View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label TGO Challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TGO Challenge. Show all posts

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

14th – 17th April 2015, Cheese & Wine training in the Chilterns

…..without the cheese & wine.

It started badly. Gerry and I had arranged to meet in Cholsey’s Red Lion for a swift pint or two. A fine Plan you might think. This fine Plan had a major flaw: the pub was shut, the pint would have to wait. This was a major setback, there was a good chance that things could get out of hand.

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GPS Gerry….note the T-shirt with a rather suspect design

Things began improving almost immediately: gloriously warm & sunny weather and a delightful walk along the Thames Path to Wallingford…and an open pub. Beryl Margaret joined us in the pub, this was A Good Thing – her presence ensured we behaved moderately well. Margaret is a lady after all.  After suitable refreshments and general rehydration our now swelled ranks advanced on Crowmarsh Gifford to meet up with the rest of the Daunderers at the campsite.

A merry evening was spent catching up with each other’s news and discussing the next few day’s exertions.

Crowmarsh Gifford to Henley

The next day dawned warm and sunny – this was darn sarf where it’s generally a wee bit warmerer than my home in the Northlands.

P1040208 Daunderers on parade

At whatever time it was that we agreed to set off, we did just that – but not after many photographs had been taken. This was to be a major expedition and we didn’t know how many brave souls would return safely.

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Marching Eastwards is always a good thing, even in April. We sped along the ancient Ridgeway / Grim’s Ditch at a truly frightening pace. Such was our speed that noses were seen to be bleeding and heads were known to be aching. The latter complaint may have been down to over-enthusiastic rehydration exercises that took place in Wallingford’s boozah the previous evening.

P1040211 Croydon, Margaret and Phil on the Ridgeway

P1040215As the sun rose higher in the sky our expeditionary force needed to call a halt to proceedings, our average speed was unacceptably high and matters needed to be taken in hand. We needed a rest, we were in grave danger of overheating. Apart from Robin who was sporting a fine Legionnaire-style hat, a snazzy summer shirt, cool LaSportiva Raptor footwear, and REALLY cool shades. A cool dude indeed.  

Anyroadup, cool drinks (a hot drink in Gerry’s case) worked wonders, we were all soon suitably chilled and ready for the off once again.

The scenery in this part of Oxfordshire is quite lovely: gentle rolling countryside, lush fields, and pleasant woodland. The sunshine, wild flowers gently blowing in the warm breeze, and agreeable company combined to make our journey through this stereotypical English countryside a real delight.

Such a shame that eight Daunderers saw fit to shatter the peace and quiet. Oh well.

P1040228A lonely Oxfordshire tree

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More yomping

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Resting is just so important:

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Phil & Beryl Margaret

P1040237 Average speeds need to be maintained – Daundering at speed just wouldn’t be right.

The campsite at Henley was a bit posh: it had a bar that sold real beer and provided half-decent food. After showering and changing into the finest of eveningwear the Daunderer-in-Chief led a raid on the unsuspecting town – pies, fish, chips and beer were consumed in substantial quantities in Henley’s Three Tuns.

 

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Henley to Watlington

After a night of snoring, grunting, farting and other things we decamped to the site’s restauranty thing for, in some cases, a second breakfast:

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The Daunderer-in-Chief and his Second-in-Command decided it was time for the group to go out without their wise guidance. We were made to promise to be careful, hold hands when crossing the road and not to talk to strangers. I regret to report that we failed on all three counts.

Our map of Wales proved useful, we couldn’t locate our position on it. This proved conclusively that we weren’t in Wales. We had to double check when we spotted this sign:

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Croydon demonstrating tree-hugging to Margaret

P1040254One of very many red kites 

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Our Glorious Leader pointing us in the wrong direction 

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P1040265The first closed pub of the day 

P1040267 Signs for Bix Bottom, Assendon and, er, another sign. And Phil.

