Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 5 October 2019

Saturday 5 October 2019 - Aviemore parkrun and Cruben Beag




Mick and Gayle joined us for the picturesque Aviemore parkrun, on a well surfaced there and back course along the Speyside way in the shadow of the Cairngorm mountains. Only 88 people took part, but they managed to fill the café afterwards.

Full results - we were all happy - here.

After returning to Newtonmore we changed into hiking gear and drove a short way to the foot of 590 metre Cruban Beag. A small hill with fine views. A pathless ascent beside a deer fence brought us in little more than an hour to the summit pillar where a 'selfie' was taken. Gayle's more comprehensive report is here.

After lunching on the way back to the car, we returned past The Centre of Scotland, and a memorial cairn for the MacPherson clan, provided by its American descendants. 

The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh




Today's pictures are just a taster of the many snaps taken today at the Botanic Gardens, before we headed off to Newtonmore.

The top picture is allegedly Britain's biggest plant fossil; the other pictures are of random flowers and lily pads.

The orchids and other plants in the glass houses were many and varied - most colourful on an otherwise grey day. The oldest of the trees here were planted over 200 years ago. The gardens are a very special place. A slideshow will follow in due course.

We are now at the Balavil Hotel in Newtonmore, at a reunion of TGO Challengers. A happy gathering of like minded folk.

Friday 4 October 2019




Many residents of Altrincham harbour fond memories of Paul Kitching's 'Juniper' restaurant. It's over ten years since he and Katie abandoned Juniper and relocated to Edinburgh, in the guise of 21212.

We finally made it there last night, to enjoy a superb meal. It's not the sort of place where its appropriate to take pictures of the food, but we arrived early and I sneaked a snap of the dining room before anyone else got there.

I've also inserted two screen dumps that show the menu (choice of 2 starters, 1 soup, choice of 2 mains, 1 cheese, choice of 2 desserts - hence '21212') but that doesn't really give you much clue as to what we ate - that would run to several pages. For instance, the cheese course comprised 13 different European cheeses and an assortment of different crackers.

Possibly the tastiest meal we have ever had...

Paul and Katie say "hello" to all their old friends in Altrincham and would like to welcome anyone who visits Edinburgh and cares to savour one of Paul's culinary treats.


Thursday 3 October 2019

Around Edinburgh (2)




A visit to the castle took care of this morning.

The castle is shown in the top photo, then the second picture shows the interior of the Great Hall, which at one time was converted to a three storey barracks for hundreds of troops. The gent on the horse in the third picture is Earl Haig, a somewhat controversial WW1 commander ('Butcher Haig') born in Edinburgh. 

Then, after a quick sandwich, we joined Mercat Tours' 'Historic Underground' tour, exploring some of the history of Edinburgh, in particular the vaults under the South Bridge, which was completed in 1788. These vaults were created soon afterwards, but after being filled with rubble in the 1800s they were rediscovered by the owner of a bar in the 1980s. The rubble has been cleared - apart from the odd skeleton - and the vaults have been 'reborn' as offices, bars, clubs, and tourist destinations. 

Tonight's culinary destination will warrant a separate entry.

More photos here.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Around Edinburgh (1)




After a 10 km walk (a similar distance  to yesterday's strolling) to the waterfront at Leith, we enjoyed a self-guided tour around the Royal Yacht Britannia, which has been here since being decommissioned in 1997. The bottom two pictures show the boat and the state dining room. The tea room was excellent.

On the way there, we paused at the observatory and some nearby columns (top picture), before heading across town to the Water of Leith (second picture, with a sculpture that looks as if it has been stolen from Crosby) and thence to the fleshpots of the waterfront for lunch.

The number 22 bus delivered us back to town, for a 2 km stroll to Southpour restaurant, which proved to be a good choice. Then we adjourned to our room for some more athletics.

More photos here.

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Tuesday 1 October 2019 - Arthur's Seat




Today, after a five hour drive through rain to reach Edinburgh at 3 pm, Sue and I joined throngs of tourists and locals to climb this sweet little hill. The first two pictures are self explanatory; the third is a view from the 251 metre summit, with Ben Lawers visible on the horizon on the wonderfully clear day.

We had walked up from our base for a few days, the Salisbury Hotel, to which we returned via Holyrood and the 'Royal Mile', where the bottom picture was taken, and where we snatched an 'early bird' Thai meal at the Shamoli restaurant (chicken and rice - possibly their equivalent of 'bangers and mash') before returning to watch a bit of the World Championship athletics from a sparsely attended stadium in Doha.

