Archive of ‘Lifestyle’ category

Tourism by Bicycle

Small towns in the UK shouldn’t be missed. Sadly they are. People don’t know about them and the contrast they make with urban areas. Tourists flock to London first and foremost which I can understand. The city is glorious with world-renowned landmarks not to be missed. I don’t need to name them here. You need at least a week to see the sights. You only need a day or two in Failsworth to experience the draw of village life. But you might become so relaxed and happy that you want to spend a couple of weeks. The comparison of two extremely different locales is worth making. Only this way do you get to know the real United Kingdom. Find an available bed and breakfast inn and you are all set for the time of your life. You can get to know some wonderful people who will cater to your every need. Our inns are comfortable and offer lovely gardens in which to sit and read.

If you like to walk, there are scenic views all around, not to mention the quaint heart of town with one-of-a-kind shops and eateries. Taste the local food and you will know what an English breakfast is all about. Tea time is important so get a spot early at the local tea shop. If you haven’t had Earl Grey, you haven’t lived. Our scones are home-baked and go hand in hand with delicious clotted cream. Jams made from local berries are divine. You will want to take some home.

There will be time to take a bike ride with On Road and Mountain to see the countryside and scrutinize the array of typical English cottages that dot the land. Feel free to lots of photos and post them on Instagram. We could use the publicity as we welcome tourists all the time. The best time is in spring or summer when we have festivals and special events. If you want to visit a nearby village, rent a touring bike that has a storage compartment. You might want to stay overnight. You can go for miles and enjoy the changing scenery and the special qualities of each area.

Bikers know what to bring when they plan to spend considerable time on a bicycle. It is not about exercise after all, but having a colorful adventure. You never know who you will meet along the way to your final destination. I suggest you bring bottled water and a head covering for the sun. You will say cooler this way. A compact umbrella is a must in case of a sudden, unexpected downpour. In this regard, a plastic fold-up poncho is a biker’s favorite. You don’t want to load up too much, but a snack is easy to stow. A protein bar or a few biscuits are all you need to quench the hunger while you wait to arrive at the next town for lunch. Leave room in your compartment for gifts you want to buy.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Have you ever wracked your brain for the perfect gift for your father? Was money no object? That makes the selection much easier of course. You have a world of possibilities if you are committing, say, $1000 or under to the item. You can get cool car accessories, a mini weekend vacation, a new deluxe tool kit, a new hunting rifle or fishing pole, and last but not least some of the best mens watches for under $1000. Even if your dad has one, if it is his birthday, you can update it with something really special. As for me, I am thinking a gold watch since he only has one of those large waterproof sports watches right now.

A gold watch isn’t just a retirement symbol these days. It is a gift of love and luxury that many cannot afford. Concord makes a sleek, modern and elegant one for men. Okay, it’s French and not English. We are not talking about gold tone here, but the real thing. It won’t wear out like the imitation watches. It is built for a lifetime of use. Most people have more than one watch and for dress, there is nothing like gold. I won’t settle for the gold plate as this birthday of dad’s is a milestone. It demands a costly present that will remind him of me every time he wears it. I have to say that the Concord gold watch for men is over my budget and runs about two thousand. However, I found a discount jewelry store on a visit to New York, a city known for its diamond/jewelry district where everything is wholesale. I got a heck of a deal as I had hoped.

When dad’s big day rolled around I got the watch wrapped and ready. The family was gathered and it was time for cake. The candles glowed in the dim light of the dining room and my father was poised to blow them out. He did it swiftly and then cut the festive cake. After about twenty minutes, we were finished and it was time to open gifts. I wanted mine to be last. He got a new drill from my mother, a new electric shaver from my sister, and new golf clubs from his brother. Now it was my turn. I put the small gift in front of him and nodded a signal to open it now. He obliged me and was ecstatic. He clearly loved the watch and put it on the left wrist in a jiffy. He was beaming. He said that I was so thoughtful to add an inscription on the back. He would treasure the watch forever. He thanked the entire family for their offerings and said it was time for champagne. Indeed, it was. We were all in a great mood, especially dad, and we moved on to sip the wine and tell family stories.

We had planned a successful birthday to remember, one out of the ordinary to be sure. After everyone went home and I turned out the lights, I sighed a breath of relief. Everything had gone off perfectly.

Fun Auction Experience

I do not go to auctions often. In fact, hardly ever. I tend to visit places and look around, viewing it as more of an experience. I do not always have the need, specifically, to keep anything. However, attending an auction can be the best way to indulge my Anglophile tendencies on a dull weekend. I read about one in the paper. This particular auction promised to present some items from a long ago-resident of Failsworth among the auction items. This mention of Failsworth intrigued me enough to make the 200 km drive to check it out.
Upon my arrival at the address listed, I discovered it was not an upscale auction house as I had imagined. Instead, it was a very large barn. At first, I thought I was incorrect as to the location, but then I realized that a venue of this type was actually an ideal location. There was quite the crowd for this particular auction; there were much more people than I would have thought. They were streaming through the large open doors and into folding chairs placed in two rows down the length of the barn. There were so many rows that I quickly lost count. All of the seats faced the other end of the barn, where several items were already on display.
The day was rather cold and wet, but the auction house seemed to have planned for this. There was a nice garage heater, large enough to heat the majority of the barn, set up near the front. It was keeping most of the chill out of the space, which was impressive. A gray and damp day here can chill straight to the bone, even in the middle of spring. However, I remained warm and cozy for the duration of the auction.
There were a few items of interest to me. There was an overcoat worn by a British soldier in World War II, a leather and wood armchair that looked straight out of the lobby at Claridge’s, and a screen made by the incredible Eileen Gray. Those items all quickly went out of my price range, alas, but those things were not quite the reason I had gone to the auction in the first place.
About halfway through the auction, they brought it out. It was a piano, made by John Broadwood & Sons. It had been in the home of a Failsworth resident for several years. I really just wanted to take a look at it, imagine it as it would have been in the house and what it must have sounded like. I couldn’t help myself; I placed several bids and eventually lost out to someone who was kind enough to let me take a look at it after the auction’s end as he discussed with the auction house how to get it sent to his home.
One other item up for sale was a batch of letters from the same Failsworth resident to his son, who was studying at Cambridge back in the 1950s. I bid on the batch, and these I did win. I was very pleased with them, as they give much information about the goings on of the family and neighborhood. It gives a very good feel for what things were like in the early 50s and was just the kind of thing I was looking for.
That’s it for me today. I think I am going to go read through those letters again.

