Sunday, 26 December 2010

All smiles in The Tynemouth Lodge

After a Christmas lunch, there's nothing better than a few glasses of real ale to settle the stomach. So YC deemed it prudent to repair to the Tynemouth Lodge with his Duff cousins to see if the Deuchars IPA was on good form. Readers will be relieved to hear that it was.

The soothing qualities of the ale were particularly welcome for his cousins: for reasons best known to himself, Michael had cooked the sprouts in a curry sauce. Yikes.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Ho Ho Ho

What happened when Santa's cat swallowed a ball of wool? She had mittens.

This Christmas cracker was brought to you by Richard Cox and family.

As Santa says when he's gardening, hoe hoe hoe...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Monday, 13 December 2010

Helvellyn in the snow

YC had a trot round some Lakeland hills today. Parking at Glenridding, he headed up Sheffield Pike (a previously, for him, unclimbed 2,000 footer), before heading over Helvellyn. A misty cold December day is clearly the way to enjoy Helvellyn in splendid isolation (see photo left). Eventually the cloud did break giving a beautiful view over a frozen Grisedale Tarn (photo right). After all that exercise, YC thought it prudent to rehydrate with some Deuchars at the Tynemouth Lodge - and very good it was too.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

what you might have missed

Birtley News has been merrily recording news and views from around the globe over the past year. But in case you might have missed some of it, here's a resume of what's been happening.

YC has been fellrunning at events such as The 2 Breweries Race, and venturing into Scotland for a mountain marathon. He's not the only one to catch the running bug. Susan Miller has been hitting the trails in South Africa, whilst Ian and Mitchell Miller have been pounding the roads in Canada.

The fine craft Stella Genesta has been taking to the water on the Norfolk & Suffolk Broads - with compulsory porridge and prunes for good measure.

There have been family celebrations this year. James Duff reached his 40th birthday (YC will get there one day - joke), and Joe Chillingworth married Anna in Somerset.

We said farewell to Phil Kelly (artist in Mexico) and Reg Webster (the man with the knapsack on his back).

Finally, YC has been getting in a healthy dose of realism (some might harshly say humbug!) by reminding readers that it's still only Advent.

It's Advent (not Christmas)

Winter has come early to Tynemouth this year. Here's the view from YC's back window taken on Thursday morning. The odds of a White Christmas must be shortening rapidly. But on that note, YC would like to remind readers that it's not Christmas yet. Despite the shops offering unalloyed festive materialism, Classic FM unleashing the carols, and office parties getting underway, readers should note that tomorrow is only the second Sunday of Advent. As YC's nephew Matthew pointed out last week, Advent means getting ready for the birth of Jesus.

Here's an Advent hymn to get you in the mood. Keen theological scholars (of which BN's readership has many) will no doubt point out that this hymn looks forward to the second coming of Christ - another of the themes of Advent.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Sambrook's, skittles and sermons

YC has just spent an enjoyable long weekend in London. On Friday he journeyed to Wonersh to see nephew Matthew and niece Phoebe. This involved some detailed indoor tent building on the sofa and checking that Matthew remembered the one-eyed dinosaur joke.

Left - YC: what goes ha ha bonk? A man laughing his head off. Matthew - noooo!
Right - Grandpa gazes wistfully at the tent building whilst wondering if anyone will refill his glass

On Saturday the Green Wyvern Refugees convened for their annual get together. This year's cultural visit was to Sambrook's Brewery in Battersea. This micro brewery was set up in 2008 and already supplies numerous pubs in London with Wandle Ale (a fine 3.8% session bitter) and the stronger Junction Ale (named after the nearby Clapham Junction). There were numerous opportunities for tasting the ales (including a newly developed porter called Powerhouse); YC coped personfully with this. Indeed so intent was YC on sampling the wares that he nearly missed the bar skittles competition of the century, in which Lois narrowly prevailed over Alex.

left - Green Wyverns in Sambrook's
right - Alex wills her throw to success but can't hold off Wigan's demon skittler

