Friday, 8 November 2019
Lucky The Dog really doesn’t like fireworks, not one little bit. It didn’t take a huge amount of badgering to get his Dad to take him off on a wild camping trip dahn sarf for a couple of nights, and so it came to be.
Lucky & Dad arrived on Monday 3rd November in order to pre-empt any possible pre-emptive firework-whizz-flash-bang displays around the green and pleasant land of Crookshire.
It didn’t take long for the peaceful trip that Lucky’s Dad (henceforth known as Mike) had planned to be gatecrashed by Judith, Beryl the Peril (aka Margaret) and meself.
Judith, Margaret and I had agreed to rendezvous on the Tuesday. On arrival, Judith was found trying to locate a benchmark on the side of a building. It’s what she does.
We headed off after an hour or so, having demolished our packed lunches, and then walked for miles and miles over hill & dale and through raging rivers to seek out the appointed very very nice and flat camp-spot.
Although it certainly wasn’t anywhere near dark, the light was just beginning to fail and I couldn’t make out Mike’s dark green Akto, it blended very well into the background of cow-poo laden grass.
Fortunately Mike had spotted us and he flashed his torch (well I think it was his torch) which really stood out well in the low light of the winter afternoon. Tents were soon erected and after sharing our tales of daring-do it was almost time for tea….but not before copious amounts of, er, tea.
Then it got rather cool, really very quite chilly-cool. A bit too cold to socialise outside our tents.
Inter-tent communication is always a bit difficult – made even more difficult by the hiss of a gas stove. I spent the evening eating, reading, listening to the BBC R4-type-wireless, dozing, eating some more…oh and drinking tea. Camomile tea seeing as you ask – doesn’t need milk y’see.
I didn’t sleep too well, I was plenty warm enough but just couldn’t get comfortable, in spite of being pitched on flat ground.
The night was clear and the moon shone brightly, even so, loads of stars were visible. I should have taken a photograph or two but it was too damned cold for me to want to escape the warmth of my tent.
Next morning, the grass was white with frost – even as late as 10am.
The morning wasn’t wasted, we spent a good 10 minutes studiously studying maps in a successful attempt at planning a route for TGOC2020. After all this inventive route planning a blur of frenzied activity followed - and an early 11am departure – Denis would be proud.
We retraced our steps, and after hours of battling the sleet, snow, sun, rain, and cold wind we arrived back at our cars.
Judith found her Benchmark, I found an Eccles cake in the boot of my car, Mike & Lucky went off to find a hill, and then we all went home.
A nice little trip, thanks to Mike for arranging and making it happen. We should do it again.
More photographs here.
Oh, and here’s a map of a bit of Wales:
Thursday, 7 November 2019
The hostelry had recently changed hands but there was little change evident with both fires blazing and the rooms dotted with dogs. We dragged ourselves reluctantly out to see what Ridings and JJ had produced for us.
They herded us across the road and down through the woods to the Upper Roddlesworth Reservoir and then headed along to the Lower Roddlesworth Reservoir.
A brief trot through Roddlesworth Woods and then it was Rake Brook reservoir. This was the last of the water we saw in organised areas, from here on it was liberally spread over the paths we were trying to run on.
The drizzle was continuous as we approached the Hare and Hounds at Abbey Village. We were too wet and muddy to pop in for a quick one so carried on over the road and out onto the open moor. We circled an old quarry then headed southish through ankle deep paths.
The going was pretty good and while the trail was a little sparse it kept us on our toes and all found their way round. We skirted the high moors here and eventually found our way to the road near Watson’s Farm.
There was a tricky right then left which a few briefly missed. The turn off the road was vague and then headed down what appeared to be a small stream to meet the River Roddlesworth and the main track.
While the trail had not been exactly flat so far, this was the start of the major climb. The path rose steadily through Tockholes No 3 Plantation and past Hollinshead Hall to reach the road at Thorny Bank Plantation.
We crossed the road then ran parallel to it until turning left to climb up onto the moors.
Through the col between Cartridge Hill and White Hill then picking up the main track across Darwen Moor before veering left and heading for the Tower. A brief look at the view then continue along the ridge to drop down through the fields and back to Ryal Folds where the drizzle finally abated so that we could get changed in the car park.
A large group of runners had set out, Wells, Biker Eastwood, Skint Wilson, Lesser Ruddock, Leech and Potter. They had become separated during the run and finished one by one. Fast Taylor set of early due to lack of training and Greater Ruddock a little after him.
