Tuesday, 23 December 2008

I Was at Loggerheads

No really I was and there are two loggerheads which also confuses the Tom Tom and puts it at loggerheads. Its a bit like when you're at a gig and someone takes a mobile out and start video-ing the best song, its like get that friggin thing out of my face, on the one hand. On the other hand you get to watch it over on Youtube....loggerheads. Personally, I'd like to rip the phone off them during the first waft in my general direction and let them try and take a picture of the sun from where its planted. (but I'm not too keen on the violent stuff..maybe I'll ask Andy to sort them next time).

I'm sure there's plenty of other ones too...yeah dope and smoking , just too much ag any other way, but then smoking kills, where's the big smiley giggly fun in that. Already this ones got a bit off on the wrong foot, however to keep a theme going this was a write up from some bloke at the Primal Scream gig about another memeber of the audience.....I really hope it wasnt me or Chris

'I mean, he wasn’t just swaying from side to side, or girating his hips a little bit - as the other (normal) members of the crowd were doing. He was actually fucking pirouetting.I'm sure its not against the law, but I'd now say 'at loggerheads with other audience participants'.

Loggerheads is also one of those places where you want someone to phone you and say 'where are you?'. Unfortunately it didnt happen today although it did happen perfectly once. SueY called from the office one day with the inevitable ' where are you?' line. My very smiley and very honest (and if I'm totally honest a bit smug) response was 'at the top of the Empire State Building, where are you?'. I know way to smug but you would too.

This Loggerheads is in Wales not the shortcut to Crewe Loggerheads when the motorway is jammed near Copey's house. I was kind of hoping that Shad could make this walk too, as its near his home town of Denbigh and I just know there would have been great stories of how is brother caged him with badgers for three days and he dressed in their fur to confuse the voles..or something similar. Its only 35 minutes from home so I suspect a few more walks round here may take place.

On the bit where you head to the parking spot there is a HUGE sign which says 'area of outstanding natural beauty' talk about biggin up your part early doors. Even Malham doesn't get one of these. Well, expectations raised, I looked at a the foggy misty vista and imagined, gorgeous it was too, almost like Clare Grogan in her heyday. I know, rubbish excuse to have a tune and a gorgeous picture or two.

not one of my pics

Both Hey and Day

I adapted a walk off t'internet for this route and hence at least a third of the distance was going to be GPS only and I didn't actually have a map of any sort. 'Where angels fear to tread'........almost. It is pretty nice round those parts and as you can see from this picture pretty calm.

Then you get to the bottom of the hill, this was Y Gant all over again, only steeper, Shad you lived here mate and could have warned me. The stroll up the lanes and passed the reservoirs was just a foil for the hill, which again I couldn't see due to the fog. It started steep and got steeper, I should have seen it in the eyes of the four blokes walking in the opposite direction, on reflection they were definitely thinking 'poor bugger'. I was absolutely knackered by halfway, legs ok but breathing like a Capstan Full Strength Test Monkey in the 50's. A jolly scouser passed me at this point with a smile and cocky banter ' it's good for you, you know'. grrrrr I felt like shaking my fist in a comic book stylee. Or even an 'I'll get you Blakey' stylee. RIP Reg V.

A strange shaped buttress

Eventually I made it to the top of Moel Famau which as the guidebooks would say is 'the highest point in the Clwydian range' and it was bloody high. I couldn't see very much so headed down a path which was the walking equivalent to a 4 lane motorway to a carpark which was at least halfway up the hill. Still 'it's good for me'!.

From the car park..... off map I headed erm completely off map and up another pretty steep hill just to extend the walk and as the fog had cleared a bit I fancied a look around from the top. It was a Welsh named sounding hill, think of your own name and add in a few double Ll's. Sheeps trails are the answer in for getting round in Wales they lead right to the top of every hill, its a bit like......  oh the old follow the crowd joke when off to the footy, except you can't end with the I ended up in Woolworths joke anymore. For what its worth Woolworths and MFI were always crap shops, I went into BHS last week and thought it was a jumble sale, markme words they'll be next.

So I made it to the top sheep or no sheep and then headed back with little incident other than being tracked by a Buzzard for about 30 minutes which is a bit disconcerting towards the end of a walk when you feel like a sit down. One of my pals has since told me that they follow you because you disturb the widlife..obvious really. Oh wait there is a bird of prey story about Craig that I should tell.................as it results in him trying to be an owl murderer from 3 yards with a gun perhaps I'll let him get first punch in on this one.

Great new band of the week- Craig you may actually like this one and they only have three songs.

One last thing for Christmas

I promise to be right back on topic very soon but

Just in case you ran out of food and the friends and relatives are arriving then this may save the day.

