A.J. Walker

writerer

The Return of ZevonTwo

Well it's the third week of January and I haven't been out on my bike since before Christmas. I was travelling into work by bike and then coming home on it either on the day – or later in week if I got to keep the van for a few days. But in recent weeks my knees have become the knees of an old man. Basically they've been suffering a lot of work they've not had to do before: 'Lift With Your Knees!" Hopefully it's a case of them getting used to it. After all I have been lifting with my knees and my back remains in fine fettle. Hope so anyway.

Whilst I've not felt in the right way to cycle with the range of movement of the legs I've instead been using public transport. Unfortunately that makes the commute around an hour and half (for a six mile journey) and within that there is a mile and half walk too. Oh, and of course that means I'm spending almost £8 on public transport (bus – train – then walk: and £8!). It'll be great to get back to cycling. The knees do feel better today, I hope I do not speak too soon; and if they stay like they are then I intend to get back onto ZevonTwo tomorrow. To save £8 AND an hour of my day (one way!). It really is a no brainer if I feel okay for it. May need to find some gloves though it it's like today; it's been bloody freezin' all day.

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Wordle Wondering

Last week I succumbed to the ubiquitous Wordle, as so many people have, and have since done it 8 times. I got the word every time in between 3rd and 6th attempt. I actually put off doing Wordle despite seeing it all over Twitter for a month or so and loving word challenges. I didn't want to do it initially as I thought it may be yet another thing to waste my time, which I don't need. I used to play Words with Friends with a few mates and relations but it gets to the point where you are wasting far too much of your day playing the thing. People can get a bit twitchy about not having you play your turn quickly after theirs – and you can get the same way. If it gets to the point where you're playing more than thirty minutes of every day it really is something that gets in the way of better things; like writing, reading or playing the guitar (or just about anything else).

Wordle

But when I realised that it was just a single game a day, which should take just a couple of minutes, i went all in. It took me a week to realise that the 'Share' button when you finish did not in fact share the graphic bar chart with your results next to the button, but it created the infamous coloured box record of your games that day. I thought people were using the emoji boxes on Twitter to recreate them. So yes, for a week I faithfully wrote a Tweet out using that method rather than just pressing the share button. Well I know now!

The other thing I only realised yesterday was that letters can be repeated. I thought they were all made from letters used just once until ROBOT came up on Thursday. Until then all the words I'd done had no repeat letters. So that's a third thing I've learned (along with it being a quick and easy thing to do each day – and a lot less time intensive (or full of adverts) than WwF).

If you fancy giving it a go a new word comes out each night at midnight (GMT). And the challenge is at a website not in an app:
https://www.powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/
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2022 Pubs to Date

Been doing well with my accidental and inexact quest – whatever the quest turns out to really be. These are the Liverpool hostelries I've visited so far this year. Having already got to 30 I'll definitely be getting someway beyond… but exactly how far?

Roscoe Head
Head of Steam
The Angus
Dr Duncans
Fly in the Loaf
Grapes
Dispensary
Keystone
The Caledonia
The Belvedere
Bridewell
Thomas Rigby’s
Ye Hole In Ye Wall
Denbigh Castle
Lion Tavern
Vernon Arms
Excelsior
Globe
Central
Swan
Pilgrim
Cracke
Baltic Fleet
Love Lane
Chapters of Us
Coach House
Ship & Mitre
Lady of Mann
William Gladstone

Carnarvon Castle


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Nice Crawl Across Liverpool

Very nice crawl with my work colleagues yesterday. It was good to get around Liverpool with such nice people and have some nice beers and bump into people. It was nice to see that it was really quite busy everywhere we went too. We couldn't even get in the Roscoe Head because it was too busy to get in. It was unfortunate that we couldn't get in, but it is good to see that it was busy after Liverpool seeming so quiet over the last few weeks.

Team Crawl 1
The Angus and Doctor Duncan's

Team Crawl 2
Head of Steam and Keystone


In all the team photos I seem to be laughing which is nice to see too. Think it was largely due to the struggles of the person taking the photo every time. Thanks to all the staff who hosted us and kept us supplied with beers yesterday.


Team Crawl3
The Grapes and Coach House

Team Crawl 4
The Belvedere

Fab to get out and support our great local pubs. Shout out to the Angus, Dr Duncan's, Head of Steam, Coach House, Keystone, Belvedere and the Grapes (and to the Roscoe Head even though we couldn't get in this time!).
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It's Christmas!

It's not of course. But working for a company that provides for businesses over the important Christmas period December is not the time to go out. So in common with most of hospitality we are having our Christmas day out in January. The guys & gals from Neptune Brewery are going around Liverpool to a selection of the pubs that just happen to take some of our beer – so we know they are all classy. We'll be popping into a great selection including the Angus, Doctor Duncans, Head of Steam, Roscoe Head, Belvedere, Grapes and the Keystone. I may try and get a quick one in the Coach House too (maybe while the others go and eat somewhere?). So I'll not be adding to my list of new pubs for the year. Indeed I've probably been in most these places multiple times already.

Should be a good day out.

