Friday, 14 July 2017

Berwick to Somerset again

When I fell on my intended walk from Berwick upon Tweed to Castle Cary in Somerset I had a b & b farmhouse booking that night at Westgate in Weardale and three other advance bookings which would take the walk through what I anticipated would be particularly evocative parts for me: upper Swaledale, Wensleydale, and Langstrothdale (i.e. upper Wharfedale) where in the late fifties and early sixties, with friends, Gimmer in particular, and on my own, we walked, rock climbed, caved, pot-holed, fished for trout, and downed plenty of ale and hobnobbed with locals in those characterful pubs with that kind of teenage naivety that can never be repeated in later years, but those memories hardly fade, therefore re-vsits are always special. So, I had always thought of this part of the walk as a definite highlight.

I have now re-booked those four nights starting on 15th August so I am hoping that no spoilers turn up. The intention is to carry on with the whole of the rest of the walk. I have been doing the set of exercises given me by the physio four times a day without exception, and I have another appointment next Tuesday. Although the arm will not fully straighten so far everything is much improved and getting stronger every day. I can now use that arm to eat and raise a cup (or glass) to drink, and I am back to keyboard typing as before.

Starting after the summer break, daughter High Horse who teaches at a school in Barrow has secured a place in the related primary school for granddaughter Katie, so I will be less involved with child minding and more free to roam further - I have plans!

If anybody wants a gpx file of my plotted route for my forthcoming trip email me at conrob@me.com and I will send a copy.

If you are interested in the rationale for this walk read the blue writing at the end of my Nicky Nook post, 6th April 2017 -  CLICK HERE

Langstrothdale, near Beckermonds from a previous visit.(CLICK TO ENLARGE)



Monday, 3 July 2017

Idle moments


No walking for the last.few days, other matters have interfered. I'm off to the physio for the second visit tomorrow at Kendal hospital. Last Tuesday she ran out of time after a thorough assessment of all my movements, and just managed to give me a couple of exercises to work on.  I  was impressed with her attention to detail and her pleasant manner. That has resulted in me just being able to touch my face with my hand, but not sufficiently mobile to allow me to use it with my fork for feeding. I tend to pre-cut food American style and then wade in with the fork alone with my right hand.

I have been chilling out watching Le Tour, and kidding myself that I'm not up to tackling my now hugely overgrown garden, and in the evening watching multiple episodes of House of Cards - I have just kicked out Sky TV and gone for Freeview and Freesat (including Netflix). From my armchair I viewed this seagull through my window and watched it for a couple of minutes debating about a photo, but pessimistically assumed it would disappear before I could go to the other room and get my camera. All in all my seagull stayed there for about twenty minutes. My armchair is about ten feet from my window, and the chimney-pot is perhaps another fifty yards away. I was quite pleased with this triumph of armchair photography. The view, excluding the chimney-pot, was the major influence on me for buying the house seventeen years ago. I have a fantasy of winning the Lottery and making them an offer they can't refuse for that house then having it demolished, chimney-pot and all.



Thursday, 22 June 2017

Arm update

As you can see I am able to walk and live comfortably during the day, but I am not sleeping at night. As soon as I lie horizontal I get pain in my shoulder despite the fact that it was the humorous that was broken. I have taken to sleeping downstairs in my armchair suitably propped up, but that is obviously a compromise and sleep has been poor ever since the op. I was up at 4:30 am this morning.

The arm is solidly bent at about seventy degrees, so I can't use it to wash my face or get food to my mouth with a fork or spoon, and I can't reach very far with it compared with my right arm, so I am now even more dexterous in the strict Latin meaning of that word. The arm and wrist are still weak and swollen, and my little finger and the left edge of my hand are permanently pins-and-needles and sometimes quite painful. I have had a sit in the car and I can operate the gear shift, but I intend to leave a try at driving for at least another week or so to give my arm the chance to settle down a bit more.

I am still awaiting an appointment with the physio and in the meantime I have devised my own set of exercises which I am doing every couple of hours. One step forward is that I have now resumed typing with two fingers instead of one.