P1040269The earlier (closed) pub meant that our first proper stop of the day was in a building site – although it was a pretty one. This yard of a church that had seen better days proved an ideal elevenses venue. 

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Beau Peep leads the way, the terrifying Doris must be at the rear of the party.

Lunch No2 was enjoyed at the Crown Inn at Pishill another fine Brakspear’s pub, there are a lot of them around here. Such was the hot sunshine that we ate in the beer garden – and it wouldn’t do to upset the genteel folk of Pishill with our raucous humour and smelly feet.

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The Crown’s rather excellent loo

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Legging it from The Crown Inn 

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The Watlington White Mark on Watlington Hill, en-route to our next overnight stop in Watlington. What a lot of Watlingtons. 

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Doris Beryl Margaret descending from Watlington Hill 

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P1040295L > R: Margaret, Croydon, Alan, Phil’s pint, Phil, Bob, Gerry, Robin 

Watlington to Cholsey

The last day of our expedition. I needed to be away early-ish, my train from Cholsey wouldn’t wait for me.

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After a leisurely breakfast at the campsite’s picnic table I left the jovial crew and wandered back to Crowmarsh Gifford at a most un-Daunder-like pace: a moving average speed of 3.6mph. I’m a failed Daunderer. 

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P1040318 Wallingford, over the Thames from Crowmarsh Gifford

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Wallingford back to Cholsey was the reverse of the outward route, the Thames Path.

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Four days of strenuous backpacking in good company is fine training for the rigours of the TGO Challenge and the Cheese & Wine Party. Those who successfully completed the Daunder (that’s all the Daunderers who started) should now be fully psychologically prepared to face anything that Aviemore’s Tesco wine shelf can throw at them. Not sure about the cheese though, I need to carry out more research into Aviemore’s various cheese emporia.

Crackers? Well that’s another matter entirely.

Thanks to Alan for all his hard work in planning in putting the Daunder together. Inviting such a grand bunch was an inspiration. Thank you, I enjoyed all your company immensely – it was just what I needed.

More photographs here.

If you want to read what REALLY happened, check out Alan’s recollections or Robin’s slightly less hazy version.

Happy days!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

18th March 2014, TGO Challenge food

Wanna play chicken??

The Challenge isn’t too far off and it came as something of a rude awakening when I realised that my dehydrated meals stock was down to zero – time for some action.

I dehydrate my own meals, it’s only a bit of a faff but you know what goes into the meals unlike some of the branded stuff.

Chicken is a meat that I’m fond of and although it dehydrates quite well, re-hydration is a problem – the stuff tends to come back as chewy, hard and, well, inedible.

A bit of research on t’interweb resulted in the discovery of Backpackingchef.com and in particular the article on dealing with chicken. They found that canned chicken worked and rehydrated well. A trip into Altrincham this morning and I soon had some tins of the stuff, two tins made two different curries and the contents of the other tin are all chopped up and drying nicely on the dehydrator.

Fortunately I’m in on my own.

The smell in the house is heavenly.

Well I think it’s heavenly!

Chicken The contents of a tin of Tesco Chicken Breast, smells of not a lot really
Chicken Vegetable Curry
Chicken & Veg Curry, smells wonderful!
Chicken Madras Curry
Chicken Madras, smells even wonderfuller!
Other meals that are on the cards: beef hash, beef bolognese, vegetarian bolognese, boring old meat and three veg, loads of puddings…..I like puddings.
I’ll report back with results of the chicken dehydrating / rehydrating.
In the meantime I think I’ll go out for a run, this kitchen smells.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Sunday 9th March 2014, Brooks Drive Bimble

….and a bit about the TGO Challenge Spring gathering thing.

Last night was the TGO Challenge Spring Gathering, held at the Snake Pass Inn which is situated on the A57 Snake Pass. Well it would be, wouldn’t it? It was a cracking evening and we were lucky enough to share a table with the very excellent Mick & Gayle. Much fun was had – not difficult in their company! It’s good to know that we’re using the same TGO Challenge start point of Torridon.

