Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Austria - Day 0

Saturday 8 July 2017 - Timperley to Zell am See

Richard's 9.30 am taxi saw us (me, Sue and Susan) speeding to the airport and being left rather bemused after dropping off my hold bag full of walking poles, ice axes and crampons, and getting through security before 10 am!

The easyJet flight (Airbus A320 with very thin and not that comfortable new seats) to Munich left an hour late, but our connections all worked fine.

There were a few showers, but generally fine weather, though it looks changeable. Lovely mountain scenery on the latter stages of the journey. 

Reached Zell am See at 20.15 as planned. Meet and greet service was provided by Cary, who despite setting off four days before the rest of us only just managed to reach the destination half an hour before us. At this rate he'll be a week behind by the time we finish. 

In that half hour Cary had managed to book a satisfactory restaurant, after which indulgence we got a taxi to Pension Milan, where we have a cheap (you pay for what you get) room for four with an excellent shower.

Despite Cary crocking himself on the edge of a bed, we are pretty much intact and ready for some exercise.

The photos are, as usual, in chronological harmony.
 

Friday, 7 July 2017

Friday 7 July 2017 – Bridge Over the River Mersey

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Whilst Sue pottered off to work on her bike, Susan and I lounged around before deciding on a modest circuit by way of a stroll from home.

We strolled through Newton Park and Woodheys Park before making our way to the Trans Pennine Trail. That took us around Carrington Moss to Banky Meadow and on to the Bridge Over the River Mersey.

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A short stretch along the river bank led to a good track to…

A Bridge Over the M60 Ring Road.

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After passing under the A56 in Stretford, we soon found ourselves in the familiar surroundings* of the Bridgewater Canal in Stretford.

Time to leave the Trans Pennine Trail and pause for lunch. Luckily I had sandwiches.

Then we enjoyed coffee and cake outside (it was a hot day) a café in Sale, before purchasing a couple of bananas and heading home past Walton Park, where the railway station was being treated to a new canopy. Luckily there are no services on a Friday, so the work could continue unimpeded by loud whistles and blasts of steam.

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Here’s the route – 17.5 km in about four hours. A nice gentle stroll in pleasant surroundings and excellent training for a little amble on which we are about to embark.

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* Actually, all these surroundings are very familiar as the route is more or less the reverse of a regular 50 minute bike ride that I use for a bit of exercise.

Thursday 6 July 2017 – An Evening Walk around Lower Withington (Deepest Cheshire)

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Susan flew in from JFK yesterday to join us on the latest of Andrew’s ‘Deepest Cheshire’ walks, starting from a one-stop hostelry that provided copious Cava. Thank you Andrew and Rosemary, that certainly got us off to a good start.

The walk took us around Lower Withington, through some woodland, up a three metre hill, and across some fields.

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The pathways through the crops were a little cramped, but no significant difficulties were encountered.

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The above and below pictures are courtesy of Jenny’s crap camera wonderful photography, the lower one showing how close to Jodrell Bank’s radio telescope we were.

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We passed a few buildings. One with PVC windows replacing the original sash windows seemed particularly upsetting to Andrew.

The old farm building pictured below claims to date from 1658, when a diarist may have recorded the following events:

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That building has certainly lived through a lot of world events…

Here’s our route, assiduously planned by Andrew and equally assiduously recorded by Graham. It was a shade under 8 km, with about 40 metres ascent, taking rather less than 2 hours.

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More Cava and crisps awaited at the end (at now a ‘two-stop hostelry’), before we stumbled off home. Rosemary probably headed the stumblers as she had been left alone with opened bottles of Cava for two hours. We hope she made it.

The next walk takes place whilst Sue and I are abroad, but Andrew assures me that it is ‘unmissable’ and he is expecting a huge turnout. I wonder whether anyone will have time to send me a report? Here’s the flier:

Thursday 13 July

7.30pm from parking area near Redesmere Lake, Redesmere Lane, Siddington (SJ 849 713). 5-6 miles, adjourning to the Blacksmiths Arms in Henbury (SJ 878 736).

Monday 3 July 2017 – The Dixie Beats at Eagley Jazz Club

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It was good to see Reg K back in good form after his cataract operations, and to be entertained for the evening by Bolton’s leading Dixieland Jazz Band. (Aka – Traditional Jazz Band.)

Ted Watton, featured on reeds to the left of Giant John Percival, is more commonly found in the audience at Eagley, so it was strange to see him playing in a band.

Another excellent evening’s entertainment. Thank you.

