Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Monday 30 December 2019

Sunday 30 December 2019 - Around Rivington

We couldn't resist going out on such a sunny day. Al and Hazel and Andrew kindly picked us up for a trip to Rivington that replicated the one we made on 2 March, earlier this year. My report on that walk is here, and it includes historical references regarding, inter alia, the Tower and the Pigeon Loft, so I won't repeat that information here.
Instead, just click on any of the pictures to luxuriate in Lancashire's winter sunshine.
Distant views were obscured by a haze that restricted the view to around Chorley, whilst on a completely clear day Blackpool Tower comes into view, as well as many more distant hills.
Today, Winter Hill, accessed by an eroded track, seemed very close.
Whilst mountain bikers, runners and walkers enjoyed the bright, warm day, we investigated the Pigeon Tower's recent refurbishment, described on a new information board. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

The gaudy new door has now weathered to a more respectable colour!
The tower looked impressive under the cobalt sky.
After about 8 km, and rather less than two hours, we were happy to adjourn to the Great Barn for coffee/hot chocolate, before returning home to try to achieve some of the mundane tasks that have been obscured by the 'Christmas break'.
Buzzards were noticed today, and on the recent Tally-Ho walk, after a cacophony of owls had accompanied us towards the end of our 'Shutlingsloe at Night' walk. We've also been treated to long-tailed tits, goldcrests and blackcaps joining the regulars (great, blue and coal tits, blackbird, robin, etc) in our small suburban garden. What a delight!

Sunday 29 December 2019

Saturday 28 December 2019 - Christmas at Dunham Massey, plus bits

We went last year. Here's the report.
This year J and J came to stay again, enjoying making shortbread before darkness fell and we toddled off to Dunham on a fine, warm evening. Where we were encouraged to ...

To reach the Winter Gardens, the hall, illuminated with an advent calendar projection, was passed.
Beyond the Lily of the Valley, the Dunham Deer presented a posing opportunity
Illuminated Flowers, Cyclamens, the Heart Walk, and a Neon Door, were all encountered.
The Firework Trees were hard to capture on film without a sound channel.
The Sea of Light was followed by some stalls selling crepes.
The Laser Garden was also hard to photograph. I did my best, and J and J had lots of fun here.
After an interlude during which we toasted giant marshmallows, the Vortex Tunnels led to 'Fire on Water', involving projections onto the back of the hall.
Christmas music continued throughout the 'tour', the music being coordinated with the lighting to trigger the constant changes of colours.
Father Christmas and his Elves were there. It looked hard work, you could almost feel the sub text in their voices … "only two more days of this!"

The final thrill was the Cathedral of Light.
Until, that is, the Fairground Rides. Here, Jacob tried hard to get the swing to loop the loop. I used the following picture rather than the one in which he had virtually disappeared out of the top of the frame.
Whilst Jacob had fun on the Helter Skelter, Jess enjoyed a more sedate fairground ride.
Then we had giant burgers and hot dogs, and went home satisfied. Thanks, Dunham Massey, that was a well organised and happy event. As last year, it took about an hour to go round.
After a good night's sleep, the children were enticed away from their iPads to Walton Park, for train rides and a marathon frisbee session during which Jacob only managed to get the frisbee caught in a tree once. Is that a record!
To complete this miscellany, here's Jess with Rocko on Boxing Day at Grandma Whoosh's house, during one of a number of family gatherings, all of which were most pleasurable.

Saturday 28 December 2019

Saturday 28 December 2019 - Wythenshawe parkrun Number 422

Back to 'normal' today - no outfits to slow us down, and a clear route to the first chicane-less corner, so no excuse for slow times. Unless you were a Barber - Paul "hangover", Laura "stitch", and Jeanette "my collar bone is broken"; ok, we'll let you off, Jeanette!
Oliver was back to his job of interviewing the ever constant flow of first timers with his usual alacrity, then Run Director Alan spent a good few minutes explaining the course (Flag and Sandcastle backwards again), before the usual announcements, with a landmark performer having forgotten to bring cake, so we would have to do with last week's leftovers!
On the course, life was pretty uneventful, with several people passing me as I slowed down in the last 2 km, and Andrew outsprinting his dad to the finish.
Cary slowed dramatically towards the finish, blaming 'Stopwatch Bingo' for his noticeable lack of effort!
Apparently 'Stopwatch Bingo' is a nerdy sort of 'collectors' thing - it's explained here:
"The idea is simple, every time you finish a parkrun, you discard the “minutes” bit of your finishing time and use the “seconds” to complete a virtual bingo card, that contains sixty numbers from 00 to 59."
Apparently Cary needs just 3 more times to complete his card, so he was deliberately slowing down in an effort to get one of them.

