Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Wednesday, 23 May 2018


Here are three images of Montrose taken on today's 'biscuit run'.

A great day without too much pressure on the TGO Challenge Control Room.

But only about 100 Challengers have finished so far. That leaves around 200 to come in, most of them tomorrow. It'll be a busy day.

Lovely evening with nearly 40 at dinner, including a number of very good friends who we haven't seen for some time. No pictures due to battery failure on this old phone. Replacement is imminent.

Good news of the day: hernia op fixed for 8 June, so we can now make plans for the summer.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

TGO Challenge Control on a quiet day

The lull before the storm. Only thirty or so finishers to process so far. Over 300 to go. It'll be all hands to the pumps:

Goodie bag
Dinner tickets
Pin badge
Sock swap
Sign in
Write out certificate
Provide tea and coffee, biscuits, cake and shortbread, wash up, replenish
Sell mug, extra t-shirt, pin badge if not ordered

for each of these finishers....

Monday, 21 May 2018

A Trip to Tarfside

Many TGO Challengers pass through Tarfside, which is between one and three days from Montrose, depending on which way you walk. A small team of volunteers at St Drostans provides sustenance for those passing through. They nearly ran out of beer last night, so I was despatched on a mission of mercy, via a convenient liquor store.

The team was pleased to receive the delivery and posed gratiously behind Ann's delicious scones. I was obliged to test them, straight from the oven, with Ann's home made jam.

Delicious, as were some of the views on the 40 minute journey. Meanwhile, Montrose spent the day engulfed in sea fret.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Scurdie Ness

Scurdie Ness, seen here from a vantage point during an early morning bout of light exercise, is a favourite finishing point for TGO Challengers like Stefan, also pictured. 

Stefan, who took a route from Mallaig to St Cyrus, was this year's third finisher, much earlier than most due to work commitments. He had enjoyed this year's wonderful weather, despite which the drop out rate of more than 10% is greater than usual.

We were pleased to welcome Sue to the team at Challenge Control. She had a journey from Manchester that started with the excitement of an audience with garishly dressed Michael Portillo and finished with a lift from Arbroath after a meltdown of the east coast mainline train service due to a broken down train. Luckily she was just in time for tea. 

Saturday, 19 May 2018

TGO Challenge 2018

This isn't the usual TGO Challenge report. There are ten of those to choose from to read amongst these pages, plus another in 2007.

This year Sue and I are helping at TGO Challenge Control at the Park Hotel in Montrose. Just for the second week of the event when extra help is needed to cope with the arrival of around 300 people at the signing in point in Montrose.

I travelled up by car today, a week later than originally planned, my day having started with over an hour's worth of root canal treatment. After that I popped down to join the Wythenshawe parkrunners for a coffee. Conditions were perfect for running; there were lots of Personal Best times. I was quite miffed not to have been able to do it.

The six and a half hour drive (330 miles) was punctuated with many stops, but I arrived at 6pm, in plenty of time for the day's 'special' of chicken lasagne, after a quick induction into the system for monitoring participants.

The middle picture showing Pauline with some washing up, and Bernie and Alison with phones in their hands and surrounded by paperwork, just about sums it up.

Sue and I have kindly been lent accommodation a five minute walk from the hotel in the palace shown in the bottom picture.

We are in for a busy week. 

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Wednesday 16 May 2018 – Happy Valley with SWOG


On such a nice evening Sue and I felt obliged to attend Stockport Walking & Outdoors Group’s (SWOG) evening walk to Happy Valley, which we visited on 11 April with Paul and Jeanette. It was a lot greener and completely mud free on this occasion.

Our route was much shorter this time, with plentiful parking in a large lay-by at SJ 912 857 (SK7 5JY), from where 23 ‘Swoggers’ strode off, led by Louise, at 7.30 prompt.


A steep path past Norbury House Farm led very quickly to the well manicured footpaths of Happy Valley Nature Reserve. Lady Brook was benign and shaded in the evening light.


Thanks to a virtual absence of stiles, the group made good progress, though the stalwart vanguard pictured below did have to pause occasionally to allow re-grouping. It’s difficult to get 23 people to walk at the same pace; Louise did well to keep them together.


We stopped at SJ 900 859, where our path started the top of the clockwise ‘lollipop’ route (see map below).


There’s a choice of several paths to Bramhall Park, tonight’s being the direct one, whereas you could choose an alternative to the south. There were some lovely Copper Beeches in the park next to the golf course.


After passing an active running club training in the grounds of Bramhall Hall, we endured a short section of busy roads before re-entering the Nature Reserve at the point where Sue is shown at the head of this posting. Then past mallards and small weirs as we proceeded alongside Lady Brook, with magnificent residencies to our left, before crossing the brook at the bridge at the base of our ‘lollipop’.


