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The Church House Inn, Bollington 06/09/2011

It's not the Vicar I'm visiting.

The Church House Inn, Bollington Located on the edge of the Peak District, The Church House Inn is on Church Street (where else but!!), Bollington, Macclesfield, Cheshire and dates back to the towns origins as a cotton mill village. The reason I drive some 40 odd miles to this hostelry is to visit my last remaining uncle, the inn being his local. I have also had cause to attend two family wakes there, the most recent one being last month. Since my first visit several years ago, a refurbishment has been undertaken but what has not altered, is the warm welcome, quality food, fine ales, excellent friendly and attentive service. The main bar area seats approximately 30 people, decorated tastefully making it a very peasant room in which to enjoy a meal or just a drink. A further room on the ground floor has served as the function room for the two wakes I have attended and would no doubt be used normally for general customers when the bar area is full. As most of the people at the wake tend to stand, it is difficult to say how many the room would seat but at a guess around 20. The inn also has a function room upstairs but not having seen it, I am unable to comment. My visits have always been either during the week or a Saturday, always at lunchtimes (that’s dinnertime to us common folk) and between Mrs P and myself we have tried quite a few of the many food options that are on offer to diners. We have enjoyed sandwiches of cheese and pickle, prime roast ham (£3.55), and prawns in marie sauce (£4.55). ...

The world according to Bumble. Start the Car - David Lloyd 05/06/2011

Let him get your engine running.

The world according to Bumble. Start the Car - David Lloyd Born in Accrington, Lancashire, David Lloyd has had a long and extensive cricket career as a club, county and international player as well as a county and international coach before qualifying as a first class umpire. He went on into broadcasting with the BBC’s Test match Special team before being offered and accepting a deal with Sky as a commentator. Assisted by Richard Gibson, a freelance sports journalist, Bumble as David is affectionally known wrote this, his debut novel which was published last year. Before anyone leaps to the conclusion that this is simply a biography or serious book about cricket matches, statistics and facts, it is far from it. Yes, it is cricket orientated but it is more of the authors’ views on various subjects along with many reminiscences, most of which are highly amusing. Whilst there is no particular beginning and no logical, conclusive ending, it does not detract from what is a highly entertaining and engaging read. The fun begins for the reader with an introduction in which he thanks people reading his book announcing the proceeds going to a worthy cause, namely his retirement fund. Expanding his opinions of the various reasons why, how and whom would be in possession of the book, followed by 50 of his favourite things, one of which, like Madonna and myself is his liking for real ale, in particular Timothy Taylors, or Timmy T’s as he calls it. The opening, short chapter is aptly named ‘That bloke off the telly’ in which he gives ...

Bent Coppers - Graeme Mclagan 01/02/2011

Corruption in the Capital

Bent Coppers - Graeme Mclagan Graeme McLagan, began his career as a journalist on a provincial newspaper, eventually joining the BBC in 1971, where he became a Home Affairs reporter and subsequently a special correspondent. Specializing in long term investigations, his findings gained him expertise in Police Corruption which led to three Panorama programmes and news stories transmitted on the Newsnight programme. Subsequently he published this book in 2003, his debut as an author. The book centres on the corruption within London’s Metropolitan Police, particularly on the famed Flying Squad and the South East Regional Crime Squad and opens with a prologue outlining a ‘sting‘ operation in 1997. This was to trap a recently retired ex-detective who, along with two serving detectives he had worked with in the past on the Flying Squad that he trusted. Hours before the trap was sprung, the then Met. Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon had appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee to give a statement on Police Corruption with his force. The Committee meeting to explore all aspects of police complaints and disciplinary procedures, tough changes to these were later made. The aforementioned trap was sprung, the two serving detectives were arrested the following day and faced with indisputable evidence, eventually became the first police ‘supergrasses’. The long history of police corruption throughout the years is outlined up to the formation of the first squad specifically designed to investigate ...

The Yorkshire Bridge Inn, Derbyshire 01/11/2010

Not a Bridge Too Far for me.

