Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Eating up my veg

Every Wednesday my box of vegetables arrives from Beanies, and I arrange the contents in the vintage vegetable rack that I have been carefully curating since acquiring it at a jumble sale some time in the early 1990s.
This time of year, it features a lot of roots. Not as many, however, as last year when I somewhat masochistically ordered the 'British produce only' box. That was like being a mediaeval peasant. That, of course, is possibly the future. I'm making the most of my European courgettes and fennel and peppers while I can.

I combine them with some items from my stockpile...
... to cook up a week's (or more) worth of meals.
Curried roots with chickpeas, above, and something vaguely Mediterranean style (including olives and capers not in the photo) below...
Which I then parcel up into individual meal-sized portions
Some of these go in the fridge for the coming week, and some go into the freezer, swapped for ones frozen in previous weeks. I don't have one at every single meal, but it certainly is very handy to be able to pop one into my bag to microwave at work, and to know that I won't have to cook when I get home in the evening. The portion control in particular has helped me lose over a stone since last March, and keep it off since October.

My colleague who has a family of three has a box like mine once a fortnight; I have one every week, and I eat it all up myself.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Pictures of the pier

Yes, Newhaven has a pier, otherwise known as the arm. You used to be able to walk along it, which was great. On your left as you walked out was the sandy West Beach, which you could also go on in those days; on your right a collonnade, where you could stand and listen to the waves crashing against it from the other side. On a good, windy day on a high tide, you could shelter there while the waves came right over the top, and watch the water fall in front of you. At the end, there is a lighthouse. There's some history and some interesting photos here.

I took a few photos when I was there at Christmas (I have taken many more over the years, but I can't lay my hands on them right now). These were taken from Tidemills, with the dredger approaching.

But Newhaven's pier has also drawn the attention of artists over the years.

In 1936, it was painted by both John Piper and Eric Ravilious. James Russell's blog here has a lovely account of how he followed in their footsteps - it's nice to see Newhaven and the surrounding area described so positively by an outsider. He also has an excellent photo showing the collonnade.

I'm a fan of Ravilious (1903-1942), who grew up and lived in East Sussex and painted a lot of scenes that are quite familiar to me. There's something very 30s about the way he has painted the pier:
Although I think there is a bit of artictic licence there. As you can see Ravilious died young, and in mysterious circumstances. Working as a war artist, he was on board a plane that disappeared off the coast of Iceland. Neither it - nor he or any of the crew - were ever found.

John Piper (1903-1992) was Ravilious' exact contemporary and friend. His version of the pier is viewed from the sea - or maybe, like mine, from across the bay.
Around the same time, Vanessa Bell (1879-1961) - who also lived locally - was painting a number of scenes around Newhaven harbour, and this is her pier:
Three different artists, all around the same time, but three very different piers.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Are we nearly there yet?

No, go back to sleep

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Plant potty

An occasional series in which I lazily fill a post with a photo of something I've bought in a charity shop.

There are no charity shops to speak of in Walkley. There is one, but we don't speak of it. My colleague who used to live in Walkley tells me that it was known as the 'Dead Dog Shop' and that for many months there was a boxed set of Will and Grace DVDs in the window with a cat poo on top.

So my charity shop fix now involves a three mile round trip through Crookes and Broomhill - a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

And this is one of my finds from the latest foray. St Lukes Vintage shop, Broomhill, £5.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Heritage pub 2 (sort of): The Head of Steam

Well, it is in the book, but as being on the Sheffield Local Inventory of Historic Pub Exteriors, 'for pubs where the historic interior has been entirely destroyed'. Historic the exterior may be, but it's pushing it a bit to call it a historic pub exterior; it was a bank (The Sheffield and Hallamshire Savings Bank, until in 1977 it became part of TSB) certainly well into the 1970s and possibly into the 90s (the book is somewhat imprecise on exact dates, and Pevsner isn't any more help.) The book does note that this category does include a number of pubs that have been converted from other buildings.

Anyway, for the last few years this has been the Sheffield branch of the Head of Steam, a smallish chain of pubs owned by Camerons, the Hartlepool-based brewery possibly best known in certain circles for having an old advert on the front of the Greyhound at Hawkesbury - to be honest, until very recently, I had no idea they were still going. I used to go in the Head of Steam in Huddersfield - which didn't feel like part of a chain at the time, although it did last time I was there.