Sunday 2 July 2017 – The Clwydian Hills with SWOG

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Sue and I have been involved with Stockport Walking and Outdoors Group (SWOG) for the best part of ten years, but this was our first Sunday walk with them.

After rejecting the Berwyn route that I reccied with him (on the grounds that a finish after 8 pm would stretch his credibility as a walk leader), Cary chose the Clwydian Hills for today’s excursion. We met him at Loggerheads after coffee in the Visitor Centre café, leaving our car there to give drivers a lift back to their cars at the Moel Famau car park later.

Setting off at 11.00 am, our select group of thirteen was soon enjoying views down to Ruthin and far beyond, from the slopes of Moel Famau (pictured above).

There were lots of folk heading up Moel Famau. Here’s a view looking back from near the summit.

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By the time he had reached the tower that crowns the hill’s summit, Mark was suffering from third degree exhaustion.

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Moel Famau's Jubilee Tower dates back to 1810, having been erected for the golden jubilee of King George III – aka Mad King George. A crowd of 3000 people apparently assembled for the laying of the foundation stone. The column fell down after about 50 years, but the rest of the tower has survived, and has been stabilised following some recent repairs.

At 554 metres, it's the highest point in the Clwydian Hills, and it lies on the route of the Offa’s Dyke trail, along which our walk progressed all the way to Moel Arthur.

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There are good views to Merseyside and beyond. From Moel Famau, our path continued, minus grockles and drones, towards Moel Arthur on a good surface with remnants of ancient hilltop forts in constant view.

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Steve, training for the Yorkshire Three Peaks walk, led the way, and the scenery was enlivened by the ubiquitous bright purple Bell Heather, mixed with yellow flashes of tormentil and splashes of the small white flowers of crosswort, as well as ubiquitous foxgloves.

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The summits of Snowdonia could be picked out on the horizon. (If ‘not quite’ in this picture! See the slideshow.)

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Lunch was taken in view of Moel Arthur, no doubt once the site of an ancient fort. You can see the circular ‘path’ around the scalp of the hill, which may indicate the walls of a fort. The direct line of approach to the summit that Mark and I took later is obvious; the others all took a longer but gentler route that you can just see to the right of Sue’s head in the picture below.

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However, the principal source of interest during lunch was an array of birds of prey. Nearby, a kestrel was minding its own business, hovering; buzzards were on a family outing, their mewing perhaps showing irritation in that smaller birds were dive bombing them; a lone red kite was touring the area, speeding away from any minor irritation. That was all after a conspiracy of ravens had abandoned the area as we approached.

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There was also a snake in the grass!

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A peculiar looking aircraft flew over. Apparently it takes wing parts to the aerospace factory in Toulouse.

We descended sharply to a minor road.

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Mark and I ascended even more sharply to Moel Arthur. Time for another snooze for Mark. Chester soon turned up to guard him.

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There was a good view back to Moel Famau from Moel Arthur.

Whilst others took an illegal route across a field, I took a long way round and was quite a long way behind by the time I passed the small summit of Moel Plas-yw, from near which point the following picture was taken. It was a lovely day to be out.

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I caught up with the others as they tackled a short section of jungle. Most people seemed to be coming the other way, but Mark and I persevered and managed to get through after about 100 metres of intricately threading ourselves through the fallen trees. After waiting for a while, we assumed the others must have chosen another route, and we continued on easy paths for three kilometres or so into the hamlet of Cilcain. The White Horse Inn saw to our needs, and we enjoyed a quiet forty minutes with jugs of cold lager before the rest of the party emerged from the undergrowth.

Tales were concocted and exchanged, and glasses were eventually drained.

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There was no chair for our esteemed leader, Cary, who was very thirsty.

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After an idyllic hour outside the pub, we dragged ourselves off and were soon heading away from Cilcain towards Pont-newydd.

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The final section of the walk was along a leete to Loggerheads, past this mine entrance - note the people on the path below us.

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The 'leete' was a lovely contouring path in pretty woodland that presumably used to be accompanied by running water. Today the only sounds apart from our own emanated from numerous small birds of many different breeds.

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There were giant caverns leading to mine workings. I ventured into one of them and only noticed the ‘danger of death’ signs as I returned to daylight…

It was nearly 6.30 by the time we reached the café where Sue and I had earlier enjoyed a coffee and left our car.

Loggerheads: from where the car drivers were returned to their vehicles whilst others chilled out for 15 minutes.

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Most people then went home, I assume, but Sue and I opted to pop in to a pub restaurant across the road.