The Yorkshire Bridge Inn, Derbyshire The Yorkshire Bridge Inn is located on the A6013, a mile outside of Bamford and beside the Ladybower Reservoir, in the Derbyshire Peak District. Dating back to 1826, when originally a coaching inn, it has retained a traditional country inn image in a warm and welcoming way with pleasant friendly staff, good food, beer and pleasant interior. It caters for not only locals but also, tourists, hikers and cyclists alike, all of whom are made welcome. My experience of this hostelry has been more of a special occasion reason to frequent, a family celebration meal for example, which would amount to a few times a year. The reason for not visiting more frequently is that being 10 miles from my home, the 20 minute drive curtails my ability to consume a deal of their excellent beers on offer, the alternative being to let Mrs P drive home, which would result in the 20 minutes becoming over half an hour and the need to drink so much as to make me oblivious to the journey! Our latest venture out of Gods Own County to the inn was with a friend (may surprise a few that I do have such a thing) and his good lady from South of Watford Gap, who on their way to visit relatives up in Scotland, stayed with us for a night on route. Extending the well renown hand of a warm and friendly Yorkshire welcome to our guests, we set out early enough for us to get a table without the need to book and whilst there was still enough daylight for them to marvel at the beautiful countryside on our way ...

Two Tribes - Charlie Owen 01/07/2010

Its a hit alright but not Frankies

Two Tribes - Charlie Owen Two Tribes is the 4th novel by Charlie Owen, a retired Police Inspector, and according to him, it is the final one in the saga which began with Horses Arse and continued with Foxtrot Oscar and then Bravo Jubilee. The author’s reason for his decision is given thus, "it was appropriate to finish the story toward the end of what he (and others in the force during that time, me included) considered to be the last decade of true vocational coppering …. the 1970’s.” He expands his reason further in his author’s notes pages in a totally frank, brutally honest and somewhat amusing manner, in relation to the modern day police service ( note, no longer ‘police force’ ). To set the scene for those who haven’t read any of the first three novels. The story and events once more revolve around Hanstead New Town, an overspill developed to create more housing and relieve the overcrowding of the inner cities. It was occupied mainly by the dregs of society which Manchester City Council had ‘deported ‘as an opportunity and solution to get rid of their most troublesome tenants. Areas of it had quickly degenerated into what can be described as ‘kitchen sink’ estates, the Park Royal being one in particular, ruled by feral unemployable, violent youths who made up the estates mafia gang and earning it the reputation of the ‘s**thole of the county’. The serious problems in the town were not combated by the Police in a manner befitting a solution but to use the sub division in which ...

The Nags Head, Sheffield 18/01/2010

This old nag is now a winner

The Nags Head, Sheffield There are times when one finds a place that is ‘special‘, for any number of reasons and as such, creates a feeling of selfishness by keeping it to oneself. One such place in my opinion is The Nag’s Head Inn, however not being the selfish type, coupled of course, with the simple fact that the majority of people who read this review probably live too far away to make it likely they will visit it, I am thus prepared to reveal it. Situated 1¼ miles from the outskirts of Sheffield on the B6077, the Inn was once a small row of three cottages which, after the Great Sheffield Flood in 1864, (yes, flooding isn’t just a present day phenomena) was transformed into an ale house to provide a drinking establishment for the locals. The premise still remains the original building and is what I call a proper pub, traditional and old fashioned, roaring fires in cold weather, nothing plush or fancy décor wise, with soft background music which allows pleasant conversation to be held. I have visited it now and then over a number of years and would never have considered it meriting a praiseworthy review, until now that is, the reasons being as follows. Since it was it was taken over in the past two years by Bradfield Brewery, a family run business, who have been brewing ale for the past four years, it has been transformed into a highly popular venue and justifiably so. Having carried out a number of visits to taste the food and needless to say, their excellent beers, I can now ...

Sheffield Bickerton Skoda 02/06/2009

No need to 'Bicker', I'm more than a happy driver.