I would be surprised if I can ever get the arm straight again, but it should improve to some extent with the exercises, but I reckon I will be permanently disadvantaged, but I see no reason why I shouldn't get back to multi-day walking. You will have read in the last post that I have tried on my rucksack and that is fine, and my exercises confirm that I can comfortably employ the arm in the motion required for walking with poles! On these local walks I have only been using one pole  for now.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Fraternity

I prefer to have an objective for a walk. I read maps like books; I suppose that includes several reasons, not least that our OS maps are works of art in their own right. I am also on the look-out for unusual features that cannot be fully explained by the map's graphics or  text, so these can provide potential targets for on the ground exploration.

A few years ago, before I was fully tuned into GPS,  I had spotted "Three Brothers" at SD 494 734. Memory is distant now but I recall investigating unsuccessfully on two occasions. Unfortunately I was relying on my less than precise skills, and also, I think on those occasions the Three had only been a secondary objective, and the terrain was challenging: quite thick old deciduous woodland, mini hills, dense bracken and no paths (marked on the map) and I was running out of time.

I can't remember now if I set off from home before, but it is six miles out (and six miles back), and today, as I am still not driving I had no option, so this would be my record distance walk since the accident. I experimentally tried on my daysack-rucksack and pleasingly found it was no problem, and a welcome improvement on the satchel I have been using.

Previously I had used the 1:50 map, but today, with the 1:25 I saw that there was a lane leading off the Tarmac road in the appropriate direction to within two hundred yards of the Three. That may not sound much, but it was pathless, up and down hills, and wading through thigh high bracken whilst consulting the GPS on Memory Map on my iPhone, and using my compass. Those two hundred yards from the lane took me fifteen minutes or so. GPS was telling me I was there, but stood in the bracken I was looking up to my right at a twenty foot high banking covered in brambles and shrubbery, and I was on the point of concluding the Three Brothers, whatever they were, had succumbed beneath that lot, but a few yards further a well defined path lead round the back of that banking, and there was number one, a limestone rock,  roughly cuboid and the size of a small car - not all that spectacular, and then twenty yards further another similar one. The third was smaller and another twenty yards further, but the alignment made it impossible to get them all in one photo together. All in all,  some may say, a pretty disappointing result for a twelve mile round walk, no pot of gold, but I was well satisfied. There were paths all over and I bashed on with my circular route.

Wolf House Gallery, teashop and painting gallery (RR once bought a painting there!), completed my pleasures with a thirst quenching pot of tea on this hot day along and a unique pecan nut flavoured sponge.


Hawes Water (Arnside/Silverdale AONB)

Leighton Hall

Two of Three Brothers (the third was behind the camera)

Clockwise. Red star indicates Wolf House Gallery 


Friday, 16 June 2017

Pot off!

Yesterday - appointment 9.55 am Lancaster hospital The plaster was removed using that panic-striking mini circular saw with a fear inducing high pitched whine. How on earth do they work? They seem to go dangerously near the flesh, but I have never heard of any resulting fatalities. Once the initial incision is made they have an ingenious tool that works like pliers in reverse forcing the crack apart. At one point there were three of them working on me, one holding my arm in an unnatural position and the other two cutting and prying.

Then it was off to x-ray (follow the red arrows on the floor). Again I seemed to be the exception. She wanted my arm in a position it refused to move to - much pain trying. She then had to manoeuvre her machinery into what seemed to be a rarely used vertical option combined with supporting my arm on various foam blocks.

Back with the consultant I was told the x-ray was ok and he prescribed a support gismo and muttered a few scanty instructions about exercise and I was bundled off into another room. Two nurses arrived carrying a selection of three hideous looking mechanical contraptions one of which they fitted to my arm - it looked like part of the Forth Railway Bridge. My arm will only straighten to about 70 degrees but the consultant had prescribed "no restriction" on the dial setting of the support thing so that in theory my arm could extend fully if it could physically do that, so I couldn't really see the point, and the two nurses seemed a bit vague about this monster's value - as I type it is lying abandoned on my study floor.

