Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Saturday 15 December 2018 – Wythenshawe parkrun Number 369

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On a bitterly cold morning , just 184 runners and walkers turned up for event number 369. Jan, pictured above standing to the left of Rebekah, Sue and Paul, has participated in some 239 of those events, and today was his 250th parkrun at all venues.

Well done Jan, and well done run director Tris for reeling off a whole catalogue of Jan’s statistics. Impressively, he ran a personal best time in September, some three years after his previous PB, and on his 229th run around the Wythenshawe course.

Today a lot of us were taking it easy after Friday evening indulgencies – Sue and mine having been at our Quizzers’ Christmas Meal at Thyme and Plaice in Chorley. It was very good. Sue drove; I had the headache.

That meant Sue was raring to go in her brand new Saucony Peregrin shoes.

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She won’t be slithering through the wet grass any more with those soles. Conditions today were dry and fast, hampered only by the cold weather and a cold wind, so Sue was pleased to run her fastest time this year.

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Full results are here.

The fire damaged hall is slowly returning to life. A lot of the scaffolding has been removed. Here’s today’s view, shortly before the rain arrived.

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PS Thanks go to Syd for the doughnuts. Yum!

Friday, 14 December 2018

Friday 14 December 2018 – Around Grappenhall

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This was the last of the current programme of Friday morning strolls. Sue and I scraped the frost off the car and took a short drive to Grappenhall, where we parked behind the Ram’s Head as per instructions (albeit my own instructions).

Soon after setting off on the walk, a phone call was received. A plaintive message from Paul, Pete and Kate the dog. They had gone to a different car park. It was a surprise to see Pete at all, as he lives in Bath and isn’t on the circulation list for these walks. He had picked up the details from topwalks.com – I usually put details of such walks there. Must plan some for 2019!

So after the false start, we set off again past the Parr Arms, on an adaptation of a route suggested by Jen Darling in her ‘Walks in North Cheshire’ book.

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St Wilfred’s church is known for many interesting features, including a black cat sprawled along the tower’s outside wall. It is reputed to have been Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for the Cheshire Cat. Can you spot it here?

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Try again!

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The village stocks. If only they could talk…

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It’s a fine looking church.

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We were soon marching across fields to Broad Lane, where Andrew made a brief appearance, dressed up as an old tree stump. He wasn’t as chatty as usual, and actually seemed rooted to the spot!

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It was a pleasant enough route to join the Bridgewater Canal towpath by the London Bridge hostelry, albeit I failed to find the path through the Dingle, so there was more tarmac than intended. The mapping software for my new phone is harder to use than that on the old phone. A familiar problem, it’s really just that I haven’t mastered the new software – I’m struggling in particular to apply a route line that’s wide enough to see without a magnifying glass.

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As you can see from the previous picture, it was a lovely morning for a stroll along the towpath in decidedly wintry surroundings. There are very few leaves remaining on the trees.

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The Ram’s Head provided the slowest coffee we’ve had for a while, but it was pretty good coffee when it eventually arrived, garnished with a mince pie.

Here’s the route – 10 km with minimal ascent. It took a shade over two hours. You are welcome to follow it, but you might like to try the ‘Dingle’ path as an alternative  - if you can find it.

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I’ll be back.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

New Trainers

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Yesterday I took the opportunity to pop in to Running Bear in Alderley Edge, thanks to their 20% off voucher in the Tatton Yule Yomp goodie bag.

My old Asics trainers have lasted well and haven't come adrift in the usual places such as the heel fabric. The soles are somewhat lacking in tread though. The shoes were duly declared ‘dead’ and have been relegated to a dark corner. My records indicate that they have done around 1100 miles, which I believe is pretty good for this type of shoe. Their predecessors lasted  to about the same mileage. So the obvious choice of replacement was a third pair of Asics shoes, this time their ‘Nimbus 9’ offering. The design does appear to have changed in the 2-3 years since my last ones were bought.

Whilst the uppers and heel and internal fabric of the old shoes are still in excellent condition, the soles have become rather worn, despite being exposed mainly to the grass of Wythenshawe Park.

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I hope the new Nimbus 9 shoes match up to their predecessors.

