Sunday, 28 September 2008

Welshier than you

As far back as I can recall, I've had an inherent revulsion of racism. This was probably due to the judgement and preaching of Joe Strummer and Jake Burns and also because it always seemed a bit daft to judge someone without knowing them. I've also hated tribalism mainly because I was terrified of the thought of getting caught in the middle of tribal argy bargee. Its so obviously shite when you consider the following 
Our street hates your street - fight (get all kids from street on same team now)
Our estate hates your estate - fight etc
Our school hates your school - fight etc
Our footy team is better than yours etc
North v South
Country v Country
Colour v Colour

Real and total utter B**** for the BNP lot I really just don't get it.

Just looking forward to seeing their reaction when the inhabitants of Planet Zarg turn out for punch up.

I'm not claiming all prejudice is unfair I think religion preaches it and should have some back and I came across this on a blogsite I read, it made me laugh, if you are easily offended by swearing don't read the next bit

Without wishing to offend anyone’s religious sensibilities, fuck you, fuck your infantile fairytales, and fuck right off and snivel yourself to sleep in the dark of your bedroom, coddled in your childish fantasies that we have some sort of privileged places in the universe, that anyone gives a fuck about your fucking feelings and that you won’t die and rot like every other living thing on Earth. You fucking baby.

Its a music blogsite !!

The relevance of this lays in the conversation with Shad (he's Welsh and lived there so he's allowed an opinion on Wales) during our trip up a few Welsh mountains. Today's race has been moved from the rather pretty but no challenge whatsoever Chrome Hill over to Snowdonia where they have real mountains. I never realised just how close we live to the Welsh Mountains, so this is likely to be the first of many. I managed to find a reasonable 5 hour walk which included some scrambling and ridge walking but more importantly an immediate and sustained treck to the top of a huge hill.

Tiny people all over the path

You just know its going to be a great day when your mate gets into the car and opens the conversation with ' I was ferreting last weekend and I know all the techniques now'.

The trip to Snowdonia was a complete education in Shads past and the history of North Wales 1975 to 2008 which basically seems a round of tribalism and racism towards the English or even the Welsh if they spoke English. I loved the story where Shad moves town and goes into the newsagent to reserve The Times and Sheep Lovers United or something and asks in English. One of the folk serving is instructed in Welsh by another chap to say yes but to not bother getting them for the English person. Top marks for Shad for speaking to them in English for the next 6 months and not letting on.

The Welsh prejudice seems to be against everyone that isn't them, but more particularly English people, I'm sure not everyone in North West Wales is prjudiced despite what Shad tells me.

Two other points of note came to light on the car journey, one of Shads old schools was MOD run and breaks were taken in the bunkers. It now has a dual carriageway running through the middle of it which I guess is a change from most other schools or school fields which are now housing estates. Slight aside but when did an air gap of 3.2" qualify houses as being 'detached', I was in one of these 'detached' houses a few weeks ago when one of my pals pointed out we could here next doors music, blame marketing again I guess...tossers.

And the second thing is that Shad actually moved into an old people's home for about 6 months. There are so many questions I wanted to ask about this but sometimes things are better left in the past....I would love to know why he had to move out though. Perhaps he won all the prizes on sports day? Anyway back to the walk

Y Garn is pretty imposing from the railway station at Rhyd Ddu where we'd parked and you can clearly see the way to the top, which for once is basically straight up. Now as this was being build as I race you can be sure I had my tactics planned, I think Shad had turned up for a nice day out....bless. A pleasant 15 minute stroll to the point where the slope stats to climb severely and ....we're off. Well I was, I'd adopted British Olympic Rowing tactics which is basically go as fast as you can for as far as you can and leave everyone one else in bits behind you.....200 metres later Shads chucking in the nearest bush and its all over. I did wait a few times for him on the way up just to make sure he was ok and fair play it is about 1500ft straight up from the gate with no respite. Having huffed and puffed our way to the top it was as spectacular as anything I've climbed, with high risk droppy off bits all over the place. I'm claiming a 20 minute victory margin which doesn't really need a photo finish but here's one anyway.

At this point Shad out onlychilded me, he had brought a flask of tea for one and with only one cup.....git...shellfish flavour tea was it?. When he ran out of water later I even gave him half of mine just as a 'lets freak him' tactic.

The walk was going to get a whole lot more fun from here on in. 

The ridge we were going to climb has actually been responsible for a fair few injuries and a least one fatality and heck it looked so impressive. Its even impressive in the picture above once you notice the people in the bottom left.