Anachronism

If you look at old photos of Failsworth, United Kingdom you realize just how old is this historical little town. People reminisce about how things were in the old days but those days are not fast disappearing. The town retains its bygone era charm. The Failsworth historical society does its part to keep things intact. Modernization is not about to ruin this very special town.

For those new to the place, Failsworth, a township and an ecclesiastical parish in in Manchester civil parish (it is in fact four miles NE of the city), Lancashire. The township lies on the Eochdale Canal. The population is stable at 10,425. The chief industry is cotton spinning, but cotton and silk weaving and the manufacture of hats are also dominant. If you can procure one, you will indeed have something special. It seems like a very suitable industry for this antiquated place. Now the English do love their hats and they find them in out of the way places. Custom-made is the order of the day in Failsworth.

The lifestyle is befitting an old historical town. There are many customs and traditions that have been handed down through the ages. People value the past and revere what has been preserved. A walk through any neighborhood confirms this impression. Life just seems to go on and on. Oddly enough on one of my jaunts about the vicinity I spied the best hot tub I’d seen in my life in someone’s back yard. It seemed like such an anachronism. A bit of modern suburbia overtaking the quaint traces of yore. It was smack dab in the center of a brick backyard and not on a lawn as would be expected. I saw a group of kids splashing about enjoying a hot summer day. The water in the tub was being replenished with the garden hose. There must be some kind of heating element inside to keep the water toasty warm befitting the name of the unit.

A hot tub? Why not. A hot tub is not restricted to the environs of big cities with flashy backyards. Small towns have their recreational needs, too. It is not enough to run through the sprinklers. Such touches of modernism don’t hurt anything. It is not like they are ubiquitous or have transformed the town. It would be more jarring to see fast food restaurants and chain stores.

Given the hot summer day, I am sure the hot tub is the local attraction for neighborhood kids. You know there isn’t going to be any kind of public pool in town. Kids may use the one at school, however, if it is open. But I think they prefer being together in a friend’s yard with his mom serving snacks. In this regard, Failsworth is not unlike any other town in the summer when kids congregate outside. I would be surprised to see a few more hot tubs appear in other parts of town. Historical or not, a town grows over time and becomes a reflection of some modernization. A hot tub is certainly one modern convenience I can see repeating itself from time to time.

Small Town Safety

Small town life is ideal, but it shares some similarity with urban centers. Even small towns where everybody knows your name are plagued with some degree of crime. This usually takes the form of petty burglary in both commercial and residential spaces. It may be in broad daylight or at night. Even if past history is sparse, anything can happen in the future of course. New people move into town or existing residence attract bad seeds. Who knows! The problem is there lying under the seemingly peaceful surface.
Because guns are legal when purchased according to local law, and because they make people feel safe, they are often the first choice of protection against thieves. Sure, you can install an alarm system, but it is costly if it is effective. People also fail to turn them on and off, forgetting their presence. If you are really concerned about robbers, why not have both!
If guns are your option, you will no doubt have some kind of in wall gun safe for storage and personal safety for yourself and your family. There is a high level of responsibility that goes with owning a gun no matter what type. You don’t just stash it anywhere in the house or garage and forget about it. You will want a place that is designated for weapons, usually a small to medium metal box if you only own one or two pistols for example. It will have a combination dial, electronic, or keypad lock. It should be kept in a strategic place that you can access in a flash should an intruder suddenly and surreptitiously arrive on your premises. Of course, you always want to think twice before exposing a gun in that it might instigate unnecessary retaliation. It is sometimes a tough choice to make and depends on the prevailing circumstances.
Gun safes bar the wrong people—mainly children—from access. They furthermore shelter the gun from theft, fire, and water damage. The latter two threats may be combined as firemen have been known to wield heavy duty hoses to douse an interior blaze. It may land smack dab on your gun safe. These safes have multiple purposes. For now, let’s just say that they are receptacles for small town security.
Selecting a gun safe will depend on the size of the weapon you own and its likely placement. Some are wall mounted, some are freestanding, some are below cabinets. People put them in bedrooms, dens, garages, and basements. It depends on available space and whether or not you want it to show as a kind of public deterrent. This is more true of commercial enterprises where an invading robber could view it and know instinctively what is inside.
These days you never know who is going to be armed. Armed robbery is a greater crime in most towns and implies that other people—mainly store owners and families—are present. It is extremely threatening and shakes you to your core. Once this experience has happened to you, a gun no doubt will soon be in your environment.