Friday, 28 November 2008

Climbing the Matterhorn

If you double click you can see the old people on top

It's the peak of mountain climbing, up the North Face of The Matterhorn, well this is the starter kit option. Shuttlingsloe in Cheshire is known in some circles (Homes for the Cheshire Stupid, circles) as The Cheshire Matterhorn. And so the day after the bleakest of Bleaklow tests, Cheshire has burst into bright sunshine and I'm meeting Shad for a rapid follow up walk.

'Meet at the Cat and Fiddle at 9.30am', fortunately Shad was running a few minutes late so I had chance to assess the weather. Glorious sunshine was a brilliant weather bluff, once out of the car it was blowing an absolute hooley and it was bloody freezing. A smiling Shad arrived and I suggested we headed down valley to a warmer and calmer start point by the Trentabank Reservoir. What freaked us both is that not only did I know an alternative start point but that I knew how to get there without a map. Like Grizzly Adams mountain man..... with a car.

Now there is a downside to starting at the bottom, it tends to lead to a rather steep start up the hill and Shads track record isn't good. Y Gant nearly did for the old boy a few months back. I say 'old boy' not in an ageist 'oh bless' way, but more in a 'in the wrong century' mode. As some folk may know, Shad's a bit of a throwback to different and frankly more interesting times. He just knows different stuff to anyone else and also does different stuff.....Ferreting, Hedge Building, Pond Dragging.........that sounds quite difficult, for a start what do you attach the ropes to? I almost forgot, also Kiting ie the big kites that drag you along and are really heavy. In fact heavy enough to pass to your mate to carry when struggling up Shutlingsloe!!!!

He's also possibly the exception that proves the a nice way. Whilst out for a stroll a few months ago with Craig we were discussing The Theory of really stick with this its good.

Main Theory of Evolution 21C Modification CSPB adaption.

Evolution has in fact peaked with 'our' generation. (Exceptional use of the word 'our', classic marketing speak to get everyone on your side). Now the first part is mainly down to Craig, but being born only 2 months apart I'm happy to offer the following evidence.

I always knew more than my teachers at every school I attended

My kids haven't got a clue about real stuff - cooking? no chance

Virtually all previous generations spent most of their lives beating the crap out of each other

We invented computers, mobile phones and the internet and made all the other stuff actually work properly e.g. cars

Old people went to Scarborough for a 'holiday'

Our parents' generation invented caravans

As for kids evidence against TXT MSGes! Dis Dat and Dother

Using dip dip dip sky blue ship to choose answers in exams (this one really happened last week - lots of head shaking)

Everything is better than it ever was

Does anyone trust their kids to actually improve things over the next 50 years

And finally, video games that's how bloody good we are.

Just in case I've missed anything feel free to add to it Craig (or others)

I'm going to save the 1977 was year zero special theory of evolution subsection B till later. So out from the carpark and very literally straight onto the mountain. I've walked up Shuttlingsloe a few times, so I knew to take it easy over the first stretch and fortunately Shad didn't need too much persuasion re 'take it easy mate'. Actually it wasn't a bad walk at all until we got to approx 1/4 mile from the top and the weather started to turn. If there hadn't been 20 old pensioners on the top I'm pretty sure Shad would have cut around the base of the hill.

Pride still in tact we clambered up the last pointy bit to the top and did our best to get some shelter whilst the worst of the ice storm passed over. What is it with icy rain, in the old days the options were


I for one don't think this Johnny come lately pairing of 'Icy Rain' and 'Ice Pellets' have added anything useful to the British weather. In fact they are the wasps of the weather charts, no use whatsoever and can be bloomin painful.

We headed off the cliffside and amazingly overtook the old people a mile later and then it was all downhill back to the carpark via a local pub. The landlord mentioned that there is a 10 miler walk around these parts that takes in 10 pubs. Don't worry chaps I've made a note to look this one up for a summer walk with camping.

And now as its December time for a few top 10's. If I've missed anything that should be included or there's any obvious Bxs let me know.

10 Songs
10 Albums
3 Films
5 Live gigs
3 Books
5 Best other stuffs

It doesn't all have to be 'from' this year, just stuff you've discovered this year.