It was the most fun I've had all year I think this was probably an adrenaline thing, but I was high as a kite once we'd got to the top. As it turned out we were actually higher than the clouds, this was great fun on the next ridge as we were enveloped by them as various times as they moved between valleys. 

A few of you will appreciate that descending can be even trickier than the ascent, and I really tried to switch my camera to video mode to capture this, but alas convulsions of laughter and real tears hindered me. Shad thought it would be much easier to sit on his sled width ass and slide down the mountain, the bouncing over the rocky outcrops and the screeches were hysterical. Now my pal Craig gets bored with blogs (actually anything including photo's) if he isn't in them and probably does 'CTR F search Craig' at the top of the page, so a short Craig story.And yes its like feeding chocolate to dogs again. 

Shads sliding reminded me of Craig's one and only and particularly rubbish attempt at snowboarding. 

Having been taken to some gentle slopes at the top of a hill in Austria and after about 10 minutes of falling down, Craig decided it would be much smarter to use the snowboard as a sledge. This would've been perfectly acceptable as the entertainment value to everyone else as he wrapped himself Sonny Bono style round a tree would have been huge. Unfortunately Craig neglected to strap the board to his leg and as he fell off, the board sped off at 100mph downhill in the fashion of a mobile guillotine. 

The sliding continued infrequently to the bottom of the 1.5km slope mainly due to a (claimed) twisted ankle. Having sorted out my training schedule I was still full of energy and ready for a sprint back until Murphy's law intervened. I texted Pam to say not to worry as we had done the dangerous part and were headed back, within 5 minutes I was mid air triple salko with pike and landing on my front on some really sharp slippy rocks. Ouch. The remainder of the walk was a steady downhill to the cars via a small waterfall, drinking sheep flavoured mountain water and past stones with directions for stupid people. Although as signposts they are a darn site cheaper than the road signs Cheshire CC are still putting up.

I really loved this walk and the future is now going to involve more Wales and a lot more scrambling

Militant Agnostic: I’m not sure and neither are you 

Thursday, 25 September 2008

No Caves and No Swimming

Ingleton seems to be one of these places in the middle of nowhere that I've visited at various times of my life with different people. The very first time I recall travelling over the moors in a rickety old mini with my folks on our way to the famous White Scar Caves

Just outside Hawes my dad thought it would be a great weeze to pretend the brakes had failed on the way down the steep hill into Hawes....oh how we laughed. Well we did until he screamed and dumped the car into the ditch 3/4 of the way down the hill, good work dad. Good job it wasn't an F1 car you would have been deducted 3 points for that.  I've just remembered that this incident was about a week before the same car set on fire on the A19. Even this would have been ok had my parents not both leapt out onto the hard shoulder and then turned around to see me locked in the back of this two door mini IN FLAMES. Perhaps they were trying to tell me something.

I think the next time I visited Ingleton was on the BeeLine Bus Tour, it was a 1970's thing, where you pretended to go on holiday by catching a coach 6 days a week and then sleeping at your nanas house. I'm sure if I'd have taken an A level in 'dull villages in the Yorkshire Dales that can fit a bus in' I would have gone to Oxbridge (thats a shocking name). Its a shame Half Man Half Biscuit havent got onto that one.

trust me that one is so good try this one too

Another time I was with someone evil who made me swim in the outdoor pool that was filled with water direct from the river...........big brrrr. So even though I really like Ingleton I appoached with some trepidation, particularly as when I hit the one way system I was directed in the opposite direction to the Tom Toms instructions.

Amazingly I arrived at the meeting point bang on time with 10 seconds to spare despite the bloody cyclists holding up the traffic. I pointed this out to Andy and his lovely wife Liz as I jumped out of the car in pretend grumpiness.

Andy ' oh thats my cycling club' woops! He also mentioned that half of them were over 60 which damn well explains why they can't keep up with modern car. Bet old Lance the drug machine still overtakes Mercs.

Andy's taken to doing a bit more walking now ever since he was hit pretty hard by a car whilst cycling around a roundabout in the Lake District. Slight admission here, when he told me this my thought process went along these lines, bloody hell are you alright, no are you really ok? then I thought, I hope there are no after effects and then that I hoped it wasnt his fault and then I hoped there would be no mental problems caused by it. All of this went through my head in about 2 seconds whilst what I actually said was

'did you cry'

still he was here and fighting fit...fitter than anyone else I know as he cycles up the Alps for holidays.