Happy Christmas folks!
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The Accidental Quest to Spread Myself Around

Seems ages since I've done a blog update, but it's not really. Just a week. But I do tend to write ones at least once a week. So anyway here's a quick one – which may get expanded on later. I'm currently sat in the 25th different pub of the year, which I guess on the 14th January isn't too bad. I seem to have found myself on an unspecified quest to go to a 'few' different pubs and spread the love for pubs across the world: or at least Liverpool initially.

I'm currently sat typing this in
Chapters of Us in the Baltic Triangle area of the Pool of Life. I'm drinking a pint of Twisted Wheel 'Soul City' NEIPA (keg). It's not my usual kinda place – after all it's keg not cask. But it's very relaxed and cool with nice staff (balancing the always problematic tightrope between attentive and pushy very well). Loving the laid back music vibe too. And there's four keg options which is good.

Cheers
Cheers, from the Baltic Fleet (Pub 23 of 2022)

Previously I went to the Baltic Fleet (Pub 23) and had a lovely pint of Trapper's Hat from Brimstage Brewery. From there I headed down the road to Love Lane Brewery. Was disappointed to find they had no cask on – I mean it's a brewery so having no cask was a wee bit sad. The service was good though, and it's a nice place. Just get some cask on (
I can probably source some for them if they are struggling to find any). ;-)

I'll probably get to
Pub 26 tonight and maybe beyond, not that it matters per se. Tomorrow I'm out with the guys & gals who work at Neptune Brewery for our Xmas day out. The decision was made to support our local pubs for this occasions. The places that they sell the beer to, rather than go out of town for a day trip. A mighty fine sentiment I reckon. Of course all the pubs we go to tomorrow I will already have been to since the start of the year, but that is a good thing. I'm never gonna be a ticker (of places or beers). I've not set myself a goal or aspiration for going to different pubs; indeed it's kind of happened by accident since my first pint in the Roscoe Head on New Year's Day and moved on from there. Not sure whether I'll carry on counting each unique pub - after all it will require me to actually document the thing and cross check (when was I here last?).

So what will pub 26 be? I'm thinking it'll either be the newly (today) re-opened
Coach House or Peter Kavanagh's. I'm sat here typing this in Chapters and I have no idea myself. I truly am a leaf on the wind. Won't know which way the wind is blowing till I push open the door.

It's been nice to go to so may different places and I've been surprised by a few. Get yourselves out there and
Support Your Local (pub and businesses). Not Dry January. Not Try January. Just Do the Right Thing January (and beyond!).

Onwards and upwards.

________________

Following this post I went on to the Grapes for a couple of pints and a chinwag with some regulars then headed up to the Coach House which became Pub 26 of the year. Great to see it reopen for the first time since Christmas.

Coach H1
Coach House cask options from Roosters and Neptune. Cheers! (Pub 26)

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Updating the Website

Eventually I bit the bullet and replaced my old MacBook Pro with a shiny new one. The most obvious thing of course is that it seems quite small – as I've moved from a 15" to a 13" (must be an age thing). Once turned on and copied everything over from my old mac it was time to delete the old files and applications that don't work on the new system. Didn't loose much. But copying over the photo albums was time and Gigabyte consuming. I definitely need to go in and cull many thousands of photos. Won't get to it quickly but every few days I'll make sure I delete a couple of hundred or so. There is a mind boggling 37k photos on there at the moment. I need to at first – at least – get it down to 30k. At the end of the day I dare say I should ask the question 'would I ever use this photo' and 'would it deserve to find its way into a photo album?' and if the answer is no; then delete the buggers.

Of 495GB available on the hard drive currently 120GB is taken up by my photos so losing 7k of photos that'll get used it will free up about 20GB. I need to take some time to work out how to deal with saving items on the hard drive and how to save things externally on other drives or in one cloud or another…

Now I have a decent computer which should be less prone to crashing I may finally use GarageBand to help me play and record songs – and I hope write some of my own. That's the plan anyway. Incidentally the sound from the speakers is unbelievably good moving on from an 11 year old computer.

One thing that stopped working was the
Stacks plugin for Rapidweaver (which I use to produce this website). This meant much of the website couldn't even show itself in Rapidweaver. It gave me some cause for thought in terms of whether I paid to upgrade from Stacks 3 to 4 or whether I should maybe get another bit of software to use for my website. After considering a few things out there I almost went for Sparkle. But then again it would have meant learning a new app whilst downloading my entire site into it to reproduce some of it – and the risk of losing a lot of links; including comments to existing blog items. There are not that many, but it would have been a shame to lose them. In any case getting Sparkle would have been more expensive and time consuming than upgrading Stacks. So – a bit like the consideration of updating my laptop – I ended up going full circle and retaining (albeit updated) Rapidweaver with Stacks.

The whole transfer of data and updating of software has been a pretty much painless operation – assuming you consider thinking about things not too painful.