If you post them on the comments or email me I'll do a completely biased assessment and make CD's for xmas.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Sharp and Sheedy

          I think this was on a good day

Sharp and Sheedy

A reference to the dynamic Everton pair, however when feeling on not such great form, this can deteriorate rapidly into 'feeling a bit Reed and Bracewell' (tm Chris Copeland circa 1987) and thus went my week from Thursday onwards. It was a rollercoaster of SS one minute and RB the next.

Thursday evening kicked of in great fashion with a trip to the Apollo to see the (ok it's cliche blog time) much maligned Razorlight. I own up, I've been a fan since the first record, even joined the online fanclub before it was fashionable to do so. I got tickets for a special 'test the next album out' gig in a Cambridge pub and I've seen them through the performing hi's and lows over the years. Ok through the difficult second album.

The NME seems to have it in for them at the moment and didnt even score the album as a game of two halfs.....this was probably my only decent hope for the gig mmm'NME says rubbish', then must be good. Taking no chances, me and Colin got stuck into the evil drink early doors, it is rather splendid when the hotel you are staying in gives away free cocktail samplers 3 at a time and the tequilla sunrises are half price. Happy hour indeed.

We then headed of to the trickily named Church Pub to meet our pals, its next to the church but I suspect Ric and Fi had little doubt where we were. Reasonably charged we made it to the Apollo bar just in time for kick off, which we chose to miss to get in a double handful of cider. Secret shortcut to the front and prime spot for the gig- result.


And they were really good, virtually all of the first album except for Dalston, (OH I think this may have been while we were at the bar doh! mad video) and then all the singles and maybe 3 tracks of the new album bloody marvelous. And thus we said cheerio to our happy friends and headed back for an early night........ok not really. Back to the Pub Church with the not so Rusholme Ruffians, its a bit weee and a bit wayyy in there, but a splendid place to talk rubbish and listen to decent tunes. We bid our cheery farewells as last orders chimed or at least the music got switched off and then headed out in search of tea or dinner if you are reading this from the south of England. After a full tour of the town, the jewel in Manchesters crown appeared right next door to our hotel. No detail needed but the text from Colin back in his hotel room read

'this is the best food I've ever eaten' and I was thinking much the same.

Fortunately Friday was a holiday for me, I was very R&B, and then it was out again in Manchester Friday night S&S a pleasant quiet evening resulted in a pleasant quiet Saturday (Very R&B) which can only be followed by a

My favourite below

Who can resist the monkees running around

Sundays weather forecast was at best 'a bit iffy' but as I'm a bit of a list man i wasnt missing the opportunity of going up Bleaklow Head....the forecast said, and this is real 'ice pellets'. As Ric said , 'its better than snow boulders'. Bleaklow is in the High Peak just East of Old Glossop. I'm not sure how old a town has to be to qualify for that title but I suspect Old Bethlehem would be able to stake a better claim. Maybe we should tag other towns ...officially, Sexy Sheffield, 3 women to every bloke, great marketing, ok if your target market is blokes it is. On the other hand Mark Page did this nonsense years ago with Naughty Nunthorpe ...I think we'll leave it at that. how did he get the Radio one Breakfast show? Its a bit like David Hodgson getting the Liverpool gig, never ever ever going to work out.

Right its almost mid winter and the one thing you need to know about walking up big hills is ' set off early so you don't get caught up top after dark'. I don't think it's a werewolf or other scarey critter thing, more a 'you'll damn well die' thing. So lets meet at 9.30am for a 5 hour walk. Safe as houses. 'One of the team of three turned up late' or I'm sure thats how Craig would describe it. An hour late! which meant off the hill at 3.45ish 'if'we were S&S. We weren't.

Slightly off track and I can probably give you the link to this, Craig once described a fishing trip as 'we had a great day fishing, caught two fish and broke two rods'. What really happened was I caught two fish and yes Craig broke two rods oh and lost 3 spinners and nearly got us murdered! still I suppose its close enough. ((Craig I can't find the link))

Doctor Sue and Craig all sorted and up to the top of the hills we went and in ok ish weather and at an ok ish pace and then tbh the terrain did get a bit tough and the weather went a bit shite. The ice storm arrived, followed by the snow storm and the fog and the bogs and the cold and then the rain but what fun we had. As we hummed seasons in the sun to eachother everything in the world seemed to brighten, oh no thats was just cold and tough. Actually and I may risk the wrath of my oldtime pal here, I really enjoyed the walk, all of it, the scrambling up rivers, the detours round bogs and water and the nearly getting lost at the top on the luna landscape.