Ingleborough is one of Yorkshires three peaks walk and having done Pen Y Ghent this was number 2.  I'm off to collect my badge and tie once I've been up Whernside in October. It also turns out to be one of Wainwrights favourite walks so that'll do me, as long as I can stay away from the Ingleton curse.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous, full on sunny but with a light breeze and not too warm. Starting to like global warming again. We pretty much marched up to the top without the usual 6 breaks demanded by my less fit friends (Shad). It was on the summit that I discovered why Andy is indeed in sales, up until this point I'd had him down as trustworthy , accurate and honest. Turns out he does exactly the same bullshitting as the rest of us, as Bob Geldof once said paraphrased ' don't be fooled they are all just busking'.

Andy has brought this on himself by telling me months ago that he used to lead walking expeditions around the dales and the Lake District. Well I had my normal WW guidelines, meanwhile Andy has his detailed map. So when I concluded a certain direction was West, Andy decided to check on the map and then declared ' but I knew that just by looking at my shadow'

His face even says 'I've been rumbled'

It was also the direction I had pointed in not 2 seconds before and the direction his map said ' a hindsite shadow' if ever there was one. Within the next 10 minutes he had declared the Ribblehead Viaduct to be not Ribblehead but a different viaduct and then Mr Mappy took us offtrack and down the wrong route and then we had to detour off map more to get back 'on track'. Once on track we lasted about 10 minutes before we were off down the wrong track again! only a 2 mile extra detour. 

Note to careful if you go walking with Andy and take some taxi money.

It was such a great day that non of the three of us cared too much and the views were fantastic across to the dales on one side and the Lakes on the other.

This part of the dales is also broken leg lottery country, you wouldnt want to be up here in the fog or the dark as huge pot holes appear out of nowhere, fortunately 'Andys track' had detoured so far there was more chance of getting cut off by the tide. I think Liz was ready for a sit down by the time we got back, since Andy had promised a 5 mile stroll which was infact an 11 mile up down and round hike but all good excercise and great banter. A swift refreshing cider 10/10 and back home to prepare for the Shad Challenge.

Monday, 22 September 2008

SupersiZing Everything

Yes its a z, well actually its a bigger Z than your Z. This noticing of size and marketing nonsense started with a walk around Stonehenge and the surrounding areas on route to The End of Road Festival.

To the best of my knowledge I've never seen Stonehenge, I think I attended 'The Stonehenge Festival' back in the early 80's, but this was Thatchers Britain and the start of 'not quite the truth marketing' so it could well have been The Stone - hedge Festival or something similar. Whatever the detail, there is no picture etched in my memory of the stones , although I do recall the Hawkwind dancers....strange that.

Talking of supersizing, even the signposts have got in on the act, not your normal beware and watch out signs around Salisbury, but BEWARE thats a good signpost. A tank also turned up at the side of the road  about half a mile later, I put on my best I'm being Ware face pretty sharpishly.

I then passed a signpost for Woodhenge which was just too ridiculous to stop at, I've since looked it up and its almost as daft as its hard as nails cousin up the road.

I parked up in Amesbury town carpark and amazingly it was free of charge for the first five rich are the councils down here? 

I had another 'can't go wrong' step by step walk from The Walking World website which are normally fantastic (up North),written by random walkers and normally to the point. I'll drop in some quotes off this route guide which were most definitely OTT sized. 

Even without a compass this one wasnt going to be too tricky, as I turned right onto Stonehenge Road. 

I reached the burial mounds and this is what the lovely Ron and Jenny from WW had to say 

'These are Bronze Age graves of important individuals and a ridge of barrows extends for over half a mile, making a dramatic feature in the landscape viewed from Stonehenge in the distance. Continue on this delightful way in this magical, historical area, the flat, beautiful landscape stretching away for miles in a stunning panorama.'

No directions whatsoever and more than a touch of hyperbole but worse I suddenly realised that  Stonehenge was in the distance and I'd missed it...doh!!! So I stopped and scanned the hillsides for this wonder of world dominating the mountainside for all to see (except clots like me). Double take and try again, reread the wording and look for a third time. Then my eyes found the small round circle at the bottom of the valley, (RELOOK ABOVE) I actually started laughing out loud which I'm not proud of but FGS....that is not a monument. If you are going to move something all the way from Wales then at least stick it on a bloody great hill.......or Supersize it a bit.

Its actually worse than that because the next signpost....(see below) then actually compensates for the fact that you may be a bit disappointed, by just making up stuff you can't see.

So the biggest structure in the area is a mile and a half big and can't be seen........*******s.

Just for reference its £6.50 to walk within 20 yards of the 15ft rocks or free from 25yards on the roadside. Tricky decision that one.