Here’s my route (click on it for a larger version) – others went slightly different ways. It was about 21 km, with 750 metres ascent, and took about 7.5 hours including 2 hours of stops.

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Note that the jungle section was through the woodland at the very top of the route map. Cary led most of the group around a track to the west that may not be on my map, to regain the public footpath route that Mark and I took.

Here’s a slideshow with more images.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Saturday 1 July 2017 – Wythenshawe parkrun number 295

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Jan and I were fed up with witnessing Ron Carter’s impressive sprints to the line. His PB is 26.02, so we ganged up and tried to pace him to a new personal best, and maybe slow down his final sprint.

The first kilometre went well, but sadly left Ron a little out of breath. We continued to encourage him, and were hopeful that his final sprint would do the trick.

After nearly 4 km, on the second lap around the football pitches, I looked back and saw Sue about 50 metres behind us. She shouldn’t have been there; her PB is a minute and a half slower than Ron’s.

Anyway, I dropped back to encourage her to move up to Ron. I expected a load of abuse, and was a bit gobsmacked when she complied with my instruction!

Returning to help Jan goad Ron to as good a time as was possible on the day, Sue was left to her own devices. We shouted encouragement to Ron along the lines “Speed up, Sue’s just behind you!” Ron didn’t believe us. Sue overtook him. He sped up, overtaking Sue in the finishing straight with his customary (but a bit slower than usual) sprint.

Sadly he missed his PB by 33 seconds. But on her 71st run at Wythenshawe, Sue’s time of 26.37 obliterated her previous best by 43 seconds.

Keep taking the tablets, Sue!

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Many of us then enjoyed the customary gathering in the Courtyard Tea Room.

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Full results are here.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Summer Fruit Millefeuille

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The last day of June provided an appropriate occasion to test this recipe from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection.

It was excellent, a view hopefully confirmed by our guests, R + J + M.

The recipe is here. We used a purchased roll of puff pastry to make life easy.

Also, advertisement free, see the annotated version below:

Ingredients

5 oz (150 g) raspberries, hulled
5 oz (150 g) strawberries, hulled
2 oz (50 g) redcurrants, stalks removed [We used blueberries as Sue doesn’t like redcurrants.]

For the caramelised flaky pastry: [we used one roll of bought puff pastry]

4 oz (110 g) flour with a pinch of salt added
2½ oz (60 g) butter, weighed carefully (too much makes too soft a pastry), wrapped in foil and left in the freezer for 1 hour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg, beaten
2 level tablespoons icing sugar

For the pastry cream filling:

1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 oz (25 g) caster sugar
7 fl oz (200 ml) whole milk
¾ oz (20 g) plain flour
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To finish:

5 fl oz (150 ml) double cream
1 rounded tablespoon caster sugar
icing sugar for dusting

Equipment

You will also need a baking sheet, greased.

Method

To make the pastry, first sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then take the butter from the freezer and, holding it with foil, dip it into the flour and grate it on the coarsest blade of a grater – dipping it into the flour once or twice more until it is all in the bowl.

Now take a palette knife and flick the flour over the grated butter, cutting and tossing until the flour and butter look evenly blended.

Next, sprinkle in the lemon juice, then, using your hands, gently bring the dough together, adding a few drops of water to make a firm dough that leaves the bowl clean. Wrap it in a polythene bag and chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).

Next, take a rolling pin and a tape measure, and roll the pastry out to a square measuring 12 x 12 inches (30 x 30 cm). [More like 26 x 36 if using bought puff pastry.] Using the rolling pin to roll the pastry round, carefully transfer it to the baking sheet.

Prick the surface of the pastry with a fork thoroughly and brush it all over with beaten egg, then place the baking sheet on a high shelf in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes – but do watch it carefully (no answering the phone etc) because ovens do vary.

What you need is a very brown, crisp finish. Then, to get it extra crisp, pre-heat the grill to its highest setting, sprinkle the pastry with 1 level tablespoon of the icing sugar and then literally flash it under the hot grill – don't take your eyes off it till the sugar caramelises, which it will do in just a few seconds.

Remove the pastry square from the grill and, using a sharp knife, cut it into three equal strips.

Turn them over, sprinkle the rest of the icing sugar over, and flash them under the grill once again. Once the pastry has cooled on a wire rack, it is ready to use and can be stored in a polythene box with each layer separated with a strip of silicone paper (parchment).

The pastry is very delicate, so handle it carefully, but if any strips do happen to break, don't panic – you can use them as bottom or middle layers of the millefeuille. [Using the bought pastry, the strips didn’t break, but a bit more ‘pricking’ was needed half way through the baking process.]