Sheffield Bickerton Skoda Men, particularly, in all walks of life, have often been the subject of the phrase, “Would you buy a car from this man?” That phrase could well apply also to car dealerships, judging by the experiences of some of my ex colleagues and a review or two on Ciao. Bickerton Skoda is one dealership I can say “Yes I would” and in fact has done so on three occasions now. A relatively small family owned but very progressive business located solely in Sheffield, they have a decent website. This is an easy site to navigate, giving one a complete picture of the company and highly useful information regarding it’s customer charter, vehicles new and used for sale, offers, service and parts, newsletter archive, contact us and some links, an interesting one being the full history of Skoda, spanning over 100 years. My first dealings with the company was when I retired from the Police service, my ‘lump sum’ part of my pension was enabling me to purchase, what was intended to be, a decent second hand car to replace my ageing Ford Escort estate. Their premises at that time were not very illustrious to say the least, in fact it would be fair to say that they did not inspire one to stop and browse around and would quite well have reflected the old image of the Skoda, which as everyone knows were the subject of so many jokes. (But they certainly are not any more however). Having had a short ‘browse’ at the cars for sale, without being hassled or badgered by any pushy salesman, we found ...

The Other Side of the Dale - Gervase Phinn 05/05/2009

Inspecting Schools B.O. (Before Ofsted)

The Other Side of the Dale - Gervase Phinn This author was recommended to me by a fellow member some considerable time ago but such was my pile of books waiting to be read, I have only now got around to reading one of his books. Naturally I searched his list and chose his very first one having discovered there were others which followed on from that. = = The Author = = Gervase Phinn was a teacher in a number of various schools for some 14 years before becoming General Advisor for Language Development in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. In 1988, he applied successfully for the role as Senior General Inspector for English and Drama with the North Yorkshire County Council, eventually becoming Principal Advisor for the County. An accomplished writer, he has written not only novels but plays and poems. Also an excellent orator, who after appearing on the television show, Esther (the Rantzen woman for those who haven’t seen or heard of it, which included me) he made a second appearance purely due to public demand. = = The Book. = = Whilst The Other Side of the Dale comes under the category of an autobiography, it does not refer to his childhood at all, simply on his experiences during his initial year as a school inspector and as previously mentioned is the first in a series of, to date, three books about this aspect of his life. The opening chapter sees Phinn arrive at Backwatersthwaite School after a desperate 2 hour search to find it, having met what can be described as highly interesting locals on the way. ...

Bravo Jubilee - Charlie Owen 05/03/2009

LSD. Making millions or just a hallucination?

Bravo Jubilee - Charlie Owen This is the third book by the author Charlie Owen, a retired police inspector and is a book I had been anticipating with relish, having already read (and reviewed) his first two, Horses Arse and Foxtrot Oscar. After reading the first two novels, I gave an opinion that his books are “classed as a work of fiction but are much nearer the truth than you may wish to think”. That appears to be borne out by the authors’ acknowledgements in this book where he openly thanks his former colleagues for their stories which, along with his own memories appear to form the content of his books. Knowing policemen, having been one myself, whilst the basis of some ‘memories’ may be factual, they may well have been embellished somewhat. This latest offering is a clever continuance of his previous books, regaling further tales of the Police District, Hotel Alpha, commonly known as the Horse’s Arse within the force, as it is where the officers who, to put it mildly, fall somewhat short of being upstanding are posted or should that be sentenced. The exception to this of course, is any new recruit unfortunately being posted there to fulfil the manpower quota. The story begins with the gruesome discovery of a brutal murder and arrest of a man suspected of committing the foul deed, which subsequently leads into the main plot of the book. It is 1977, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year, Sercan Ozdemir, a lower ranking member of a family crime organisation, is still harbouring thoughts of ...

As it Was: The Memoirs - Fred Trueman 03/02/2009

This True-man's Loyalty Bowled Me Over.