First off were DingDong Bell and Old Markham who wisely chose to forgo the entire route and met us at the car park. Brown strode manfully taking photos of the participants and a shortcut to get back in good time. Murray and Riley set off a little later, and then Shotgun and McHarry. The latter
managed to overtake everyone on their way round.
Lastly Time Norman and his brother Chris set out. They were a little late and took their time, only arriving back late but safe.
We assembled in the room of the pub and sampled their excellent beer, revelling in the warmth and lack of rain.
The meal was served promptly when we asked, and while the portions initially disappointed they proved to be adequate and very tasty. Lamb hotpot but much better than our usual fare. This was followed by an excellent apple crumble and all
DingDong Bell asked for was a tenner.
An excellent trail, meal and venue!
You can’t not like this video by Evie Hargreaves (you may have to download Vimeo to view)
Words (mostly) by Wells, other words and all pics by me. Apart from the video by Evie Hargreaves….thanks to my mate Cheryl for this.
Note that some of these photos were taken on a recce – when the sun was shining.
Tuesday, 29 October 2019
Now that I seem to have worked out a not-very-complicated Open LiveWriter method of posting photographs that works (for now), here are some more:
My Tarte Santiago – thanks to Rita for the recipe
6th October: Cheshire Hare & Hounds Tally-Ho! trail run from Sparrowpit. A cracking route but a not-very-good venue:
The Hounds…well, some of them
Wells & Injured Wislon returning to base
Only a couple of photos (and a Whinge Warning) from my bike ride to Lymm:
Car parking problems are becoming, er, more problematic. The TransPennine Trail car park in Broadheath is used by those working in the nearby offices and factories. There simply isn’t enough car parking space available, nor is there anything like a decent public transport system in place. Ironically the TransPennine Trail, at this point, follows the course of the railway line that was ripped up as part of the Beeching cuts.
Another sad sight (site?), a matter of a hundred yards or so from the car park above. The Bay Malton pub, once frequented by workers from the adjacent Broadheath industrial area, is now closed.
October is Warburton Souling Play preparation time. We always have a rehearsal, just to make sure that we remember the words and actions from the previous years. And then we retire to to Saracen’s Head in Warburton to compare notes….and drink beer. I couldn’t perform in the play this time round – I had to go to Florida. Again.
The Gang with a potential Souler on his first Play outing
Three generations of Soulers…probably.
And now for something completely different, a quick and tasty dinner of chicken and roast vegetables:
Another trip to Florida:
When it it rains in Florida it gets very wet:
I bought a couple of these filters from Walmart in Clearwater – I didn’t realise that Sawyer are based about 3 miles from our Florida apartment.
Some photos to remind me of our Florida apartment, prior to it being sold. Dad was never happier when he was here, he looked forward to his annual 6 month stays. It was good to see him so happy. I’ll miss the apartment for that.
Monday, 21 October 2019
Onwards to Portugal’s Douro Valley
It was at the end of 2017 that fellow musician Greta casually mentioned that she’d rented an enormous villa in Portugal for a week at the end of September 2018. She went on to ask me if I’d like to come along. After due consideration (about a nanosecond) I said ‘yes please’…and thus started a chain of very agreeable events.
I’d been wanting to finish walking the Via de La Plata Camino but just hadn’t got around to getting my A.I.G., this was the kick in the pants I needed.
Rob, also a musician (and English ceilidh dance caller of great renown) fancied the walk – and he’d also been invited by Greta to join in the Portuguese fun.
And so it came to pass.
Rob and I completed the Via de La Plata and spent a couple of days exploring Santiago de Compostela, staying at Rita’s wonderful AirBnB – definitely THE place to stay. Rita is a wonderful host….we were to return with The Olde Vic Band Ex-Pats, AKA the Olde Vic Band on Tour, a year later – but that’s another story.
Buskers abound in Santiago, entering the cathedral square we came across these two young ladies* playing Gaita Pipes and Pandereta – expertly and with great spirit. (Rob’s video).
Anyroadup, we dragged ourselves away from Santiago de Compostela and travelled by train and bus to meet Greta & Bill in Puebla de Sanabria, a small town that we’ve visited before. Rob, being the highly organised chap that he is, had arranged a really nice hotel for us for norralot of dosh.
