Saturday, 16 May 2009

Moels and Eilios

Be careful, you don't know who's out there

Nothing against the Welsh and plenty against my ignorance, but all the Moels (hills I think) and the treble lll mountain names seem to get stuck in my brain wrongly and never come back out in a sensible understandable order. I was at the bottom of some hill near LLanberis ice axe in hand and crampons at the ready.....if I ever end up on a MRT site as a statistic it'll be by drowning in a bog due to the weight of excessive kit. ill prepared? I think not.

Being as my pals were up for a seriously early start I'd spent the night at a Premier Lodge near Bangor. I only know 2 things about Bangor and if I'm being honest only one of them is certain. Bangor has a university and a racecourse (a bit of a joint effort and they really could corner the market here), Bangor is advertised on a huge signpost on the A55 as 'Bangor the font of all knowledge'. I've recently been accused of being a bit picky, but pardon me I really think they may well be overplaying their position in the history of humanity - just a touch.

So its early morning and my state of mind seems to be regressing in the general direction of excitable child this week.

Firstly there's the recent (over the last 2 years but getting more frequent) rediscovery that brilliant tunes can give you goosebumps. Not just the oh that's good chill, but flat out arms and legs goosebumps. Two songs this week! Having chatted with a couple of people about this, there are a couple of just as intense variations.

Then there's the Christmas eve sleep patterns. In my younger days Christmas was normally spent in Tennyson Street Middlesbrough. For the locals that's just of Linthorpe Road near to where the bakery used to be.  The bakery was sold off and converted to a frankly unwanted and unnecessary  shopping centre which has since closed down due to lack of interest. I prefer the French attitude, local production for local people.....but that's a whole other topic. Anyway the shops are now out of town and miles away from the people too. 

My memory of many Christmas Eves at Tennyson Street is that all the adults leave the house at 7pm to go to the pub and I get to play with fire and watch Zulu on the tele. Bed at 11pm just before the drunken people got back and raced around the block...then no sleep till about 4am in anticipation. I'm having the same issue (just the sleeping bit)  every time I'm going to go up a slightly dangerous's really good!

Another slight aside here, but if I am regressing I don't want to play left back in the school team next time round.

So Llanberis, I would say it was in the middle of nowhere and it probably is unless you like walking in mountains, in which case it's the hot spot in downtown mountain central. Its got everything except TessCoss.  (Shads given me lessons in Welsh so I can understand the easy parts, bordio Smoothio = ironing board, Tesscoss - Tesco's , cwmputer - Computer. I will give them balderdash and maybe blamanche).

Having met Pete and Robbo and me with ice axe in hand and crampons in backpack we headed up the broad (and therefore a bit safer) hill of Moel Eilio. There had been a number of recent deaths in the Snowdon area due to the snow and ice so I was fairly pleased to be walking with people with experience.

Up the hills , across the broad slopes and some spectacular views down the coast, here's some pics. 

I really like the picture above -wdm (or Peter if I nicked it off his site)

The great thing about walking with Peter is that he takes loads of photos so lots of rest time.

But for a few slips and slides and the biting winds at the top we had a gorgeous pootle round the mountains. Ice axes are very good for waving in the air on photo's and crampons can increase fitness by carrying them round in your backpack all day.

And always stay away from snowy edges

Now this would be the musical interlude and album review but

its still in the cellophane so if anyone else would like to do the review and then I can listen with prejudice that would be marvellous. For anyone who doesn't know what the album is we can treat it as a new competition. All answers on offensive messages below please.

Friday, 15 May 2009

The Webbed People of Dovedale

A big pointy sticky up thing

Sunday morning early February and I've arranged to meet some folk off the web in Dovedale. I'm getting quite good at being out of bed at 7am on a Sunday morning and it's promising to snow so even better. 

Dovedale is in The White Peak and I may have walked around here back in the past (circa 1985) when I was staying at @The malham's Cottage' off the tele. It was actually Aidan's grandads cottage I think he just rented out to the Malhams...or something like that. All I remember about the holiday is that the place was in the middle of nowhere, had no electricity and no water except from a well at the bottom of a field.  As ever with recall a few more things have popped into my head, Aidan had an axe and even in those pre smoking days I was knackered walking up hills. (not as knackered as Craig and Shad get though!).