It turns out there is a B52 bomber crash site about 150 yards from where we were, mind you we had no chance of finding it.....unlike these chaps

We even resorted to old school compass directions through the fog and it worked. I was portraying my usual overconfidence at the time and was bloody relieved to see the fence I was looking for turn up out of the gloom. I'm not sure we could have gone back at this point anyway. Firstly we had used up 3 of the five hours getting here and secondly we had forgotten to Hansel and Grettle our way from the last known point. All our eggs in one basket! You should try compassing in the fog over these mounds.

Some peat hills made navigation tricky!

Still it turned out to be a rather splendid walk down a long fabulous waterstrewn ridge (where we met some bloody nutter running the other way uphill into the gloom) as  a perfect ending to a day out. Well it could have been, had we not still got miles to go, we scrambled up an ace clough for about 60 yards and it needed a bit of climbing stuff. Craig, I know you asked 4 times and I'm not sure you believe me yet, but it was the right and only way back. We then took some very dubious routes across fields, quarries and ridges back to Old Glossop and got off the hillside at about 4.20pm ish just as the gloom appoached. I was very relieved although I think I hid it quite well.

Anyway, it's not always that tough Sue, sorry, and blokes never praise their pals but - well done for nearly keeping up Craig, if it had been 3 months ago I would have shot you in the clough. and you can be sure that would have smarted.

And we would have had more pics had my camera not jammed, Craig has promised to supply them....mmmhh

Still doing fat footy players but if anyone has any list suggestions for year end feel free to add to the comments list.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Two Poached Paracetamol

It's a view children!

I'm all for early Christmas' but starting a party on Friday 14th November and expecting it to last through till 2nd January is a bit hopeful. My diary is already looking like a fight between two inky spiders and my liver is pleading for mercy. I've now modified 'big picture' to allow for the seasonal excess, and its going to be Resolve and two poached paracetamols for breakfast each day, followed by fruit for lunch then whatever takeaway is open after closing time for tea....brilliant. Beer for Carbs and Cider for extra evening fruit.

Play this in the background its good and mad

Fridays' 4am after picking Pam up from the local pub, rolled nicely into Saturdays early kick off in town for the Ed Byrne show. Unfortunately the serious drinkers turned up for this one, another doctor friend Keith and as his lovely wife Emma doesnt drink, he sees it as a duty to drink for two. I've always had a terrible recollection for the night before when I go out drinking anything beyond 4 pints and its scattergun memories for me, it wasn't so bad as a student as I used to bring various stolen memory joggers home with me for the morning. The whole set of flashing light roadworks was a mistake though....not good in the dark first thing in the morning with a hangover. This is now heading off down a bad road......just remembered the worst thing I'd forgotten about the next day....not for the fainthearted.

Big Thursday night out in Leeds, feeling dreadful and needing to be at work at 8.30am so I could leave early and meet Pam at Leeds bus-station to party all over again. All going well till I got back to the house and Pam went to make a coffee, I'd forgotten that I'd thrown up in the kitchen sink on top of 4 days worth of pots. Bad 15 minutes of my life followed and I promise I'm still really sorry.

Picture of Jill from the band

Back to Ed Byrne, well through the cider, JD and coke , Red Wine haze I have him down as a thoroughly decent chap. Not sidesplitting humour, but a jolly good way to spend an evening chortling with your pals. Not one joke remembered sorry and then back to ours for more consumption.

8am and a trip to Malham Cove was always going to be optimistic, bit like the chap who has appointed the Maradonna waxworks bloke to manage the National team. Everyone in the world can see this is ending in tears. And thus 'walking with hangovers' (just as dangerous as dancing with wolves) we headed up a couple of localish hills. Jess made it out of bed in time and with amazing enthusiasm in her new boots we headed up Helsby Hill. Rich and Merri's child person Megan wasnt coping too well with the whole walking concept, saying that, she is only 10 and making her walk up hills in mums concrete platformed wellies did seem extreme. Its all character building I guess. One swop of shoes later and its happy happy walking again.