As it Was: The Memoirs - Fred Trueman Before I go into the reviewing of the book, let me first say that loyalty is a word I now consider most sportsman judge with £ signs in their eyes and I don't think I am being cynical in that belief. The author, Frederick Sewards Trueman, was one of the cricketing legends of not only English but also of world cricket however, what is not generally known, is how his loyalty to his county club and the England teams were so shabbily treated. The book demonstrates for me, the true meaning of the word 'loyalty'. An attitude of " being honest, upfront and forthright, offering respect for others and expecting the same in return, neither have not always been to my benefit". These are some of his own words on the opening page of the book and gets straight into his first 'brush' with the 'upper class' echelons of the, then, ruling body of English cricket. The deciding of the title of his autobiography, along with a friend, gives an insight into his wit and sense of humour, something which is evident in abundance throughout the book. Having said that he didn't want a silly title such as Dickie Bird's 'My Autobiography', Fred's comment being "What sort of title is that? It's an autobiography, what else could it be?" Or Victoria Beckham's, called 'Learning to Fly', his comment being "Sounds like a training manual, I bet that confused a few would be terrorists". Fred's own choice was suggested 'tongue in cheek' as, 'The Best Bloody English Fast Bowler That Ever Drew ...

The Real Sweeney - Dick Kirby 06/01/2009

No Barber But He 'Cut It' In The Capital.

The Real Sweeney - Dick Kirby Remember the T.V. series 'The Sweeney', starring John Thaw and Dennis (I can sing the theme toon ) Waterman ? Well, ignore that and settle down to read about the genuine article in the shape of Dick Kirby, the author of this book. It is Kirby's second book but unfortunately I have not read his first one entitled, 'Rough Justice- memoirs of a Flying Squad Detective'. That is not my fault I may add, I tend to check an author's list before purchasing but sadly, my children do not appear to have inherited my logical thought process when buying a book for me as a gift. This is in no way, shape or form an autobiography of his life story as there is no mention of his early years or family life. It is simply his memories of various cases he was involved in and much, much more. Candid views on all sorts of matters relating to every aspect of the criminal justice system are told with a refreshing frankness and at times with much dark humour. He joined the Metropolitan Police in 1967, quickly becoming a detective and served until 1993, when he was medically discharged after suffering serious injuries in a car accident whilst on duty. Over half of his service was spent in the 'elite' Flying Squad. A two and a half page foreword is written by Leonard 'Nipper' Read, Q.P.M., well known for his dealings with The Great Train Robbery and The Kray cases. He gives a complete insight to the author as a man along with his outstanding abilities and achievements in the Squad. With, in my ...

P&O Ferries 03/12/2008

I BOGOF to Bruges.

P&O Ferries About this time of year, I make a bi-annual, cross channel trip to Belgium and France by car, actually not so much a trip as a S.A.S raid……….shop and scarper!! This round trip is a non stop journey taking approximately 16 to 18 hours in total, depending on traffic conditions. Due to my ever advancing years, these excursions have become ever increasingly tiring. With my usual companion, namely my son, being unavailable this time, I had to find a solution, as I was only to well aware that Mrs P. would not relish such an undertaking and I certainly didn't fancy making it alone. One idea I considered was to make the same journey but with an overnight stay at a hotel in Calais, being fully refreshed for the return home the following day, thus making it an acceptable proposition for Mrs.P to agree to. Various internet searches were made and on conclusion, a rough total costing of approximately £160.00 was arrived at. Reasonable enough considering the amount of savings I would be making on my purchases of tobacco, alcohol and other bits and bobs. Whilst ruminating the dates on which to go, my Uncle Alzheimer, a frequent visitor of mine, must have nipped off for a while, for I suddenly recalled the P & O mini cruises that we had embarked upon in the past both to Amsterdam and Bruges. So, dispelling some misconceived notions held by some that I am 'a tight arsed Yorkshireman', being aware that it would be more expensive than my aforementioned idea, I made a unilateral decision ...

Lincoln Sausage & Potato Festival, United Kingdom 04/11/2008

A World's First........but the last for me!