I'm going to have a rant about the over use of exclamation marks soon!! but not today as I'm being concise.

We met in the centre of Hartington in deepest Derbyshire and it's a bit of a not quite pretty enough to be lovely one horse village. The valleys around the village were anything but 'one horse'. Some of the routes resembled Wakefield town centre on a Saturday night, lots of folk wandering round looking lost, but with a lot less dribbling. 

One of the things I love about walking with the webby folk is their ability to swim right across any river......ok it's not, it's the fact that all I have to do is arrive at a meeting point and walk. No prep what so ever. About 10 of us set off into the valleys, Jane and Richard had organised the route and they had even walked it a few weeks earlier or so they professed. The moment Richards map actually went around 520 degrees for the second time I was starting to have my doubts. 'GPS' check...phew.

The walk was perfectly fine, really pretty valleys and rivers, really odd shaped rocks sticking up in places they shouldn't be, some splendid caves and reasonably dry and flat most of the way. As ever though, it's the people and the odd stuff you see and talk about that make the day.

Warning rambling bit....

My pal Copey doesn't really do name dropping, he just happens to know a few famous folk and his other mates own big chunks of land. Spode was the families coffee cup maker, as in owned by the family and all the thank you letters start Dear Tarquin, Julian, etc. This is one of Craig's phrases having met Copey 'he doesn't know many binmen'. Now this is the really good bit about the web people, they really could be binmen or at least people who do useful stuff. The topics of conversation, perspectives, importance of events are so removed from the rest of my pals opinions that it realigns your own thoughts. I guess its natural that when you've known folk for many years, your references become very similar and your viewpoints are fairly narrow, well you'd piss each other off otherwise. 

A window cleaner who loves The Clash's first album (and what's not to like), students who know exactly how to run the world, ex army chaps who can do sausages on sticks, nurses who nurse, teachers who want to disembowel their students, and engineers in fact the whole spectrum. You do have to be careful who you take the piss out of mind. I haven't got into bother yet, but I suspect its just a timing issue. let's hope I don't make an enemy of the ninja spy person.

This is Jonno in a cave,(well the chap in red is),  he's a student living in Stoke, from Darlington, but talks with a broad geordie accent and supports 'The Toon'. I kept my mouth shut as I'm pretty sure anywhere north of York on that side is geordie to most people. 

The funniest moment of the day was watching a kid bombing ducks with rather large stones every time his parents backs were turned and then being a little angel as they turned around to check on him. 

12 miles later and after one ridiculous fall by me on the flat which certainly deserved a yellow, we ended up back at the start point.....and oh look a pub. Really enjoyed the low level peaceful day, shame it didn't snow more.

A bit of music

The album of the week is Polly Scattergood - by Polly Scattergood. She's not the new Kate Bush as has been said by a few lazy journos, but she does have a decent tune or two. It's a bit dark in places , a bit girly with the poetry stuff, but if you fancy a quiet listen to something with a glass of wine you could do far worse.

This is really good -  I hate the way  switch the volume up Rich

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Ground Control

Less rambling more incisive prose?

Well not on here. It's the usual gumph and a gig this time. 

Richy Rich, 'how do you fancy seeing God is an Astronaut at the Brudenell Social Club?' not something that's said everyday. I was also swayed by the 3 bands for £6.50 argument and well versed in the art of 'aye go on then', it's like taiquondo' for easily lead Smoggies, I found myself in Leeds on a cold Friday night in January with Rich and his girlfriend/partner Merri.

Leeds is not the best place to use the phrase 'what could possibly go wrong', having lived in Leeds for a few years, partied in Leeds often and been to the festival consistently there are a whole bunch of stories of 'gone wrongs'. To save the rambling, put all these words into the next 10 paragraphs (with other words and phrases for padding)

Broken ribs
Bale of Hay
Leopard skin top
golf in the attic
Winston Churchill's boots
Flour in the hall
Running over cars
'Let me off the bus'
How much rain
Barrels on Hills
Full set of Roadworks
Women slashing in the blokes urinals

and many more I hesitate to mention on account I'm still mates with some of you and wouldn't want to implicate the guilty.

