Sunday, 27 September 2009

elephant outstared in African bush

Could you stare out an elephant? Susan Miller was keeping tabs on Migalics the elephant in the African bush when Miglaics decided to approach the vehicle. Not to be outdone, Susan stared back and muttered "One step closer and I'll withdraw your maple syrup ration." Before you could say "Cool hat, Madam", the elephant had scarpered with its tail between its legs.

Two Breweries Race

YC ran the Two Breweries Race in the Scottish Borders yesterday. As its name suggests, the race starts at one brewery (Traquair) and finishes 18 miles at another - Broughton Ales. The countryside was similar to The Cheviots with rolling hills topped by grass and heather. Despite the race including 5,000 feet of climbing and several pathless sections, it was very "runnable". YC started at a steady pace before picking up a few places on the final killer ascent of Trahenna Hill. After 3 hours and 38 mins of running, the soup and tea in the village hall went down very well. There was even free beer (blimey) - Broughton Ale's The Reiver. YC was driving, so he had to limit himself to the merest sensation. However concerned readers will be relieved to hear that YC isn't driving tonight...

Trahenna Hill - exeunt runners stage right, pursued by dog
photo courtesy of Steven Fallon

Friday, 25 September 2009

a night at the theatre

There was a good turnout at The People's Theatre for the latest production "Cleo, Camping" writes your arts correspondent. The anticipation of lots of "ooh matron!" jokes proved to be too much for one young theatre-goer. After a pre-theatre meal at The Corner House interspersed with watching the buses go by, Matthew Ansell (aged 2) was taken home by mother Helen for an early night. As YAC settled into his seat, he overheard a lad in the row behind reading from the programme notes: "Infamy, infamy, everyone's got it infamy!" YAC has a very mature sense of humour and naturally didn't think this was funny at all.

The play was set in Sid James' caravan during the filming of various "Carry On" films. There was an amusing performance by the actor playing Kenneth Williams. Despite expectations, the carry-on jokes were rather thin on the ground, and the play focused on the sometimes tortuous relationship between Sid James and Barbara Windsor.

However lest readers are disappointed by the lack of gags, YAC is delighted to report that fellow theatre-goer Katrina Pescott has a stack of them at her disposal. Here's one to keep you chortling through the long winter nights:
"Doctor, doctor, I'm frightened of lapels."
"Hm, this sounds like cholera."

Sunday, 20 September 2009

keep on running

After the fun and frivolity at Matfen Hall, YC blew away some of the cobwebs on Saturday at The Simonside Fell Race from Thropton Show. He ran the 6.75 miles and 1,200 feet of climbing in about 55 mins. For some strange reason, he didn't feel at his devastating best on the initial climb (probably a dodgy tonic from the night before). However he did stage a recovery to make up a few places on the descent. Here is he just below the crags on Simonside, photo courtesy of Pat Dunn.

Also running this weekend where Tim & Michael Walker. They both completed the Great North Run for the second year. Tim finished in 2 hrs 15 mins and Michael in 1 hr 55 mins. Afterwards they enjoyed some post-race refreshments in The Tynemouth Lodge courtesy of Mr Deuchars. Here they are with Pat, Gill, and YC. Nicki Walker also completed the run.

The following post-race conversation was overheard:
YC - so are you going to do a fell race next?
Michael (politely) - I would have to train really hard first, and I've got a very busy university term coming up.
Tim (realistically) - no.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Reader, she married him

Congratulations to Fiona Duff and Richard Layfield who were married at Holy Saviour's Church, Tynemouth today. The service went with a swing with stirring renditions of 'Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer' and 'Jerusalem'. There was even time for 'The Fields of Athenry' played by Emma on the flute during the signing of the registers. Afterwards the assembled company adjourned to Matfen Hall for a splendid reception followed by a ceilidh. There was some fine dancing to the strains of the Pentland Ceilidh Band including an epic final performance of the Orcadian Strip The Willow.