As it turned out, the Sheffield HoS on a Monday evening was the ideal place to meet up with the First Mate of Princess Lucy, because it was quiet, and served both dry rose and decent beer, vegetarian curries and classic burgers. It was cavernous, and I wouldn't want to be there when it was busy, and the pseudo-post-industrial vibe is getting a bit 2015, but hey, decent food, good beer and friendly staff, plenty of space and no music counts for a lot. We'll be back there for our next Monday meet-up.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Heritage pub 1: The Wellington

Remember that one of the ideas I had for providing blogging material was to see how many pubs I could visit that are featured in the CAMRA guide to Sheffield's Real Heritage Pubs (ed. Dave Pickersgill)? Well, here's the first (not the first I'll have visited, but the first I'll be writing about.

Jim and I (and Ricky and Geoffrey) stumbled across the Wellington at Shalesmoor when we were out for a Boxing Day walk (I'd taken him to see a demolition site and the country's last remaining cementation furnace - I must blog about that one day too). The Wellington was on the radar because it's a sister pub to my most local of locals, the Blake, owned by the Neepsend Brew Co. and serving as their brewery tap.

It's quite a good find for a first visit as the guide puts it in the third category of six (and there are only three in the first, those that are in the National Inventory - including one I visit frequently and which is possibly my favourite Sheffield pub - and very handy for the office, so we'll be hearing more about that one before long). The Wellington is listed in the Yorkshire Regional Inventory in the category of having 'some regional importance' - meaning that while it doesn't retain a significant degree of its original layout and fittings, 'specific features are of sufficient quality for the pub to be considered noteworthy'.

Built in 1839, the pub retains many features from its 1940 refit as well as some older ones, including the terazzo floors. From the 40s there is the 'ply panelled bar' which I'm afraid I neglected to notice. It was the tiles in the lobby which look to be from the same era if not a little earlier - which first drew me in.
The pub doesn't look much from the outside - a little intimidating, if anything - but inside it was very nice, and friendly. When we first arrived it was nearly empty, but it filled up quickly with what were clearly regulars. We sat in the tap room, which boasted a nice collection of old pub memorabilia and advertising, including a Craven A clock, which complemented the inter-war Tennants' leaded windows. I can't remember what I drank - it could well have been Neepsend Blonde. One interesting feature was that not only does the pub retain the three-room layout from the 1940 refit (and now I've read about it, I can see the vestiges in other pubs, including the Blake, where the rooms have been knocked through) but the rooms are numbered.

I snapped one last quick picture as we left, showing the terazzo floor in the main bar, with the tap room door just to the left. I expect it'll be a while before we pass that way again, but I wouldn't hesitate to pop in.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Surveying the foundations...

... is the title of a paper that I presented to the Foundation Year Network Annual Conference last year, and subsequently published as an article in the Journal of the Foundation Year Network (of which I also, ahem, happen to be an editor, but it was peer-reviewed, honest guv.)

But if I had titled this post 'Assessment at Level 0', be honest, you wouldn't have looked at it, would you. Whereas a bit of poking about in the basement (or bilges) is far more likely to grab your interest.

Nonetheless, if I'm going to stick with my intention of posting every day, there will have to be an element of recycling. There's 4,000 perfectly good words out there, not to mention a very well-received extended scaffolding metaphor, and I'm not going to let them go to waste.

PDF here.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

On the rack

This is my dish draining rack:
With every drainer I've had in my adult life, I've been looking for one like the one I grew up with - the same ratio of plate and dish to cup space, the robust plastic coating, the cheery sixties colour. Nothing I bought over the past forty years ever quite lived up to that memory.

And now I have one that is perfect. Because this *is* the one I grew up with. This draining rack is at least 48 years old, because I remember it being in our house in Thornton Heath, which we left in 1971. My mother kept it - and used it - every day since then (never a dishwasher for her) and I have now reclaimed it as my inheritance.

There is not a crack in the plastic; not a hint of rust. It cheers up my kitchen and makes me just that little bit happier when I use it every day.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Keeping an eye on the clock

Or rather, trying not to - seeing if I can be less governed by the clock, and become more reattuned with my - and the world's - natural daily and seasonal rhythms and cycles.