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Whilst I was at it I got Sue some Saucony Peregrin shoes that have big lumps (lugs?) on the soles so that she can speed through the slippery grass of the park. I’ll picture them when she uses them – maybe on Saturday.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Wednesday 12 December 2018 – A Grey Day in the Peak District

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I enjoyed a breath of fresh but rather ‘dull’ air in the Peak District today.

Starting near Tideswell, I headed up to Litton on the grey but fairly warm day.

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Tansley Dale drops the walker down to Cressbrook Dale after the climb up to Litton.

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After coffee and soup in Great Longstone, a good path led me to the Monsal Trail.

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Today’s route saw me heading through three tunnels, the first being Headstone Tunnel – from which you emerge at Monsal Head.

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Cressbrook and Litton Tunnels are soon reached, but not before this view towards Cressbrook.

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The old railway line is left near Litton Mill, from where a gentle stroll up Tideswell Dale takes you back to the car park, and Tideswell…

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Mission accomplished. I won’t get 33 people lost when I follow this route on Sunday. I hope. 15 km with about 400 metres ascent. Map to follow on Sunday.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Burnt Orchid (Orchis ustulata)

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Nothing much other than domestic duties went on in Timperley today, so here’s a reminder of summer – a picture taken in the Austrian Alps on 23 July. These flowers are quite ‘petite’ and easy to miss, but when you do spot them – and they are very easy to identify - you can admire the wonderful colouring.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Monday 10 December 2018 – A Piece of Cake

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Richard, Paul and Jeanette went without me last week, on another ‘Phoenix Park’ ride. It rained. They got muddy. Paul went out and bought a mudguard.

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Today our ride was delayed by my need to take Polly for her annual health check (she passed with flying colours), so with a 10 am start, we chose a shorter route than usual. Just 43 km. Described previously on NYE 2016, here.

Paul and Jeanette joined me at Timperley Bridge, where parkrunner Dan made his customary appearance. He usually passes at about 8.30 on his way to work. Some sort of domestic crisis involving keys meant that he was coming past again at 10 am today.

On an overcast but warm morning, we pedalled off to join the Trans Pennine Trail in Stretford. Instead of following our usual route along that all the way to Hyde, we turned left at Jackson’s Bridge, pottered around Chorltonville to inspect my old house, then joined the Fallowfield Loopline. This took us all the way to join the Ashton Canal in Droylsden.

As we passed through Levenshulme, I noticed that ahead was a building perched on a bridge.

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After struggling to keep up with Jeanette, on her ‘gravel’ bike on the old railway line, I was able to pull ahead on the towpath. “Cobbles!” swore Jeanette in the rain that had swept over us.

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The rain stopped as we reached the velodrome; we were ready for a coffee after 26 km in the saddles. I was lucky to get in – with no mudguards I was rather covered in brown gunge. Jeanette and Paul were rather “ooh we have mudguards…” smug.

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“That cake looks nice” was uttered in chorus.

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Sadly for Jeanette, the only GF cake was carrot cake. Normally she’d have been delighted to find anything that was GF, but today her slice seemed rather petite compared with the giant portions that Paul and I were tucking in to…

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No lunch was needed after that.

Familiar cobbles and towpaths led down the lock system and back home along the Bridgewater Canal. It was good to see that the empty sections of the Ashton Canal have been replenished and the debris removed. The worst of the litter hereabouts has been cleared. There were even some fishermen about. A little optimistic, I thought.

Here’s today’s route - 43 km with 100 metres ascent, taking 3 hours riding time.

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Thanks for your company, folks. We can discuss options for next week on Saturday; meanwhile suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Sunday 9 December 2018 – The 10th Tatton Yule Yomp

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I’ve taken part in this very jolly event a couple of times before.

In 2014, with Alastair, both of us injured, and I wore my cumbersome Christmas tree outfit in stormy weather. It took us 56.35 for the 10 km. Report here.

Last year, 2017, I returned with Sue, who was in good form prior to her current Achilles troubles. I was injured (usually am at this time of year!) and we ran more or less together in 57.12 and 57.43 respectively. Report here – Sue did well to come second in her age category.

Today was ideal weather for running – a lovely cool morning. Sue was envious of Alastair, Andrew and me. She didn’t enter this year because of her Achilles problem, but that has eased recently and she would have been able to run round the muddy course with Alastair and his son Andrew, who was doing his first 10 km run.