Friday 27 December 2019

Friday 27 December 2019 - Tally Ho goes to Lymm

It was JJ's idea. I was to help him lay a sawdust trail for Tally Ho's 'Turkey Trot' - a name that really needs no further explanation. We were joined by Paul at 9 o'clock outside Ye Olde Nunber 3, by the Bridgewater Canal on the road to Lymm.
Bags of sawdust were duly prepared.
After setting off in completely the wrong direction (I know that feeling, JJ) we eventually managed to find the correct stile, opposite the pub, where we, the hares, commenced the activity of laying little mounds of sawdust along a 9 mile route.
The deep grass would prove difficult for the hounds, who would leave at 10.30 to 11.30, depending on speed, fitness, hangovers, etc, and follow the course laid by the hares.
JJ's route passed several pubs, but it's inappropriate for the hares to visit these.
Our rather convoluted route, designed perhaps so that any 'rescue' doesn't involve too much traveling, explored many muddy fields before zooming through the grounds of Dunham Massey, venturing briefly onto a golf course, and hitting the canal towpath.
We left the towpath for a while and took an alternative route to Agden Bridge, along which JJ spotted this tractor.
There were lots of junctions, each one needing careful consideration. By now, Paul had caught up with us after he had fallen behind. We thought that was because of his bad knee, but apparently he had got trapped by a herd of horses and had to improvise a route around them. I wonder how the hounds got on later...
Nearing Agden Bridge, a deep stream had to be crossed, the bridge across it having been moved to dry land for some reason. We managed to jump across.
A final section of 'there and back' canalside paths brought us neatly back to the pub, where dry footwear was donned and a pleasant lunchtime session with about 15 hounds and hangers on was enjoyed by all.
Here's our 15 km route. (Click to enlarge.)
Thanks go to JJ for inviting me along. This was a great way to spend a sunny (ish) winter's morning in Cheshire.
You can learn more about the Cheshire Tally-Ho Hare and Hounds traditional running club, founded in 1872, here.

Thursday 26 December 2019

Wednesday 25 December 2019 - Christmas Day parkrun at Wilmslow

Parkrun on Christmas morning has become a 'habit', if not a tradition. We went to Wilmslow last year, and to South Manchester (Platt Fields) the previous year.
This time Wilmslow got the vote again. It proved to be a popular venue. 520 runners and walkers turned up, which broke their attendance record by over 150 participants.
A chicane near the start made for a considerable delay, so the first kilometre took those of us in the middle of the pack an extra minute to get through, but today at least I wasn't handicapped by the soggy legs of a tree costume, even though more time was lost on the course's four hills, and the overall congestion didn't help. Anyway, it's not a race, and everyone was in a very jolly mood.
Before we started, I took the picture shown above, of our very good friends and running addicts, the Barbers.
Afterwards I handed the camera to a random bystander who took a couple of pictures, first missing Jeanette and Greg, then missing most of our feet.
Wilmslow's hospitality was impeccable, with lots of cake, and yes, that is a champagne glass I'm holding. Full results are here, with Laura in her now customary position just ahead of her dad but well behind Greg. There were numerous other 'Wythenshawe tourists', but with 500 people milling around at the finish we only managed to recruit Diana, Richard and Joe to join us and the Barbers for the Wythenshawe team photo.
Then Sue and I zoomed to Altrincham where Sue was ringing church bells, then home to cook dinner for Richard and Diana, Mike and Sarah, and Bob and Wendy. A good time was had by all, but no cameras were turned on. I'll remember the meal for having started at 2 pm, and finally getting up from the table at 8.15, on the grounds that Mike and Sarah had to go home to feed their cat!
Thanks everyone for your excellent company both at the parkrun and in Timperley.