To Hull & Back

Lets start with an apology to Only Fools & Horses for stealing their title for this thread

So when I last blogged we were in Barnsley soaking wet and having got hopelessly lost in the woods on the way to Barnsley….sounds like a fairy story doesn’t it.

Well, Sunday morning we said goodbye to my parents and we continued on our merry way, heading towards Humberside. A lot of the morning on Sunday we were riding alongside the river Don, then met an ex police officer on an electric bike who knew the area well. He road with us on some back roads that were very poorly signposted. Thankfully he did join us as he kept us on the correct path.

After our guide left us, we rode for a number of miles along a canal causing annoyance to anglers who seemed to think the tow path was theirs for stowing the voluminous fishing gear and seemed rather unhappy that people were so audacious as to want to pass along the towpath!

So far, so flat. The ride was largely very flat up to this point. The surface varied from river paths, to tarmacadamed roads. nothing very challenging though.

Following a difficulty caused by a lack of signposting,in the Sykehouse Area, we ended up riding on the road and found a significant shortcut. After riding on flat open roads into a headwind, we joined the A614 towards Goole. By the time we arrived in Goole, we had ridden 35 miles that morning and hadn’t found a single place to stop for a coffee or tea. So as we entered Goole we stopped at a McDonalds for lunch. Not ideal, but its open, serves food and drink and is a place to recharge our phones etc.

Whilst in McDonalds, we went online and booked a room & breakfast at the Premier Inn at Hull West for that evening. We got a confirmation of the booking from Premier Inn confirming we had booked bed & breakfast.

We then carried on our ride towards Hull, Largely flat roads and to be honest it was a bit boring riding quiet flat roads with no traffic.We were getting to the stage of craving some rough trails or even hills.

The highlight of the ride was when we saw the Humber Bridge for the first time. Its a spectacular structure and even 30+ years old it is an engineering wonder. Whilst viewing the bridge from afar, we met a couple of lads doing the ride the opposite way, so shared stories and tips with them for a bit before we both made our ways to our respective hotels.

Eventually, as it was getting dark, we arrived out our hotel  near the Humber Bridge. You will remember this was the pre booked bed and breakfast at the Premier Inn at Hull West. As we checked in we were told we could not have breakfast the following morning because they had allowed all the tables in the restaurant to be booked by non residents taking advantage of the last day of the “Eat Out”scheme to get food half price! A clear breach of contract since they had 5 hours earlier confirmed a contract between us for them to provided bed & breakfast accommodation.. Oh and we had already paid for the bed and breakfast at full price. No Eat Out discount offered to us.

The receptionist at the hotel said it was our fault for not ringing up and booking a time slot for a table for breakfast. Now this is a case of victim blaming as there is no warning of the need to book breakfast timed slots, there is no way to do so when booking on the Premier Inn app and there is no way to contact the hotel as Premier Inn do not give out anything other than a national phone number for the chain’s call centre.

So either the hotel had already no tables left when we booked or they booked the tables after we had a contract with them for breakfast.

Not a problem, Premier Inn offer a 100% satisfaction policy which guarantees your money back if not satisfied. So we asked the hotel for a refund so we could go to a hotel where we could get bed and breakfast. The Premier Inn guarantee says to contact the hotel reception at the time of unhappiness to invoke the refund. However when we did this, the hotel called the police to claim we were threatening them. Yes, threatening them by following their own “refund” policy and asking for the refund. The police were duly embarrassed to be called out and accepted there was no crime being committed.

This is one for their lawyers. At the time of typing this, A formal letter before action has been served upon Whitbread, the owners of Premier Inn.

So Monday morning and we set off hungry for our 40 miles ride into Hull and then onto Hornsea and back to Hull. A little bit of trepidation as online and from people we spoke to en route, the route from Hull to Hornsea was said to be badly signed. Given how poor the signage had been on the rest of the route, this did not bode well at all. The reality proved to be the opposite ( apart from one blip). We road nearly all the way from Hull to Hornsea on the old railway line . The old stations still had a lot of the platforms left. The route being an old railway line was pancake flat.