Fiona & Richard with the ushers and bridesmaids

Pat, Rory, Timothy, George, James, Matthew, Phoebe, Katie

Joe - "is there champagne?"
Grace - "I believe so."
Emma - "excellent, all that playing gives you a thirst."
Anna - "Did I tell you I'm the expert at the Dashing White Sergeant?"

more photos here

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The Pennine Way - 21 years on

Your Correspondent walked the whole of the Pennine Way in 1988. He returned for 5 days walking the southern section to see what it was like now. The short answer is: quite different. YC recalls the first few days as being an epic battle against the peat bogs with always an eye on the map to prevent one wandering astray. Now the walk is signposted at every path junction and much of the route is paved. YC appreciates that this stops folk getting lost and prevents erosion. But it rather takes the fun out of the walk, and the flagstones are murder on your feet.

It's also not possible to youth hostel the PW in its entirety anymore. The YHA suffered its own version of Beechings when numerous hostels closed 5 years ago. Furthermore many of those hostels which are open tend to be booked solid by school parties. Thus PW walkers either have to choose the expensive option of B&Bs or carry tents (which adds appreciably to the backpack weight). Perhaps not surprisingly, few people walk the PW in its entirety now. YC met just one person doing the whole lot.

On the plus side, YC chose to backpack with a tent. He wild-camped for 2 nights and stayed on basic campsites for another 2 nights. Total cost - £5. Bargain! Pick of the campsites was May's Aladdin's Cave near Hebden Bridge. It offered free camping to PW walkers. There was a view to Stoodley Pike, a farm shop selling pies, beautiful spring water to drink, and The New Delight pub 10 minutes walk away selling its own locally produced Bridestones ale: fantastic.

wild-camping on Pinhaw Beacon

Kinder Scout summit - the mother of all peat hags

The White House - a welcome lunchtime stop with Theakstons Bitter at £2.40/pint.

those dreaded flagstones

do you recognise this bridge?

hint - here's the motorway that it spans

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

a swimmingly good tale

The schools have just gone back, so right on cue the weather has perked up. Tynemouth beach was sunny (and reasonably warm) today. YC had a couple of dips on The Long Sands, swimming from the Bear's Head to the old swimming pool on each occasion. Bracing!

When swimming in the sea, it is important to keep your calorific content up to scratch. So YC has been training on his favoured diet of beer and pies, as recommended by Alf Tupper (Tough of the Track).

Qu: where would you weigh a pie?
Ans: somewhere over the rainbow.

[sing the song to work out why]

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Grisedale Horseshoe

The Grisedale Horseshoe fell race - a mere 10 miles and 5,000 ft of climbing up Catstye Cam, Helvellyn, and St Sunday Crag. Throw is some mist and cloud for good measure, and add a final killer climb over Grisedale Brow to top it all off. YC managed it all in just under 2.5 hours yesterday. He navigated his way through the mist with nae probs, only to take a wrong turning within a mile of the finish. Luckily he didn't go too far wrong and after some bracken-bashing was soon back on course. Here's Team NFR at the finish at Glenridding village hall.

Old Cheviot's report on the NFR website

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Round The Island and New Mills

YC has just returned from 12 enjoyable days sailing on The Norfolk Broads. First off was the Round The Island Race on Mimosa with Andy & Lois. Last year's winning feat was not repeated, but we did manage to slake the raging racing thirst with the odd half of Adnams as the weather was particularly hot. An added bonus was sailing the newly restored Sparklet to her mooring at Reedham with Trevor Potter.

After that, there were 8 days sailing with Mr & Mrs Rev T on the fine craft Stella Genesta. Highlights of the trip were a voyage to the head of navigation in Norwich - New Mills - and a tack on Breydon in a stiff 2 reefer.

returning Sparklet to her mooring

Stella Genesta in Train Reach pursued by Henrietta (no bear in sight)

at New Mills

what the well-dressed man wears on Breydon Water. Trinny & Susannah not required (yet).
more photos here: