Sunday, 18 January 2009

Almost Official - Middle of Nowhere

Layers with ice

It's kind of a spare day after Christmas and I needed some fresh air, don't get me wrong I love the whole Christmas thing, providing most of the domestics are sorted, then I'm really good at the surprises and the entertaining. I know...bloke!

Mary Poppins at the theatre on boxing day with the old folks, now that's jolly well planned entertaining as the tickets were bought in March. I mention this on the basis that one of the scenes from the stage play never existed in the movie, even this wouldn't warrant a mention but...full on dream sequence with scary toyish looking things freaking everyone in the audience too. In true fashion of describing things by lazy people for lazy people it was a cross between the spaced out bit in the middle of Dumbo and the Child Catcher in CCBB. I'm amazed the Daily Mail havent had it banned yet for upsetting 3 old ladies (tossers). 

Oh and rant time Daily ****ing Mail indeed, what's with the give away a free John Lennon CD in the Mail on Sunday. One word rant .....inappropriate. Ok it wasn't a very strong word so feel free to think a better one.

So Christmas came and went and again just so the detail is covered I got a full on metal dance mat, very good it is too. However, being an only child, sometimes I really do need time by myself or as its better know selfish time. Mum and Dad were off on Saturday morning so that was my entertaining over (for the record - great Christmas) and it was hill time. 

I've recently discovered that the place I headed for is possibly THE most remote spot in England, bit of a close call with 5.8km off Morcambe Bay at low tide and Dartmoor, anyway ones a bit bloody risky and Dartmoor was a heck of a round trip. Halfway across Woodhead Pass, park up by the reservoirs and then head up and North and just keep going and you'll hit Blackhill. I do have fond memories of this road as I used to travel it regularly to a job in Sheffield, but the reason I remember it fondly is because it was 1995 and Chris Evans was on the radio playing and I quote 'banging tunes to go to work with'. The songs were bangin too

Common People by Pulp
Wake up Boo - Boo Radleys
Alright - Supergrass

and a bunch of Oasis, Blur, Echobelly etc

The trouble with this stuff is that once you think about 'where was I songs' you can take up half your head and most of your time ignoring the rest of the world, and so I fell into a rather large bog due to the fact it was quite slippy and icy up top and my head was all Wednesday Week by The Undertones.

A more appropriate example

Wuthering Heights - hiding in a tree from some bad lads by the railway line at Billingham Bottoms. Never caught us either so thats a good memory. I did have a list of about 50 but I think I'm going to hang onto them for a drunken conversation down the pub. 

Blackhill- middle of the Pennines in almost officially the middle of nowhere, icy boggy, a pretty sharp wind and cold.........bloody marvellous. I ignored the map, I ignored the GPS and I outwillpowered them both to make it to the top. Approximatley 10 minutes later I had to admit I had 'topped' completely the wrong hill, they are a bugger these GPS's as they tell you exactly where you are. No ifs, buts or maybe's just YOU ARE HERE may as well add the word Tosser!!!. 

And it keeps it for posterity - mid right hand side turn back bit

And so I headed back on my tracks and then further into the correct middle of nowhere. It was too! I eventually got to the top of Blackhill and hadn't passed one person in either direction (this may also have been due to my circuitous route). It was now very bloody cold indeed in the wind and getting down the valley was a bit of a priority as they really weren't many people about....until I turned the corner and saw the first of the madmen.

I know it may seem a bit odd to go walking uphill all the time, but surely not half as daft as these idiots that run up them. Fell running has got to be the madest of mad things, you can never look up for fear of falling over, so all you ever see is your feet and stones and mud. I suspect it's megaconcentration too, so no time to think of shite like you can when out walking. Other than erasing bad stuff it does seem a bit bonkers. Not that I mentioned these thoughts to the 20 odd of them heading up into the middle of nowhere, running on ice..

Eventually I plodded into the valley out of the wind and had my head set on a pleasant and easy walk back to the car. Until wrong turn number 2 (or maybe 3) struck and before I knew it I was too far back up a ridge to turn back around. The good news was I could see the pleasant valley sunday track at the bottom meandering along with the babbling brook.

Worth a double click - I was miles off track again.

Meanwhile back in icy blast city I was above Rake's Rocks Ridge and getting battered, I did see some more nutcase fell runners who decided to head off from the top down what could only be described as a cliff face. I on the other hand picked my way safely down the more used ridgepath and rejoined the correct path two miles later on.

Great day out....if you like walking uphill, in the cold, in the middle of nowhere, in your own company thinking about shite.......  :-))

Friday, 16 January 2009

Following White Rabbits through Doctor's Gate

I know it sounds like I'm on drugs, but if you add in an ancient hill fort and most of a B52 bomber then it's a pretty accurate picture of the walk. One of the web chaps who also happens to be a mountain leader / ranger / bear fighter had posted that he was walking up Bleaklow and that he was going to be visiting the site of a crashed B52. Its only 45 minutes from home and last time I was up here I could see about 10 yards, oh and we get to see crashed aeroplanes...well that was me in.