Now about that blip…as we approached Hornsea, we came to a roundabout with 5 exits. We were coming on one. On two of the other exits were blue TPT signs pointing down different roads. There was also a road sign to the seafront pointing a different way. So that’s 3 different roads signposted. We chose one of them and road down to the seafront and found the Obelisk marking the finish of the route. we had photos taken there, then turned round to head off home and came upon the old Hornsea Railway Station and things to do with the railway line. We set off riding down the old railway line, despite it not being signposted for the TPT. This brought us out at that confusing roundabout on the road that was not signposted as part of the TPT!.

So we have 3 roads signposts and none of them were the correct route!

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The End of The Trail         

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The Many Tentacles of the TPT

    

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Various Views of Hornsea Station

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The Kind Folk of Humberside Erected A Sign for Me

The ride back to Hull followed the same route at the ride out to Hornsea and was only notable for me picking up the first p*nct*re of the ride. Not a problem whip out the punctured tube, get the thorn out of the tyre and put a brand new inner tube in. All sorted? No, turns out the brand new inner tube is defective, so time for another tube and on our way.

Back in Hull we had a ride around the docks and town centre, then tried to find somewhere to eat. This had to be somewhere we could watch our bikes. This is not an easy task on a bank holiday Monday that is also the last day of the Eat Out scheme. Eventually we hit upon Furley’s in Princes Quay where we had a great meal, sat out on the Quayside in the sunshine. The food and the service were excellent. Even better it was also half price under the Eat Out scheme. I can thoroughly recommend this bar and would definitely visit it again.

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Then it was time to head to the train station, and back to London. The adventure over. We even arrived into Kings Cross early and headed our separate ways home.

The Stats

Sunday's Ride

Sunday’s Rid‘

Monday's Ride

Monday’s Ride

Monday's Stats

Monday’s Stats

So the 4 days of the ride started in Southport, went via Liverpool, Manchester, Stockport, Hyde, Glossop, Woodhead Pass Penistone, Sheffield ( by mistake), Barnsley, Doncaster, Goole and Hull and took in over 220 miles. Many of these were off road. Some hilly, some very flat, but all in all a good bit of fun.

TPT Stats

This was my first ever off road tour. It was great fun and I am surprised how easy the ride up to and over Woodhead Pass was. I learned I enjoyed the trails through Grenoside Woods, even if we shouldn’t have been near them.

Sadly, its back to reality today. My bike has been cleaned and lubed and  repairs made. Time to start planning my next trip…or it would be if Covid would disappear.

Thanks must  go to my long suffering ride companion Drew Jones for his help, encouragement and support not to mention his patience waiting for me on the more technical bits that I struggle to deal with.

The only downside is that 5 days away has seen me put on 5lbs in weight, despite all the riding!

Over The Hill

Yes, its time to admit it, I am over the Hill. At 50+ years I can safely say I am over the Hill.

I am of course referring to the Pennines and in particular The Woodhead Pass.

Saturday’s  bike ride was supposed to be a shirt but hilly 30 miles from Mottram in Hyde to Barnsley. It turned out to be a lot longer ride than that for reasons I will explain below.

So after leaving outer hotel  we rapidly picked up the Trans Pennine Trail  (TPT) and almost immef5lost it because of turns not being signposted  ( a common problem). We took the Road towards Glossop instead. And found the TPT again and started climbing up towards Woodhead Pass, firstly passing up and over a reservoir at Hadfield ( the first of many). It was spectacular by the amount of water flowing off the hills, causing a large fountain effect.

More climbing on rough surfaces led us to the main trail up to Woodhead. It was in the region of 8 miles of solid climbing to Woodhead Tunns. It was a steady gentle climb, but a climb all the same. Two noticeable things on reoute were the number of families out walking & riding together and the number of twichers ( bird watchers) we saw.

When we reached the remains of the old Woodhead Railway Station at the entrance to the sealed Woodhead Tunnels we were chatting to a couple of dog walkers who advised us the twitchers were hoping to see a rare vulture with a 9″ wingspan that had apparently been seen locally

What Times Is the Next Train From Woodhead?

Because the three tunnels are sealed off, it is necessary to go over the top of Woodhead Pass. Helpfully, there is a sign at the end of the railway platform directing you up a hill for the route. Once we had reached the top of the hill, we were on the busy A628 road. This was not the TPT. We knew it was about 2 miles on the road to where the TPT crosses the road, so like fools, we rode on the main road, which turned out to be not too busy or too steep and took us over the top.