To make the pastry cream, break the egg into a medium-sized mixing bowl, then add the egg yolk and sugar. Next, put the milk on to warm over a gentle heat while you whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture becomes thickened and creamy – about 1 minute with an electric hand whisk on the first speed. Then sift in the flour and whisk that in.

Now turn the heat up to bring the milk to boiling point and then whisk the milk into the egg mixture. After that return the whole lot to the pan and continue to whisk, this time with a balloon whisk, over a medium heat until the mixture becomes very thick – keep the whisk going all the time because the mixture can catch very easily if you don't.

As soon as a bubble on the surface bursts, remove the sauce from the heat and quickly pour it into a bowl, then stir in the vanilla extract.

Cover the pastry cream with cling film to prevent a skin forming, and leave it to get completely cold.

When you come to assemble the millefeuille (which shouldn't be before about an hour before you want to serve it), whip the double cream and caster sugar together till fairly stiff, then fold the pastry cream into it. To assemble, place the bottom layer of pastry on a suitably sized plate or board and spread it with a quarter of the cream.

Top this with half the fruit and a further quarter of the cream.

Now place the next layer of pastry on top, pressing it gently down to fix it in place, and cover this with another layer of cream followed by the rest of the fruit and the rest of the cream.

Finally, arrange the last layer of pastry on top, dust with icing sugar and serve cut into thin slices using your sharpest knife. [Serrated bread knife was ideal.]

Delicious!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Thursday 29 June 2017 – A Visit to the Museum of Science + Industry

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During our ‘curry walks’ into Manchester, JJ, Rick, Alan and I hatched a plan to walk around the museum, as opposed to walking into town. A date was finally arranged but sadly JJ had to withdraw at the last minute, leaving the three of us to enjoy this educational outing.

Starting with the cafeteria, we moved smoothly into the Air and Space Hall, where the vehicle pictured above, a 1929 Crossley Shelsley, caught my eye. The vehicle was named after the Shelsley Walsh hill climb, that Crossley vehicles first entered in 1910, and won in 1912. The car cost £495, the price at that time of a large semi-detached house.

The hill climb is still thriving, as recently evidenced.

The star exhibit in this hall is the English Electric PIA experimental jet plane. I’ve described this on a previous visit.

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The triplane pictured below is a mock up constructed by apprentices, of an extinct model.

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Crossley is a local company. Although they didn’t produce many cars, and readers may only be familiar with the name in connection with the commercial vehicles on which they concentrated after 1938, Crossley did make this 1935 Crossley Regis 6. It looks a bit like a Riley to me. It cost £365. The cheaper Ford cars were then retailing for around £100. The Vulcan like aircraft behind it is a one third size version that was used for testing purposes.

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YAK tried to emulate Land Rover. Without success. The ‘Electric Blue’ milk float was specially commissioned by Benny Hill* after his horse died. It reached speeds of around 60 mph!

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Lots of locomotives were used on private colliery lines. Agecroft features here.

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Local companies like Mather + Platt and Ferranti feature in the museum, as expected, as well as national organisations.

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The Beattie Well Tank engine, built in Manchester, was in service on the London and South Western railway between 1874 and 1962. It has returned to the museum for three weeks before continuing its tour. It remains in full working order.

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Next to the real thing is this replica of Stevenson’s Planet engine.

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This loco is definitely not in working order, but is available for hordes of schoolchildren to inspect its cut away innards.

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We went to the old station building. Apparently the ticket office was across the road from the station, whence travellers would cross to this greetings hall, where porters would assist with luggage, and any queries would be resolved and information provided.

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Before I came to Manchester the old London Road station was replaced with this magnificent edifice.

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My first memories of Manchester are by way of my arrival here, at Exchange Station, in 1966 or 1967, from where I made my way to stay at the YMCA in Peter Street, before being ‘interviewed’ at UMIST.

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So that’s just a selected overview of our visit, which could have generated hundreds of images had we been so inclined. We spent a fair amount of time in the Great Western Warehouse looking at the textile and other exhibits, and eventually we braved the drizzle and enjoyed lunch at Don Marco’s, where the previous posting was by way of a demonstration to AlanR as to how easy it is to make a ‘mobile’ posting simply by sending a quickly composed email to ‘Blogger’.

We shouldn’t leave it so long until our next visit – there’s far too much for old timers like us to take in at one go!

* Playing this track seems to have greatly excited the family of swifts who live just near the speakers. I hope they enjoyed it!