Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 6 June 2015

A Visit to Dot

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On Thursday, Sue and I enjoyed a visit to Eccleshall, to try to cheer up Dot, who is injured from a fall and unable to walk to the shops. We hope she recovers quickly.

We spent a happy hour or so in her garden before spending an hour and a half chatting to other drivers on the M6 after we got trapped by an accident. Looking at some of the tailgating going on on the other side of the road, it’s perhaps not surprising that some drivers are unable to retain control of their vehicles.

Another half hour delay greeted us in Altrincham, where a lorry had killed a pedestrian and in a separate accident a police car had crashed, blocking the ‘diversion’ route. Luckily, we didn’t really suffer apart from being slightly delayed. In fact, we regard ourselves lucky not to have been involved in the accidents.

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It was also distressing to see parkrunner Jeanette arrive on crutches this morning, having tripped in the street and broken a kneecap. Thankfully race director Alan took pity and relocated Jeanette’s marshalling point from the ‘far bridge’ to somewhere closer. Thanks for your shouts of encouragement as we passed you Jeanette, I did a reasonable time though I was only third out of seven in my age group. Sue and I wish you a speedy recovery. (Results are here.)

Friday, 5 June 2015

Wednesday 3 June 2015 – An Evening Walk with SWOG – Godley

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32 stalwarts from SWOG (Stockport Walking and Outdoors Group) assembled near Godley railway station and the entrance to Vincent Park. Sue found a friendly horse, and I found a pretty tree.

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We set off along a disused freight line now utilised by the Trans Pennine Trail.

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There are some fancy signs.

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.. and some fancy gestures from someone who should know better (see slideshow)

We reached the Peak Forest Canal and its muddy towpath. After a while Old John needed a break where the towpath changed to the other side of the canal. Poor chap, his leg has gone wonky.

We enjoyed the lovely evening light.

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32 people created quite a long crocodile.

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We left the canal near Hyde Central Station and wound our way back to Vincent Park along minor roads and ginnels (see map below).

We passed this castellated pigsty, which I noted when we were last here on 6 August 2014, dates from 1767. (Previously we walked from a different spot in the opposite direction, on a similarly pleasant evening.)

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We passed this tree house with window boxes.... Campbell lives here, we concluded, though he tried to deny it.

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Here's the flattish route - a little under 8 km in an hour and three quarters, ending on this occasion with beers at Godley Hall Inn.

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An excellent outing, there’s a slideshow (20 images) here. Click on the first image, then click ‘slideshow’.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Sunday 31 May 2015 – Resurfaced Towpaths on the Bridgewater Canal

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First, I’m pleased to discover that Windows Live Writer is now working again.

Having received some positive information from Jan Williams at Saturday’s parkrun (congratulations to Sue on breaking her PB, by the way), I decided to cycle towards Manchester beyond Waters Meet, from where I know the Bridgewater Canal towpath has been resurfaced as far as the swing bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal.

I had thought the resurfacing on the Rochdale Canal link via Castlefield ended shortly after Waters Meet, so I expected to encounter mud fairly quickly. It was therefore a surprise to discover that the towpath has been resurfaced all the way to Castlefield. Great. If I was still working in town I could now cycle mainly off road on a firm surface and be at my desk within an hour, which is the time it used to take me by car.

No wonder I seem to be encountering more and more commuting cyclists when I go out at certain times. I just hope they remember that they are not the only users of the towpath and they respect others, especially dog walkers, who shouldn’t be expected to keep their charges on leads.

The top picture shows the new surface heading towards Castlefield from Throstle Nest Bridge, where the towpath crosses the bridge.

As I passed through Sale I noticed these ‘hooligans of tomorrow’ being herded in large numbers by their obnoxious parents.

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If only we were allowed to trap them, I’m sure they would provide some tasty snacks!

Shortly before reaching Castlefield I decided to try to find an off-road route along the northern side of the Ship Canal, to get to the swing bridge and return home alongside the Bridgewater Canal. Taking a convenient bridge, this worked fine for a while, but beyond the BBC studios a short section of road was needed before the pavement incorporated a cycle track. The final section into Eccles was also along a road.