Christmas Cake 

* 2 cups flour
* 1 stick butter
* 1 cup of water
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1 cup of sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 cup of brown sugar
* Lemon juice
* 4 large eggs
* Nuts
* 1 bottle Brandy
* 2 cups of dried fruit
Sample the brandy to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the brandy
again. To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and
drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a
large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point
it's best to make sure the brandy is still OK. Try another cup... Just in
case. Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and
chuck in the cup of dried fruit.
Pick the frigging fruit up off floor. Mix on the turner. If the fried
druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the brandy to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt.
Or something. Check the brandy. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your
nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or some fink. Whatever you can
find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall
over. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through
the window. Finish the brandy and wipe counter with the cat.
Bingle Jells!

talking of which this is Jingle Bells in Swedish just in case you need a party trick over Christmas. I find it best to follow the recipe then walk into a party singing this at the top of your voice.

and Merry Christmas

“Byeller klang, byeller klang
Herdas dingly dong.”

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Captain Blunty back from the Edge

Yeah its off topic but it's nearly Christmas

Twice in one year is a scary thing from The Captain, all present at Glastonbury gave him a sage nod in the right direction after a bit of a belting live show. Ok he wanted loving a bit too much but we let him off with that.

And now this

Comedy genius or another muppet

I so hope I haven't started another Genesis thing

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Guaranteed White Christmas

That's 'guaranteed' if you make it back. 

I've decided to keep hill walking right through the winter and as my namby pamby mates don't have the best of track records, I've found some extra mates, care of a hill walking website. These web boards are brilliant if you want to meet a bunch of nutcases who wait till the weather gets bad before they head up the hills.

Thus I'm heading down to Snowdonia late on a Thursday evening to stay in a Premier Inn just so I don't need to get out of bed at 5am. Jonno and Chris have turned up a mine (late! so no change from anyone else yet) as I've volunteered to drive, mainly because I'm rubbish at packing and like having 10 spare everythings in the boot. A swift beer and off to bed early to pray for better weather than every forecast is offering.

Bright and breezy next day we managed to arrive at the Pen-y-pas carpark promptly erm -half an hour late- damn its catching. Well we weren't last thankfully. I probably should have spotted the folk with ice axes and crampons, but the size of the mountains in front of my eyes were somewhat distracting. Still, Chris had the dehydrated lunch for me and there were certainly a couple of folk older than me in the group. A chap off the website known as Oldstephen(webname) turned out to be a splendid fellow and also a safe bet for walking with. Within the first couple of hundred yards it became evident that he's spent virtually the last 20 years running up hills in Snowdonia, really good for' know where you are stuff', really bad for non-sprinters. Honestly 58 years old and he'll be marching up here in another 20 years time providing he doesnt fall off.

Tucked into a psychologically good second place in the queue behind Billy Whizz I really enjoyed the climb even when the going got tougher...and then tougher still. I've seen a bunch of pictures of me on the tougher stretches and I just look like a miserable old bugger, but honestly it was great sport. About an hour into the walk as the snow started to build on the floor, half the crewe of 12 started putting crampons on and getting out ice axes...oh good.

I perfomed a desperate cling onto the cliff side in 40mph gusts whilst still moving in an upward direction in slippy shoes. Oh how the stories of people falling off on the zigzags DEAD kept my enthusiam high as we approached them. From here to the top it was just a tad on the exposed side for my liking, we made it to the finger post which joins the tourist track, INTO a force 54 Hooley. Everyone then miraculously pulled more clothing, spare hats, double gloves and I kid you not a spare pair of boots from secret hideaways they had about them....genius. We made it to the very top about 15 minutes later and I was in all sorts of states....excited, exhilerated, relieved, pleased, bewildered

Canteen lunch?

We lunched for about 15 minutes as close to the new cafe (SHUT) as we could get, but with cold toes and a cold foot it wasn't the greatest meal I've ever enjoyed. I had payed some attention over breakfast and on hearing Jonno was taking a spare pair of gloves I'd managed to find a spare pair in the wasteland of my car boot. It was a brilliant tip too, 5 minutes later warm handsand consequently feeling much better I was ready for a return trip down the miners track.

Huge Aside Coming up

This isn't the first time I've been up Snowdon, once approx 18 years ago, two not so fat lads decided it would be a great idea to wander up the hill with two dogs in tow. Looking back, starting at the bottom of the hill in t Shirts and trainers, no maps, no food , no drinks,no compass and frankly no idea probably wasnt the best idea we've ever had.  We'd left our wives and children in some town at the bottom of the hill to go shopping and our brilliant and faultless plan was 'to follow someone else up'. If the people we had followed had turned right up Crib Goch I suspect I wouldn't be here to type this.