This is something that's been in the back of my mind for years, but in constant conflict with my tendency to categorise and compartmentalise; to want to have my time as tidily organised into neat consistent parcels as my space. Only it doesn't work anyway, because real life gets in the way.

I was prompted to think about it again on Friday, when I read this article in the Guardian. As anyone who has read this blog for a year or two will know, I rail annually against the manipulation and dishonesty that is British Summer Time. Yet - with the exception of the movement of the earth on its axis and around the sun - all 'time', all chronology, is an artificial construct. Yes, it has its benign uses, in enabling us to co-ordinate meetings with friends, or televised snooker matches, but beyond this it tyrannises us in the interests of - let's be blunt, if perhaps a bit simplistic - capitalism. It corralls us into all doing the same thing at the same time, albeit now by subtler means than the factory hooter.

On top of all these ideological objections, sometimes recently I've not been sleeping very well. I make myself stay awake until ten, despite dozing off over my book, then I lie awake until midnight, or wake at two, or four, and then when my alarm goes off at six, I haven't always had enough sleep to get me through the day. But it's really hard to go to bed when the clock says half past eight; it's so culturally ingrained - which is demonstrated by how quickly we 'adapt' to BST. Seeing the clock affects us at a subconscious level, telling us how tired or hungry we 'ought' to be.

So, can I live without the clock? In many ways, I'm an ideal candidate to try. I'm personally and ideologically motivated; I live alone; I hardly watch any TV (and there's catchup anyway), and most importantly, my working hours are flexible and I very rarely need to be in the office before 9:30. On the days when I have those meetings, I could set a backstop alarm to allow me enough time to get into work.

But can we avoid the clock? I think maybe I can when it matters most. Obviously when I'm sitting in front of a PC or looking at the iPad, the clock is there in front of me (there's probably a way of hiding it - not least a post-it note) - but that will be during the main part of the day - usually the working day, and I know that I won't be able to avoid it during the working day because of numerous meetings and appointments. But - no doubt because of its constant electronic presence - I was actually surprised to find that I only had three operational clocks in the house. One is in the attic, so I'm not likely to catch sight of it by accident. One is my bedside radio alarm clock, which I switched off at the plug on Friday night. The darkness in that corner of the room seemed just that bit blacker than everywhere else. And one in the kitchen, which I'll need to keep at least until I get a kitchen timer. It would also be really useful to have something that tells you just whether it is or is not an appropriate time to go shopping/hoover/play music.

So on Friday night I switched off the bedside clock, took off my watch and put it in a cupboard, and read on the sofa until I felt like going to bed, which ended up some time between half nine and ten. I fell asleep, and when I woke up I had no real idea what time it was, but I felt rested and ready to get up, so I did. And I put my running things on in an act of faith that it wasn't two a.m. In fact when I got down to the kitchen and looked at the clock, it was 5:10, which was just about perfect. I'm sure that I'm a lark as opposed to an owl; someone who's an early riser and functions best in the mornings - but if that is the case, I won't need to set my alarm for six, will I.

On Saturday night, on the other hand, I didn't sleep so well. I went to bed later - at around ten thirty, and spent quite a lot of time in the earlyish hours - although of course I don't know exactly which ones - thinking, occasionally writing down thoughts in my bedside notebook (not least working out the length of topstrings).
Once again I got up when it felt right, and put on my running stuff before looking at the clock - and this time when I got downstairs, it was twenty to eight. I did have an inkling of that as I could see it was starting to get light. Clearly, it will take a while to get into a pattern - if indeed that happens.

It's going to be really hard to break the habit of being ruled by the clock, particularly as I will still have to be guided by it at work, but I'm going to give it a try. If I can just decouple sleeping from its clutches, that would be a good start.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Oh darling, must I get up?

Can't you just bring me breakfast in bed?
A lightly poached egg, perhaps, and a pot of Earl Grey. Oh, and can you bring my post?
Too kind.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Just chequing

I wrote a cheque last night to renew Chertsey's insurance. It was the last cheque in that particular chequebook. The first one was also used to pay for a boat's insurance - Bakewell's in that instance - in 2013.