Lincoln Sausage & Potato Festival, United Kingdom Saturday 25th October 2008, a veritable feast of live sport on the box, rugby league world cup, union, golf and football, what more could I want to entice me to become a couch potato for the day? Not to be, for as the saying going "the best laid plans of mice and men often gang awry'' . Her 'ladyship had noticed that that the Worlds' first Sausage and Potato Festival was being held that very day in Lincoln, in and outside its famous Castle. Thus, my own plans were well and truly scuppered. So, despite the gale blowing and being a tad on the cold side, off we went (me grudgingly so). What I wasn't going to admit to her however (well a man doesn't admit anything to his wife does he ), was the fact that, as I grow my own spuds, I had some interest in the event, hoping to widen my limited knowledge and hopefully improve my own crop through picking up tips and other information. As stated, this was to be the Worlds' first festival of its kind, in fact the sausage festival was celebrating its sixth anniversary and had been combined with the first national celebration of the potato, quite appropriate really I suppose as this is the International Year of the good old spud. It was taking place between the hours of 10am and 4pm. Having been to Lincoln in the past, why I don't know and can't give a valid reason for, I know that parking isn't that cheap but it never is in these tourist type places is it? However, due to her ladyships' poor navigational skills, I was instructed ...

Beasts of No Nation - Uzodinma Iweala 07/10/2008

Fight or Die - A child's only choice.

Beasts of No Nation - Uzodinma Iweala This is the debut novel of the author Uzodinma Iweala, a Nigerian born in the U.S.A and a Harvard graduate. At the time of publication in 2005, he was 23 years old and living in Nigeria. The story. An unnamed country in Africa, a boy lays in a building, eyes closed, his body itching when he hears the sound of a truck and a voice shouting. He opens his eyes to see the light coming through a hole in the roof. Knocking sounds and banging, which cause the walls to shake and more of the roof to fall, bringing more light into the room. A small person walks to him, sniffing him like a dog before hitting him and then dragging him by the leg into the mud of the street outside. He sees two old trucks and men dressed in either camouflage or T shirt and jeans, ragged with holes and tears in them but all of them are carrying guns. The small person who found him, a small boy, runs to the truck and returns to where he is laying with a huge man, who is the Commandant, who in turns calls for the ' luftenant '. Lying there, terrified to the point of almost wetting himself with fear, the Commandant questions him and we discover his name is Agu. The 'luftenant' wants to kill Agu, whom he says is a spy but the Commandant asks Agu if he wants to be a soldier. Agu has no choice, be a soldier or be killed there and then. That sets the scene for Agu's story which is told in the first person narrative, spoken in an "idiosyncratic cadence of English that mimics sentence structure and ...

Dylan on Dylan - Jonathan Cott 09/09/2008

Will the real Bob please stand up ??

Dylan on Dylan - Jonathan Cott Having been a fan of Bob Dylan's music since my youth, (too many moons ago sad to say), and even now in these MODERN TIMES, that's his last album by the way. I knew nothing of him except that his real name was Robert Zimmerman, so whilst browsing in a bargain bookshop, I spotted his picture on the cover of this book and my curiosity got the better of me. A chance to read the story of a man who has written countless songs, of which many have been released by many well known singers and groups, Jimmy Hendricks, The Animals, The Byrds, Sonny and Cher but to name a few. Being a mere £2, my wallet was comfortable with that and I splashed out without glancing through the book itself which, with hindsight was a foolish thing to do. Although actually I have to blame the Mrs, due to the fact that she was unable to put my reading glasses in her handbag, which as usual, contained everything bar the kitchen sink and of course her purse!! The book is a collection of what is termed, 'the essential interviews held with Dylan' and edited by Jonathan Cott, an author of 16 books, including Dylan, a biography (the book I SHOULD have probably sought out rather than the one I got). Not only an author, Cott has written for the New York Times, Parabola, The New Yorker and has been a contributing editor of the famous Rolling Stone magazine since its conception. The beginning is an introduction by Cott in which he gives a brief resume of Dylan's beginnings in the music scene, quotes by ...
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