Back in the old days the last section was just a straight scree slope which although tricky for humans is a bloody nightmare for dogs paws. Craig had to carry either Fido or Mutley (real names, I think they replaced Steve and Dave) up to the top of the mountain. My recollection is that he didn't bother going to the summit that day either.

All that the above prooves, is that some folk don't really grow up much, although we did descend on the tourist route next to the train track.

Back to the present and the sensible tourist route wasn't an option, off the steep edge and then concentrate and concentrate and concentrate on every footstep. It wasnt quite jumping into a crocodile invested river at feeding time but on a rather risky things to do graph its well towards the top end. Oh except for the buttsledging section. Having made it out of the deep snow the rocks became totally iced over and having had my bad turn on these last week I wasn't about to make the same mistake.

Unfortunately one of the chaps organising the venture did slip and spectacularly went off a 12ft drop upside down having cartwheeled off the rock above. From this point the slope was certainly 70 degrees and all rocks for about 100 yards, even I thought it was going to smart a bit. Having performed a full back flip Robbo landed square on his feet facing into the mountain rock steady. Mind you the chap above that had shouted 'FORE' looked just as relieved. For the next half mile every step was mega cautious...still what could possibly go wrong with all the guides and mountain leaders with us?! I've now concluded that it doesnt matter how good you get at anything, you'll always go that one step closer to the edge......I guess that's where the fun is at.

And a quick catch up on this weeks gigs

The Hold Steady - yeah yeah I know 'again' at the Big Academy on Wednesday

Not one decent picture - woops

David and Beechy both decided this was a good plan and due to ridiculous Manc Footy traffic I ended up meeting them in town at 7.30pm yet again half an hour late. (must tryer harder badge). If in doubt drink wine and catch up. I've since been assured that we managed a bottle each before leaving the pub about an hour later......thats tremendous form for a Wednesday. Into the second half and the pace didnt slow that much either..the band came on and played a brilliant set covering all the best off the four albums. We'd moved on to cider and Beechy having been stuck with a car because of the traffic was struggling to understand us at this point.

The band played two encores and we were 'All The Hold Steady'. 

I'm pretty sure that we reconciled the Russians and the Chinese on the way home and if Beechy hadn't insisted on having a birthday drink at midnight I would remember exactly how it's to be done. Sore head Thursday but a jolly good night.

And then the Mighty Primal Scream on Friday at The Apollo

I've known Chris a while and having missed out by driving on Wednesday he was certainly as up for a party as I've seen him for at least 12 months. The get ready turnaround time was approximately 5 minutes and then out to catch the train. 'Oh look 13 minutes before the trains due' lets nip over the road for a swift starter for ten. And the runaway train came over the hill. We ended up in the Church Pub again prior to the gig, and its now defo my favourite pub in Manchester as it had a free buffet and I think the extra ballest on board may have saved my liver.

Double handed and down to the front with 5 minutes to spare. Now Andy had warned me that they may be loud, he'd seen them in Cambridge last week. It was like Mogwai with choruses and a light show that would have seen off a close friend of an epileptic. The bass made the hair on the back of your head depart and rejoin the scalp, whilst the twin lead guitarists ripped out a noise somewhere between phenomenal and excrutiating but all the time held on the right side of fun.

It was brilliant all the way through, so much so that even us oldies threw caution to the wind and joined in the scrumble at the front. The end of the final encore was mental and will probably cause me about a 1000  sorry, pardon, can you repeat thats, over the next few years. Hey but what fun. And so back to the Church for a sit down recovery pint before heading back to a much needed sleep...oh after one last incy wincy never hurt anyone wine. 

Not bad form, Snowdon and Primal Scream and going for 20 hours straight. Bring on Christmas


Didn't do em any good

Its the old Wrexham joke as perpetrated by the misguided Mr Copeland for many years and with the amount of ice about there was a bit of a risk it wasnt going to do us any good either. I'm liking the whole proximity of the Wales thing now. I've discovered that I can hit a bunch of welsh hills in about 40 minutes from home, even with the usual five minutes 'oh all the roads join up anyway' detour. As this is a nostalgic walk off the back of Penycae near Ruabon I think it only appropriate to include some non contemporary Welsh muso links.

I do like the regional accent singing

The nostalgia part comes from the fact that my best man is from Penycae and as a consequence I'd been a couple of times. My only real recollection of the area is standing in the middle of a local river in my underwear building a damn...only to discover at 3 0'clock that it was the route home for a bunch of schoolkids who decided to pelt us with rocks, still nostalgia has good and bad bits.