I like writing a cheque and putting it in the post. I don't even mind paying for a stamp for the privilege of not having to wrangle with a website or chat with a call centre. Writing a cheque still gives me that thrill of being a grown up. When I write a cheque, my Ys and Gs acquire extravagant loops of purple ink. I always write out the pounds and pence in words. Sometimes I can't quite remember how to sign my name.

The first cheque I ever wrote, many years ago, when I was a freshly minted grown-up, with my first current account, was to Amnesty International - my first membership subscription. Can you remember who yours was to?

Friday, 11 January 2019


Rivetcounter thought no. 1

It's not the conscious, visible categorising and cataloguing, pattern-seeking and rulemaking that's a problem - it's the fact that it is constantly going on in the background. which pointlessly takes up far too much energy and brain capacity. Do I really need to think every morning about which hand I pick the mugs up of the draining rack with, and therefore what order they go back on their nails? Should I really be bothered about whether I pick my necklace or my earrings first, and worried about how to choose between the pendants that live in little drawers and the beads that live on a rail? My lack of a workable rule for that is bothering me fairly frequently.

I have a new rule, which is that 'preference trumps rules'.

Most of you probably don't need a rule like that.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Up the creek

Here are a few photos of Newhaven's tidal creek, a remnant of the rerouting of the Sussex Ouse (which does not rhyme with Lewes, thus proving Wikipedia to be the unreliable source we warn students against) which subsequently supported the tide mill around which grew the village on whose ruins we frolic with Ricky and Geoffrey.

From the footbridge over the railway line from Beach Road, looking back towards the town
And from the same bridge looking toward the sea:
And finally, the view from the concrete footbridge across the creek that you can see in the second photo:
That spot of white is a little egret.

The scene is soon to change, as a new road bridge is finally going to be built, serving an aggregate works. There is a lot of land here, and much of it won't be directly affected, and I can't quite picture how things are going to end up (because I'm very bad at that sort of visualisation), so I'll keep taking photos each time I'm down there.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019


To go with your tea, you might like a bit of bread, or toast, and jam. Or a scone.

Just down the road from me, there's a bit of land (where I believe some cottages used to stand) which is now a 'nature park' but also serves as a sort of community garden, planted with apple, cherry and plum trees, and with a good growth of brambles.

I was very excited about the prospect of making plum jam, but someone picked the tree bare while I was off boating. Maybe next year. I'm toying with the idea of a plum tree in the garden - I have a lovely sunny wall - but ... wasps.

However, as I walked back through the park each day I picked a few blackberries, and put them in the freezer. Today, I finally got them out - because I've run down my stock of pre-prapared dinners, and wanted to take the opportunity to defrost the freezer. So, I had to preserve the blackberries the old-fashioned way:

I had 1 lb 11 oz (or 777g, if you prefer, which I don't. Love metric for measuring, but not for cooking) of blackberries. Having been frozen gave them a head start in the squishiness stakes, so they didn't need much stewing.
I got my splendid Le Creuset enamel preserving pan in a charity shop in Eastbourne, for £6.99. Sebastian then very kindly carried it around the rest of the shops for me. I thought it might be a bit big for such a small quantity, but it was fine, and I was glad I'd used it.
I remembered how to do it without a recipe, and got very nearly three 12oz jars. And after putting it off for months, in the end it only took half an hour.
It's set well - almost too well - and yes, it is pippy, because I couldn't be bothered to sieve it. But it's jolly tasty, and such a lovely colour. Although I don't think Captain Ahab has anything to worry about.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

The three dimensions of tea

Many people erroneously assume that there is only one dimension to tea: WEAK -> STRONG

They think that weak tea can be made stronger by leaving it to brew for longer, and that strong tea can be made weaker by adding more milk. This is incorrect.

There are in fact three dimensions to making tea:

How weak or strong a cup of tea is is determined by the ratio of tea to water. I like a ratio of one standard (i.e. not 'one-cup') Yorkshire teabag to 9 fluid ounces of water. This fits nicely in a standard sized mug with room for milk.