On Sunday, YC heard Emma preach at St Paul's. This was not the cathedral, but St Paul's Church in Lisson Grove where Emma is the pastoral assistant. The church is in the centre of London about a mile north of Oxford Street. It was Advent Sunday, so YC enjoyed giving hymns such as "Lo He comes with clouds descending" full welly. Afterwards, lunch with Emma & Clare Kelly at 'ping pong' (a Chinese restaurant offering Dim Sun, green tea, and red wine - hurrah) rounded off a fine weekend.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Grand Slam Dram

Scotland beat South Africa at rugby last weekend. This doesn't happen very often, so Rev T thought it would be appropriate to celebrate with a drop of "Grand Slam Dram" - a malt celebrating the famous 1990 Grand Slam in which England came second. YC thought it would be polite to sample a glass too, and can confirm it is a fine malt indeed. YC wonders if readers can still name all the Scottish players who took to the pitch that day. Hint - Paul Burnell, Kenny Milne, and David Sole were in the front row. You can look at the line up here (and sing along too) if you are struggling to remember.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Dartmoor Days

left - one of the many impressive tors
right - heading for Yes Tor
more photos

YC ran the OMM (Original Mountain Marathon) over the weekend with Paul Hainsworth. The OMM was held on Dartmoor this year. YC had never been there, so was interested to see the various tors (granite rocks) on the hilltops. The weather was great on the Saturday (high clouds and some sun) but not so great on the Sunday (wet/windy/low cloud etc) - "just a typical day on Dartmoor" was one marshal's dry comment.
We were entered on the medium score event where competitors have to visit as many checkpoints in an alloted time. This made for good running away from the crowds on the linear courses, but also ensured we became acquainted with the pathless tussocks and peat hags. Our progress was leisurely at times (which we blamed on both having colds but might also have been due to lack of fitness/old age etc) but always enjoyable. We even found time to climb Dartmoor's two 2,000 foot hills on the first day, which kept YC happy.
Other folk spotted there were Jane Saul & Robin Witchell on the "social" short score - which turned out to be very social when they had to form a human chain with several other teams to cross a chest-high swollen stream; Steve Birkinshaw & Jethro Lennox who were 2nd on the elite (which entailed a mind boggling 80 km of running); and Duncan Archer from DFR who was also on the elite and finished a creditable 5th.
YC would also like to reassure readers that he even found time for some training on beer. If you find yourself with an hour or two to kill at Bristol airport, then check out the Butcombe Bitter in the upstairs bar. After 11 hours of running around Dartmoor, it truly hits the spot.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Trail running in Africa

Foreign news - YC's cousin Susan Miller has run a 9k trail race in Pretoria. She finished a very respectable 10th lady out of circa 50 ladies. Despite the heat and lack of any meaningful distance running, Susan took the trail race in her stride. Indeed as she crossed the finish line, she was heard to mutter: "watch out YC, it's fellrunning next - I'm sure I can make the NFR relay team next year". You heard it here first.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Go Tell Everyone

Today at Holy Saviour's Church the congregation learnt a new hymn - "God's Spirit is in my heart". As YC scanned the words, he realised he had sung it before. 20 years ago he had been to a Catholic service in Loddon (Norfolk) with his family and Lois Gordon (Webber at the time). The service had ended with this hymn which has a belting refrain - "and go tell everyone the news that the kingdom of God has come". Rev T was suitably circumpsect on the first couple of verses, but then gradually warmed to his task. Indeed he sang the final "AND GO TELL EVERYONE!" with such gusto that YC could have sworn that the good folks of Loddon jumped into the next pew in shock. Here's a suitably stirring but not particularly reverent version of the hymn. Note for Rev T: boom boom required next time.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Fife fellrunning

YC was running in the national fellrunning relays for NFR at the weekend. These were held in the Lomond Hills, Fife (the 2 conical shaped hills that you see across the Firth of Forth as you approach Edinburgh by train). He was representing the veterans team (no ageist comments please) and ran the pairs leg with David Armstrong. This turned out to be a testing 9.5 miler with circa 2,500 ft of climbing and took 1 hour 41 mins. Overall the NFR vets' performance is probably best described as 'stately' with the emphasis on taking part rather than winning. Indeed John Telfer, our last leg runner, was marginally slower than our vet lady for the same leg. When quizzed on this, JT revealed that he had been the nominated driver the night before and so had missed his customary 2 pint warm-up. So with a bit more training on beer, YC is sure that the NFR vets will soon be sweeping all before them.