A wander down the road to a bar / restaurant where we consumed much food, beer, wine and maybe something even more alcoholic – after which we were cajoled into playing music for a couple of hours. I have to say, we didn’t take THAT much cajoling!
It was a very merry bunch that wobbled it’s way back to their hotel that night.
Next morning we clambered onboard Greta’s bus and headed south-ish to the Douro Valley in Portugal where we were to meet up with Pete & Lynda who had driven down from Stockport to join us for the rest of our jolly.
The rest of the week was spent exploring the lovely Douro Valley, it’s vinyards, bars and restaurants.
Some photos of our musical week:
We came across this street entertainer, he was pleased, and a little surprised, that we joined in playing with him.
Playing steam trains in Porto*
Greta giving it some welly on her sax*
This band just appeared, walking down the street in Porto, playing…like you do.*
Collecting grapes on an industrial scale – to make Port.*
We chanced upon this little cafe bar up a back street in Porto. After our excellent meal we played, much to the delight of the other customers – some of whom joined in.
Rob’s pandereta being rather expertly played
A door for Rob. Rob likes doors.
Annoying the locals
Pinhao Railway station artwork:
Some interesting motorcycles. Well *I* think they’re interesting!
Okay, so that last one isn’t a motorcycle, but I still think it’s interesting.
A couple of Rob’s videos that I can’t get to embed in OpenLiveWriter or Blogger. I’m almost certainly doing something wrong….I usually am.
Playing on the waterfront in Porto *
* Rob’s photographs or videos
Sunday, 13 October 2019
The end of the Camino – sort of.
Before leaving Santiago we decided to do the touristy thing: a day coach trip to Finisterre, or Fisterra, or The End of The Earth.
In Roman times Cape Finisterre was once believed to be the end of the known earth – hence it’s name, meaning the end of the earth.
For Norman (aged 80¼): Cape Finisterre lighthouse
About as close to the End of the Earth as you can get
This is a popular tourist spot – everyone wants to visit the End of the Earth!
The sun was beating down in all it’s gloriousness, drenching the azure sea with it’s rays. The weather just couldn’t have been better.
Rob in posing mode
A few more photos from our day trip to the seaside:
The Rio Xallas is the only European river that flows into the sea via a waterfall. This is that waterfall. Cool eh?
Typical Spanish Niche cemetery
The longest Hórreo in the world. Probably.
For Norman (aged 77¼): another lighthouse
Rumbles of disquiet in the ranks
So that was our trip to Spain, it was good – although not tough or challenging….apart from on the very hot days. We finished the Via de La Plate Camino which had been a lot of fun, very interesting, and quite uplifting in a funny, kind of way.
Many who do the Camino routes are pilgrims in the religious sense and they clearly get a lot out of completing the journey. I really is a religious experience for them.
I found many of the churches (when they were unlocked) to be beautiful inside. It wasn’t unusual to find a pilgrim on their knees, praying in one of the open churches on the route.
There are some who travel a Camino because it’s something that’s currently ‘in vogue’. These folks sometimes use baggage courier service to carry their heavy stuff from overnight stop to overnight stop.
We met loads of lovely people, saw some wonderful sights – both natural and man-made, drank loads of fizzy beer (or in Rob’s case, fizzy beer AND wine), and ate some wonderful food.
Like I said, it was good….although I’m undecided as to whether I’ll do another Camino – there a loads!
There are a few reasons for this indecision:
a) The walks aren’t particularly challenging – in fact there’s often significant amounts of tarmac.
b) They’re becoming commercialised – I noticed a significant increase in the levels of commercialisation from when I started walking in Spain in 2014, to date.
c) Bloody Brexit. If BoJo and his band of followers get there way it’s going to make European travel messy, to say nothing of losing our entitlement to healthcare in Europe.
Also, nothing embarrasses me more, as an Englishman, when I have to explain the folly of ‘the will of the people’ to folks who think we’re quite barmy.
They’re right, of course – but I try hard to point out that I only have half a dozen or so friends who voted ‘Leave’….or at least admit to voting that way, and that our electorate was so blatantly lied to by ….well, I won’t go on, I’ll just get a headache.
Let’s just say there are a lot of gullibles out there….although there are some (two friends in particular) who have a perfectly valid reasons for wanting to leave – and that is absolutely fine.
Then we went to Portugal, but that’s in the next posting.
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