Lots of Challengers attended, including Judith, Alan (who organised  the affair), John M – our glorious Controller, Graham Brooks (famous for wrecking aircraft), Alistair & Lynsey, Martin & Sue, Bert & Suus…..the list just goes on. It was lovely to be able to catch up, there just wasn’t enough time to speak to everyone. The Snake Pass Inn is under new management and the new people take their food and beer quality very seriously. I’ll be back next year. and before I forget – thanks once again to Alan Hardy for being the organisator of the gathering.

Anyroadup, it had been a rather later night so I’d promised myself a late start on the Sunday morning. This wasn’t to be because (fanfare of trumpets)…. spring had arrived! Woo-hoo!

The morning air was fresh and warm, the sun was shining loudly and the birds were singing brightly. The Long Suffering Rick had an idea – we should go for a walk. A wander down Brooks Drive was the plan. I needed to be back home for around 12.30 – No1 grandson was hosting his first birthday party and it wouldn’t do for me to be late.

Rick suggested a 9.30am departure and so he arrived at JJ Towers promptly….at around 9.55am.

P1000931  Rick, Brooks Drive….and sunshine
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The sun may be shining but there’s still mud around

It never ceases to amaze me that pleasant countryside is just a short walk from my front door. All these photographs were taken close to Timperley and a matter of a couple of hundred yards from busy main roads, roads that my neighbours will use on an almost daily basis – yet they will be blissfully unaware that such peace and tranquillity exists so close to their doorsteps.
P1000935 A tree. In pleasant countryside, not far from my front door

Bowdon and Hale have long attracted the affluent. In order to get round restrictive planning rules and regulations they buy up older properties, often with very large gardens….and then demolish the houses.They then build a new house on the site of the old one – usually completely out of character with the neighbouring houses. Like this one:
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On the return leg we had to use some tarmac through Hale where we spotted a fine example of a Vauxhall Victor – over 50 years old and still being used on the road:
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Rick doesn’t hang about when he’s out for a walk – he’s a man on a mission. We were out for around 2hrs 35mins and covered 9.5 miles….so we got back in time for the birthday party. It was a dead easy (if quick!) walk and just goes to prove that you don’t have to travel miles just to go for a walk.

This is where we went:

Route

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

TGOC2014....The Plan so far

Plans are coming together for next year's Challenge.

I try for a Challenge shake-down trip a week or so before the crossing but I rarely manage a really appropriate warm up. A couple of years ago I managed to squeeze the West Highland Way in the week before the Challenge - that was VERY appropriate 'cos it rained quite a lot.

Next year I'm planning a slightly longer pre-Challenge walk.....about 4 - 5 weeks longer.

I've had LEJOG on the backburner for a while but family commitments have made it all but impossible. A change in my circumstances has now given me the chance to, er, get out more.

I reckon that if I walk to John O'Groats from home and incorporate the Challenge into the trip it would make for a reasonable compromise. The longer range Plan is to walk from home to Lands End. (HoLE?) - but that might have to wait until the following year.

So there you have it...well part of it.

The Challenge part of the trip is likely to be from Torridon, incorporating Struy ('cos Terry said I'm not a real Challenger until I go through Struy), the fan-filled Monadhliath, Aviemore....then it goes a bit blurry until Braemar. That will be because of Denis. After Braemar, well it's likely to be a variation of the trade route, finishing at Kinnebar rather than St Cyrus.

Kinnebar, for those who don't know, has the best tea room in the world.

In the meantime here are some pics from my bit of TGOC2013 (Tarfside to Kinnebar) whilst in the company of people that I've only met up with through the Challenge.

They're not just people, they're all friends now.






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It's not just a walk, it's the people y'see.

The Challenge isn't just any old backpack, it's a whole separate world for two weeks, two weeks where the 'other' world just doesn't exist.

But if you're a Challenger you already know that.