My arm feels lost and doesn't know whether to participate or not in certain actions, and on the whole I feel less adept and in control than I was under the discipline of only using one arm and the protruding fingers on the other. The arm is weak and my wrist feels as though it is sprained. Last night I had severe pain in my shoulder and didn't sleep, but it is ok during the day. The nurses again vaguely mentioned exercises, but I am awaiting an appointment at Kendal with the proper physios, meanwhile not being sure whether I will do more harm than good if I start exercising before I have had professional instructions. I always half suspected that I overdid it with my knee. I was told that I could let the arm dangle when appropriate, thus encouraging self-straightening.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Football


Having been a most times abstainer from football I feel a bit hypocritical admitting that I watched the England France game last night.

Ok, football is a fine spectator sport, and, although I wouldn't describe myself as ultra jingoistic I do take some interest when an England game is afoot, unless there is something more compelling ( I recorded  Cardiff Singer of the World to revel in after the sun had gone down).

My objections are directed at the endless cheating, diving, pansy faked pain and injury, and arguing with the referee, to say nothing of the obscene amounts of money involved.

There was one French guy who went down three times last night, and to see his acting combined with lengthy sessions with medics on the field you would have thought he'd broken his leg in three places, but miraculously he was up and running again after engineering these stoppages to the game and supposedly trying to convince the referee that a penalty should be awarded and his opponent sent off.

All that is pretty run-othe-mill stuff, but what prompted me to write this post arose from one of the commentators:

"It was a good foul, he didn't get booked"

I messaged my daughter who is a secondary school head of English with responsibility for, amongst other things, the instilling of good behaviour, firm moral values and potentially responsible citizenship in her school-kids. Her reply, "what hope?"

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Why do a large proportion of football managers...

chew gum disgustingly?

Look permanently miserable, even forcing themselves to refrain from at least smiling when there is good cause?

 I can understand those traits in a particular individual, but they mostly seem to follow the herd.

A refreshing exception -Jürgen Klopp

Monday, 12 June 2017

Over the border

The new game is to find footpaths that I can get to direct from home that I have not previously  walked. I found one short link path a kilometre from home, but after that I would need to cross to the eastern side of the A6 to find new ground.

The link path meandered pleasantly through semi-woodland on a decent limestone path with  pleasing alternations of brightness and shade bringing me back to familiar ground at Hazelslack Tower.

An old lane cuts across country to join the road over Slack Head and down to Beetham. Halfway along the lane a shower came from the east. I had to don my waterproof. Not easy. Whoops! that sounded like a Trumpism. The sleeve has to be threaded over my plaster cast, which itself forms an awkward right-angle, and the sleeve is only just wide enough. The other sleeve then has to be grabbed with my one useful hand and threaded, and then the whole wrinkled mess has to be pulled down and straightened; well I was in no hurry.

On the road ascent to Slack Head a car stopped and asked me the way to Arnside promenade. As a lifetime's outdoory I take use of maps for granted and perhaps unreasonably wonder when I realise that others don't. Slack Head has posh houses with large, ornate, remote controlled security gates equipped with intercom systems, and the houses hidden away up winding drives - drug barons?

Dropping down through the old part of Slack Head there was a house named The Tridlings that I've never noticed before. Research tells me it is a dialect name for rabbit droppings.

The post office at Beetham has an old English style teashop with white linen tablecloths and Edwardian decor. A toasted teacake and pot of tea. Bliss.

A few hundred yards down the A6, fortunately with a footpath, I was off onto a lane going east and my targeted new ground. At the start there was a huddle of four or five farming type guys and their parked vehicles. They seemed to be just packing up from whatever they had been about, but there were no clues - up to no good I suppose (I am in cynical mood today). The lane ended and a cut path through a wheat field took me to roads and my furthest point. The new territory proved to be boring compared with the earlier walking and my return route further on. Perhaps that is why I had not walked it before. Extending my boundaries gave me a total of 11.2 miles, the farthest so far since my tumble.