left - on the home straight of leg 1 (photo - John Telfer)
right - Will Horsley (stroking the dog) on the summit of West Lomond on a recce the day before

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Kelly Arrival

Antony Kelly and his daughters Emily and Clare have been visiting Tynemouth. For those not red-hot on the family tree, Antony is Pat's cousin on the Walker side. His parents were Geoffrey and Biddy (Grandpa Walker's sister). When they have not been wandering around Newcastle and Durham, they have found time to see the cultural sites of Tynemouth (Copperfields bar and The Dolphin pub). YC has accompanied them to test the quality of the ale: greater love hath no man etc....Here they are enjoying a meal at the Percy Gardens HQ.

from the left - Emily, Mr & Mrs Rev T, Clare, Antony

and in the Tynemouth Lodge Hotel with Mike & Liz Shipway and Andrew Walker

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay

YC ran a leg of the Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay for Northumberland Fell Runners on Sunday. The relay has 4 legs with a pair of runners on each leg. The weather was suitably wet with low cloud and poor visibility. YC was on leg 3 with David Armstrong. This is the shortest leg (4.5 miles) and goes from Hartsop to Patterdale via Angle Tarn. DA set a keen pace up the hill and YC did his best to follow. We made it round in 43 mins gaining one place in the process. Overall NFR finished 25th out of about 60 teams.

Lee & Scott our leg 2 runners smile through the rain

left - misty conditions at the Kirkstone Pass at the end of leg 1
right - and not much better on the valley floor at the finish at Brothers Water.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Two Breweries Race 2010

YC ran the Two Breweries Race yesterday. This 18 mile point to point race is in the Scottish Borders near Peebles. It starts at Traquair brewery and finishes at the gates of Broughton Ales. The weather was superb with blue skies and a cooling breeze. The race can officially be described as "tough" with the last hill Trahenna being a killer. YC made it round in 3 hours 35 mins to finish 36th out of 140. Afterwards the tea, soup, and Border Reiver ale (hurrah) in the village hall was superb.

left - enjoying the descent of Stob Law
right - far reaching views

not enjoying Trahenna as much
photos courtesy of John Telfer
read Old Cheviot's report on the NFR website

Friday, 24 September 2010

Porridge, prunes, and the odd half of ale

YC spent last week sailing on the Norfolk Broads. He split his time between the fine craft Stella Genesta and the equally fine craft Mimosa. Both boats cruised on the Yare up to Thorpe Gardens before Mimosa rounded off the week with the Yare Navigation Race. The health kick on Mimosa - porridge and prunes for breakfast - went down well in some quarters (Lois) but not so well in others (Andy). Fortunately the healthy diet also included the odd pint of Norfolk's finest - the Adnams at Reedham Ferry was tip top as was the Greene King IPA at Coldam Hall.

The cunning plan to win the YNR (pray for a 3 reefer wind) was frustrated by the wind completely falling out in the afternoon and a never ending ebb tide at Reedham. The race was shortened to Hardley Mill and we were pleased just to finish - safely protecting our handicap for another day.

left - an Old Hand "does it praper" leaving Brundall
right - Stella at Reedham Street [both photos from Lois]

left - Mimosa running past Bramerton
right - Rev T furtles to his heart's content at Thorpe

left - the big boats (Pippa, Firebird, Raisena) storm past on the YNR
right - Lois plots which boats we will beat on the YNR (answer - not many)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

1,000 beer free hours - greater love hath no man...

