East West Fest 2017 – Small is Beautiful


Sometimes – just sometimes – the planets align. Beer, venue & people. All together. In perfect harmony.

Last weekend was one of those occasions.

It was immensely flattering for ISBF to be the inspiration for a select little Northern beer festival. One making a feature of The War of the Roses, Lancashire v Yorkshire joined in beery battle formation. It was also quite humbling to be asked to source the breweries from (predominantly) the Manchester area.

This was the third year. And whilst I’ve enjoyed the previous two hugely, this one was elevated. By people. And by some simply exceptional beer.

This is the little event that made me realise that – so far as beer events are concerned – small is beautiful. I really struggle with beer extravaganzas like IMBC & MBCF. I crave intimacy, events where it’s as much about the atmosphere, the people, the chat and fun…

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A Yearly Highlight – Bolton Beer Festival (CAMRA) 


In this world of hype that we appear to live in, there are some things that get thousands of lumens of incandescence. And there are things that exist in the shadows cast. But some of these things are nonetheless outstanding. And when I say “outstanding”, I choose my words carefully.

One such event is the beer festival hosted by the Bolton branch of CAMRA, each year, at the Ukrainian Social Club on Castle Street.

Even though I am a member – something the opinions of some fellowmembers test on a regular basis – CAMRA beer festivals frequently leave me cold, with dull beer selections being my most frequent complaint. But here, in 4 years of going, I have had no complaints whatsoever.

Simply put, the beer list never lacks for variety and eclecticism. Graham, Pete, Linda and the rest of the team are unafraid to take some risks…

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The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting brighter!


This past weekend revealed that my recovery has taken a few leaps forward!

Over the past six weeks I have been working hard, been on holiday to Spain, experienced the sudden loss of a close relative but have also celebrated hearing the news that another grandchild is on its way and taken part in a life changing weekend of self-discovery. A roller coaster of emotions! However, I am beginning to roll with the ups and downs without experiencing so much fatigue.  I have also been recovering quicker and been able to push myself a bit more. I have become better at judging what is ‘too much’.

One area I do want to look at now, as I regain a more ‘normal’ life, is my relationship with food.  There, I’ve said it! On the whole, I eat a very healthy diet. Meals are made from scratch, lots of fruit and veg…

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It’s okay to feel 

always worth a read, however difficult things can be

My Name is not Rosie

Feels like I haven’t written here in ages innit.

I’ve been sad today, like proper sad. So sad I’ve been crying and I never cry.. well not in front of people.

I blogged back in Feb about losing a friend, a RL friend. Not losing them to death or anything, just, you know losing them. Today it hit me like a sledgehammer again. My heart is paining.

And when you feel like that, you need the person you’re closest to, and its them not being there that’s making you feel so bad. A viscous circle. And it makes you feel lonely and vulnerable,

I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me, I’m not looking for sympathy. I just want to someone to tell me that’s it’s okay to feel this way. That they get it. But the person who would get it, who would understand, isn’t here.

People say (with…

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A few weeks ago our son asked us if he could maybe stay over sometime, his room is still there obviously, even though the wardrobe is now being used for our overspill, so we had a think about it, and as things where we is living were good, and he seems himself in a good place, we agreed to a night, the Friday, with a view of spending a day out somewhere on the Saturday and dropping him off home in the evening.He actually moved house around a month ago, to a beautiful three story Georgian house in a much better part of Liverpool to where he was before, even that has certainly helped things, the staff still can’t speak highly of how things are going.

Can I be honest, part of me was looking forward to the visit, but before he even arrived part of me wasn’t. As with so many times over the years I have found it hard to look on the bright side, rather than see the worst, and in the back of my mind I had visions of there being problems when it was time to go home, but apart from one flash of anger, and a little chipping away things were generally good. He arrived late on the Friday evening, hungry, but we had already decided to wait so we could eat together, and our choice of a spag bol didn’t go down well, with the request that could he have steak please, and home made chips, might as well make the most of it while he could.

When we went to bed about 1030 we left him watching the TV, he has always had issues with sleep, even from when he was very young he would always be on the verge of waking, almost not in the deep sleep that everyone else seems to manage, but in the past where it would have been the TV blaring far too loud, and then requests to turn it down, met with an argument, then when he went up to bed there would be no thought for anyone else, but this wasn’t the case, and it was a really pleasant surprise to not hear him stomp up the stairs, bang the doors, not think that it was OK to make as much noise as he felt like, and if it sounds like I am being miserable, then this was the reality of our life for more years than we care to think about, even the simplest things like this would in the blink of an eye be turned into a problem, so it was nice to have what we always though that regular households may have had.