Start of new path (for me) One km. from home - looking back onto the road


Pleasant light and shade on the new path

Hazelslack tower

Rabbit droppings (dialect)

j
Just down from The Tridlings this  roadside shrine. Not often seen in the UK, but prolific in France. I thought this was more Roman Catholic, but it emanates from the Anglican church in Beetham (see plaque, next photo)

Also Leoba. Rather boring saint born in England around 700 AD
Click to enlarge
Anticlockwise. Start/finish south of Arnside station. Click to enlarge

I particularly like this meadow grass. don't know what it's called, but it has a delicate light pink colour that does mot come across too well here, and it sways and whisps in the wind as it catches the sunlight



**************************************
Appointment at hospital next Thursday, 15th June, hopefully for removal of plaster. Some pessimists have suggested they might put another one on.
I anticipate a long period of physio to get it working again.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Two fingers up to extremism and thumbs up for music

Until a week ago I had never heard of Ariane Bonde. I have minimal connection  with pop music, but I felt compelled to watch Love Manchester tonight.

Suggestions had been made that this was too soon after the event, I don’t agree. Music has more power than well meaning but often repetitive and mechanical statements from  politicians and others, and the concert conveyed an immediate response to, and condemnation of the futility of these atrocities. 

Tonight’s performance may not have been to everybody’s musical taste, but for me it was a moving experience and for a change a valuable contribution from celebrities as role models for our younger generation - tonight celebrities rose to the occasion.

From just a performance viewpoint I was impressed with Little Mix and Cold Play.

Friday, 26 May 2017

A little tour from home

For the last couple of days I have been plagued by an electronic buzzing noise in my bathroom. I have a false ceiling with low voltage down-lighters and thought it must be the transformer, but that seemed ok. Yesterday morning I traced the noise to the outside wall behind my w.c. Investigating from the outside I discovered a three centimetre hole in the house wall next to the kitchen door. Bees are busy, as is their wont, flying in and out, so I've got a bee's nest in the cavity wall - problem solved

The bee hole. I've no idea what its purpose has been before but the bees ae welcome

I am still walking from home a few miles most days, but with the plaster it is all a bit of a compromise and the next hospital appointment is not until 15th June, when hopefully the plaster will be removed. I suspect after that there will be a long haul of physiotherapy.

Yesterday, after solving the buzzing problem I walked over Arnside Knott and down to Bob-in café. Inspired by Beating the Bounds recent magnificent post, Teesdale, an Embarassment of Riches, CLICK  I vowed to take my time and try and photograph some bird life, but that was a dismal failure. My antipathy to standing still for any length of time, my difficulty of holding the camera still when on zoom with only one hand, and the inconsiderate behaviour of most birds to stay in the same place for more than a few seconds conspired against me.

Ash tree at top of my drive - I look at this when I am writing my posts.
Every so often the telephone wires get disrupted and BT or whatever they are called these days have to come out and lop off branches

These are at the foot of the tree. I garden under protest, and for the moment everything is going back to the wld. It will become an onerous job when I can get back to it

Just a it further up the road

Just before I leave the road to enter woods and make the ascent of Arnside Knott there is the cemetery with these fine old conifers - not sure of the species

The cemetery chapel, now used for parish council meetings and the occasional exhibition

Just beyond the chapel this entrance to some of Dallam estate's forest. I chatted to the guy who told me the last time they had culled the forest was 17 years ago, and he was here. Today was the first time in the 17 years I have lived in Arnside that I have seen that gate open

My entry for Bird Photographer of the Year competition




The cliché photo from Arnside Knott: railway viaduct across the Leven estuary

Across the estuary to Grange-over-Sands

Lots of these ancient remains about up on the Knott

My favourite bench and view from the Knott. Across the bay to Morecambe. Normally you can see Ingleborough but it was too hazy today

Starting the descent to New Barns and the Bob-in café

Zoom. About two hundred yards away. It was still for so long I suspected it may be artificial

Bob-in café

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Sir Hugh down

Yesterday I walked another eight and a half miles from home. One of my mottoes is "make things happen." As I was crossing the  Silverdale golf course footpath I deliberately sparked conversation wth a couple of golfers. I told them I was heading for the café at RSPB Leighton Moss. They immediately suggested that I would be better served in more civilised and peaceful surroundings at their clubhouse. Well, there you go, after seventeen years living here, and as an avid café fan I never knew that Silverdale Golf Club is open to the public. So, due to my contrived intercourse with the golfers I found myself enjoying a bacon butty and pot of tea in quiet luxury, knowing full well I would be receiving some cutting remark from older brother RR about revelling in the luxuries of molly-coddled middle classness whilst purporting to be a macho multi-mile walking hardman.