Now Richs' head is missing from the above picture but it was exchanged for the horses head in the below picture so thats ok.

The reason Jess is doing this walking is not a gesture of support to her father or even just a wish to spend time with me.....its far more calculating and self interested ('thats my girl'). She's started the Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme (bit like green shield stamps - without the messy books) so she can go on holidays abroad with her mates. No argument against that. She did at one point on the walk enquire as to whether there is in fact a 'Duchess of Edinburgh' scheme more aimed at girls stuff, like and I quote (no sexism here) 'shopping, dancing, concerts, eating and drama'. That would be an expensive scheme to run.

Anyway we made it up Woodsides Hill and Helsby Hill and back in little over 2 and a Half hours for a 4 mile stroll. Kids really don't get views, 'look at that' (this was the whole of the mersey basin in in glorious sunshine over to the sea and Wales) response? ' look at what?'. Best to shake head and walk on or say 'meh' they get that.

And so on to far more important things, the whole Genesis thing stops here. No more Sweden skits no making sandwiches and defo (Andy) no more pretending to be other people it freaks me.
Just good wholehearted 'what a lovely' walk comments. And a bit of music stuff too.

This weeks top competition is Fattest Footy players with links to pics if you can manage it. The winner will be based on most obscure but now remembered fatman, with extras for dodgy hair and silly photo and usual bias.

Some lovely pics

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

More Big Picture Stuff

Edale in the Sunshiiiiine

Love this pic

Having survived the tumble on Saturday, I decided that what I needed was someone with a bit of experience to walk with. I also think that two consecutive days is certainly better preparation than the usual go out, drink heavily, party and collapse onto the hillside. Fun as that always is, it's not getting you up a 5km high mountain.

And so on to what must be Plan C, I went on a couple of walking websites and arranged to meet a chap who had posted he was walking in Edale. Not too far to drive, good reports from Andy and an ideal opportunity to learn some stuff and further check out the new kit. TBH the kit was a bit wiffy from the day before, but hey it was forecasting reasonably high winds so I'd be ok. The one downside was the 8am meeting, which meant out of bed for 6.20am!! on a Sunday...after a Saturday night out.

The Saturday night out turned out well too, as I discovered that Miles (top chap) was also up for walking, and I've got him down as fairly reliable if a bit busy. And no he's not a binman either.

Rant Warning

Talking of busy, what the heck do people behind the counter in a chemists find to do? Thankfully I haven't had to go to collect prescriptions too often, but FGS why oh why oh why do they take so long. They just don't have a system. All I wanted was some eardrops, (an attempt to cure the deafness probably brought on by Mogwai last year) and they were in a bottle already and I could see the bottle.

'it'll be about 15 minutes, is that ok?' What the Flip were they going to do to take 15 minutes? Start at the opposite wall and play slow racing across the floor, or maybe they were planning a stalk of the bottle and wanted to camalflage up first. Maybe it could only be lifted from the shelf by an Archimedes designed pulley system.

Domino's can manage 3 Pizza's, some chicken stuff, garlic bread and free chips to our house from the village in 15 minutes. Perhaps they should just swop staff and systems. Maybe speeding round the chemist shop on nifty 50's would be good fun anyway.

Back to Edale and it's 8am and Jonno arrives in the carpark ..bang on time and looking very much the part, with loads of kit oh and almost mountain goat in shape. Within half an hour I'd discovered that 18 months ago he was 16 stone (about 5ft 10") and he now had to be somewhere just over 12st and looking like Pan. yup Craig reread that bit , its quite mad. Well when someone says something like this you ask a few questions and the magic answers are........

'I walked up mountains a lot and ate a bit less'. 

Same stuff just less of it, thats just 3/4 Domino's from now on Craig. 

We went from Edale (£5 for parking!!!), and up the river valley to the top of Kinder Scout. Setting off in sunshine and reaching the top in a total snowstorm. The climb up was sooooooo much fun, we climbed up the stream, and up and over waterfalls and boulders and bigger bits. 

