For newcomers

At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Would you take the time to review your recent purchase?

I’ve just come from my breakfast-time Two Blondes fix - they post on their blog daily with unfailing interest:


That link will take you to their recent post which refers to Trip Advisor reviews sparking the idea for this post.

Last summer I reviewed, on Trip Advisor, Chiltern Lodge b-and-b at Worth Matravers on the south West Coast Path. Some other reviewers had been picky. The b-and-b was well above average. I said something about it being good for everybody except for those used to paying a fortune in London for the privilege of being obsequiously molly-coddeld by staff who were paid just to do that regardless of any unreasonable attitude from their guests. Trip Advisor refused to post my comment. I haven’t bothered since.

If you want a good laugh anytime read a few one star reviews on Amazon. Amongst the rare constructive criticisms they fall into several other categories:

Hilariously badly written (see RR comment: I originally wrote illiterate and, oops! spellchecker has  told me I had spelt it wrongly - retribution?)

Complaining about packaging or delivery and not reviewing the product

Those who are technically challenged and can’t fathom how the thing works

Bought for their grandchild who destroyed it in seconds.

There are, almost without exception, one star reviews, probably put there by competitors? If you took too much notice you would never buy anything.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Better news

Glad to report Lilly's op went well and words from the surgeon were encouraging.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Not good news

Following the  comment about Lilly on my last post I've just heard that Lilly has a brain tumour and will likely have an operation on Thursday. I know Lilly well as an exceptionally characterful little three year old and particular friend of granddaughter Katie. What agonies her mum and dad must be going through are awful to think about. These things are happening all the time but it is devastating when you are so close.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Fatherhood

I’ve just returned from shuffling cars with daughter and son.

William’s British Superbike team packed up before Christmas. He had been there for ten years, and passed his HGV driving test so he could drive the team’s vehicle to Spain.

Today he was back from his second trip to Germany for a local transport company, and with daughter Jill we picked him up at his depot not far from Arnside.

I am impressed with William. Although he has driven a massive truck abroad there is a difference between heading for a racing circuit supported with a co-driver, and launching off to an unfamiliar German destination, unable to speak the language, and with no experience of handling loads, observing tachograph procedures, and all the other tricks of the trade, but he seems to have coped well.

On W’s first trip he was threatened with a disruptive and time consuming vehicle search by German police, The resolving of that situation was to Willam's credit but not for further detail here. 

Readers may remember Jill’s redundancy last year, and whilst trying to create a website she spent an invaluable summer with daughter Katie during that period of childhood when development is so important - that was irreplaceable time well spent in my opinion. The website is still in embryo and may be developed later. Jill has now resorted to supply teaching, and was sent to a private secondary school in Barrow which lead to four and half days per week on supply rates until the summer with the likelihood of a full time job in September.

Katie-child-minding includes help from friends (and me), delivering and picking up at nursery school and playgroup, and at Jill’s school there is a nursery attached where Katie attends on Thursdays and Fridays. Teaching supports Jill’s vocational attitude with good behaviour and intelligent discussion and participation from pupils - they all  wear smart uniforms and stand up when Jill enters the classroom and say “good morning Miss Robinson”!

There is even a uniform for Katie’s nursery school which includes a Barbour look-alike jacket costing £40 (fortunately the school lent one for Katie) - I reckon she’ll be joining the Pony Club next?


PLEASE CLICK TO ENLARGE

Taken with iPhone3 as video by mistake then lifted as "screenshot" from first frame, hence poor quality

Katie drives the truck

Katie, normally harum-scarum, but here uncharacteristically prim-and-proper in new school uniform.This photo sent to me by Jill gave me the best laugh for some time


The coat

Friday, 23 January 2015

Where are you from?


Another Thursday-Pete-walk.

In the late Fifties and early Sixties a loose gang of us assembled at weekends in Langdale and later at Keswick to climb and carouse. At other times  Bradford based members frequented pubs and clubs where live jazz reigned - Elvis and the Beetles were rubbish. Pete was a notable member, and in 1960 he and I had a holiday in the Jotunheim in Norway wandering over glaciers and making a good ascent of Galdhopiggen by a non-tourist route.

As to be expected we all eventually went our different ways. Forty years later I had moved to Arnside (2000)  after losing my wife to Motor Neuron Disease. I joined the gym at the very upmarket Holgates static caravan leisure park at Silverdale. I was supposedly training for my forthcoming GR10 walk (the Pyrenees from Atlantic to Mediterranean).