Gayle and Afoot, and others outside my blog have quite rightly pointed out my fortune in being able to still walk decent distances with my arm in a sling. Yes, it is some consolation, however, these walks are confined to routes straight from home, and after so many years here they are all very familiar, albeit in a most attractive a.o.n.b.*

Another minor niggle is being unable to use my walking poles. All you young rock-hopping, downhill running randonneurs will come to realise in your seventies that balance gradually erodes, and whilst almost imperceptible in everyday urban town-life it becomes an issue on rocky paths and rough terrain, and poles are the saviour, apart from their contribution to powering one uphill, defending oneself against rabid dogs, pointing out probably now unconquerable summits, and thrashing the hell out of brambles.

What I am of course missing is the off-piste experience of the unknown track ahead, the anticipation of seeing over the next brow, or round the next corner, the satisfaction of self-sufficiency, and the scale and excitement and planning of being on a long journey.

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*area of outstanding natural beauty

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Arnside local walk

I am experimenting with the Mac's dictation facility. Composition does not happen in the same way compared with normal typing;  mentally it is similar to trying to write with the wrong hand. Perhaps with practice one may be able to use this facility with more ease, but I don't think I am going to be able to get on with it. That seems odd because in my erstwhile employment I dictated most of my letters to a shorthand secretary.

Yesterday I continued with my local walking, setting myself a target to arrive at the Green Olive café in Milnthorpe around lunchtime so I could have tea and a bacon butty.

I have bought myself a small sling pouch to put my bits and pieces in, and that seems to be working well. Having my arm in the sling creates a pull on my neck, and after walking a few miles I'm developing pain in my back.

From the cafe I walked nearly to Beetham, and then found a footpath that surprisingly, I have never walked on before which took me, Bela riverside, past the old Heron Cornmill, and into Dallam Deerpark. The path through the park climbs high up giving splendid views across the estuary, followed by a descent to exit the park. Old elevated limestone tracks followed, and then into mature mixed woodland. I briefly took a wrong path which fortuitously brought me high up looking down into the huge quarry, with massive wagons rumbling about in the bottom, but at that distance looking more like busy beetles. A double back took me past DOG HOLE CAVE well hidden in the woods. I set out to find this a couple of years ago and was having some difficulty when I came across a lady and she owned a large field which contains an isolated oak tree in the centre, reputed to be the oldest and largest in the area. She kindly showed me the way to Dog Hole Cave, and then on our return invited me to go into the field to have a closer look at the tree. On the gate to the entrance she had fixed a small sign quoting the line from Yeats well known poem "Tread softly because you tread on my dreams", and today after passing Dog Hole Cave I went again to have a look at the splendid oak.

Another lane and then Tarmac took me into Storth village where I visited the tiny post office now run by volunteers, and I bought an ice cream and sat outside in the sunshine on the village bench. Storth is a particularly pretty little village. Once again I found another footpath that I have not walked on before, bringing me out on the main road from Armside to Milnthorpe. I was able to get back on the old railway embankment with great views across the estuary, and retrace my outward journey back to home.

I was surprised  to find I had walked nine and a half miles.

Clockwise, start/finish bottom left corner


Monday, 8 May 2017

Berwick to Weardale - slideshow



Here is the slideshow for the first seven days of my intended walk from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Castle Cary in Somerset. I know there are a lot of typos in the captions but it is very fiddly correcting these in Photoshop and they will have to stay as they are.

If you click on the link and then click on the first thumbnail photo,  and then click on "full screen" at the bottom of the page you will be able to see the photos to the best advantage. You can also enlarge or reduce the size of the photo using the plus and minus buttons at the bottom of the screen.

I have started using dictation on the Mac, and it may be a good alternative to using one finger on the wrong hand once I get used to it, but like all these things one has to go through a learning curve.

CLICK FOR SLIDESHOW

Friday, 5 May 2017

The long road ahead

Yesterday, Thursday 4th May: appointment at Lancaster hospital - service not bad. Two hours for:

consultant examination, and remove old plaster
x-ray
consultant  meeting again to discuss results
new plaster

The new plaster has to stay put for six weeks (next appointment 15th June), so that's the best part of the summer trashed.