For 8.30am on a Sunday with only a few days notice I thought a turnout of 8 people was pretty impressive. On the basis of my recent being lates I was actually first to the car park and it was already pretty foggy...the forecast was for a bit of drizzle but nothing too severe. It doesn't matter anymore as I've got even more kit now although this stuff being called 'soft shell' is drifting a bit close to 'shellsuit' for comfort. I'm so looking forward to the Chav walkers in the summer in their shell gear doing the Ian Brown across here.

I'd already made a bit of an arse of myself prior to the meet up by asking for exact directions to Doctors Gate, I think the words I used were  'less mappy directions please'. He'd used a grid reference FGS. Anyway no harm done as we headed up a recognisable path until red leader said 'ok cross country from here'. I normally do this stuff by accident or through necessity of getting home before dark, so its foggy moorland with no paths and no features and now we're going cross country...bloody rangers. It turned out nice though as within about 200 yards we'd seen one of the white arctic hares who appear to have taken a wrong direction somewhere and ended up around here. Quite how they hide on all this brown moor side is beyond me.

We seemed to be following hares in a very Alice fashion as we plunged deeper and deeper into the wasteland, if Mr Ranger had ran off now we were probably hare food. Oh me of little faith, out came the compass a bearing of 221 degrees  was taken with slight adjustment for moving magnetics (no idea - me neither) and hey presto 200yards later we were in the middle of a full scale plane crash.

Its a permanent memorial now to the poor folk who came down in the fog, but it's honestly one of the most amazing places / sights I've ever seen. 

I think perhaps the other worldliness of the location or the atmospherics of the mist may have added something, it really was jaw dropping. Well that's scuppered things a bit as it turns out it's 

B29 44-61999 of the 16th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, 91st Reconnaissance Group, 311th Air Division. 

and not a B52 after all, still any excuse for some good music - Planet Claire

From here we headed out back across the open moorland to a bunch of rocks on a hill about 2 miles away which head ranger man reckoned was a good spot for lunch. It was a bit like being taken to the wind and rain blasted seaside when you were a kid and being made to eat shellfish in whilst huddled in the back of a freezing car.  I don't think I ever saw Whitby other than through a rain speckled windscreen perhaps it's not so weird in real life.

Excuse for a shellfish song too

So we sat in the rain and although the shared hot chocolate made in the 45 second funky hot water pressure boiler was good, it wasn't a patch on the sludgy spicy parsnip soup we normally have handed around. And so off to the ancient hill fort, this fort may have been over billed I think, think old fatboy Ronaldo a couple of world cups ago overbilled. Turns out it's a hill in the middle of nowhere...oh except that its surrounded by loads of other hills in the middle of nowhere. Still a forts a fort so I charged the ramparts and slipped over in the boggy mess doh! From here on in it was up to Bleaklow head, again a very misty head at that.

Now I've been known to make the odd slip up with directions, but this was classic, one minute big group discussion on the best way to go. Next minute I get to take this picture.

After about 10 minutes it was then on more familiar almost paths back down to the cars and some weird conversation in the pub.

Firstly mountain man and Jonno had been up on these moors a few weeks earlier via Ladybower reservoir area. It turns out that on the way back down they went through a carpark that's known locally as Dogging City and were actually invited to take part. Luckily mountain man declined in a very stern and manly voice I was told...especially as the whole car park was under secret surveillance and has since been in the local papers. Must have been a bit like my dad when approached by the prostitute in Romania, looking down and saying 'I don't think so pet' was brilliant.

Anyway from there the conversation moved to the array of dispensing machines in the gents, no point writing any detail down as you honestly wouldn't believe me.

A decent set of Pics this time - also a full white rabbit skeleton for your Craig.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Top Tens Part 2 - The Albums 2008

Even happier than when we met them in a lift

Down to three entries this time although I'm sure that next year it'll be up to at least 5. Yet again the top of the pop charts are unlikely to be unduly worried by a music revolution lead by me and my pals. If it wasn't so cold I'd write a natty little ditty about the featured albums...key tracks etc. however its more than minus on the mecury counter so in a reveal all at once spectacular.

 In a bid to be somewhat impartial the mates top ten albums of the year are

1.The Hold Steady


3.British Sea Power

4.Bon Iver

5.Bob Dylan


7.God is an Astronaut

8.Kings of Leon

9. The Young Republic

10. Helen Love

Ok the last two may have a tadge of bias seeping through the cracks but I got Craig's vote. Again if there are any obvious voids or Dig Lazerus Digs omitted please feel free to plug any gaps.

