Wednesday, 26 September 2012

break out the kayaks


I blogged in 2009 when we last had a downpour. At that time it was the first proper flood in 50 years around here. Now 4 years on we had a near-repeat. Don't talk to me about climate change....we're living it. Time to crack out the aqua-lungs.  The exercise must go on....!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Risky Business


Not one for Downton Abbey, Aunt Aggie strolled in to the kitchen tonight and announced she was going to make some pasties. The radio was tuned into ‘Absolute 80’s and was playing in the background.  I had been reading with my feet up, but pulled up sharply by this announcement.
She dug around for the flour, eggs and so on, corralled the ingredients on the worktop and rolled up her sleeves. I knew I was in for an onslaught.  The last time she waded in to the kitchen with the same intent, the casualties were high, random and widespread.  We found collateral damage for weeks after.  She couldn’t be left alone. Might set her pinny on fire or melt her curlers. The larder begged for mercy and the fridge looked on nervously.  

I put the book down and moved across the room, sidling up casual like and took up a supervisory position.  

She went at it like the clappers and with the oven on, it was like a bakery for the next 15 minutes and the trays of pastry were shovelled in like it was a happy hour at the pizza parlour on a Friday night.  
After 20 minutes the music had moved on and the volume had been turned up. She poured herself a Springbank as she waited for her creations to rise and reach their peak.  Taking a gulp and gazing into the glass, turning it in her hand she said  ‘Nice arrival, maybe a wee bit sherry’  and, after slowly considering the next mouthful added, ‘ and  a surprising  peppery finish with a long nose’....

By the look of it, she’d made some savoury pasties and others, sweet.  No sign of a recipe book.
The first pasties out were intact, good looking and well turned out.. but she had rushed the second batch and they came out five minutes later looking like they had had six rounds with Alien versus Predator.  She shrugged, smiled and turned the oven off.

Pushing her shoulders out and dropping her hands like Christopher Walken in the Fatboy slim video, she turned the radio up to max and invited me to join her as Michael Jackson's ‘Thriller’ belted out and we finished the episode dancing like zombies, seeing ourselves as reflections in the Kitchen Window. Baking is a risky business sometimes.       

LLangollen by night

Llangollen by night!
Making a return trip to Llangollen this week, I had every intention of taking in more of Offa's Dyke armed with my rapidly disintegrating Salomon's. One delay during work , however, was compounded by the next and, by the time I had finished in Wrexham, it was getting late.

I arrived at the modest B&B and was shown to my room. Rapidly changing into the running gear and with the light outside failing, I had to admire the aspirations of the guest house owner.  He had furnished the room with a pine, four poster, but hadn't quite got round to stripping the overpainted wood chip which looked like it was helping greatly in keeping the building together.

By the time my garmin had found what it was looking for outside, a run up to the crags was out. I plumped instead, for a 6 miler along the canal.  It was quiet on the whole. Early in the run I was buzzed by a bat which evidently fancied a game of chase.  There's a movement in the area to plant fruit trees along the canal to help the wildlife. Help the badgers and foxes go 'scrumping' next summer. Lucky them.  It was a calm evening and I imagined the canal being a hive of industry in the past. Struggled on afterwards with Howards End (EM Forsters, that is)..

The racing has been curtailed this weekend although I did turn out to yesterdays parkrun for a trial out and adding another 4 miles afterwards, was happy enough with the progress.  I suspect the intermittent knee ache will continue to come and go. Long distance runs are really off the menu at present. As such, there was no prospect of nipping up to the Dumfries Half today with the rest of the Morpeth Wolfpack to nab a handful of booty from the gid fowk thereabouts. All was not lost though. As I finished off in the garden this aft, the young 'un returned with 4 bottles of real ale from the wimmins team prize. I've told her she's not a real ale drinker and offered to swop her hoard for something more fashionable. A babycham perhaps.     
         

Friday, 14 September 2012

Llangollen - fell running heaven?

 
I recall being taught a little welsh history at school. Seemed remote... Offa's dyke and Owain Glynd┼Ár, the last Welsh Prince of Wales and his cont re-temps with Henry IVth. But things fade over time and interests wain. If someone nowadays asked me about Wales, I might be inclined to shrug my shoulders. I might even be a little ambivalent. So it was a trip into the unknown when I finished work for the day yesterday and took myself to Llangollen. I hadn't a clue where or what it was, only that it had a good deal at a woodland hotel and that it wasn't too far away from the job. I dumped the stuff in the room and after scoffing all the complimentary biscuits, took myself out for a short run.

As I emerged from the woods in clearing skies I spied a jaw-dropping landscape topped with little nugget across the valley. Castell Dinas Bran, the ruins of a 13th century castle perched on the top of the hill like an abandoned set from Camelot or Excalibur. It was about 3 miles away. I put up with the creaky knee to jog then walk up much of the tough climb following the zig- zaggy path up all the way to the ruins at 340m. After taking in the awesome late evening view,I ran down the other side which wasin parts so steep that my legs ran away with themselves and I nearly went over twice at high speed. Then I picked up a sign pointing to Offas Dyke and ran the remaining mile or so under the stunning but unpronounceable Eglwyseg Crags before turning back. The limestone scarp bathing under a calm,cool sky and the rooks making a lot of noise while the sheep looked on. Didn't have time to do the Crag run, but there'll definitely be a next time. Fell running heaven.  (See if you can make out the head and face within the arch....)


Friday, 7 September 2012

Have your been Strava-ed

It seems like I've been listening to the lads drone on about their favourite cycling gadget for ages.
There are, on occasion and periodically, quieter moments when out in the lanes. Short moments of tranqility when your companions take timeout from trying to dodge careless or aggressive drivers, fish flies out of their eyes or scour the road surface for rim-crunching potholes.

Its at times like these, when the reliable avenues of conversational enquiry have been exhausted, that the rivetting details of performance encouraged by this latest gadget raises its head in conversation. It goes by the name of 'Strava'.

The Strava website proclaims 'Track all your runs and rides, set personal records and beat your friends' times. Enter virtual competitions, climb the leader boards, create and join clubs...blah, blah, blah.'   You can download your garmin or mobile phone ( I suppose with an app.).   I gave in at last and joined the Strava set last week. I am dismayed to admit its quite addictive...and one other thing. 
It can be applied to running as well as cycling. Not that I'm the competitive type but some bloke has 19 minutes down for the Bothal Woods run which I'm going to destroy with a red blooded, grit defying 17 minutes this weekend - should put me at the top of the league without question. 
So,if you've got nothing better to do and the dishes and hoovering's all done,  have a look in on Strava.com....at least it makes a change from standing at the end of the platform watching the trains with your anorak on!    

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Molar Expedition

Causation. Cause and effect, The urbane turbaned image of David Home's eighteenth Century portrait fills my head. My absence at this years Ben Nevis race was not a case of synchronicity,I should add, but just sheer bad timing.......So my blog went this morning, then while editing I managed to delete my ditty about how my medical event resulted in a 'no show' today. I won't bore you with the gory details,only that the title of the earlier blog was 'Molar Expedition' (That's a clue)

Anyway, feeling a bit more chipper tonight so well done all those brave or daft enough to have run today's Ben. I'm looking forward to reading the reviews.