During the x-ray, after the old plaster had been removed, I was asked to put my arm into positions it just didn't want to go in - the pain was hard to bear. Up until then I had some fancy notion I would be off walking again in a week or two (how naive can you get?) But from that revelation in the x-ray room I guess that it is going to be a very long physiotherapy job to get the arm back to anything like viable movement, that is after the six week plaster period.

I was able to see the x-ray for the first time; it looks as though somebody has thrown the Meccano starter kit down and hoped for the best.

Things have moved on with orthopaedic plastering. When I was at Darlington hospital there was a guy who had fallen off a ladder causing leg and ankle fractures so fragmented as to be inoperable, and that he would not be able to walk again for a year (lucky me?) Well one leg was plastered from toe to thigh and he had opted for alternate black and white stripes (Newcastle fan). I was offered choice of colours and opted for blue - pure whimsy, no political, religious, sporting or other connotation. I don't do football.

For the immediate future I am intending to walk each day round the village to try and retain some kind of fitness. I have not been given any formal physio instruction, but informally the guy in the plaster room advised me to keep exercising my shoulder, and he showed me a couple of appropriate exercises.

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p.s. I am working on the slide show for Berwick to Weardale


Friday, 28 April 2017

Darlington hospital discharge lounge

Hardly an eclectic selection of reading matter in the discharge lounge.


Darlington hospital update- Friday 28th April

It is in now 9:51 am and I am sat in the Discharge Room awaking a lift home this pm from Gimmer.

I have an appointment at Lancaster  Fracture Clinic for 4th May when I think I may be able to dispense with the plaster back-slab.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Darlington hospital update 2, Tuesday

Pre op report.

9:00 am - after early breakfast a suited guy I have not seen before comes to foot of bed, I am sat in chair. He reads my notes for a couple of minutes, never even looks at me then goes away. Five minutes later he comes back with a yellow questionnaire form and starts asking me questions. After the first two answers I say to him " who are you?"

" the registrar" he replies and continues with the questions. That's about it. I just hope his medical skills are better than his inter-personal ones.p

Darlington hospital update - Tuesday 25th April

Looks like I'm having the op today - early breakfast 5:45 am

Monday, 24 April 2017

Darlington Hospital - update

Monday -24 April

No news, bored, frustrated.

No further communication.

Have asked for information this morning from the Ward Coordinator.

Wating, waiting, waiting.

-----------------------------------

Now had visit from registrar, 10:30 am. I am booked for operation Thursday morning. At least I know. I wonder when somebody would have told me if I hadn't asked?

Friday, 21 April 2017

Darlington hospital update. Friday.

All - I am now admitted on WARD 33 awaiting an op on an unspecified day next week. My rucksack has arrived from Durham.

I am being well looked after here and the whole ambience is so much better. From everything I have heard and from our meeting  I understand Mr. Burton has a fine reputation as an upper limb specialist, but his list is full, but I am happy to wait here rather than go back home and come back.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Durham/Darlington update - Thursday

I was sent to Darlington this morning by taxi on the understanding I would then go back to Durham after being seen by the relevant consultant. I was seen within twenty minutes of arrival.

The consultant here wanted a ct scan and also said his list was full until next week. Various options were muted including going home in between. He wanted to see the current plaster removed and sent me to the plaster room - immediate action.  When he came to look he said I could have the ct scan here and be admitted until the op next week. Within fifteen minutes of the plaster room I had the ct scan. I was then asked to wait until the bed was available, and ten minutes later MrB arrived and said he had seen the scan anld it was not as serious as first thought.. So I am now wating to go on the ward. THUMBS UP FOR DARLINGTON SO FAR. There seems to be team spirit, camerarderie and friendliness prevailing here.

All I need to do now is arrange for my rucksack to be sent down here from Durham - what could possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Durham hospital update

I fell on Sunday and was admitted to Durham hospital. 9:30 pm. Monday consultant told me decision would be made after consultation with upper limb specialist at Darlington. Depending on them either he or they would operate. It is now Wednesday. I have been starved and prepared three times for possible op. including early breakfast today with promised op.