This dimension is determined by how long you leave the tea to brew. If you hoick the bag out (or pour from the pot) straight away it won't have any flavour at all. If it doesn't brew properly - most likely because the water wasn't hot enough - then the flavour will never develop right, and it'll taste 'raw'. The longer the tea is left to stand, the more the tannins will develop, giving the distinctive tea - and ultimately bitter - flavour. This process is arrested by adding milk, but not by removing the leaves/bag. Tea that is left to stand (or stored in a thermos) without milk in, even after the teabag has been removed, will still become bitter. Some people like their tea stewed, which is a perfectly legitimate choice, particularly favoured by people who grew up in 1950s transport cafes. However, if you start off with too little tea in your water, no amount of brewing will make it strong. It will just be stewed and weak, which as everyone knows, is the urine of the devil. I like my tea brewed for about two minutes, with a good stir at either end of the process and a thorough squeeze at the end. There's quite a lot of tolerance in that though.

The final dimension is another matter of personal taste. Some people like no milk at all, some an almost imperceptible amount (looking at you, Kath of Herbie :-), while some like it so milky that if it's left to stand for a week or so it goes solid, and you can turn it out like a blancmange, although I don't advise this. There's also the choice of full cream, semi-skimmed or skimmed. This, I suspect, rather like whether you like shaving foam on top of your beer, is a question of what you're used to. I like a medium amount of semi-skimmed - enough to smooth off the edges, but not enough to actually taste the milk. I prefer semi-skimmed to full cream because it won't form a skin (which revolts me), and to skimmed because that doesn't seem to have the same effect on the tannin, which must be down to the fat. Maybe.

Here is my perfect cup of tea:
Ten bonus points for identifying the source of the souvenir tray - without Googling!

A word about bags versus loose leaf: yes, there is a difference, but a lot of nonsense is talked about it. Tea purists poseurs will wax lyrical about loose leaves, then cram them so tightly into one of those little in-pot strainer things that the middle doesn't even get wet. If you're using loose leaf, then it has to float freely around the pot. A good teabag - by which I mean a full size Yorkshire teabag - will make a perfectly good cup of tea, and three or four of them will make a perfectly good pot, if made and brewed correctly.

And finally, when to add the milk? If pouring from a pot, milk in first makes sense. Firstly, because then you don't need to stir it in, and secondly - the now obsolete historic reason - it stops the hot tea from cracking your delicate china. But if making in the cup, then the water absolutely has to be first, because otherwise the liquid the tea steeps in won't be boiling. Pouring milk onto a teabag before the water is possibly the greatest offence against teamaking of all. However, I will freely admit to adding my milk before removing the teabag, once it has brewed, again largely to avoid a separate final milk-stir, but also to see the colour and give it another squish or too if needed.

Finally, why can only one person in every 313 squeeze the bag out with a spoon against the side of the cup rather than carrying it dripping across the floor to the bin?

Yes, I know this is a very dogmatic post. Before anyone asks what right I have to tell you how to make tea, the answer is that this is my blog, and you can tell people your method on your blog. In fact, I think I have invented a new word for this approach: blogmatic.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Saturday, 5 January 2019

A mere trifle

I make a trifle for Boxing Day.

This year I couldn't find trifle sponges in Tesco's - that's not to say they weren't there; trifle sponges are one of those things you can never find in the supermarket - so I used some very cheap swill roll instead. It has to be very cheap, so as not to have any buttercream in it, which I suspect wouldn't be very nice.

Traditionally, my trifle was made largely by opening tins - a tin of raspberries, a tin of summer fruits, and a tin of Ambrosia custard. The tinned fruit seems to be getting harder to come by, and I'd accidentally stocked up on frozen summer fruits, so I thawed it out with lots of sugar and no small quantity of sherry, and the results were perfectly acceptable.

The custard comes in cartons now rather than tins, but you get more of it.

I don't bother piping the whipped cream on the top, I just dollop it out with a spoon.

Fortunately I still had plenty of silver balls left over from a decade ago.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Former furry friends

I was meant to bring sdome old friends back with me from Sussex, but unfortunately they got forgotten in the excitement of seeing little Rory.

A few weeks ago Sebastian texted me a photo, and asked if I remembered any of the faces in it.

