A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Archive for January, 2010

And they’re off…

Posted by Alan on January 27, 2010

This Christmas was pretty relaxed for me. I got in plenty of sleep. Had some great beer in Littleborough with my closest friends from home. Visited Rodge and had more good beer out in Haworth (Timothy Taylor make more than just Landlord – it seems the others are just too good to escape the West Riding!)

On Boxing Day at home we had a games night with my parents, Grandma P and Ron. Key highlight was Totopoly – a game based around horse racing. Recently my parents have joined Facebook and Dad found a friend from primary school, who he swapped a gramophone with in receipt of this game.

Totopoly Box

They don't make box lids like that anymore...

We’ve no idea quite how old this edition actually is but given the swap must have been about 1968/69…

It’s quite unusual for a board game, in my experience (which admittedly isn’t expert) as it comes in two halves. Play part one, have a cup of tea whilst you flip over the board to play part two.

Board 1 - Training

Board 1 - The training board

The first board is the training circuit. Here you must train your horse, collecting advantages in the process and hoping to avoid pricey vet bills, food bills, owners club bills and most importantly disadvantages. This is important for board two.


Die cast metal horses. Wouldn't be allowed today eh?!

Horses are divided into 4 colours and two types. Black and red are heavyweights, blue and yellow lightweights – these are also conveniently the ‘stables’ and certain squares require a stables card to be picked up, much like community chest in Monopoly. Again more important in board two.

Keep this card

Keep this card - the best advantage

Training complete, fed and watered we flip over to board two. The first exercise is to place bets – like the real tote you can bet on winner, 2nd and 3rd each with different odds. Betting complete, you ditch one die and they are off…

The horses line up for the big race

The horses line up for the big race

The coloured squares are where the advantage cards come in. Land on a black square with a black horse – you automatically advance another 4 spaces. Land on another colour and you can chuck in an ‘advantage card’ and do the same. Or, if you land on a black square and you have a white ‘disadvantage’ card you can forgo your extra 4 lengths and ditch the disadvantage. (It’s worth noting that you get disqualified if you pass the post with a disadvantage).

However… all things are not equal. Red horses only go forward 3 lengths, yellow 2 and blue a measly 1. There are plenty of opportunities to burst a blood vessel and for your jockey to fall off too!

Racing into the first bend

Racing into the first bend

The winner is the person who has the most money then the 3rd horse comes home.

I don’t think it’s a particularly common game these days hence the pictures and the story.

I hope I haven’t bored you!! 😉

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Catching Up

Posted by Alan on January 25, 2010

I really am falling behind with this blogging lark. There’s still stuff from Christmas that I want to write about. Oh well… it obviously can wait a little bit longer yet.

This Friday I had the afternoon off. Straight to the train and by 4.30 I was at the Winter Ales beer festival in Manchester. For a long time this was in the convenient New Century Hall, but apparently that needs refurbishing so is no longer available. Hence we meandered on the bus up to Miles Platting, just short of Collyhurst where Shameless is meant to be set.

Even at half 4 it was standing room only.

Winter Ales - Dan on the Floor

Winter Ales - Dan on the Floor, and just ½pt no. 1!

Some bloke (who later turned out to be deputy organiser!) wheeled out some extra chairs making a joke about how just because the venue was in Beirut, the young ‘uns on the floor should stop making it look so! Eventually we found two chairs at a table and gradually invaded…

Old Tom - Best Ale?

Old Tom - Best Ale? We disagree vehemently!

Beer, Here

Beer, drunk best in halfs or nips (1/3rd pint)

By the end of the evening someone had balloons. Just some random person.

Balloons + beer = comedy balloon shapes & animals.


Balloons can be made into many things. Or not.

This was also the first social trip out for the EOS 500D. I’m starting to like it a lot and I think I really need to get out into the City and shoot a few of the more beautiful parts. And maybe clock up how many S44 Stop and Search I can collect in an hour!

* * *

Winter ales wasn’t the first beery outing this week though. On Thursday, I took a trip out to Old St to check out a crawl for ELAC with Dickie. We had fun (sticking just to halves again – it was a school night after all). Found some places to drink and one not to drink.

The journey was: Old Fountain, Wenlock Arms, William IV, Eagle (“Hoxton”),  Bavarian Beerhouse, Artillary Arms. Each pub had it’s own merits – the Wenlock full of character (and characters), the William IV with pretty good Jazz but the Bavarian Beerhouse was a bit disappointment to say the least. £3 got you ‘0.3l’ of beer (of any sort) – though the glass was lined at ½pt (less than 0.3l!). If you felt flush you could spend £8.10 on a stein (1l). Whilst there were saw at least 4 smashed which is perhaps why they cost £8.10!

That’s enough for now… I will get back to older news (olds?) later in the week…

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Posted by Alan on January 8, 2010

Yes, it’s been awfully silly weather the last few weeks, so here are some photos!

Ruth in the snow
What the bloody hell are you waiting for? It’s cold!
Bus Stop, The Forest
The stop might have been frozen, but the buses kept on working this time…
Eagle Pond is frozen. It usually has an ‘oasis’ of water – around which the birds congregate. Since the water is in a different place each day I don’t know why it forms where it does!

With thanks to Billy (@cowfish) for the title of this post!

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