Consultant has now arrived and told me he has only got response from Darlington today SINCE SUNDAY! they want do op there and I have an appt. at their fracture clinic tomorrow, so seems like starting from sq. one again tomorrow. Despite fact that I had been prepared for op today consultant told me that even if  he would have been doing op. It wouldn't have been done until tomorrow!

So here I sit with a forearm and upper arm both broken close to elbow since Sunday and. Little prospect of treatment in next couple of days.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Postcard from Durham hospital

We've had a guy in here who cut off the tops of two fingers with a bench saw. Fortunately they've fixed them back on and he's gone home. I've got a similar machine at home and will be thinking very carefully before using it again.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Berwick update

Here is the blow by blow account.

Coming off Weather Hill there is a fence line and stile at NY 922 396. The fence only had posts so walked straight through and tripped on the old fence wire buried inThe grass. Getting standing was not easy. Then I found the path had vanished so walked for approx 2kms. over tussock grass terrain, clutching two poles in my right hand with left arm hanging down.climbed a ladder stile and descended through several difficult gates to Chester House ( farm). Farmer put me in his quad bike and delivered me to the Hare.and Hounds, Westgate phoning for an ambulance at 5:00 pm. There I was well looked after by the landlord and two lovely ladies, Cath and Alli, for four and a half hours (ambulance arrived 9:30.) 35 miles to Durham, triage, X- ray etc. Finally was in bed for 1:25am.

Westgate was my destination for the day and I had walked about 16 miles when I fell.

Thanks too all for your comments. Too many to reply individually.. It is trickydoing this with one finger and the Wrong hand.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Friday, 14 April 2017

Berwick - day 6

Saturday 15th April. Great Whittington to Traveller's Rest (NY 959 586)

Last night's meal in Brandy Bank was again excellent. A delightful cod based risotto for starter made by Helen. Michael had cooked an absolute classic boeuf bourguignon accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes and veggies, and to finish a home made sort of chocolate soufflé - all beautifully presented and the perfect meal for a hungry walker.

There were two others guests from N. Ireland, a couple on their way to a wedding. He had been a weekly newspaper editor and also had acquaintances involved in Northern Bank which was taken over by National Australia Bank along with Clydesdale, and Yorkshire Bank, my erstwhile employer. Incidentally I have now been drawing the pension from YB longer than I worked for them - very satisfying. All in all we had wide ranging conversation - a particularly pleasant encounter. 

I was dropped off again at Great Whittington for 9:00am for a fairly easy twelve miler, although the pull up out of Corbridge was a bit of a tester.  It was only six degrees when I started. I got that damned zip stuck again several times. As I have said in a comment reply, having zip failure in extreme Antarctic or high altitude regions could be fatal. I wonder if they produce any better quality for that gear?

Walking was varied with good field paths, and farm tracks.

Corbridge, albeit an attractive town, was too busy this Easter Saturday and endless traffic ploughing through the very narrow streets with narrow sidewalks, made for frustrating walking for the many pedestrians. I sought out Grant's, a renowned bakery shop recommended by Helen at Brandy Bank and stocked up with some goodies; it's great to see such shops prospering, I had to queue to get served - quality wins.

After the steep road climb out of Corbridge there was a final trek through a pleasant mature birch and pine forest. I had some unreasonable foreboding about the Travellers Rest. It is in the middle of nowhere, but when I arrived I found a quintessential English inn with people finishing off serious lunches and a homely atmosphere. So far so good. I have asked for a breakfast tray so I can get an early start for tomorrow's eighteen miles.


Aydon Castle. I stopped for coffe and biscuits.

Grant's bakery. A great find.

Looking back to Corbridge
The Traveller's  Rest

Berwick - day 5

Friday 14th April. Kirkwhelpington to Great Whittington

Last night's meal was superb. An excellent salmon prawn mousse for starter. Three local lamb cutlets, new potatoes, green beans and glazed carrots, with a subtle jus with fresh mint from the garden, all beautifully presented with homemade apple crumble and proper custard to finish.

