Monday, 26 March 2012

Howard Duffs visit Tynemouth

Pat, Emma, Timothy, Ian, Jill

Ian & Jill Howard Duff have been visiting Tynemouth. Ian is Uncle Bob's son and Rev T's cousin. YC met them for a drink in the Grand Hotel on Sunday evening. YC felt it diplomatic to be sociable, and so graciously accepted a pint of the necessary (and then another one). The others were doing the same, and a very convivial evening ensued.

The odd merry jape was exchanged, including the tale of when Ian went to heaven. He didn't think he'd qualify (being a sinner/wine drinker/teller of politically incorrect jokes etc), but he went for a look anyway. "It's alright" said St Peter, "we don't keep a record of sins, come in."

Heaven was all Ian ever wished for, and more. There was just one thing that puzzled him - a group of miserable looking folk (including Rev T) in one corner, who sat around moping all day long. "Oh, don't worry about them" said St Peter, "that's just the Christians. They thought we keep a record of sins too."

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Middle Fell race

YC was back to the fellrunning on Saturday. He made a "first ascent" of Middle Fell in Wasdale. This unassuming Wainwright sits between Seatallan and Yewbarrow. After a dash across the fields from Nether Wasdale, there was a lung-bursting ascent of Middle Fell, before a quad-busting descent back to the valley floor. All in all, 6.6 miles and 1700 ft of climb which took YC 1 hr 6 mins. Afterwards Cumbrian "tattie pot" and tea in the pub revived the spirits.

This was the first race in the NFR championship. YC drove to the race with Mark Brooker who enjoyed the race. If, like YC, Mark is today struggling down the stairs with stiff legs, there might just be the chance for a leg-loosening stroll to a licensed premise to slake the raging fellrunner's thirst.

looking along the race route to Greendale
the Scafell massif is in the background

banner photo of Wastwater taken in 2009

Monday, 12 March 2012

avocets, owls, and errant dogs

Blue skies and little wind today made it feel like spring was truly on the way. This was until YC went for a dip in The North Sea at Embleton beach. Even with a wetsuit on it was officially chilly. Emma Duff has kept swimming all winter with only a bathing costume, thermal gloves and boots for company. So this made YC feel a bit of a wimp.

Afterwards YC strolled along the beach to Low Newton. There were numerous eider offshore, with several goldeneye ducks as well. At Boulmer there were bartailed godwits, sanderling, and dunlin. The white fronted geese were still at West Chevington. Highlight of the day was an avocet at Creswell Pond and a short eared owl which flew right in front of the hide.

Good deed for the day was locating a dog at Howick which had run off from its owner. YC spotted it on the road so drove back to tell the owner who was standing on the clifftops forlornly calling out for Pongo.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Phil Kelly exhibition

A retrospective exhibition for Phil Kelly is on show in Dublin. The first night preview was attended by YC, Emma, and Andrew & Diane Walker. For those not quite au fait with the connection, Phil Kelly was YC's mother's cousin. Phil was married to Ruth who organised the exhibition at the Mexican Embassy. It was very interesting and enjoyable. Both the Mexican ambassador and Seamus Heaney gave very moving speeches about Phil. Afterwards we adjourned to Bewley's Hotel for a convivial meal with Ruth and friends.

left - Emma, Andrew, Diane (photo of Phil Kelly in background)
right - Emma, Ruth

YC and Emma stayed a couple of extra days. When they were not walking on the coastal path at Howth (spotting gannets and hooded crows), they took in a rugby match in the shadow of the Aviva Stadium [former Lansdowne Road] and visited the odd pub or two. YC doesn't usually touch a drop unless the weather is particularly hot. But on this occasion he felt it diplomatic to keep Emma company with the odd half or two of Guinness and locally brewed stout. To his surprise, he enjoyed it, and will have to keep trying new brews. On that note, he ran a fell race today. The raging fellrunner's thirst now needs slaking...

left - Aviva Stadium from Lansdowne Road DART station
right - Wanderers FC on the charge against Boyne FC (a highly entertaining game which Wanderers won with the last drop kick of the game)