We continued from there to Dunsford Bridge and found the old railway line which took us the last few miles into Penistone where we had lunch with my parents.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I was able to chat via text whilst having lunch,  with my friends in Ohio who celebrated their 28th Wedding Anniversary that day. An Great achievement given the started married life with me as Best Man.

Back on the bike. It was only a short ride from Penistone to our hotel in Wombwell. An early finish beckoned.

The rain began to pour as we took the TPT along the railway tracks and through woods along great forest trails following the TPT trail signs until I stopped to check where we were and discovered had gone a long way south and were neatly in Sheffield not Barnsley! So much for the TPT signs!

We joined the Main Road at this point and found ourselves on the Cotè d Oughtibridge which is a hill that hits a 20% gradient and is said to be one of the top ten climbs in Britain! Several other sheepish hills later and we found ourselves back on the TPT trail again for the last 2 miles to the hotel, but struggled to find our way because of missing or inaccurate signing.

Event we arrived at the hotel about 2 hours later than planned and soaking wet having done an extra 12 or so miles owing to our detour. Still it was nice to tick off another of the top climbs in the UK.

After checking g into the hotel, I met my mother who game me a bag and we walked to our rooms. They were opposite each other. We were in 107 and my parents were in room 106, so my mother said, and as I went into our room, my mother was swiping her card to go into 106. After a shower etc. we headed out for dinner. I knocked on 106 to get my parents. A young lady answered the door and said I was the 2nd person to mistakenly call there. The other was a lady.. yes, my mother had got the wrong room! The occupant said we were welcome.eto koin her, but she was heading out to a party with a bottle of champagne in her bag! An interesting proposition, but food appealed more.

After dinner in the hotel pub/ restaurant we were joined by my friends from Barnsley for a convivial evening of alcohol. So much for a quiet early night.

A long day beckons again today as we continue towards Hornsea. Also my parents are heading home today, so its just the 2 of us for the next two days

The Beautiful Day …it didn’t last
Lunch With My Parents
Spot the Extra Detour we made

It’s Grim Up North

So, Friday saw us set off on our epic adventure or as some would say it, a bloody stupid trip.

Firstly, Southport is the costal resort for posh Scousers they tell me. It was obvious there was a strong Liverpool influence on the place, starting with the view from our hotel room….I mean, some Scouser had stolen the view

Someone Had Pinched the View

Then there was the hotels famous breakfast. Famous for coming in a cardboard box.

Actually for a takeaway breakfast box it wasn’t too bad.cereal, juice, flap jack, pain au chocolate. I’ve had worse.

A short ride from our hotel took us to the start of the Trans Pennine Trail. After the obligatory photos, it was time to set off and almost immediately we found the route closed for roadworks. This could be a long day!

The first few miles were on tarmacadam surfaces and relatively quick, until we turned onto trails and canal paths all the way into the Aintree area of Liverpool.

By the time we reached Aintree, Drew & I looked like we had ridden the Grand National Course on a very wet day.

After Aintree we joined up with the disused rail beds. These varied in quality between excellent and very good. The biggest issue was some interesting and missing signposts.

We had intended to stop every 20 or so miles for a cake stop. However after 20 miles the number of cars we saw were limited.

We did add a few miles on trying to circumnavigate Liverpool Airport We also found a pub that reminds me of a football club of a similar name

Last Orders?

We eventually stopped after 38 miles for a spot of fine dining at McDonald’s in Widnes. By this time we were so hungry anything tasted nice.

Back on our bikes and a strange afternoon of rain, huge flooded sections, missing sign posts, missed turns. At one point were were going through water deeper than the bottom bracket on the bike, and of course there was the mud.

The afternoon session proved a bit troublesome. I thought we were meeting my parents in 22 miles, turns out it was 32 miles away, but the surface was poor with lots of mud & water and lots of wrong turns due to missing or misleading signs.

We ended up meeting them about 2 hours later than planned. Sorry mum & dad! ( again!).

Never mind, it was only 11 miles from there to the hotel, but as Drew will attest it was almost all uphill and in deteriorating weather, especially the increasing wind.