Working on a rowing machine I started talking to a little guy on the next machine:

"Do you do some running?"

"No, but I've done a lot of climbing and walking"

"Where do you come from?'

"West Yorkshire"

"Were you in the Yorkshire Mountaineering Club?"

"Yes, What's your name?"

"Conrad. Conrad Robinson"

"Bloody hell, stop rowing! Put your hand there mate. It's Pete. Pete Mansbridge!"

And so, not recognising each other we had re-met - the conversation was heard by other gym members creating a major talking point for ages afterwards.

Pete and his wife Liz had a static holiday caravan on the site, but shortly after they bought a house in Arnside and Pete and I have climbed twenty eight Munros together, walked the Lancaster canal and had our Thursday walks now running into hundreds I reckon. I also learned from Pete that another member of the original gang was living in Arnside, Pete Hindle and his wife Linda, and Pete H. joins us from time to time on our walks as he did yesterday on a pleasant road walk starting at Docker with snow covered Lakeland, Shap and Howgill fells in the various backgrounds as our route circled.

PLEASE CLICK TO ENLARGE

The two Petes and Docker viaduct - not far from the Grayrigg derailment disaster in 2007

Distant Whinfell Beacon

Zoom to the Howgills. A bright start had turned into a dull day

Me and Pete somewhere in Wales circa 1960. Pete was renowned for his beret, his long super quality Norwegian stockings and immaculately maintained Italian boots, all contrasting with my generally sloppy appearance.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Cheshire Ring North slideshow

Here is the Dropbox link to the slide show:

Appologies - Dropbox lost the file - it is now reinstated

CLICK HERE

Click on the first picture (not the File Data file) to enlarge and view as slideshow

CHESHIRE RING CANAL WALK (NORTH)

Avid readers may remember that in June 2013 I walked half of the Cheshire Ring Canal clockwise from Marple to Acton Bridge from where I followed the river Weaver to Frodsham to take on the Sandstone Trail.

Bowland Climber, a long standing friend and frequent commenter here had since suggested we complete the Cheshire Ring together, and that plan came to fruition last Thursday.

We drove to BC's son's  on Thursday evening, and son M gave us a lift to Acton Bridge on Friday morning.

I suppose doing a multi-day walk at this time of the year is a lottery but we knew we could return to M's each evening by public transport, so even if weather was dire we would have comfort.

We set off with bright sunshine but it was very cold. The walk divided into three fourteen mile sections taking us to Lymm this day with enjoyable walking and  sighting of a kingfisher.

From Lymm we were able to catch a bus to Manchester Piccadilly and then,  for me, the new experience of travelling on the excellent Metro tram back to M's at Timperley.

That evening we dined at the Shandaar Indian restaurant - walking distance from M's and as good an Indian meal as I can remember - well recommended.

M dropped us off again in Lymm on Saturday morning. The going involved some made up surfaces but an awful lot of squelchy mud. Again it was cold but we remained dry and the walking was interesting until we arrived at a point not far from Manchester United's ground on the other side of the canal. Here an ambiguously signed footpath diversion tricked us into continuing along the towpath for at least half a mile based on an earlier experience when we had been able to walk through a similar supposedly diverted path. The canal was blocked off at a bridge and steps lead up to a high padlocked gate and high metal fence which would have put life in danger with any attempt at scaling. We trudged the half mile back then became involved in busy city roads and roundabouts and our mapping just didn't have enough detail and we eventually ended up, unknowingly, on the wrong side of the canal trekking through undesirable wasteland for a mile or so. At one point I  tripped and fell bashing my forehead quite violently and wrenching my shoulder. BC has a dramatic picture with blood everywhere, and too alarming to be posted here, although BC has my permission to post it on his blog if he wants to.

We had lost over an hour on our schedule and we came into Manchester as light was failing. The passage of the canal through Manchester centre is a fascinating mixture of modern, and cleverly engineered Victorian architecture all shoehorned in, providing a most attractive part of the city it would be easy to miss on a casual visit.

On Sunday morning we were able to travel back to Piccadilly on the Metro and continue on a finish to Marple.

BC had researched public transport the previous evening without us being certain of arrival time at Marple, and with the added problem of Sunday services, but we only waited about ten minutes for a bus to Stockport and then another short ten minute wait for a bus to take us to the end of the road in Timperley where M lives. The public transport system around Manchester seems brilliant.

That was a most enjoyable three days with good company and fine weather snatched from winter.