Saturday morning we decided to get in all the fixings for a full English breakfast, with the promise that our son would take care of it, but my wife and I were awake early, so it was good to let him have a lie in and come down to have something ready, I do a great breakfast if I am honest, something we don’t really do often enough at home, but after that our plans fell apart a little, it was a miserable wet day so any plans for spending time outside were pretty much ruined so we settled for a walk around a covered outdoor shopping place, then on the off chance headed to see my dad at the little micropub not far from him, he was pleased to see our son and he was pleased to have a chat with my dad too, plus my dad had just come home from 17 days in the USA so it gave me a chance for a chat too, then our son asked the question that we were not expecting, could he stay tonight too?, so we agreed

He seemed to sleep well, well slept late anyway and didn’t show until gone midday, then there was the flashpoint I mentioned earlier, and I am not sure about a few things here, he has always had the ability to be quite abrupt in his manner when he speaks to others, his mouth can run away from him before he realizes, or maybe it’s his brain into gear thing, either way, and can I also put this in, maybe it’s his girlfriend, and the problem maybe with women of a certain age nowadays, and I certainly don’t want to generalize, but the abrupt way he speaks to her, and also the way she takes it is difficult for me to accept, but if I were to step in, then as it was with my wife when he lived here with us, the attention would then turn to me.

It was as simple as something in that she spilled some hot cooking fat on him when they were fixing their breakfast, voices were raised in the kitchen, he swore at her, which is completely against the house rules, then headed out of the kitchen, still with his temper bubbling over, and I had to call him back to tell him to calm himself, not really thinking about the consequences at the time, he was still chipping away, but getting him to realize it was simply an accident was another matter, and even when he came back from changing his shirt he was still chipping away at her about what he had done, and more than once I had to tell him it was clearly an accident and to relax himself down, it was almost like old times, but worrying in the respect in that his girlfriend knows about the issues, but instead of telling him that it was clearly an accident, she chose to do and say nothing, which is worrying to me as saying something would to me be better than clamming up, but things calmed not long after, but it was like when he remembered  what had happened then he would comment again, instead of just letting it lie.

Not long after it was like a normal afternoon, things were quiet, him on the xbox, girlfriend on her phone, then when the football started for me they went upstairs, only when my wife came home from work and time was moving on, I called him to get his things all sorted so we could run him home, it seems he had dozed off upstairs and he told his mum it was because he had felt so relaxed, which to us was a good thing, and he is already planning the next time he could stay, and dropped them off to a big hug and a thank you.

One thing my wife and I both noticed is that simple things we do as reflex actions we didn’t do, the money and the keys didn’t go on the shelf, which they normally always do, and things like my expensive headphones that are normally on the floor by my bed were put away, maybe it’s caution on our part with so many things over the years that have disappeared, and no one has ever admitted or swore black is blue that they haven’t taken them, maybe we reverted to how things were without even realising what we were doing, I am not sure, but there is one thing, and I have struggled all day since I started to write this post whether I should include it or not, but when we were going to bed last night one of my toiletries had gone from the bathroom windowsill, nothing majorly expensive, only £12, but it had gone, and when my wife messaged to ask if he had borrowed it he said yes, as he thought that no one wanted it as the box had dust on, I don’t know, half of my feels it’s petty to mention it, but the other half thinks that something as simple as this has almost spoiled the weekend for my wife and I, I really don’t know to be honest, and feel a little let down.

We walked on the beach earlier, and my daughter and I talked like we always do, about everything and nothing, I mentioned that we hadn’t really seen her downstairs over the weekend, and agreed that it was more than a little strange to have what was for all intents, a guest in the house, even though it was her brother, I can understand how she was feeling, I think it was a little strange for all of us, and I know it will still take a lot for us all to get used to when we do it again.




It’s rolled into Christmas morning, half 12, earlier we picked up our son at his girlfriends at gave him a lift into town, then sure enough he called for a lift home, but couldn’t decide where to go, back to his place, or here, decided on here.

Here’s the thing, he is here now, it like the good times, lights left on everywhere, standard, a busy house at half past midnight, asking for the wifi password, got his Christmas pyjamas on which somehow found their was onto his bed while he was getting showered, and here is the big one, he arrived with gifts for tomorrow, things are how we always wished they could have always have been, but for numerous reasons they haven’t, there is a nice buzz right now, hope it continues.