The fun of it took your mind off the climbing aspect and about an hour later we popped out of the top of the valley onto the plateau not even short of breath. Jonno really did know this area and despite having loads of clothing kit and a brilliant filter bottle so you don't need to carry water (you just fill it up as you go), his maps were just about on fag packets. 

I didn't dare say I had a full OS map of 30sq miles around us, the walking world route guides with pics of anywhere we could possibly end up and of course the handy GPS route plotted to within a gnats of its capacity. A happy hour was spent exploring stones and rock faces all over this end of Kinder Scout with not a person to be seen. I think the weather had put most people off. 

From here we took the horseshoe option back across moorland and over a couple of hills to the southside of Edale....thats right around. The bog hopping was bloody tiring and became perversley fun in the end, there were more bogs than moor in some places and natural mazes were formed. I really love mazes and happily covered twice the ground of Jon, just to avoid cheating. talking of which, this isn't right

Click on the pic to see real Levitation

Where do you find a bog walking course that teaches that!? and it would certainly result in banishment from any maze I'd built. Obviously I meant, that Pam had built. Clearly anything involving any sort of building, design, lifting or general manual stuff I would need help with.

Whilst living in Newcastle (and a darn site younger) I managed to take the wrong end off a radiator in our first house and had Kielder reservior pouring into the front room, you should try putting it back on when you don't have a clue where the stopcock is. Even that would have been forgiveable if I hadn't done the same thing about an hour later with the same radiator. Oh how we laughed (again) as I got absolutely soaked (again). Since that day, false roofs, plastering , plumbing , wall building and everything except shelves really have been admirably sorted by Pam. I'm a good builders mate though, I can fetch and carry with the best.

And so we made it over the moors and over and up more hills, Mam Tor again included, the weather just about held up, a bit cool and breezy in parts but not with the new fabric kit.

And the Bigger picture.....walk up more hills (nice one) eat a little bit less  and drink as much as you like. Not all strangers are strange although I may remain a stranger to another 30 mile weekend for a few weeks. I've been knackered since.

And a bit of other stuff,  the Killers new single. I blow hot and cold with the Killers

On the positive side

Mr Brightside - great tune and the best dance along with actions to every word ever, by two girls at Leeds Festival about 3 years ago. It was so good we even joined in.

First gig in the Hop and Grape bar supporting Stellastar! (they have an exclamation in the name)

First half of Hot Fuss

First half of Sams Town

and always had a good time at the live gigs

On the negative side

The Lyrics are crap, no really really crap , 'are we human or are we dancer'? at least thats what I think they say on the new single

I've got soul but I'm not a soldier.....mmmhhh and loads of other ones. Anyway Bill Bailey does a fair pisstake

And the new single sounds like A-Ha if they had come from Scandinavia...oh...really. But they did some really good stuff.

Which in a Stephen Fry very neat way brings me to this weeks competition. Top tunes by bands with no cred or one great song by a rubbish band. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The dog ate my homework

The Roaches and Hen Hill

A Lion

Another day another dollar
Another week another poor excuse

Lets start with Craig, 3 weeks ago it was 'Im off to America and when I get back I'm right up for walking'. 'Don't worry that I haven't got any gear wtih me I'll buy some new stuff'. 'Snowdonia? excellent, bring it on, as big a mountain as you like'.

And the excuse, oh I'm a bit tired and I need to do some washing, when I suggested maybe the Sunday this excuse was priceless, 'I can't because I'm going to the rugby next Saturday'. So one down by Thursday and well Shad was defo up for it.

'I've always wanted to climb Tryfan', It's a Welsh hill near where my family live' 'my dad runs up there before breakfast'

TBF to Shad, this is a classic and may even have got him out of maths homework.

Friday lunchtime, and I'd  turned up with a lovingly prepared from scratch, chicken and chick pea vindaloo to accompany the chip shop chips (chick peas were essential as the chicken was a bit thin on the ground). Next thing I know Shads off home at top speed because 'a slate has fallen of my roof and crashed through the conservatory' not a bad excuse at all, particularly as I thought he'd said 'a roofer has fell off my roof and through the conservatory'. I was already imagining body shaped chalk drawings on his floor. 