So 'what could possibly go wrong' for £6.50. Well firstly Rich had had a bit of a turn and was on drugs to calm him down and not allowed to drink, although he is brilliant at snooker now. When we got there, I remembered The Brudenell social club from my distant past, well I'd lived in the pub next door for about 6 months...this was going well. (Rich had finished pint 1)

Beers in hand (really cheap beer at that) and a swift chat and on came the first support band Solus Locus to the immortal opening line 'this is our last gig'. I honestly haven't laughed so much at a No 3 band ever. The first song was for all their friends which was nice but it amounted to about 8 people, and even that would have been ok but for the slow bit in the middle where he said ' get your lighters in the air' One lighter went up!

Two songs later 'this is for my mum and dad' , 'oh what, they left?' magic. The 'roadie' not singing pal got on stage to not sing, the drummer actually quit the band halfway through the last song and had just about packed his kit up and left before the end without saying cheerio to the rest of them and then finally, les enfant bastardo Jarvis Cocker look-a-likey lead singer stood precariously on his single flimsy standing keyboard with all  the grace of a geeky stork balancing on a pin head. I may have been the only person applauding, but I was just hoping he was going to fall into the Justin from the Darkness mode and think it was real, wave back and fall on his face. 'Oh well of for another pint Rich?' 'Aye go on then'.

Support act number 2, I Concur came on and were excellent, most notably for the blurriest lead guitarists hand since Bernard from New Order last strapped a guitar on in anger. 'pint Rich?' 

And then the Astronaut blokes appeared, looking a bit 'middle of Norfolk' for my liking but heck do they make a great sound. The singing and words were a bit sparse but the tunes were brilliant, in fact think Mogwai turned down a tad and with more tunes. Gets my vote. 'one for the road Rich?'

In the old days I would have walked back from here to town or at least jumped in a car and said 'as far as possible for £1.35p in bronze money' (this did happen circa 1985). But older and wiser we phoned our trusty taxi driver who said 'I'll be with you in 10 minutes'. Why I fell for this again I don't know. I fell for the drunken kebab option too. 

Kebab almost gone after 15 minutes we phone the cab 'two minutes mate' and one more time 'end of the road mate'. Bollocks it was getting cold so we nicked some other blokes cab, I think Merri was impressed. 

Well right up until the point that the taxi got hit by the hit and run stolen car she was impressed. (refer back to 'what could possibly go wrong'). It was more of a clipped the front quite hard, than a head on or side smash, so we'd kind of got away with it. UNTIL the taxi driver started chasing the stolen car (on our bill) I'm sure I was directing him quite well at top speed, meanwhile Ric's shouting 'no that way'. Fortunately after about 3 minutes or so we lost him (thanks Ric). We arrived back at the hotel 10 minutes later more shaken than stirred and just in time for last orders 'one last beer Ric'

'Not for me mate, medication you know'

top night all round

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Everyday is like Sunday

If you've never been to Matlock Bath, then take your gran for a day out she'll love it. Its like the seaside sans sea, no onshore breeze of sea fret, no winkles and no sand. But and here's the good bit all the crap bits are still there. Amusement arcades, bingo callers , candy floss and a billion chip shops, add to this bunches of bikey types and the cool kids hanging out and its perfect for old folk. On a slight aside I've been told that Rosie is in the cool kids gang at school, I must have had a shocked look on my face when Jess put me right ' oh dad surely you can tell, she looks like a Wotsit in eye liner' top line. (I'll try and get a photo).

It was more Seaton Carew in the hills than Blackpool although it does have a chair really a very big one too.

Back to Matlock, I've got pals that live near here and they are the type of pals that would only play football if it was on the field outside their house so their mam could keep an eye on them. (No names no pack drill). So if your pals wont walk anywhere else, walk in their back yard.

What's with the whole 50 year old thing at the moment, everyone I know who hits 50 seems to want to walk everywhere at double pace like one of those dodgy armies with their feet clicking and treble speed arm movements. It was Tim a couple of weeks ago with the 'Brendon Foster' ie no sprint to the finish option, but can run like a knackered Labrador for the whole distance. Mal on the other hand turned out to be more your Steve Cram in 1984 form legging it from the front at a relentless sprint pace from start to finish. I'm sure that Craig gave me a look that said  ' you trip him and I'll punch him'.

