to make 21, and being captain, double that for 42 points. Nice. No complaints from me, and with a fifth goal from Julian Alvarez late on, a nice 5-1 win for City (and I do like a good 5-1 me) to keep up the pressure.

Tuesday 2nd May - I Wanna Be Elected

It was the local elections today in England at least, and so with all the necessary information supplied in a booklet, including advertisements for all the candidates, which were bordering on downright racist in some areas, it was off at lunch time to the local polling station to cast my vote. My view is, even though I am not that much into politics, is pretty clear: if you vote, then if for example what you vote on gets in, then you've done your part: and even if not, you can then at least ask why others didn't vote and perhaps change how your local council is run, or who the mayor is for a region and so on.

Naturally, the Mancunian in me would have loved to have been still in a Manchester postal area and so be eligible to vote for the Mayor of Greater Manchester: and if that was a possibility, then it'd have been no contest at all to vote for Andy Burnham. Remember during COVID when Manchester was being put into Tier 3 without no plans for business, who stood up for Mancunians and asked what the plan was. More so the later COVID inquiry proved that actually those tiers would not have worked anyway, and so was just a delaying tactic at best to serve out "punishments" on local authorities who dared ask questions. There's lots of other reasons, but needless to say I'd want to vote for someone who geniunely cares, and he does.

So when it comes to the London based elections, there were three bits of paper to fill out - the pink ballot paper was for the Mayor of London, and unlike previous where you had first and second preference votes, this time it was a straight fight of first past the post (possibly staged to try and help the Conservative candidate win, but we shall see.) The yellow ballot paper was the London Assembly member foir the local area (Croydon and Sutton being put together as the two closest London boroughs) and then one for the London-Wide assembly member in orange.

The staff at the polling station were all good and they asked for my photo ID (mandatory now incidentally) and that done, I did the casting of my votes with the cross into the boxes and dropped the folded ballot papers off into the boxes of ballot papers, ready to be counted. Unlike a lot of local councils (The Love In My Heart voted for her local councillor also, but she does hers by post) London didn't have any council elections in the main, and so was just a main mayoral scrap. I was sort of hoping that one candidate would win, but never do cast aspersions on that.

Naturally I had Alice Cooper's seminal Elected song in my head (make that tune of the day) and it definitely felt like a good thing to participate and cast the vote on. I can only hope for the future that all elections are this smooth and with the upheaval in Scotland at present - no elections even going on - then there may be at least some positives to take from today's vote, we shall see. I got all the stuff prepped for the weekend also as I was spending some quality time with The Love In My Heart, always a nice thing to do of course.