More fun with Roy and his Mrs on the way back

Turn left and cross a busy main road with care, to walk along the verge for a short distance - TRUCK NIGHTMARE

Turn left on a permissive path, glorious landscape all around - FARMERS FIELDS

Turn right to continue above deep swathes of landscape - MORE FARMERS FIELDS

This is a wonderfully atmospheric walk that treads in the footsteps of our ancient forefathers - STUFF COWS PUT ON FARMERS FIELDS

Some crazy birds scared the Farmers Fields out of me too on the the way back, as they ran about hidden in the cornfield jumping out on me avery 4 or five minutes. 

Next it was off to meet Craig and then the End of the Road. 

As Craig had made reservations in the hotel he stays in every week near his new job, I knew it would be I was packed off to the B&B over the road I realised I should have known better and it wouldnt be. Still a few beers and a curry and a festival in the morning so a great nights sleep was had.

We were only really at the festival to see BSP and The Young Republic, although it did feel as though we were taking our 'special' friend Andy on his Americana weekend out. You can read all about how fantastic the place is on this website but I think you'd rather look at pictures

Abbreviated version

No Queues
Not far to walk
Loads of camping space
Nice people
Gorgeous setting
Small - 4 stages
Fast bars

Friday morning was just lovely, sunshine, beers and nothing to do except help our new neighbours put up a tent and chat. Andy and Chris arrived and the car park  was so close we even helped them carry their gear and set up camp. (Strategically close to the perimeter fence).

More drinks and an explore and then it was time for YR first set, it was inside thank goodness as a steady rainfall had set in. It was immense,  the violin solo three quarters of the way through this vid is just perfect in the middle of an indie tune. 

I do agree with Andy that the cover version of Isis is also spectacular, perhaps this is because the lead singer can express himself better without guitar and just be a frontman. (I made a note to ask 'Jules' about this later). It was a great set and I did indeed ask Jules about it later when he informed us that they were playing 4 sets over the weekend. As he'd promised to play Wagon Wheel at one of them I was going to be at allof them, its a cover version of OCMS who built it around a Dylan lost chorus. Remind me when I'm drunk and I'll fill in the gaps for you.

Set 2 in 'The Local' tent at about 1am, my pals had all ran out of steam by this point, excellent time for some loud out of tune singing from me then and at least YR played a few songs of the first album. 

Sue arrived Saturday morning and again had plenty of helpers, although after the Glastonbury palava they were going to be needed. There really is no need for 6 magazines, four books and a coffee table at a festival Sue. Although, I will say that Yoda was a good call for this festival.

Main stage day...Young republic followed closely by BSP and then later Mercury Rev. We attended with Yoda kitted out in splendid (if a bit limp by now) BSP folliage.

YR played an almost totally different set to the first day and as a biased punter I thought it was great all over again. BSP did a B sides and a guitar driven set with much less singing than normal, which as a biased punter I again enjoyed. I then went for a bit of a snooze at this point and came back to see Mercury Rev playing an absolute blinder, I think Andy was close to it when he described them as almost Primal Scream. A few more beers then it was off to the Bimble Inn tent to see YR one last time followed by BSP and mates doing Jonathan Richman covers (He's really good)

Within minutes of getting in there and being at the front (secret side entrance -result) we spotted Andy and Chris and although well behind us we werent about to miss Andy.

The Young Republic got into the spirit of a very late Saturday night party and played a rolling stones, beatles, van morrison, bob dylan guilty pleasures cover set. We had dissention in the ranks though, as a grumpy and possibly still tired Craig declared that 'if I wanted to see this shite I would go down the local working mens club'. I loved every minute of it particularly the cover of Paint it Black.....I chose not point out the irony that YR had indeed played the Westgarth Social club in Middlesbrough only two nights prior to this. 

Supporting evidence from the lead singer, I've removed the Yo Paul bit...

'The Bimble Inn was one of my favorite shows we've ever done. I'm sure we didn't SOUND our best but I really appreciate when we can just play rock n' roll and let it do what it's suppose to do: make people dance and sing and feel alive and carefree and happy. I like the "artsy" stuff too obviously, but as far as a rock show goes, I really thought the Bimble was fun and hit the spot. So best wishes to you and your cohorts, we'll see ya again soon'

As  people danced and sang and friends fell by the wayside we partied through to the end of a very rowdy roadrunner roadrunner at close to 3am. 

For a small festival I had it down as well supersized.

A final note on the most ridiculous of all supersizing as seen in manchester this week. Not a job centre anymore but Job Centre Plus.....thats just silly