The next thing is to consider what changes I may want with the website. So far I've made sure the changes with the Stacks have updated (initially the upload deleted all the boxes I had around text, but this has now sorted itself out). I deleted the section I had on 'Class Song of the Day' which was bit sad, but it was an old feature which I dare say no-one ever went back to. I'm thinking about turning this into another new series of pages. Obviously the main sections are this general blog, the writing bits & bobs, and the health section (which thankfully I haven't had to update recently). Considering adding a section to do with pubs and beer which I could use either to highlight local (Liverpool & its Environs) or national things. Just consideration at the moment. Watch this space.
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So Many Varieties of Apple


Looking to replace my ageing laptop soon. I've had a long and happy relationship with my mid-2010
MacBook Pro, it cost a pretty penny back then (about £1k); but with it lasting eleven and half years means it's been a bargain at less than £1.70 a week. If my next computer can last ten years I'd be very, very happy – and amazed.

It's still working but crashes intermittently and has for some time now, which is time consuming – and makes me worry about when it will stop for good. Of course with it being so old it has had its systems updated regularly; it's currently up to macOS High Sierra and can't go beyond that. This means lots of current apps I use can't be updated anymore and may soon be useless (as companies stop supporting their old apps), and of course new apps won't run on this old system.

So it's been time to think about what to get to replace the Pro. I've been considering the new iMac which looks amazing. I had a couple of iMacs back in the day including the famous Blueberry one. Of course one of the things I would use it for is writing and I can't take a desk top about with me so I'd really need an iPad as well as a desk top.

Yes, those are the considerations which bring me back to a laptop. In terms of cost vs the iMac I could get an iMac Air and an iPad, but that'd be pointless – if you've got the Air you couldn't justify the need for an iPad. But I need more memory than the base version which makes it quite expensive and then when you consider the costs the 2020 MacBook Pro 13" (M1) looks a better buy. The bigger versions of the Pro (2021) look absolutely incredible but I can't justify the cost of those.

So I've basically gone round and round in circles and come back to getting a 512GB MacBook Pro (which is exactly what I have now). How was it so difficult to decide to replace an excellent MacBook Pro with a new MacBook Pro? I mean it is heavier and bulkier to travel around with than an iPad and all and maybe I'd rather have an iPad and an iMac but all things considered I can't justify that.

I'll probably end up not putting music on it which will free up loads of space but mean that I can't update my old iPod anymore; but after all when was the last time I used the iPod? It's sad but my phone and Spotify has made me say farewell to the old faithful, beautiful beast. I'll continue to use the computer for writing (using Scrivener), doing bits on the website (currently use Rapidweaver), and some YouTube vids.

A MacBook Pro it is then. I'll sort that out sometime in the coming weeks. In the meantime I hope this old friend isn't reading this and planning on committing a final spiteful act and crashing for good (I better back this up today…).

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No Gym, No Problem

This last few short months I've lost a fair bit of weight and got a lot fitter. Don't know how much as I never weigh myself. But I can see it and so can others who haven't seen me for a while. It's not been a conscious thing I've tried to do at all, but been through starting a new job. It involves me cycling the six miles to work – not everyday but a couple of times a week – and during the day moving beer casks around which weigh up to 50 kilos each when full. Before I started I wondered if I could do it, now it is easy and I wonder what I worried about. Moving up to 20 casks around involves multiple repetitions, in and out and up and down. I've basically accidentally joined a gym.

If I didn't have the job I wouldn't have realised that with a relatively few changes I could get quite a bit fitter. Without the job the aerobic thing (cycling) would be easy to continue with whenever. Not sure how I'd replace the weight lifting part of the day, But I know it would be well useful to carry on with. I'm pretty sure I'd never join a gym, I'm just not the kind of person who would enjoy it. Perhaps I'd just have to keep a full cask of beer on hand to carry around a few times a day. It'd work.

Not sure if I'll continue to loose weight now or whether I've hit a plateau. I'd be happy either way. At some point in the coming months I may get a car or a motorbike for commuting (not sure), but even if I do then I will continue to go cycling. It's fun and easy and gets you to nice places (though they'll be nicer in the spring and summer than they are at the moment).
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Keystone Three (for me)

After missing John Witherspoon's open mic at the Keystone the week before I did make it last week again for my third appearance out of the four they've had. It was upstairs again and was very well attended with regulars from the previous weeks. I was second up thankfully and played three of my usual - Heart Breaks Like the Dawn (C Prophet), Oh My Sweet Carolina (R Adams), and Splendid Isolation (Zevon) - and unlike the previous time I did mess any of them up. Yippee! In fact it felt to me like it was the best I'd played them; at least three songs together anyway. Not saying it definitely was, but it felt all right to me nothwithstanding what it sounded like to everyone.

All the performers were fab - many doing their own songs - and the mood was great again. It's definitely becoming a week highlight.

Keystone-OM3

The Keystone had my favourite tipple on too - Jaipur from Thornbridge - so it was a doubly good night all around.

Won't make it next week as Liverpool are on the box (on a Thursday in the Premier League!) against Newcastle so I dare say I'll be in the Fly or Head of Steam watching that. Hopefully we'll beat them well to make up for missing the open mic. Don't know if there will be one the following week with it being so close to Xmas then (Dec 23rd) but if it is then I intend to be there.

Hopefully next year I'll get a few songs written and perform them here. Could happen.
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