Saturday, 28 November 2015

A year to the day brings about another end

It is  exactly a year to the day that I started this blog and this will be my last post. It is time to move on. Our first year living in Beeston has been eventual and life changing in unexpected ways, which we have come to terms with, but it has changed our priorities.

Beeston is a great place to live and we instantly felt at home. Susan first lived in the town whilst a student at Nottingham University in the late-sixties and we have been weekly visitors since 1996. I resolved a couple of years ago to give up being on any committees or too closely involved with any group. At seventy-one and after fifty-five years of being a community and Labour Party activist, I feel no need to apologise for deciding to take a back seat.

The truth is I have a memoir of sorts I want to give more time to. I have been thinking about it since a family conversation over Christmas 2010, which led me to join the WEA Beeston Writing Class at the beginning of 2011 and this, in turn, led me to discovering the pleasure which comes from writing fiction - very different to my published writing since the 1970s, all of which has been about local history, politics and localism.

It was my lifelong commitment to localism (and the idea of taking a photograph every day for a year of life in Lenton Recreation Ground) which prompted my first blog,, which I began at the beginning of 2007, encouraged by my friend Rosie, who started blogging in 2005 (and has a very successful blog called 'Corners of my mind'). I 'retired' parkviews when I started this blog. Parkviews was about Lenton, where we lived for thirty-five years until we moved to Beeston.

This blog will stay in situ, along with parkviews and a couple of other little blogs I started for some reason or another, including one about growing up in Wembley.

I also have other passions I want to enjoy more (maps and gardening for example), so something has to go. Life is time limited and I want to have as few commitments as possible and, as much as I have enjoyed doing Beestonweek, the blog is a commitment.

To my few regular visitors, I say thank you for reading me. I may share some of my fiction, even my memoir. Right now, I wish you a lovely Christmas break and a 2016 you would wish for yourself.

Robert Howard

Saturday, 21 November 2015

One mad moment led to this...

It is three weeks to the day since my last post and this is partly to blame. It was my own silly fault. I made creme brulee for friends and I was not sure whether the sugar I placed on top had melted and turned into a golden sugary crust. It had! It was a week before I took myself off to the doctors to see the practice nurse. The good news was that I had done all the right things, but since the burn blister had broken, it needed dressing. Three times since last Monday and back again on Monday.

It is a long time since I have put an index finger out of action. Thinking about, never before, so my contribution around the house has been limited of late. The nurse thinks another fortnight yet.

Everyone who sees it wants to know what I did and only the nurse tried to stifle a laugh. No one else did. It is fitting punishment for my own stupidity. Looking at the pic, I know it could have been far worse, and just for the record, I ate the meaty creme brulee.

My poorly finger did lead to me and Susan belatedly discovering the Friday morning Country Market held in the Methodist Church on Wollaton Road, just a minute's walk from Beeston High Road. You can't miss it. They place this large banner outside, but be warned they have usually sold out of cakes and pies by 11.30am.

Looking at this pic you can understand why. Having bought cake and shortbread there on the last two Fridays I know how good the food is. We also bought jams. The prices are so good that I may well buy more cakes from them and bake fewer myself.

They call themselves The Nottingham Country Market and once upon a time they were based in the YMCA on Shakespeare Street in Nottingham city centre. They are 'a non-profit making co-operative specialising in hand-made crafts, ho,me-grown plants, vegetable and flowers, preserves... savouries, cakes and cookies and homemade bread'. There is a website at

They also serve tea and cake, although as we left the church, we saw someone we know who told us he came from Sneinton regularly to buy food and that their tea and toast was a real treat. We haven't tried it yet, but we will before Christmas.

Time for Tea on Wilkinson Street has become one the places we visit most weeks of late. I sometimes have Emma's bread & butter pudding with a generous portion of custard on top. Truly delicious. Even better is her poached eggs on toast. She does them properly and is as good s Bennett's in Derby, plus the added bonus that the eggs are from her own (licensed) hens and the eggs are fresh every day. 

Then there is O'liva on Beeston High Road. Last week we tried his almond tarts and Italian gelato vanilla custard ice cream, which comes from Soho in London. I went back and bought some of the tarts to take with us to a friend in Banburyshire. I bought a main course (a sausage loaf) from Jo at the Local Not Global Deli on Chilwell Road, as well some of her small cheeses. It was our friend's 79th birthday and she should have come to Beeston, but a poorly knee prevented her from driving, so we took lunch to her instead. Thanks to Jo, Marco and Nottingham Country Market, it really was a feast and a half, with all of us having seconds.

Marco at O'liva, like Sergio at The White Lion, has added a small gallery to his eating area. The paintings in this view are all by the artist Christine Dilks.

This leads me nicely onto Chilwell's Creative Corner, which is having a makeover of sorts.

The Mish Mash Gallery has morphed into 'One Off' and swopped premises with the adjoining florist. One Off can be fairly described as tardis like. Looks small on the outside, but crams a whole lot of original art into a small space. Next door is the Fusion Café, which I still think sells the best black coffee (my Mocha crown in recent weeks has passed from Mason & Mason to O'liva, but the former still wins when it comes to chocolate cake).

I have included this character before, when she was visiting Tesco a couple of months ago. Now she is back home, waving to passers-by on Chilwell Road, encouraging them to visit Stash

A little further away, but still worth seeking out is 'Glorious homes' on the north side of Station Road in Sandiacre between the River Erewash and the Erewash Canal. Loads to look at (and buy) if you are doing things to your home or need to find a special gift. We spent a good hour there and came away happy.

I posted my first blog here exactly fifty-one weeks ago, so next week will be my first anniversary. With luck, my finger may be naked again by then.