There is another theme starting within these walks and thats the' starting slightly later than planned' theme. Again Shads a bit delayed and this weeks excuse 'I had to go to a garage in Congleton for 8.30am Sunday morning'......Shad, Congleton doesn't wake up till Tuesday. We'd also arranged to meet head of the chefs partying guild Douglas and his son at the start point, and he is a top chap but absolutely bloody useless at directions even with a TomTom. So half an hour late we set off, I know no one who has been on a wander this year will believe this, BUT these walks are timed to the last minute so any delay at one end risks absolute darkness at the other end.

All kitted and off up Ruabon Mountain and then climb down to Offas' Dyke, back via the Worlds End and hopefully a sandwich and a pint. I'm armed to the teeth today, GPS, Walking World routes, real map, Compass, Country Walking Magazine Map and a local Welshboy and I borrowed top digital SLR camera for even better pics...what could possibly go wrong. The bit where we are trudging across the moors 50 minutes later and Doug says 'this is tough going' was a bit of a clue to our 'offtrackness'. Fortunately we'd spotted old people earlier and with a bit of guesswork we were able to find the nice clear path they had followed up.


Even Shad made it to the top without too much huffing and puffing and as for Callum, son of Doug, he could possibly have sprinted the whole way and done starjumps for fun. Callums 11 and unbelievably didn't moan once all the way round, I particularly like the bit where he took the P out of Dougs fluffy cream coloured fleece and then added 'at least it goes with your pink top dad'! top kid. At this point I should really be able to add a top picture of said fleece, but numpty that I am I'd forgotten to switch of the fancy dan camera when I'd charged it last night. It ran out of juice just before we got to the really good bit...doh.

Two brilliant quotes from Shad on the way up

'This cold weathers not good, it can give you icy shards on your lungs'. What do I know about body temperature and ice? if Shad says so then its fine by me.

And then as we heard the Langollen train from below, Shad 'I'm a shareholder in the Langollen ?railways'.  of course why wouldnt he be?  It turns out this is absolutely true as well. He can get free rides every day except bank holidays and Thomas Tank specials. 

We followed the old folks of the top and then I'm tempted to say we gave them the slip, but the whole slip thing came back to haunt me on the way down. The climb down to Offas' Dyke is spectacular, steep and in the ice pretty lethal. I had a bit of a tumble at the top of a waterfall with a 20ft drop onto rocks, fortunatley I slipped up and not down and but for wet legs- no harm done. I've been very very careful ever since.

Not the waterfall I didnt fall off - phonepic

And then on to the funniest part of the walk, well funny for blokes who like to laugh at their pals trials and tribulations. This is one of the men from Mars, women from Venus things. 

Rule for a bloke, if your mate has an accident that isn't terminal or otherwise makes a pillock of himself then its ok to laugh as much as you like and then take the piss. 

Womens rule...show sympathy and then laugh over a coffee 3 years later. 

Shads now at the back as we pass people walking down the track with a couple of dogs each, all very friendly until the last one just went for Shad and bit his leg....what's not funny?

Anyway its his own fault for letting his Thinsulate hat turn into a Blackadder size hat. Or as Sue at work said 'probably smelled the sheep on you'.

Fake indigenous artefact - Dodgerdoo

The valley opened up into the most spectacular vista (sorry about the camera battery) with bright warm sunshine and we had a splendid 20 minutes warm ridgewalking. Back onto the top near Worlds End and the crash site of a German bomber (apologies again no pics) and then a slip slidy icy downhill back to the village.

Well yet again it would have been if only we hadn't lost the path completely, or it hadn't just completely disappeared. Our only option at this point was to clamber down into a dead valley, cross the stream at the bottom and then clamber back up the other side to a road we could just about see at the top. 11 year olds do sometimes say just the right things at the right time, we're a bit off track and Callum comes out with 'this is great, I love adventures'. Me too.....until the tree branch I was holding snapped and I ended up to my knees in the stream, it reminded me of the old days in Penycae but luckily I was wearing more than my underwear this time.

We ended the day by walking down a stream back towards the village having put in a good 12 mile walk, except for Callum who probably covered 15 miles with all the running, sliding and star jumps. Shame the chippa was shut.

and finally a Welsh Mountain joke

An Englishman travelling on a very dark night in the Welsh mountains heard a cry for help from someone who had fallen into a ravine near the road.

"Who is it?" he replied cautiously, fearing a trap.

"Dafydd ap Gwilym ap Rhys AP Gruffydd ap Ifan ap Jenkyn" came the response.

"Well", rejoined the Englishman, "if there's half a dozen of you down there you can jolly well pull eachother out."

STILL TIME TO ENTER TOP TENS - see below (Craig)