Returning along the excellent path we’d come down earlier, there were many glances back to the sunset, and up to the tree tops to vociferous thrushes.


Here’s our route – 6 km with about 40 metres ascent, taking a leisurely hour and a half.


A lovely outing on excellent paths.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Sunday 13 May 2018 – Along the Bridgewater Canal and Trans Pennine Trail, and some Hangers-on


Once the paths have dried out I enjoy an 18.7km circuit on the bike along the Bridgewater Canal to Stretford, then along the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) to the Bay Malton pub, before re-joining the canal towpath to get home in a shade under an hour.

I reported on the same ride on 3 April 2017, but it has taken until now for me to get back on this route this year. It’s muddy in winter and I don’t like having to clean the bike after such a short outing.

On this visit the towpath was justifiably very busy, but the TPT was empty apart from a couple of horse riders.

Here’s the route, which includes about three km of tarmac but which is otherwise pleasantly off-road and provides an hour’s good quality exercise.


Afterwards some hangers-on appeared with their mum, who promptly abandoned them and went for a run. Wasn’t Jessica looking smart in her Princess outfit, trying to outdo Jacob in some sort of primeval contest?


Saturday, 12 May 2018

Saturday 12 May 2018 – Wythenshawe parkrun number 338


The pictures above and below this text were taken after 11 o’clock this morning, when most of the runners had left the post run sanctuary known as the Courtyard Tea Room. I’d just not taken any pictures until then, having been distracted by the sudden realisation, after I’d finished, that I’d left my barcode at home. There’s a strict policy of ‘no barcode, no time’, so I pedalled as fast as I could back home to fetch said item before Jenn started to process the results.

“Is that sweat, or has someone thrown a bucket of water over you?” one jester whose name could only be Andy asked on my return.


It was all worthwhile, as having tried and failed for many months to get under 25 minutes for the 5 km, and consistently failed to reach my age related target of 70%, today I managed both, with 22.51 and 76%. The four week break I’ve had from running must have healed my injuries!

Or were these ‘hut slippers’ the reason for my quicker than usual time? – they weigh 245 grams (about 4 ounces each) and make me feel very light on my feet.


Full results for the 279 participants are here.

Friday, 11 May 2018

First Brood


Whilst our swifts are rustling to the sound of Radio 2’s non-stop oldies in their cosy incubatory nest under the eaves, the local lady mallards are busy looking after their first broods. Rather ominous as these birds were positioned just where a heron often stands, alert for tasty morsels….

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Still Summer in Timperley


I’m not getting out much. It feels a bit odd to be staying at home when all the TGO Challengers are flocking up to their starting points on the west coast of Scotland. Good luck to all our friends who are on this year’s Challenge. I’ve been in touch with one of the Timperley contingent this evening – JJ, who seems to have overshot his official start point and landed in Tobermory. An excellent choice.

Living conveniently close to the airport gave us the pleasure of providing a light lunch today to two of the Austrian TGO contingent, Markus and Silke, en route from Vienna to Strathcarron, via a brief pause in Manchester. It was good to see them looking all kitted out and in good form. It was quite important for us to meet up with them as the maps I sent to Austria got lost in the post, so their maps were printed yesterday and handed over today. Phew!

We also have the company of ‘Family Swift’, who arrived on 8 May, as they did last year, and probably on the same day for many years before that. They are initially quiet, perhaps resting from a long journey, laying, and incubating, before getting noisier in July and August. They live less than two metres away from us when we are in our study, where currently we just hear rustling sounds, presumably from their spring cleaning and getting comfortable.

In other news, we had an enjoyable visit to Dot, my mum, who is fit and well apart from an eye problem, but was somewhat distressed to be beaten at cards (nomination whist) by Sue, who had to admit that she had been secretly practicing in Mallorca.

Our local LEJOGger, Cary, who has been blogging brilliantly from his Lizard Point to Dunnet Head walk, see ‘From the Bottom to the Top’, turned up earlier this week with a damaged foot, so having managed to get as far as Marsden he has decided on a pause. At least that will give readers a chance to catch up with reading his first 40 instalments of this long walk, and it gives me another crocked person with whom to commiserate.

That’s all for now, Sue and I are both reading Matthew Walker’s book – ‘Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams’, and apparently we all need to get eight hours sleep a night. So it’s bedtime.


Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Monday 7 May 2018 – Six in a Bar at Eagley Jazz Club


Sue and I hadn’t seen Mike Lovell’s ‘Six in a Bar’ band before, so it was a great pleasure to get to this gig, despite the police shutting the A666 for twenty minutes last night. Rather frustrating as we were fifth in the queue – another few seconds and we’d have got through. Anyway, we squeezed in at the back next to Andy at the well attended function.

