Northenden Boat Race

Who needs Henley Regatta or the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race when we’ve got gangs of slightly inebriated Mancunians, in rubber dinghies, paddling in all directions on the River Mersey.

Yes it’s the annual Northenden Boat Race – no I hadn’t heard of it before either.

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My next-door neighbour Stephanie knew we did a bit of kayaking and asked if her sons could borrow a couple of paddles and life preservers for this annual charity event that I’d never heard of. When I heard it was a race, I offered them the use of the kayaks, but the strict rules meant that all competitors had to be in inflatable dinghies, I immediately guessed that we weren’t about to see any Olympic hopefuls showing off their stuff here, it was strictly for fun.

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As the television coverage was severely lacking, I felt it was my responsibility to go down and photograph the event for posterity and my own amusement – also, it was sunny and I didn’t have much else to do.

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Once the horn was blown for the start I took a few pictures of the mayhem before I realised they were actually quite fast. With them heading downstream and me trying to fight my way through the crowds of spectators, the leaders soon disappeared out of sight. Once we reached the finish line all that was left was the final stragglers. I was surprised however, to see the Northenden Pipe Band in full Scottish regalia playing for the crowds. I’ve lived in Northenden for over twenty years and I never knew we had a pipe band, let alone a boat race.

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I really must get out more.


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Ice Bucket Challenge

Yes, it finally got round to me.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, where you pour a bucket of water/ice over your head for charity, came into my life yesterday when my uncle Ed Borking nominated me, as well as my cousin Mark and my son Elliott.

Not being one to walk away from a challenge – actually that’s not true. I always walk away from a challenge if it sounds stupid. I’m quite happy to delete chain letters, refuse drinking games and shrug off those Facebook posts that ask you to re-post to prove you care about some horrendous injustice.

As I’m also getting on a bit now and less impressed by crazes and fashion trends, now I come to think about it, it’s quite unusual for me to actually accept a challenge, but for some strange reason this one has caught my imagination. I think it’s really impressive how social media has been utilised to raise funds for a good cause rather than just swap selfies – is it me or does that sound a bit rude?

So when the challenge came my way, I accepted. I think part of the charm of this process is that you have to be nominated. Someone has to pick you. It’s like joining an elite club, including lot’s of sexy celebrities, which always makes things more interesting – apparently.

Like all the best ideas, it’s simple, and at the time of writing it’s raised $50 million, which is very impressive.

I tried to do my challenge with a bit of style and humour – I hope you like it, oh and I also donated £20, which is the most important part lets remember.

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Diving at Capernwray


For this week’s adventure we piled the diving gear into the car and set off for Capernwray Diving Centre near to England’s beautiful lake district.

Diving in the UK is not quite as easy as it is in the tropics. The changeable weather and northern latitude makes it a bit more complicated, with variable conditions and colder water needing kit that’s up to the challenge – Us British divers are a hardy breed indeed.

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That being said there is some beautiful diving in the waters around the British Isles, and I’d love to do more of it.

To make things a little bit easier, there are various dive centres around the country where you can practice your skills and have a lot of fun in a more controlled environment. Probably the best one near to us is Capernwray.

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As it’s August, the water was a balmy 20 degrees and being a Friday, the centre was quiet which meant the silt wasn’t all stirred up and the visibility was excellent – 8 to 12 metres, eat your heart out Bermuda!

Clare and myself were diving with friends, Mark and Sal, and both dives went well, lasting about an hour each. I’ve dived Capernwray many times now and I’ve taken lots of pictures and even a few videos, so I left the camera behind this time – except for a few snaps of us getting kitted up. But here’s some shots from previous trips and a video from my close friend Jack Custard.

The French may have Jacques Cousteau and coral reefs, but Lancashire’s got Jack Custard and sunken transit vans!



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Racing the Rain on the Roaches

The Roaches are an area of inland cliffs just near Macclesfield, a mecca for climbers from around the world and a beautiful area for walkers with views as far as Snowdonia – on a clear day.

Lady Hughes and myself have walked the Roaches many times over the years and it still remains one of our favourites.

Starting at the road we scrambled up the rocks onto the tops and followed the ridge along to the trig point.

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The weather alternated between bright, warm sunshine, strong winds and waves of showers racing towards us from the Irish Sea.  From up on the hill we watched the rain travel over the fields like a sandstorm, hit us for five or ten minutes and then move on towards Yorkshire, leaving us basking in blue skies until the next wave appeared on the horizon.

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Because of this I kept having to pack my camera away for each shower which meant I didn’t bother with any filters, which would have slowed me down, but it wasn’t too much of a problem – see what you think?

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At the trig point we braved the full force of the wind for a few photos before ducking behind a boulder for a quick bite and then turning back. On the walk back we passed a mother and son, he was wearing a polythene poncho which looked like it could carry him off with the next gust.

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Dropping down onto the lower terrace, we could look up at the cliffs, normally packed with climbers, today quiet except for a few brave souls further on.

Back at the car we sat out one last shower before changing out of our boots and heading home.


Around St Anne’s Square and the World in Eighty Days

We’ve been dying to get back to the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester for ages and today we made the effort and took Elliott into town to see ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’.


Arriving in Manchester we dodged the ongoing protests on the situation in Gaza and made our way to St Anne’s Square. Once we got there, we were pleasantly surprised to find an urban gardening event with various gardens, exhibitions, a cinema in a shed and television personality Diarmuid Gavin answering various horticultural questions.

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We listened for a while, and soaked up the atmosphere in the sun, before we remembered that we knew nothing about gardening and moved on towards the shops, only to be enticed into a makeshift restaurant outside Harvey Nichols where Elliott had his first oyster.  He quickly declared it to be his favourite food – if he thinks he’s getting them with chips for tea, he’s in for a disappointment I’m afraid.

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Onto the theatre.


I love the Royal Exchange Theatre. The old cotton exchange is a beautiful space and the modern theatre in the round, suspended from the old columns like a huge spider’s web, is an intimate cosy environment, where you almost feel part of the performance.

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The show was wonderful. Very creative with action, comedy, acrobatics and great performances all round. Great theatre creates an illusion with the audience and carries them along for the duration, and this did just that. We were really impressed and it made a great ending to the day.