I was dropped off at Kirkwhelpington for 9:00am The village shop was closed for bank holiday and it started to rain, but I was ok and it only persisted for an hour or so. Walking was varied with some Tarmac and not so good fields. At one point I got the zip in my coat stuck and sat on a stile for ages fiddling with it. I got out Swiss Army knife and was about to operate, but a final tug suddenly released things. This is a common problem and I wonder why they don't devise some way of  avoiding the zip getting caught up with the adjacent material - it should be easy enough?

 A good track led to a farm marked Clay Walls. As the track arrived at the farm entrance there was a large notice saying PRIVATE. NO WALKERS. I had missed a diversion to go around the farm a hundred yards back. I marched back thinking what a miserable type he farmer must be. The stile over the fence was lethal with a rocking post nearly out of the ground and steps covered in green slippery slime. - it needed some care to negotiate. Once into the field there were four horses which converged on me and followed, one trying to bite my rucksack. I don't trust horses, and I was glad to get over another poor stile into the next field which contained a herd of bullocks, but they only looked on quizzically. The field was one of the worst cattle trodden, ankle twisting ever, so all in all thumbs down to Clay Walls farm.

Further on I stopped on a bench next to a war memorial on a crossroads miles from anywhere. Whilst I was munching a couple appeared  and they were walking St Oswald's Way, the first I have met so far. He was a walk leader for Holiday Fellowship and was doing a recce for this section. I met them again at the top of the hill where they were eating and I pressed on. I then took a wrong turning and walked abou five minutes down the wrong path during which time the couple went ahead of me on the proper path. A bit annoying.

It had been a good walk and the final section over Todridge Fell was particularly pleasant.

I have just spent about three quarters of an hour trying to do the Bluetooth camera thing and it is totally messed up. I ended up creating new passwords very tediously, switched everything off and back on etc., etc. All to no avail so it looks as though photos for the rest of this trip will remain in my camera. 

Glory be, I've done it! Photos here they come.





1. Kirkwhelpington. No sign of the vicar chasing me this morning.

2. One for my "relics" collection.

3. I had a chat with the farmer on his quod bike. A hobby, one is a show winner and preggie so he's hoping she will produce another winner.

4. A good sample of Northumberland scenery. This is a most attractive county.





Thursday, 13 April 2017

Berwick - day 4

Wednesday 13th April - Rothbury to Kirkwhelpington

A bright day but still the perishing cold wind especially on the tops, so jacket on all day..

There is something special about the wild Northumberland hills. My route followed St Cuthbert's Way all day right over the Sinonstone hills. I only touched Tarmac briefly at the start and finish. There are not many places where you can walk ten miles or so in such glorious surroundings. Panoramic views seem to be on a special level in this county. From seeing a dog walker just after leaving Rothbury to getting right down off the hills the only people I saw were a group striking camp at Spy Law where there appears to be a bothy. It's surprising not to meet anybody on the track on what is a well established and respected English long distance path.

I had pre- booked B and B with Michael Storey at Brandy Bsnk Guest House, West Woodburn. This is well off my route but Michael came to pick me up at Kirkwhelpington and will drive me back there tomorrow and pick me up again from tomorrow's destination and drop me off again. If anybody out there is in this part of the world I highly recommend this B and B which I do not do very often. Michael is an enthusiastic walker and understands the needs of weary randonneurs, and Brandy House is superbly appointed and so comfortable. Michael has told me about the meal for tonight but more about that later, because I must come to today's blogger's gift.

I arrived at Kirkwhelpington and made camp on a low, ancient drystone wall surrounding the church and phoned Michael for my pick up. I was just easing myself into a more comfortable position when a four foot section of the wall collapsed beneath me and I toppled backwards ending up in a position making extraction difficult. I was not hurt and managed to emerge when a guy in the house opposite came out to investigate. Whilst I was talking to him, wondering what to do Michael turned up. Without hesitation he set about rebuilding the wall lifting the heavy capping stones with ease. Meanwhile the guy accross disappeared. We left the wall looking pretty much ok - there's nothing like a bit of resourcefulness.







1. Coquet Cairn in the middle of the march over the Simonstone hills.

2.Isolated old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.

3. Zoom shot of fox a couple of hundred yards up the track.

4. Michael rebuilding the church wall. He was so quick he'd nearly finished before I could get the camera out.