Could readers manage 1,000 hours without their favourite refreshment? Possibly no tea, coffee, or (heaven forbid) beer? Readers who blanche at the thought should consult John Telfer who has just emerged from 1,000 hours of self-imposed alcoholic abstention. The task was made even harder as he turned his ankle when out walking and so has been unable to enjoy his fellrunning. Here he is celebrating the passing of the thousanth hour with - you guessed it - a well deserved beer.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Grisedale Horseshoe

YC ran the Grisedale Horseshoe fell race today. This 10 miler vies for the honour of being the toughest medium race in the calendar - especially when the organisers added in an extra mile due to a problem with access through a gate. The race is held in Glenridding (Ullswater, Lake District) and takes in Catstye Cam, Helvellyn, St Sunday Crag, and a final heart-break climb back into Glenridding. All in all there's 5,000 ft of climbing. Conditions were pretty good with high cloud, a breeze on top, dry underfoot, and just a bit too warm in the valley. YC made it round in 2 hrs 37 mins, finishing circa 40th out of over a 100 runners. YC felt pretty good until some heel blisters (plus old age/lack of fitness etc) prevented a flat out descent at the end. However it's an excellent way to work up the raging fellrunner's thirst before duly slaking it with beer (John Telfer - NFR's man in temporary self-imposed beer exile - please note).

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Sailing on The Suffolk Broads

YC spent the August Bank Holiday sailing on the Broads. Readers should note that although they are usually referred to as the Norfolk Broads, YC actually spent all of his time in Suffolk - the northerly wind and uptides meant that the River Waveney and Beccles were visited twice. This had its compensations - the Adnams at The Swan House in Beccles and the Dukes Head in Somerleyton was VG. YC was sailing on the fine craft Stella Genesta in company with the equally fine craft Mimosa.

Mimosa at Burgh St Peter
left - the crew of Mimosa up Beccles Church Tower
right - Lois points out the nearest place for a refreshing Adnams

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Matthew's in town

Matthew is in town this week. When he is not looking at the ships through the telescope with Grandpa, he is playing cricket and football with Granny Pat. He is also developing a fine line in jokes:
Qu: What's got 4 wheels and flies?
Ans: A dustbin lorry.

Not to be outdone, Lois Gordon e-mails this contribution from her birthday night out:
Qu: How many Spanish men does it take to change a light bulb?
Ans: Juan.

YC can supply iron-sided corsets for any reader whose sides are in danger of splitting.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Weasdale Horseshoe

YC ran the Weasdale Horseshoe today. For readers not overly familiar with this race, it is an 8 miler in the Howgills (the hills you see on the left as you head down the M6 beyond Penrith). The race was part of the Ravenstonedale Show and took in a circuit around Hooksey, Randy Gill Top, and Green Bell. YC had run it once before in 2006. As proof that the years do not weary him, YC finished in exactly the same time as 4 years ago (73 mins in 22nd place). However his satisfaction at beating the Dallam runner who pushed him all the way was tempered by the fact that the said Dallam runner turned out to be a V60.

Geoff & Susan Davis from NFR were also there. Geoff pushed on well to finish in 75 mins while Susan was happy "just to get round". YC suspects this was code for "I'm sure I can beat YC next time..."

On returning to Tynemouth, YC felt the need to slake the raging fellrunner's thirst. Fortunately he is not in the same boat as a keen BN reader and fellrunner who is currently undertaking 1,000 hours without beer (greater love hath no man...). So he is pleased to report that the Black Sheep Bitter went down a treat. Roll on the next race.

the view from the show field
Green Bell on the left; Hooksey on the right

Monday, 16 August 2010

Lakeland Country Fair Fell Race

After running the Wasdale and Borrowdale races in the mist and rain, it made a pleasant change to experience warm sunshine and perfect visibility at the Lakeland Country Fair yesterday. This show is organised by the Lunsdale Foxhounds, so YC enjoyed watching the foxhounds and beagles - the Black Combe and Bleasdale - in the show ring. The fell race was an out and back blast up Coniston Old Man. This 6.5 mile race with 2,350 feet of climbing took YC just over 70 minutes. As it was a particularly hot day, YC might just have a half of shandy tonight to aid the rehydration process.

left - steep climb up Coniston
right - NFR at the start, Coniston Old Man on the right in the distance

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Borrowdale Fell Race 2010

YC got his fellrunning shoes back on yesterday at the Borrowdale Fell Race. This 17 miler starts and finishes at Rosthwaite in the Lake District, and takes in Scafell Pike, Great Gable, and Dale Head in its 6,500 ft of ascent. Low cloud and early drizzle meant that underfoot conditions were greasy and accurate navigation was at a premium. YC had a solid run until the never-ending climb up Dale Head took its toll. But an emergency Mars Bar got him to the top and he was pleased to finish in 4 hours 6 minutes.