It was a relief after 80.93 miles to reach our hotel, welcoming showers and lots of food and good company.

So today the enemy is a hill. I think its called the Pennines.

A hard day rounded off by cleaning bike in hotel room and replacing brake blocks on my bike. Thanks to my parents for tracking down replacement brake blocks, wet wipes to clean bike and oil to lube the chain.

A big shout out goes to Premier Inn who have a policy of allowing cyclists to store their bikes in the hotel bedroom. The staff at our hotel at Mottram near Hyde were excellent, friendly, welcoming etc

Oh I do Like to be Beside the Seaside

So, the adventure begins in the pouring rain. Today we travelled up to Liverpool and onto Southport where tomorrow we start the Trans Pennine Trail.

As ever, packing was a last minute affair. One pannier bag only & a rack top bag was all I needed to take for 5 days away. Travel light!

The problem was the 2 bags do not sit comfortably together on the bike. Damn, I should have checked that first.

Its a bit late 2 minutes before I set off. Still I will learn for next time or maybe not.

We headed on Merseyside train to Southport from Liverpool Central where we had a lovely chat with a passenger who had seen the Police Unity Tour kit. It is always good to speak the word about the UK Police Unity Tour ( see the page on my blog).

My parents have joined us in Southport and are going to drive support for the first two days. Its good to get to spend sometime with them after not seeing them for neatly seven months this year owing to the Covid-19 lockdown.

In keeping with the British summer tradition, its cold wet and miserable in Southport, but fortunately we are only here for the night, and the meal in the Dukes Folly Hotel was excellent & service again was excellent. A place I would eat at again. A nice hotel. Its a shame its only my parents staying there. We went up market instead & stayed at the Travelodge nearby for a wallet busting £30 for bed and breakfast for two. Yes, a total of £15 each for bed & breakfast and the bikes get to stay in our room for free.

Tomorrow the adventure begins. We set off from Southport towards Hornsea.

There will be a livetrack link (hopefully!) Posted on the Spennymoor Town London Branch twitter account each day which is @ spennymoortownl (remove the space). Following this and refreshing will show where we are upto with our ride.

Panorama of Room
My Nemesis

Sunday Bloody Sunday

With apologies to U2

I can’t believe the news today
Oh, I can’t close my eyes
And make it go away
How long?
How long must we sing this song?
How long, how long?
‘Cause tonight, we can be as one
Tonight

Broken bottles under children’s feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won’t heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday, Sunday, Bloody Sunday (alright)


For broken bottles, read broken motor vehicle parts

For children’s feet read bike wheels


Now, you start to get an idea of my Sunday morning bike ride. Just out for a short 25 mile ride, when after 15 miles, on a roundabout, I hit a piece of metal in the road. With the benefit of later examination, it looks like the track rod from a motor vehicle.

Somehow that metal rod caught up in the rear mechanisam of my bike, destroying that and then wrapped itself round the back of the rear cassette on the bike, damaging the cassette.

Then to rub salt into the wound,  my rear bike light fell off and was smashed by a vehicle following me.

I was left with a 4 mile walk home, in road bike shoes which have protruding cleats on them and are difficult to walk in. As a result, I need new cleats on those shoes as well.
A Sundat ride that is likely to end up costing me in the region of £300 if not more to replace all the damage.


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Trying to source the relevant rear derailleur is proving more difficult than it looks.

The good news is I got back home in time for the Sunday dinner and bottles of wine my neighbour had cooked for me. A most pleasant afternoon to make up for a miserable morning.

I suppose I should be grateful I was uninjured  even if the bike wasn’t so lucky.

Over the Hills and Far Away

Time for a cycling related blog post I think.

The title of the blog does not despite what many people might think, a comment on my mental state, but more a reference to where I hope to be this time next Saturday. Covid-19 restrictions permitting, next weekend sees me attempting to ride the Trans Pennine Trail. This is an approximately 200 to 220 mile bike ride from Southport to Hornsea and have 4 days to complete the ride.

That probably doesn’t sound that far for somebody who is a road cyclist. However what I have not mentioned is that this is an off road bike ride. The ride is mainly along disused railway tracks. It means that I will be riding a mountain bike. This is not something I do very often. I certainly have never written As far as 200 miles in four days on a mountain bike.

So, if I am not a mountain biker why am I doing this ride? Hmm, good question and if I find a sensible answer I will let you know. The only real answer I have got so far is because it’s there and I haven’t done it before. It’s a challenge and I like a challenge.

I am riding with a friend who is a keen off road cyclist. Two years ago we rode the Coast to Coast bike ride from Workington to Tynemouth. That was an on road ride and involved a lot of climbing. It was a challenge, especially as we did all the climbing in one day. Guess what? Yes, we will be doing all the climbing over the Pennines on the Saturday next week. Friday, Sunday and Monday are all going to be relatively flat. The graphic shows the route and also the topography. Hopefully we will do 75 miles on Day 1, mostly flat. Day 2 should be circa 50 miles, taking us to the 125 mile marker. Day 3 is likely to be another 50-75 miles and day 4 the remainder of the mileage to Hornsea, then riding back to Hull for our train home.

TPT Route/ Elevation Profile

We had decided that once lockdown had eased we would do a ride somewhere, I was thinking perhaps Devon/ Cornwall when I came across the Trans Pennine Trail. As its on a Mountain bike and  until the end of last year, I did not even own a mountain bike, it seemed to be a challenge and would push me out of my comfort zone ( literally).

Detailed planning has gone into this ride…by that I mean we have booked a train to Liverpool and one back from Hull and booked a hotel in Southport the night before we set off. No other accommodation is booked, no planning done regarding luggage etc. 2 bikes, puncture repair kits/ spare inner tubes and multi tools are the important things (and a face mask for the train).

I have got plenty of miles in my legs this year, over 6000 so far, but all have been ridden on the road and all but about 150 on road bikes, so let’s see how it goes. Anyone interested in the progress I’m making can follow me on twitter @spennymoortownl where there will be a daily link to the live track progress guidance showing where I am at anytime.

2020 Mileage Chart

One of the ways i have managed to increase my mileage this year is by incorporating cycling into my other activities. today, I was due to meet a friend at lunchtime to plan an event, so i cycled to the cafe for the meeting. I then cycled from there to watch my first football match of the 2020/2021 season. I watched Frenford FC v Coggleshall Town in what marked the return home of Frenford FC to their newly improved and refurbished ground in Ilford. I simply took the bike into the ground and ensured it socially distanced from others whilst I watched the game. This allowed me to get 35 miles ridden today, meet my friend and watch a football match. It also meant I didn’t need to either drive or use public transport.

The above mileage chart showing since 2011 I have ridden over 42,000 miles was put into context the other day by a friend who said it was equivalent to cycling 1.75 times round the earth!

Black Lives Matter

The story below of James Brown and his non violent protests and bravery when facing persecution and prosecution for standing up for his beliefs in the face of racism and an establishment determined to silence criticism.

I make no apologies for publishing this article from the Isle of Man Today newspaper website. Read the article and I will explain more about why I have chosen to publicise the story.

James Brown – a pioneer for many reasons

The scenes in the House of Keys in 1864 were worthy of a big-budget historical drama.

On March 16 that year, a certain James Brown, the mixed-race grandson of an American slave, stood before the House charged with contempt for a series of ’scandalous and libellous’ articles.

The defendant – a newspaper editor, activist and soon-to-be political prisoner – offered absolute defiance.

’Who, may I ask, do you represent?’, Brown asked the unelected clique of landowners.

’Not the people. No, you represent yourselves.’

Contempt, the members discovered, didn’t cover it.

Brown did everything he could to aggravate his audience. He dared the court to hang him from the top of Castle Rushen.

’You may imprison me,’ he said, ’but I tell you fearlessly that I will never retract one iota of what I have said or published.’ He was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.

Last week UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak lent his support to the ’Banknotes of Colour’ campaign, which will see non-white figures appear on British banknotes and coins for the first time.

The news arrived in the same week as the 205th anniversary of the birth of James Brown – if his story was better known, perhaps he might find a place on the shortlist.

Despite the Isle of Man’s claim to the ’oldest continuous parliament the world’, its members were not elected by the people until 1867.

Brown’s imprisonment began a series of events which saw the old order crumble. By the time the dust had settled, the House of Keys was finally elected by public vote.