From this point onwards it went downhill into a typical left it on the bus excuse and Saturday in Snowdonia was abandoned. At this stage we had a Sunday replacement plan but that was scuppered by the Met Office. Paraphrasing the met office.

Blizzards, Freezing, Foggy....go up Tryfan if you want to die. Even with my increased risk taking quotient this year, that seemed like one step beyond*. Too good to miss a happy opportunity

Oh well, on my Bill again, good job I quite like walking on my own and the forecast for The Peak district looked ok. On top of that I'd gone for the whole fabric combination stuff as per Andy and was keen to try it out.(underpants on head excepted). I also had some new boots to break in before the old one die. 

Hen Hill

Roaches is quite a famous site apparantly, never heard of it? me neither. A short 5 mile walk looked ideal. Or it would have been had I not cast caution to the wind and gone GPS only. I parked up at the side of Hen Hill. I know a bizarre and unchecked 'fact' about hens (thanks Shad) brown Eggs are laid by Hens that can fly and white eggs are laid by hens that can't, could be bollocks, don't blame me...all complaints on too much  fiction to Mr S Williams c.o. the conservatory.

Roaches is brilliant, its a bit hilly and a bit rocky, good views too but the shapes of the huge stones right across the top are immense. Maybe its because I still make shapes out of the clouds in my head, why would you ever stop? but I think the lion shapes in these stones are fabulous.

Having got to the top in no time at all, I figured I had plenty of time to go on and find this 'Luds Cave' thats supposed to be round here. At this point I was a approached by a bloke with a map asking 'can you help me, I'm a bit lost' YAY get in, the new kit obviously had me down as a pro, but not only that I got out the GPS and within 20 seconds had him completely sorted. ie off in a direction from which he'd never see me again**.

Me and a frog almost had a nasty coming together on the next stretch of walk I think it was probably more scared than me , but only just. 

And so to the Cave...couldnt find it!, so I followed a sign to Luds Church. WOW, this may be a 'you had to be there' situation but...I was walking along this track and saw a narrow fissure in the rock face and decided to have a look inside. It just kept opening out and had steps to another bit, and then another bit, it must have been about 100yards long and up and down and round corners. If anyone has ever played Turok on the X Box it was exactly like the valley sections on that.

For everyone else here is  a pic, the rest of the pics are good too

It turned out that this is in fact Luds Church, and its not often you end up by yourself in here as its quite popular. There is a whole bunch of Arthurian legend stuff built around it and some Sir Gawain stuff I think...wikipedia time.

Either way its not something you stumble into by accident everyday. After this I started to head back over exceptionally slippy tree routes, don't worry the health and safety folk will get round to forest safety sooner or later and it'll be handrails all the way.

Favourite H&S picture

I managed to complete the second loop perfectly and then head back over the top, again diverting the last 10 yards just to get to the same very top I was at a couple of hours ago. Saddo
Then I got brave and decided to climb down the end of The Roaches and on and up Hen Hill. Then I got less brave as it got very slippy and rocky and steep and I needed a bit of double back manouvres too. It was at this point I realised that Pam may well have a point 'walking in the middle of nowhere on dodgy ground by yourself is not a top plan'. I made it down (just) then up Hen Hill a bit knackered and was on the edge of Bambi legs when did indeed manage to go A over T on the way down the last bit of the last hill. Thankfully into a huge pile of soggy leaves.

Footsore I got back to the car and hit the GPS counters, 13 mile and a bit and nearly 4000ft climbed...thats more than Snowdon. I was feeling pretty chipper and had a double walk plan hatching as the family were going to be busy Sunday morning.

* two people got airlifted out of Snowdonia when they got into difficulty on the Saturday. I'm not sure what sort of 'into difficulty' they got, but imagine being chased by a huge bear in a foggy snowstorm whilst wearing underwear over your heads and pencils up each nostril. I'm pretty sure that will be close to the truth.



Monday, 3 November 2008

Witches and Monuments

Pendle is quite famous in the North West, if you were brought up in Teesside you probably have never heard of it, except I've been ratting on about climbing the hill for about 8 months now. 