Here are a few photos - I hope to post a link to the full slideshow when Dropbox has absorbed the transfer - it takes hours.



PLEASE CLICK TO ENLARGE



Section of canal drained due to breach. Towpath supposedly diverted, but we were able to walk through

Presumably fished from drained canal - crim's pickings; must have been a few years ago judging from dial rather than buttons.



Zoom to power station in direction of Runcorn - about 6 kms. away

Their machines for setting type were world famous until computers took over



Posted somewhat against  my better judgement, but for what it's worth, Manchester United stadium

Manchester Hilton

Spiral stonework on bridge over canal to enable horses drawing canal boats to  by-pass tunnel



Friday, 9 January 2015

The spirit stirred

As a youth I was a modest, but regular rock climber until I was married at the age of thirty. Later, around the age of fifty four I met  Pete (not Thursday Pete) and climbed with him for three years until he went his own way after I baulked at his over ambitious attempts to lead climbs graded beyond what I considered his ability. I then met Tony and climbed with him for seven years until he sadly died quite suddenly from cancer in 2003 - Tony was a great friend and we had many other interests in common, and I shall always miss him. I had no desire to continue climbing after he went.

Having said all that I can't pass a lump of rock without a stirring inside compelling me to assess it for potential lines and having a good look to see if there are chalk marks indicating climbing activity.

My Thursday walk with Pete this week took us close to Whitestones Crag (SD 387 849), a minor venue seen from the High Newton by-pass on the way to Newby Bridge.

Whitestones is geographically ambiguous and has ended up in the Lancashire Rock guide rather than one of the Fell and Rock Lake District guides and that may be why I don't often spot people climbing there. But there is another connection here. Tony was as an accomplished, and rock solid leader up to at least E1 grade and I would have followed him anywhere, but our sole visit to Whitestones resulted in the only occasion that Tony fell whilst I was with him. It was not serious - he was only a few feet off the ground starting the first pitch and the rope was of no help and he unfortunately decked with more of an affront to his dignity than injury. Tony was not pleased.

Our Thursday walk this week took us on pleasant lanes around High Newton with distant views of Whitestones stirring these old memories.

The arrow indicates Whitestones Crag two and a half kilometres away

Incredible zoom to Whitestones taken from the location of the photo above. This was hand held - very difficult to  keep still enough to frame the crag, but a tribute to the Panasonic TZ40 camera.

Yet another take on Lake District dry stone walling techniques

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The past comes back to haunt


I was all tucked up in bed last night, and instead of counting sheep I was going over my plan for the morrow (Sunday). The target was to climb Hoove (NZ  003 071), and if possible one of two other remaining Marilyns in Area 35 nearby: Rogan’s Seat (NY 919 030), and Kisdon, (SD 899 998).

Picturing the parking spot for Hoove that I had identified on the map, gradual familiarity took shape in my mind and I felt compelled to arise, go downstairs and research, which culminated in realisation that I had climbed Hoove with Pete about four years ago.


It was an awful day: heavy rain and visibility down to fifty yards. The going was horrid-pathless-peatbog, following a dreary boundary wall or fence, but I was obsessed about visiting all the trig points on that OS sheet (I was not addicted to Marilyns at that time). Looking back on it now I am ashamed that I dragged Pete along on such a joyless exercise, and even more so because on returning to the car I insisted on bagging another trig on the other side of the road further away than Hoove and over even worse terrain.

It is ironic that such a shameful incident has now given me another tick on the Marilyn list. 

So, that meant today could focus on the other two. I parked in Keld and marched off down to the river aiming for Rogan’s Seat and found myself on tracks common to the Pennine Way and the Coast to Coast both of which I walked over over thirty years ago, and I had no recollection of the scenery which to say the least is spectacular, especially with the weather contrasting totally with the Hoove episode.

Rogan’s Seat turned out to be a fairly strenuous eight mile round trip so there was no time left for Kisdon even though it is a  quickie from Keld, but it can be made into a very attractive longer walk which I hope to do soon and am looking forward to.

Another great day snatched in between dismal forecasts.

CLICK FIRST PICTURE TO ENLARGE

The track down to the River Swale from Keld - my summit was behind the centre horizon

Note the frost on the field - there were patches of ice everywhere

East Gill meets the Swale

Back to Keld

Remains of tractor strangely embedded in the track

The river Swale downstream from Keld

Old mine buildings - pity they were still just in shadow. My route followed a path along the top of that shadow

The unprepossessing summit of Rogan's Seat, but great views