It was a watershed moment in the road to democracy in the Isle of Man and an extraordinary event in black British history.

Even without the climactic events of 1864, Brown was a rare example of black social mobility in Victorian Britain.

Born into the black and mixed-race community in Liverpool in 1815, he moved to the Isle of Man with his Manx-born wife Eleanor in 1846 and eked out a living as a jobbing printer.

He went on to make his reputation – and a good living – as a newspaper proprietor.

When the first issue of the Isle of Man Times was published in 1861, he was living with his extended family in a large townhouse in Upper Douglas.

The colour of his skin might have set him apart but Brown fitted perfectly into a Manx tradition of radical journalists campaigning for political reform.

The Times made its intentions clear from the outset by demanding a democratically elected House of Keys: ’How much longer will [the Manx people] be content to have no voice in the working of those laws which are to bind them and their children after them?’

He stood on the shoulders of campaigners like Robert Fargher (pictured), founder of rival newspaper Mona’s Herald, who was imprisoned three times in his campaigns for popular elections.

When Fargher died in August 1863, the reform movement needed a champion. It was James Brown who stood up when the moment came.

On paper it was a simple thing. Douglas Town Commissioners needed new powers to manage the infrastructure of a town which was rising to become the de facto capital.

But it cut to the heart of the democratic problem in the Isle of Man: the directly elected Commissioners were overruled by the unelected House of Keys, whose members refused to ’invest individuals, who are merely tradesmen, with royal authority’.

The Times didn’t hold back in its reporting: ’The Town Commissioners and the inhabitants of Douglas should at once represent to the British Government the tyranny exercised by the House of Keys, and apply henceforth that the members of that house shall be elected by the people, so that taxation and representation may go together.’

This was one of the articles which saw Brown summoned to the House of Keys.

Brown’s ’Diary of a Political Prisoner’, which he wrote while incarcerated, was rediscovered by chance in 2008.

It is reprinted in full in the fascinating book ’The Struggle for Manx Democracy’ by Dr Robert Fyson, which deserves a place on every Manx bookshelf.

One of the highlights of the diary is Brown’s first-hand account of his day in court: he insisted that the members had no right to put him on trial and spent more than an hour reading out the offending articles, one of which ended with a call to arms: ’Let the people at once, this very day, meet and protest against the despotic power exercised by these self-elected noodles’.

Brown was the right man in the right place. You get the sense that he knew what he was doing – provoking the members into making a fatal mistake. They took the bait and sent him to Castle Rushen.

Brown’s advocate appealed to the British courts, which ruled that the House of Keys, sitting in its legislative capacity, had no powers to commit Brown for contempt.

He was triumphantly released from Castle Rushen having served seven weeks of his six-month sentence. When he sued for damages for wrongful imprisonment, the members who had convicted him were forced to pay their share of his compensation.

They were out of pocket and out of time. The pressure for an elected House of Keys had been building for decades from the British Government and the Manx public.

The rotten system had no defenders left after this humiliation. The self-selecting clique of legislators finally submitted to democratic elections. The first took place in 1867, with roughly 40 percent of the adult male population eligible to vote.

Despite his key role in the campaign for reform, Brown was never a hugely popular figure.

His position as a newspaper proprietor left him exposed to the petty jealousies and rivalries of the trade; other papers didn’t celebrate his victories to avoid endorsing one of their competitors.

He also faced racist abuse, with some of the worst examples coming from an unlikely source: Mona’s Herald published outrageous attacks on Brown in the aftermath of his triumph.

There was a deeper story underneath: Brown wasn’t the only editor put on trial by the Keys on that fateful day in 1864.

Also charged with contempt was the son of the pioneering campaigner Robert Fargher, who struck a very different note before the House: after apologising and promising to retract his stories, he was released with a warning.

In hindsight, Fargher had missed the chance to fulfil his father’s life’s work. So when Mona’s Herald attacked Brown, it seems that the owners weren’t so much reflecting public opinion as stoking a family feud.

For his part Brown toasted the shining example of Robert Fargher for the rest of his life. Fargher’s descendants, however, didn’t always show Brown the same courtesy.

Profound democratic change is never instantaneous; in this case it was decades in the making. But between March 1864 and June 1865, Brown struck an irrevocable blow against the unelected House of Keys and set the island on the road to democracy.