And having mentioned Steve Cram and this may be a bit showey off and open to interpretation after all this time, but back in the mid 80's we happened to be in Oslo on the day of the Golden Mile athletics meeting. As luck would have it we saw three world records (two real one and a jumpy thing). We also managed to get Sunderland supporting Crammy to run round the track waving a Boro flag having just smashed the mile world record. It was actually a union flag with BORO written on it in gaffa tape or something of the sort, still even to this day i bet he doesn't know. And we were on sportsnight....I bet Craig has still got copies of The Radio Times, Althletics Weekly, monthly and daily, as well as the annual review from that year all showing the flag with Crammy.

Now this is a real aside but I am tempted to tell how a couple of weeks earlier you (Craig) told the old people how you had gone to Spain to die...just so you friends and family didn't get upset!!

And so the Thursday night we met up with a bunch of old pals in one of the remaining not shut pubs in Matlock...its was like a mini recession tidal wave had hit Matlock and MB in the first few weeks of 2009 and everything was closed. So beer it was and I've definitely concluded that the correct order is Walk / beer / gig. If this is reversed you just end up setting off late and feeling crap and it cost me an extra breakfast this time for mal who had turned up on time. Still it did give the rain a chance to clear.

Walking rule page one of the handbook (see druids handbook for different tips) 'start on a gentle incline to ensure a gradule warm up of the body'. Mals option was basically ...climb the cliff face out of Matlock Bath..........I thought Craig was going to waste his breakfast money too. For completeness we passed Gulliver Kingdom and it looked really rubbish even closed.

So up the cliff face we went with our bad hangovers looking longingly at the cable car which wasn't running... damn. By the time we reach the top 2 of us were knackered but the hangover was cured. As we walked along the tops Mal recounted stories of ancient Matlock. (Meanwhile and obviously still in hangover fug I managed to mix up Mals current and ex wives names, Mal, Val and Jan is not easy in that state!!). He did leave home with only a guitar and his underwear so I think he'd pretty much made his mind up where he wanted to spend the rest of his life and I bet he doesn't get the names wrong.

'So this is where the man was trampled to death by cows'...............WHAT! 'No it wasn't I responded' but Mal has since sent a variety of emails about other places where people 'may' have been kicked by the odd cow and I'm still not having it. Craig had a pair of new boots on and was starting to do a bit of a Shad and I think he was relieved as we headed downhill into Matlock. More stories of Matlock Mayhem and boxing day boat deaths. They really should rename the place Midsomer Matlock. Just so Craig didn't get too comfy we started up the other side of the valley to see the castle at the top of the hill which at various times has been

Home for the deaf
Secret hideaway

depending on which story you fell for, Craig was having none of this. The gates were locked and his foot was smarting a bit. At his point he could have stamped his feet and demanded to return to the car. Instead he did indeed turn into Shad and limp with a wounded soldier face. That was until

I made a complete arse of myself by falling and then sliding down the hill/river/soggy grass bank and bringing a smile to everyones face. I was bloody soaked through as we headed back to the car via more stories of local boys made good. 'old Arkwrights Mule' lived here in the old mill. Arkwright  it turned out was also a bit of a druggy (fitted in well with the locals on the non seafront then) and also a bit dodgy on many fronts. I don't remember too many of the details on this but I'm pretty sure Mal can enlighten us.

6 miles and hangover gone, feeling a lot sharper we got back to the car. Its a couple of hours back to home from Matlock so for once and inspired by Mals leave everything approach...I've decided to declutter. The theory goes that I'll get rid off all the stuff i no longer use or need and then be left with loads of time and space to do other stuff.....genius. I'm not going to go for the 2 minutes approach mal did but more of a concerted 6 month ish approach but that by my next birthday I'll have lots less 'stuff'. This blog became an early victim of the declutter but its now an as and when essential reference old nonsense. Anyway I'll post any progress.

I was also going to add some music but you'll just have to hum along

January album review - White Lies....a bit over hyped now but certainly the best I heard in January