I actually can't recall any local witch stories from the North East except for the proverbial old spinster that lived behind the hedge in the last house in the street and put scissors through footballs. Actually my pal Jason did have one of those who did that..honest!

Pendle is pretty much on the edge of nowhere outside Burnley, and as far as I can tell (Wikipedia and Google) it looks pretty much like it never had any witches either. It appears Burnley hasn't changed much in all these years it was known then as an area "fabled for its theft, violence and sexual laxity'. Could easily have been Teesside.

I think the archetypal  'you're a witch' sketch was enacted here in the 17th century when some local bloke couldn't get off with a lass who may have been more interested in one of her good looking female pals rather than a turnip nosed Herbert. (yep 16th Century name). The consequences were 10 women hanged (2% of all exterminated witches), a local trade based on dead people and a bus route named after them.

Well with it being spooky weekend where better to head.

Having arrived early at the car park to meet Liz and Andy (Tim used a 'doing the bathroom' excuse this week, honestly the dog will be eating his homework next time). We were accosted by people asking if we were 'with the Cheshire Walkers'. Well, having knowledge of this areas' dodgy history I wasn't admitting anything and living in Cheshire now, I knew I could be in real bother. 

'The Cheshire Walkers? never heard of them' 

Pendle Hill is a big rambling top of a hill with about 4 routes up and it later turned out that we've definitely chosen the best and picturesque (or pictureskew as its sometimes known) route to the top.

We'd covered the whole trainspotting, I spy books and birdwatching thing when a hawk appeared about 5 yards away hovering at what looked like 4 ft above the ground. It was actually a pretty steep hill/cliffside, but it was a spectacular site to watch as it balanced on the wind with imperceptible movement. Nice pic too I thought.

Rambling top of hill or not, it still had a Trig Post, they really all should just so Craig can avoid the top. We then set off on a detour (planned) ok I forgot to plot it on the GPS but it's on the map. Andy at this point declared it may be a bit tricky to find this ancient monument on open moorland. 20 minutes later and we are stood by said 'ancient monument'. I have to say I did have my doubts and the pictures say more than I could.....doh!

And the fantastic proof

Talking about doubts, as you may be aware I'm not that big on the whole God squad organised religion stuff, well Pendle Hill is famous for one almighty fairytale. 

In June 1652, George Fox felt that God led him to walk up Pendle Hill. There he had a vision of many souls coming to Christ.

He then went off to Sedburgh to rant on about it and 10 minutes later The Quakers were formed. the only 3 things we know about Quakers are that they like god, are tight and eat porridge. Although that could be playing up minority stereotypes (bet it's close to the truth though).

We didn't see any God stuff, no witches and no ancient monuments but it was a jolly pleasant walk other than the 498 slippy steps down the other side of the hill. I did see a bloke who had stopped for his lunch snack and he was eating leaves from a plastic bag. Again I'm no world expert on nutrition but I would have thought plenty of water and a good dose of sugar would have helped more at this stage, maybe even a banana. Pillock!

And a final worrying development on this 'Big Picture' stuff, not only do you have to do the food, the exercise, the less booze stuff but........combination clothing too. Why is that everyone I go walking with knows loads off stuff I've never even thought about?

'ooohhhh cotton kills they say' was the opener to this. I've got about 500 cotton bands T shirts which I wear everytime I walk (not all of them at once) and I'd survived this terrorist of the wardrobe. Then came the fabric combining explanation, which I have to say made sense right up until the point where Andy said 'and I'm after a string vest'. 

I should have realised it was heading downhill as Liz raised her eyes skywards.

And that was followed by tales of his pals who while cycling over the Alps had put underpants on their heads to keep their ears warm. I'm not sure I'm ready for all these Combo's but Shad if your reading this, make sure you clean your boxer shorts before we head for Snowdonia next week.

Finally congrats to the Obama chap, the best marketing campaign in history and a minor miracle to get the US to vote for a black socialist. Brilliant.

And finally in preparation for some top ten lists, this weeks obscure stuff off the top of your heads is obscure 80's indie bands.  A band name and the best song would be good, I might even do a compilation album.

And really finally last weeks winner by a country mile was Anon with Peter Francisco, Well done me badge links to be posted later