While Sue went off on a short hike, the three of us pictured above set off near the back of the 1500 strong field. It was slow going due to congestion on the narrow, muddy paths. Just as well, it’s good to start slowly, especially if like me you don’t do any warm-up exercises. Maybe that’s why I’m often injured at this time of year! But I’m fine at present and enjoyed jogging around the course at a fairly gentle pace, albeit slowly overhauling hundreds of folk who had set off ahead of us.

It was a great, relaxed, atmosphere. I spent the last few km chatting to a guy who is training for his first marathon, in London next year. He thought he may be foolish to do that at the age of 51. Running together, we both sped to the finish. As is my habit on these longer runs, the last km was my fastest, partly thanks to a rare stretch of tarmac. It’s nice to have a bit in hand…

54.18 was my chip time – third out of 20 entrants in my age category. I’m very happy with that. Full results are here.

I collected another medal and pottered back to the finishing line to cheer in Alastair and Andrew. Can you spot them here?

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Seven seconds later….

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…and it’s a final dash for the line, two seconds later. But like me, as we passed through the start a couple of minutes after the gun, their chip times were much lower than their race times – they actually took a very respectable 1.01.55. Well done, Andrew.

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Goodies and t-shirts were collected and we slowly made our way home. We failed, sadly, to spot any familiar parkrunners, though Jan must have been nearby as he finished just a couple of minutes ahead of me.

A well organised and most pleasurable local event. Here’s the route.

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Saturday, 8 December 2018

Saturday 8 December 2018 – Wythenshawe parkrun number 368

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Sue and I went to the park in my car today, as we needed to collect hers from the garage immediately after the parkrun. Our encasement in metal was just as well, as we could shelter from the rain in the car before the shower stopped, conveniently at ten to nine.

The course was actually quite dry, much to my surprise, and on the warm morning it was a very pleasant outing, particularly as I decided to jog slowly until the final kilometre, so that I won’t be too tired for the 10km Tatton Yule Yomp tomorrow.

The lowest turnout since March, of 174 participants, was a reflection on the weather that greeted us this morning. Four of those who were in attendance were Victor and Franciska and their two children, shown above with Victor unfortunately hidden behind Franciska, who finished well inside 29 minutes (over 8 minutes behind Victor) despite the handicap of having to push a buggy with two children in residence. This would be their final parkrun here, as they are imminently returning to live in Amsterdam. We wish them well and do hope to see them on an annual visit.

Turning the other way, as we headed off for a coffee, we watched the runners continue to pour in to the finish.

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Full results are here.

Later, this is a view of the Bridgewater Canal in Sale, in between showers.

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Friday, 7 December 2018

Berlin Images (2)

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There’s lots of graffiti in Berlin, not generally up to the high standard set by Valparaiso, but some of it is quite artistic and much of it is on the bits of wall that have been left as a monument. Many messages are conveyed through the different artists responsible for the graffiti. However, the picture above, painted on a new (post wall) building just behind the posts that mark the position of the wall – they are in the foreground – is a most evocative portrayal of the manner in which the wall cut through the meat of Berlin between 1961 and 1989.

The graffiti below simply brightens up a dull concrete block of flats.

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Thursday, 6 December 2018

Berlin Images (1)

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It was only yesterday that we gathered outside a nice café for this group picture with Lauren. It seems longer ago than that!

I’ve spent the day doing ‘house admin’, including taking Sue’s car for its final service by the main dealer before its first MOT. “Do you want a valuation?” is their script. “No thanks, valeting inside and out will be fine” is my standard response.

I’ve still got to sort out the Berlin photos, but our walk/cycle up the road from the hotel to the bike shop/pub (we went up and down a few times) passed the water tower shown below. Ulrich thought it was the home of the very first ‘Concentration Camp’, but the extract from Wikipedia that I’ve inserted after the picture seems to indicate that the camp was in an adjoining building.

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The Wasserturm Prenzlauer Berg is Berlin's oldest water tower, completed in 1877 and in use as a water tower until 1952. The structure was designed by Henry Gill and built by the English Waterworks Company. It is situated between Knaackstraße and Belforter Straße in Kollwitzkiez, in the Prenzlauer Berg locality of Berlin (part of Pankow district) and worked on the principle of using piped water to supply the rapidly growing population of workers.