This ride does provide a good route from Timperley that doesn’t involve any mud. The path I took is shown below – it was over 32 km, but if the exploratory diversions are ironed out it would be about 30 km from Timperley Bridge.

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Thanks to Jan for alerting me to this, and to Mike’s excellent ‘Mad Cycle Lanes of Manchester’ blog that Jan also put me on to. Anyone keen on cycling off-road in Greater Manchester could do worse than take a good look at some of Mike’s postings.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Chardonnay chicken with artichoke hearts


This chicken casserole goes well with creamy mashed potato or basmati and wild rice.
There is plenty of sauce so the recipe is very flexible, so you can do 2 thighs per person,
or add more to serve more people.

These ingredients will serve 6-8 people

 

12 chicken thighs, on or off the bone, skin removed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
15 gm / ½ oz butter
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp caster sugar
25 gm / 1 oz plain flour
300 ml / ½ pint Chardonnay or dry white wine
225 gm / 8 oz small chestnut mushrooms, whole
1 x 400 gm can artichoke hearts
2 tbsp full-fat crème fraîche
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Method
1       Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat the oil and butter in a large deep frying pan (we use a Le Creuset casserole pan) and brown the chicken thighs all over, using more oil/butter as needed. Lift out onto a plate.
2       Add the onions, garlic and sugar to the oil remaining in the pan and cook over a low heat for about 15-20 minutes until tender.
3       Turn up the heat and allow the onions to brown. Sprinkle in the flour, thoroughly blending, add the wine and stir well. Bring to the boil, stirring until thickened.
4       Return the chicken to the pan with the mushrooms, season and bring to the boil. Simmer (covered) over a low heat, or transfer to a slow oven at 160°C/325°F/Gas 3 and cook with the lid on until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes.
5       Drain the artichokes, cut them in half, and add to the chicken. Heat through gently then add the crème fraîche, check the seasoning and stir in most of the parsley.
6       Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve with creamy mash or basmati and wild rice

cook now, eat later TO PREPARE AND COOK AHEAD
Prepare to the end of step 4. Cool quickly, cover and keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Reheat until piping hot, stirring in the artichokes towards the end of reheating. Stir in the crème fraîche and parsley to serve.

TO FREEZE 
Cool quickly and freeze at the end of step 4 for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat until piping hot. Continue with steps 5 and 6.

Recipe From Mary Berry’s Book
’Cook now, Eat Later’

Note:
This entry was triggered by a complaint about this recipe from our topwalks.com website that I received whilst on the TGO Challenge. The person concerned claimed there was not enough liquid. I usually use greater quantities, which may make a difference, so on return from Scotland I cooked a batch exactly as prescribed by the recipe. There was plenty of liquid, as you can see from the picture. I don't know what the complainant was doing wrong; perhaps she left the lid off the casserole...

Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Trent and Mersey Canal


The missing image at the top of the last post is intrinsic to that post, but I don't like to see that at the head of my blog.

Some of the images in the 'Cruising' trip that I've adjusted here by clicking on 'HTML' and changing the pixel size are now showing at a horribly low resolution, so I've tried to provide an improved version of one of them above.

The lower image has been added at the pixel size of 550 width and 410 height that I use when composing in WLW - I had to adjust it in HTML in Blogger to get this, and it's after 'Save for Web' using Photoshop.

The upper image has not been 'saved for web', simply saved into the folder I use for posting to the web, at a size of 1.3Mb. When inserted into this posting using Blogger's 'X-large' setting, it was too big for this page, so I found the size by clicking on 'HTML' and I reduced the width from 1600 to 1400 and the height from 640 to 560. This seems to have worked well.

At least viewers now see images rather than a black cross, and I hope my efforts may be useful to someone - probably you are already loading images in the manner I have just discovered! I suppose I ought to go back to the 'Cruising' images and reload them by the method that has produced the upper image, but I have other priorities just now...