One of his felling running pals has set himself the task of 1,000 hours without beer. YC is pleased to report that he is eschewing such penance, and will be slaking the raging fell runner's thirst at The Tynemouth Lodge tonight.

left - NFR at the start
right - at the finish; Paul Hainsworth shows a leg and his encounter with the Scafell Pike scree
below - the finishing field

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Phil Kelly

YC is saddened to report that Phil Kelly has died. Phil was a cousin of YC's mother on the Walker side. He lived in Mexico with his wife Ruth and 2 daughters. YC last saw Phil a couple of years ago at an exhibition in Dublin - pictured above. A couple of Phil's paintings hang on YC's wall at home, including "the view from the balcony" shown below. His artwork was bright and bold, causing one young family member to remark - "he's not very good at colouring in is he Mummy?". In fact, he was very good at colouring in and much more beside. At the Dublin exhibition, he sketched an impressive line drawing in 30 seconds flat whilst we looked on with amazement.
There are a few more photos from the Dublin exhibition here.

Canadian runners

Whilst YC has been on the court and social circuit for the last couple of weeks, he is delighted to report that his cousins have been competing on the Canadian roads. Ian Miller whizzed round a 5k race in just over 20 mins, whilst his son Logan finished 2nd in a 1k race. They are pictured below (Ian is the runner on the right). Readers will notice that both are "flying" - with no feet on the ground - something YC hopes to master one day.
YC's running tends to be offroad these days, and he was over in the Lake District this week for some training. Can any sharp eyed reader identify which hill this photo was taken from and which stream YC was looking down on at the time? Hint - YC was recceing a section of the Borrowdale Fell race.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Joe & Anna's wedding

Congratulations to Joe Chillingworth & Anna Llewelyn who were married on Saturday in Somerset. After a ceremony at the Webbington Hotel, they adjourned to a splendid reception at Shipham Village Hall. Pimms and Butcombe Bitter helped the proceedings go with a swing, and that was before the ceilidh got underway.

Back in the 90's, several of the Chillingworth/Duff clan used to run the Galtres Half Marathon at Easingwold in North Yorkshire. Joe and his father David were part of the team who are pictured below. Readers will note that these finely tuned athletes have by a strange coincidence all got drinks in their hands.

from the left - Colin, David, Joe, Anna, Rory, YC, Euan

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Jackson Cousins

It's been a while since YC saw his Jackson cousins, but he made up for it this weekend. First off was Ingrid in Bristol. We stopped off en-route to Joe Chillingworth's wedding (of which more later) and saw her for an impromptu enjoyable picnic in the grounds of an M5 service station. She now has Max (aged 8 months) who we met for the first time. Here he is tucking into his lunchtime biscuits.

Back in Tynemouth, Paul Jackson & family were visiting on their way up to Aberdeen. They called into Percy Gardens for champagne and chat. Paul's youngest Josh (aged 6) had a great time rooting through the flags in the company of Rev T (aged 6 at heart). It turns out that Ria & family can claim some Welsh ancestry - hence the photo above. All together now: "My hain gwlad vern hadai un an oil ee me..."

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

40th birthday celebrations

James & Katie Duff celebrated their 40th birthdays with a fine party at Hazeldene on Saturday. The weather held fair and the assembled guests were able to enjoy a pleasant summer evening in the garden. James had thoughtfully ordered 80 pints of Hogs Back Bitter. YC doesn't usually drink beer. But on this occasion he deemed it churlish to refuse and sampled the odd half. The beer was described as "a light amber coloured 3.7% beer ideal for a session". YC can confirm that it lived up to its billing.

left - the Duff family at the party
right - putting to good use years of training behind the bar at The Tynemouth Lodge Hotel
below - the marquee in the garden

more photos