But when the crucial moment arrived, it took James Brown to fearlessly speak truth to power

He wasn’t the first editor to be imprisoned in the Isle of Man, nor would he be the last – that distinction went to Samuel Norris in 1916, at least as the Examiner went to press. There were many more battles to come in the fight for reform.

http://www.iomtoday.co.im/article.cfm?id=57074&headline=James%20Brown%20-%20a%20pioneer%20for%20many%20reasons&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2020&cat=Local%20People

Right, hopefully you have read the story of James Brown, a man who was prepared to and did go to prison for his beliefs.

Despite all the unfair treatment he suffered , he never resorted to violence or physically destroying property.

Unlike other more violent protestors, James Brown actually succeeded in changing the law. Very rapidly after his stand, the Isle of Man introduced proper free and fair elections with universal suffrage.

As a lawyer, I admire his bravery in the face of a kangaroo court in reading all the “offending” articles out so the court had to hear them again, and they were entered verbatim into the court record.

“Stand Firm Brave Defender”

There is another reason for my publishing this story….James Brown is a direct ancestor of mine. It is an honour to be a descendant of such a brave and honourable man who effected change by peaceful meand

Changing Things

I posted a blog post on one of my other blogs recently This was the first blog I have written in a long time. Quite why I got out of the habit of blogging, I am not sure. Some might say that I have mellowed and therefore did not have much to rant about. That may well be true. It could also be that I just got lazy and laid on the sofa instead of sitting at my keyboard and writing. it probably was a reflection on a period of my life when I have drifted rather than taken control of things.

I have this year taken steps to take more control of my life by getting myself on a more healthy lifestyle. Whilst others have drunk too much and eaten too much whilst on lockdown, I have massively reduced my drinking and lost weight.

I have never been one to drink alone at home. I am a social drinker, even if some would say I am anti social after drinking. With no pubs to go to and no visitors allowed, I have drunk very little. I have throughout the covid-19 lockdown had a regular socially distanced drink/ chat with my neighbour each Saturday. We are both of a similar age, both live alone and are both solicitors, so have things in common. Throughout the lockdown, we have on a Saturday removed a panel in our garden fence and sat in our respective gardens having a drink and sharing our experiences. This has for me proved to be a very positive experience and is something I look forward to. I would hope we can keep this up after lockdown ends, albeit not on a Saturday afternoon as I will be at football.

So, now you know why my drinking has reduced, what about my weight. Well as at Christmas time I weighed about the same as an overweight elephant, it was time to lose some weight. I tried to cut down on what I was eating and by the time lockdown started, I had lost 2 stones ( 28 lbs or 12.7kg). I made a conscious decision to try to continue to lose weight during the lockdown. I have worked at home since 16th March, so I have had some structure to my day, unlike those who have been making Tik Tok videos. This structure has made it easier for me to keep a control on my food intake. I have now lost a total of over 5 1/2 stones ( 77 lbs or 37.9kg) since the start of the year.

There are those who say I have reduced my drinking and lost weight just to be contrary and different to most people. I couldn’t possibly comment

During the lockdown period I have significantly reduced time I have spent on various forms of social media, in particular Facebook and Message Boards, but have spent more time communicating with friends via WhatsApp groups. This in itself has been a positive change that looking back has helped improved my contentment and means I have not got into pointless arguments with people I don’t know about things that don’t matter – for example people are still arguing about whether Britain should leave the EU…the vote was over 4 years ago. So whats the point in arguing whether we should leave. I do recommend people take more time away from Facebook/ message board arguing.

I was sent a photograph by a friend recently. It was taken in August 1988. I was shocked to realise that I am thinner today than I was a 22 years of age.

Friend’s Birthday August 1989

2020 Weight Loss in Pictures

 

The question of what the new normal for me will look like remains to be answered. I am still working at home. I started lockdown not wanting to work at home, but I am now a fan of it and would happily work from home most days with only occasional visits to the office.

I find myself living a lifestyle at present that seems so much more relaxed and have reconnected with nature and my local community.

If I have to go back to working in the office I am going to have to buy a whole new wardrobe of clothes as my previous suits and shirts make me look like a young child wearing his father’s clothes.