In fact, I think it must have been ‘Five in a Bar, Plus One’ as there was a stand-in for Phil Lucas, unless he’s aged a lot recently.

The highlight for me was Colin Turner’s bass saxophone, which seemed to me to be a more versatile instrument than the traditional double bass.

All in all, another great evening at Eagley Jazz Club, at which the next gigs are shown below.

Monday 21st May

Monday 4th June

Six in a Bar feature regularly at the North Euston Hotel in Fleetwood, often in the afternoon. We may combine one of these with a walk…

Sunday, 6 May 2018

High Summer in Timperley


We made it back from Mallorca sometime after midnight, the delay and the flight enabling me to enjoy Gail Honeyman’s most captivating read – ‘Eleanor Olivant is Completely Fine’.

After enduring perhaps the wettest day I’ve encountered in many visits to Mallorca, the return to ‘Summer in Timperley’ was an absolute delight, today’s weather being rather more clement than that in Spain.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Saturday 5 May 2018 - Soller and Port de Soller

Another rainy day.

We helped Robert and Lyn to clean the apartment as we were all leaving today. They have three nights in a nice B&B to round off their holiday, and today they headed off for a short bike ride along the disused railway line from Artá.

The Berlingo wheeled its way yet again up the road towards Lluc. But instead of the usual bike/bus clogged road, today's tally was just eight bikes and one bus passed on the road to Lluc. Another four bikes were seen later climbing up from Soller.

The rain was persistent. We took refuge in the gallery Can Prunera Museu Modernista. The works of several of Mallorca's finest artists and sculptors are housed in this fine building. A separate entry with more images might follow. I just felt it a shame that the vibrant family home with lovely furniture and immaculate tiled floors had been turned over to museum status.

The staff at Café Soller in the main square were a bit stressed, with a couple of big groups of dripping customers moving chairs so that they could sit together. The brainless oafs didn't realise that by doing this they were blocking access for the waitresses. We chose five different tapas dishes each - they were laid out with numbers by the kitchen, so it was easy to choose what we wanted. It turned out to be a very tasty lunch.

A visit to Port de Soller in the rain followed. The bottom couple of pictures suggest the ambience was not exactly 'summery'; I think it's probably warmer in Timperley just now!

By 4 pm we'd had enough, so we pottered back to OK Rentacar where no problems were encountered and we didn't have to wait very long for a courtesy bus to the airport.

I'm writing from a departure lounge bathed in sunshine. We will be here for some time as our incoming flight from Manchester set off over an hour late.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Friday 4 May 2018 - A Walk Around the S'Albufera de Mallorca Natural Park

14 km, 0 metres ascent, 3.5 hours.

A rainy day.

We stayed in all morning while it drizzled outside. I had a long snooze.

After a bread and cheese lunch, Sue and I headed off towards the Alcudia Peninsula with a 400 metre peak in mind. But the peak was in cloud and the rain fairly robust, so we settled for a walk around the nature reserve. It turned out to be my most energetic outing of a fairly lazy week.

The second picture shows our red route number 3 around the reserve, the principal interest in which is the birds, but there is further interest in the flora, and in fauna - we spied a small rat, and some fat carp.

Birds seen on this ramble include many that we failed to identify, but here's a list including a few others seen this week:

Blackcap - a pair in our garden
Black-winged Stilt
Carrion Crow
Eider Duck
House Sparrows (very chatty)
Little Egret
Marsh Harriers (a pair hunting in the reserve)
Pied Wagtail
Swifts, Swallows and Martins flocking to grab insects near an observation tower
White Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Numerous LBJs and warblers

Our walk was mainly in light drizzle, on a good variety of paths, through woodland and beside reed beds and farmland, but we finished with a rainless hour or so that enabled our waterproofs to dry off nicely. It started raining again as soon as we finished around 5.45.

The Black-winged Stilt has already been featured, so today we have a couple of flower pictures -  a Marsh Orchid (maybe - our flower book is at home), and Orchis apiera which Sue says is a Bee Orchid. We also saw Serapias parviflora but you'll have to wait for a picture.

Robert and Lyn returned to base shortly after us after a soggy bike ride, and we then embarked on a bid to consume all the edibles in the apartment, boosted today by the purchase of a large bag of lamb chops to accompany the rosemary picked up by Sue on Puig Massanella. So it was 'Lamb a la Massanella' for dinner.

Later, after Sue and Lyn had again been thrashed at cards ("it's a game of luck"), we enjoyed a final showing of the 'Weetabix movie' produced by the genius of Chris Fielding. A classic.

We go home tomorrow.