Below the storage tank were the homes of the machinery operators who worked in the tower; these apartments - a landmark of Prenzlauer Berg - are still inhabited and in much demand.

An adjacent machine hall was the first concentration camp in Nazi Germany in the first half of 1933. That building was demolished in 1935.

Meanwhile thanks go to AlanR for solving my ‘image size with mobile blogging’ problem. ‘Send reduced’ is indeed the answer, though it took a Utube video to show me how it works, and I think all the pictures will have to be selected at the same time, or they finish up in different postings. There may not be any mobile postings for a couple of months, so I hope I can remember how to do it when the time comes! It’s a shame that Samsung have taken a backward step on this front.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Another Bike Ride Around Berlin

Today's 16 km ride was in the company of Lauren, a South African lady who has lived here for the last five years. She takes time off from writing a book about Germany (see daytradersberlin.de), to guide tourists on bicycles around some of the city's sights, concentrating on 20th century history and The Wall.

It was a lovely clear morning, if only a shade above freezing. The four of us were joined by three other guests for this informative tour, courtesy of berlinonbike.de.

Curious then that I have chosen an indoor shot for today's photo - the Neue Wache War Memorial that has been the
central memorial of the Federal Republic since 1993. The place is full of very recent history.

Added interest was provided by Ulrich, who was a student here shortly after the wall came down.

The guided tour lasted about four hours, after which Sue and I waved off Anne and Ulrich, collected our things from the hotel, wandered around a Christmas market, enjoyed afternoon tea and cake, and made our way back to the airport.

An enjoyable little trip in good company. More photos when I get time to post them.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

A Bike Ride in East Germany

Well, it was a bike ride in what used to be East Germany. We started, on our 'sit up and beg' hired, solid and very heavy bikes, with a 7 km bike ride to a railway station where we caught a train to Oranienburg. Coffee and cake were then required as it had reached 11am. 

En route I'd noticed from the train that all private residencies were securely fenced, so a road like ours at home, where anyone can walk up to any front door without even having to open a gate, would have fences and gates at the boundary of each house. "For privacy" explained Ulrich. I expect there's a historical element that has generated a need for privacy. Whilst '1984' may not have occurred in the UK, perhaps it did here.

A short ride then led to Sachsenhausen. There's a large site of free to enter museums here. The place was a large Concentration Camp and apparently the site of 'Head Office' of the Concentration Camp regime that dates back to 1933. There were lots of visiting groups. We had a quick look round, but you could spend a whole day here. Horrific treatment of human beings occurred here.

We used cycle paths to get to Bernau via Liebenwalde. There was a 'shoe tree' and an ornate totem pole, as well as a short section of scary main road, otherwise it was a pleasant ride through flat farmland interspersed with pine forest and small villages. Today's picture was taken here.

We passed several buzzards, one of which was standing on a mole hill in a field full of mole hills, presumably waiting for its dinner to appear.

Luckily we finished the 57 km loop on cycle paths. Just as well, as darkness fell.

From Bernau, after grabbing coffees and chips from a café, we took a couple of trains to get us close to the Transit Loft. Total distance cycled for the day was 66 km, compared with about 35 km yesterday.

Ulrich and Anne then cycled off again to rendezvous with another of Ulrich's old mates. Sue and I chose to stay away from our saddles and stroll down to San Marco's for beers and pizzas.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Berlin

Hired bikes facilitated a tour of the city, culminating with a visit to the DDR museum, where the exhibits are usefully labelled in English whilst rather unhelpfully being hidden in cupboards.

It started rainy, then the sun came out. We had a coffee and cake break in a supermarket, despite there being a nice looking café nearby!

The others went up a West German tower. I stayed down and was entertained by a van driver who managed to hook her vehicle onto the tow bar of the vehicle ahead. The top of the tower is today's picture.

Later, we went to another traditional East German pub, where we enjoyed a good meal with a couple of Ulrich's old mates. He used to live here.

I've been unable to work out how to reduce the sizes of images attached to emails, hence yesterday's problems, so currently I'm stuck with one image per posting. It was simple with the S5 but I've no idea as to how to reduce an attached image to 10% of its original size using the S9.