Oh yes, with the exception of a couple who weren't actually mine (a rather inferior polar bear, a mole, a dog and a smurf), I can name them all: back row: Squirrel Nutkin, who belonged to my cousin(s) but was greatly coveted by, and somehow came to be given to, me; Bonnie the rabbit, in his natty jacket (he never got that tatty under my stewardship); Mushroom, the teddy I was given relatively late in life, because I was envious of my sister's ted that she cuddled in bed - I had a teddy, of whom more later, but he wasn't the cuddly type. Then there's Snoopy, wearing his Newick Sunday/Haywards Heath Sainsbury's football strip (the teams, as well as the shirts, were pretty much interchangeable back in the eighties), then the imposter Smurf.

In the middle row we have Leon the lion cub, who I made out of a kit, then after the polar bear and the mole, Strupkin, a strange hybrid of zebra and tiger whose purpose I could never quite discern, then Jumbo Tint, named, apparently, because it sounded a bit like Gamboge Tint, which is a shade of yellow. Jumbo Tint has always had a strange and distinctive smell, which I'm pleased to say he still retains. Then there are two small bears, that larger of which is Spencer, and the smaller, Medie (because in some crazy scheme of things he was the medium one. Bigger anyway than Teeny Tiny Ted (not pictured)).

Then there are two rabbit glove puppets. The black and white one is Harry Habitat, because I bought him in Habitat, with £1.05 of my pocket money. The other one is Whisky, who is made of Crimplene. I had dresses made of the same fabric - in fact, Whisky must be made of the scraps. So named because he was originally called Whiskers, until I pulled them out. Whisky is actually a masterpiece of maternal craftpersonship, and was one of my most played-with toys. I can vividly recall the sensation of inserting my fingers through his neck and into his head. Imposing himself like a drunken oaf on the scene is Helmut, a dog of much later vintage, who is almost obscuring modest, knitted Daisy. I don't know who knitted her, sadly. Lying across the very front is Mint, who believe it or not, is a dog, and another one of whom I was very fond. He only has three legs now, but it would be perfectly possible to transplant his tail as a substitute and no one would be any the wiser.

Coincidentally, around the same time Sebastian sent me this, I was looking through some old photos I brought back from my mother's, among which was this.
That's me, second from the left (on seeing this one of my colleagues remarked 'That's the smiliest I've ever seen you), and look! There's Jumbo Tint and Daisy.

And between Jumbo Tint and Daisy, on my left, that's Tweenie, my non-cuddly teddy. I always thought of Tweenie as a very wise and kindly bear, until I discovered this photo.
I have no memory of this, and Tweenie has never mentioned it.
Not being cuddly has its compensations, in terms of longevity. Here he is at fifty-plus, as handsome and as enigmatic as ever.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Christmas cutie

And here are some more pictures of Aurora looking extremely cute.
 And here she models the Christmas stocking that I knitted her

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Succession planning

Last week I finally got the opportunity to give Aurora her 'welcome to the world' present...
It was painted by Amy - formerly of Lucky Duck, now of Severner Willow and Bollington Wharf - under the tutelage of Phil Speight.
My special request was for a sunrise, to reflect Aurora's name (her middle name - Rose - is well-catered for).

I'm hopeful that it - and she - will be sitting on Chertsey's cabin top before too long.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Some of the things I might blog about in 2019

And so, this blog enters its tenth year.

As well as musing on anything and everything, there are a few themes and ideas that - who knows - actually might get put itno practice this year. Because I really should get out more. And if I get into that habit from January to September, maybe Semester 1 won't bury me again this year as it has done for the past two.

Here are some things I might do.
  1. Post more thoughts about autism-related stuff, as I work my way through it and think about it a bit more.
  2.  Relaunch the Big Days Out that started so well with an easy-peasy and very successful trip to Saltaire, but foundered on the next random selection, which was Ladybank. However, I allowed someone else to pick that, so maybe it doesn't count.
  3. Visit as many as possible of the pubs in the CAMRA Sheffield's Real Heritage Pubs: Pub Interiors of Historic Interest guide that Adrian and Linda gave me (well, OK, Jim) for Christmas.
  4. Take more photos of interesting post-industrial dereliction, before it all gets gussied up like Kelham Island.
  5. Try to survive a trip to Hebden Bridge in a 72' boat with Jim and two dogs as crew. Against the clock. And the dogs won't work locks.
  6. Post amusing photos of dogs.

Other ideas (and requests) welcome, of course!