And just for the completists

Entry One

3.Foals - Antidotes

7.MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

3.The Young Republic – 12 Tales From Winter City

1.Bob Dylan  - Highway 61 revisited

7.Mogwai – The Hawk is Howling

6.BSP Do You Like Rock Music

8.LOTSP  - The Age of The Understatement

5.Peter and the Pirates – Little Death

10.Conor Oberst – Conor Oberst (although that’s just lazy)

9.Hot Chip – Made in the Dark

2.The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

5.Gaslight Anthem – The 59 Sound

4.Helen Love -  Its My Club

9. Natty - MAn Like I

Entry Two

3.  Centro-matic/South San Gabriel - Dual Hawks (2 bands with essentially the same people, 1 disc each...South San Gabriel are better!)
1.  Bon Iver - For Emma, forever ago
2.  Hold Steady - Stay Positive
5.  Black Keys - Attack and release
9.  Paul Weller - 22 dreams
8.  My Morning Jacket - Evil urges
4.  REM - Accelerate (lots of guitars!)
7.  Black Crowes - Warpaint
10.  Counting Crows - Saturday night (the noisy first half of the disc...the second half of the disc "Sunday morning" is whiny crap)
6.  Kings of 
Leon - Only by night

Entry Three

1.Mogwai- The Hawk is Howling

2. God is an Astronaut- God is an Astronaut

3. Vessels- White Fields and Open Devices

4. Glasvegas- Glasvegas

5. British Sea Power- Do You Like Rock Music?

Anyone brought up on a diet of John Craven and kids with crap hairdo's will quickly spot  the seismic gulf in both musical tastes and fontability(also countability). 

Monday, 5 January 2009

Top Tens Part One -The Songs

The Winner - White Lies

We had five sensible entries for the best songs of the year and thank you to all who could be bothered. What it shows is we have no idea what’s going on in the real world, however for being obscure, geeky gits we win the prize hands down. Andy and Rich (Get well soon mate) if you do a best of best of CD from your list I’ll do the other chaps with edited lowlights from my list. You’ll need 4 copies and maybe one for Craig who did make a halfarsed attempt at an entry. I’ll send then all back out and we can slag each other off all over again for crap choices.

Kim And Jessie - M83

End Of The Line - Metallica

Dig Lazarus Dig - Nick Cave

Wanna Be in LA - Eagles Of Death Metal

No Pussy Blues – Grinderman

Sound like Guns - Alcatraz

The Lovely Eggs - Have you ever heard a digital accordion and I like birds but I like the other

Fight like Apes - I'm beginning to think you love Beverley

White Lies - Death

30 White Lies- Death
29 Secret Shine- Voice Of The Sea
28 British Sea Power- Canvey Island
27 The Early Years- Say What I Want To
26 A Place To Bury Strangers- Ocean
25 Lowline- Monitors
24 Mogwai- Dracula Family
23 Glasvegas- It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry
22 Russian Circles- Youngblood
21 I Like Trains- South Shore
20 I Concur- Lucky Jack
19 M83- Graveyard Girl
18 Vessels- Look At That Cloud!
17 I Like Trains- Friday- Everybody Goodbye
16 Mogwai- I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead
15 Prego- Cause & Resolve
14 Jakob- Everything All Of The Time
13 Glasvegas- Geraldine
12 Exit Calm- We're On Our Own
11 Sennen- A Different Life
10 God is an Astronaut- No Return
9 93 Million Miles From The Sun- Take Me Away
8 The Twilight Sad- And She Would Darken The Memory
7 Mogwai- I Love You, I'm Going To Blow Up Your School
6 God is an Astronaut- Snowfall
5 Kyte- Planet
4 This Will Destroy You- Happiness: We're In This Together
3 Mogwai- Batcat
2 I Concur- Oblige
1 The Domino State- What's The Question?

Love is pain - The Verve
Still Burning - Queen + Paul Rodgers
Time to pretend - MGMT
Second chance - Liam Finn
Goodbye daughters of the revolution - Black Crowes
Things ain't like they used to be - The Black Keys
1492 - Counting Crows
Stay positive - Hold steady
Closer - Kings of Leon
Umbrella - Manic Street Preachers
Wire to wire - Razorlight
Remnants - My morning jacket
Push it along - Paul Weller
Horse to water - REM
That's not my name - The Ting Tings
To the dogs or whoever - Josh Ritter
Geraldene - Glasvegas
For Emma - Bon Iver
Grounds for divorce - Elbow
From this I will awake - South San Gabriel

MGMT – Time to Pretend

Foals – Cassius

Bloc Party - Talons

LOTSP – Age of the Understatement

Polly Scattergood – Hate the Way

MGMT – Kids

Mogwai – The Sun Smells too Loud

Young Republic – Bronagh

The Ting Tings – That’s Not my Name

Kings Of Leon – Sex On Fire

Lethal Bizzle – Police on my back

Pete and the Pirates – Mr Understanding

BSP – Atom

The Hold Steady – Slapped Actress

The Hold Steady – Constructive Summer

Gaslight Anthem – Miles Davis and the Cool

Modest Mouse – Float On

Primal Scream – Uptown

Dan and Pip – Thou Shalt Not

Polly Scattergood –Nitrogen Pink

Black Kids – NGT you Boyfriend

Helen Love- Debbie Loves Joey

Natty – Cold Town

Polarbear – Straight Outta Compton

Glasvegas – Geraldine

White Lies – Death

VV Brown – Crying Blood

Florence and the Machine – Kiss With a Fist

Young Republic – The Alchemist

Vampire Weekend – A Punk

The Wave Pictures –Now you are pregnant

Black Kids – Look at me

Withered Hand –Religious Songs

 And the winner is Death by White Lies – 3 Votes.

And Geraldine by Glasvegas with 3 votes but Death is better.