Posted on March 27th, 2016 by



There are few better things for me in life than going out for a decent meal……Massive Attack’s Blue Lines album; Bojan’s first touch; New Balance 577’s; watching your kid play sport; a sundowner at the Ty Coch pub, Porth Dinllaen; finding a pair of Red Wing’s in TK Maxx; Call the midwife NOT being on the telly; Jimmy Greenhoff; the M6 being clear…….

The last one being particularly apt, as we were late. Well, the wife was. Table booked for 6.30pm, she finished work at midday and still managed to leave getting ‘dolled up’ until around 5pm – fine if we were eating within the ST postcode, not fine when venturing into Cheshire.

After picking up another couple in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, my trusty/slow family plodder of a car – think Dave Bamber with an injury clean through on goal type of plodder plodder – did it’s best to get to leafy Hale by 6.30pm…..

Hale: lovely, but not the kind of place you’ll hear a broad Potteries accent, never mind four. “I bet they even get out of the bath to go to the toilet here“, I thought as we parked in the high street.

A bloke, evidently sponsored head-to-toe by Gant, approached our car……”You can’t park there mate“, he said with a huge grin on his face, “the traffic wardens are red hot around here, you’ll get a fine!“. As he finished his sentence, his other half beckoned us into a vacant space.

We were either being lured into a Cheshire-set trap, where we’d be beaten to death with hedge fund certificates and copies of The Abersoch Times, or these were fine, upstanding folk.

They were the latter. Great stuff to see decent people about, wherever you are. So the evening started well (and probably £60 better off, too).

It only got better. Apart from news reaching us of Jack Butland’s injury, of course.

The groin-testing steps to get into Earle led us into a restaurant where everyone was happy, but not in a smarmy or over-the-top way. Nor were they the uber-hipsters I expected, too. Again, just really nice folk.

the better half (on the right), captured in rare ‘smiling’ mode

Earle looks attractive from the outside, but doesn’t scream it in an ostentatious way, unlike some other places owned by celeb chefs.

The celeb chef? Liverpool-supporting, bloke-off-The-Sunday-Brunch, Simon Rimmer. He always seems sound, and has done a recipe for a back issue of DUCK, and so I was going to lay off any 6-1 jibes. At least until the main course! Although he wasn’t on site, I can’t believe the quality of food could be improved upon even by his fair hands – outstanding stuff from those in the kitchen.

Never mind the food – and it was mint – but I can’t remember the last time I went out and enjoyed myself so much. No pretentiousness, just a willing but unobtrusive staff who knew their stuff when a thick Son of the Six Towns (me) asked them what they themselves would have to start. It also helps when Stevie Wonder is playing in the background, too. No, Stevie wasn’t actually there! I mean, we all know he goes Knutsford on Saturdays, of course.

I don’t mind paying for good food – as I said before, I enjoy eating out. Thing is, we rarely do nowadays as we have three millstones, er, I mean kids, at home. But what is even better than paying for ace food? Paying just £20 for three courses of ace food.

£20. For. Three. Courses.

Affordable brilliance is rare these days, but not at Earle. All four of us chose different things, and all four were in agreement as to the ace-ness of the venue and the quality of the food. I didn’t even mind being the driver, either. (I did).

Mackerel/Steak/Tart – that’s what I had. Seperately. I won’t pretend to go all afty, pretentious and describe the food/go all the bald Millwall fan on Masterchef on you. But I do know when I really like what I’m eating, and our laughter and chat between courses gave way to virtual silence when the food came. The true test of how good a meal is? The staff didn’t mither us every mouthful, either – a huge bugbear of mine, and they weren’t there tutting and looking at watches as we sipped the last remains of our drinks a few hours later.

If you want a real VFM, top quality meal in a lovely place, then this 40 minute trip up the M6 is a serious contender. The £20 three course option is on Fridays and Saturdays before 7pm (but check before booking) but the a la carte menu was more Brown Edge than Alderley Edge prices, too!

The only two downers were moi having to drive back, and the news about England’s number 1. “I’ll drive next time we come” from my good mate Tony soon changed that. I just hope the next time is soon.



4 Cecil Rd, Hale, Altrincham WA15 9PA  

Phone:0161 929 8869  





Posted on March 26th, 2016 by

DUCK 23 IS OUT NOW: Yes, like the Renegade Master, we’re back!


Get it here:

cover wilko

Featuring: an absolutely superb George Berry interview
Andy Wilkinson tribute
European City of Sport 2016
Gabrielle Aplin live review
The life and times of the humble fanzine
AMP – 90 minutes of the best tunes
Forgive me father
The Big Sleep
Every step along the way
A league of my own……..and tons more



Posted on March 26th, 2016 by


Treat. Your. Feet. Our regular look at trainer’s to swoon over.

#1 The New Balance Football Pack

l-r: 577FB/EpicTR/1500FB

The beautiful game just got even more beautiful.

We’re coming to the end of the football season now. A time for cheers and tears. But spring is in the air, and with the changing seasons comes a need/desire to have a look at your training shoe starting 11. And New Balance have only gone and released a UK Football pack to satisfy the needs of the football fanatic and trainer heads amongst us.

Football. New Balance. Two of the finer things in life. Put them together and it’s the footwear equivalent of Giannelli Imbula. Simply unstoppable!

Paying homage to New Balance’s historical legacy in the beautiful game, this pack consists of pairs of the iconic 1500’s and 577’s, and also introduces the EpicTR, a brand new premium cup sole trainer utilising the original upper design from the classic Flimby-made NB Epic football boot from the 1990’s.

All three are superb, with the classic silhouette of the 577’s being a personal favourite, and all three come in the traditional footballing footwear colours of black and white.

Ah, the days when boots and trainers came in, er, black and white, eh?

So these New Balance beauties, with more than a nod towards footballing heritage and old skool standards, are absolutely perfect for the end of the season…..and then the Euros afterwards!

All three heritage styles are crafted in luxurious black leather in the New Balance UK factory, located in the heart of Cumbria. So perhaps bench a few of your old trainers and grab a new signing from the New Balance squad, eh?