More photos here.

Monday 30 September 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 33

 Our campsite by the highest Mullere lake, looking back to yesterday's descent route
Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
Day 33 - Friday 27 August 2004 - Stage 26

Postcard Summary (on yesterday's card)
Idyllic Camp to near Collado Retany De Mar
Superb weather continues, Julie leaves (tired), lovely camp by lakes – 8.5 hours, 13 km, 750m ascent
Another long descent but in a lovely valley with lakes and waterfalls.  After leaving Julie at the Vielha tunnel, we climb into an area of deep blue lakes.  Had an invigorating wash in a stream at our lovely camp – saw nobody at all.  Good view from our tent kitchen.  Extra bonus was blue sky all day again.  We can now resume being two, not three…

Diary Entry (by Martin)
The sun hit the tent before we got out of it today - 7.25, so we had a much warmer start than usual and were all straight into t-shirts and shorts. It had been a cold night. Julie found ice on her tent, and the temperature inside ours was 6°C at 7 am. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast on this, Julie's last day with us, and didn't get going from our high (2500 metres) perch until 8.40, just as a gigantic flock of sheep arrived at our lake. Last night I had seen deer skipping across rocks far above us. 

Slowly, at the pace of Julie, we descended over rocky terrain to 2000 metres, where a dose of mountain mix failed to have any effect on the pace of descent. But it was a nice day and birds were singing and waterfalls were falling.
A few last scrambly sections to help Julie over.
Then a further delay whilst she lost a contact lens and had to replace it, and we were down to around 1700 metres for an idyllic brew above a pretty cascade, 11.10 to 11.40.
We gave a few things to Julie in preparation for her imminent departure, and discussed few arrangements at this lovely spot before descending through the beds of field gentians to Viella Hospice, where the refuge was shut and the construction of a new tunnel was in full flow. Final photos, then Julie went off to hitch to Viella and Sue and I were released to resume our old, much faster, pace. [Julie had always been playing 'catch up', but our pace had slowed to try to avoid getting too far ahead. There really was a big difference in our speeds.]
Unfortunately, I couldn't release myself from Julie's 6 metres a minute ascent pace, whilst Sue bounded up towards Port de Rius much faster. It was hot. Having left Julie at 12.20, we decided to get half way up to the Port before lunching - 1.25 to 2.05 - in a nice spot by a stream.
Refreshed, I then went a bit quicker to reach the 2328 metre col at 3 pm. Not a normal col - there was a rocky cleft ahead. This led to a sizeable lake. A small lizard about 2 inches long was seen. Sue was now nursing a ricked back as a result of pulling on her rucksack after lunch. So we now both continued slowly, in lovely scenery of mountains and lakes, leaving GR11 (which we had joined at Viella Hospice) in favour of the more southerly HRP route towards Collado Estany de Mar.
We stopped at 5.10, just before this col, by a nice stream, with a solitary orchid, running into a pretty lake.
Time to wash and dry clothes and selves. No one else around. We seem to have left the main backpacking area. We are at 2330 metres. Sadly lose the sun at 6.45 and adjourn to tent to cook usual excellent soup/pasta meal, in view of distant and close by mountains.
Perfect clear blue sky. Will need long johns on again tonight. Finish with chocolate and decaf coffee. Nice to be in the old routine, though Julie was good company. It is much easier with just the two of us.
Hope I don't get nightmares about yesterday's hairy ascent to the wrong place (very unstable loose boulders/scree) and the subsequent down/up/ down with rucksack routine down a scrabbly gully on the other side. (I recall this vividly. My incorrect route down very loose terrain needed me to leave my rucksack behind several times in order to recce a feasible route, before returning to get the heavy bag; whilst Sue and Julie were on the waymarked route that wasn't much easier and included the quite scary snow traverse shown in yesterday's pictures.)
Stats and route (Viewranger):
13.5 km, 850 metres ascent, 8.5 hours

Sunday 29 September 2019

Saturday 28 September 2019 - Pennington Flash parkrun

Wythenshawe parkrunners went on tour today, to Pennington Flash, near Leigh, in deepest Lancashire. This long planned and once postponed event started for Paul B and me with a nocturnal rendezvous at 6.45 am at Timperley Bridge.
By the time we reached Worsley a constant drizzle had set in, and we knew that others would be travelling in the relative comfort of a fleet of motor vehicles.
The run starts near the Bridgewater Canal, and comprises three laps of an undulating, puddly, muddy course, including a steep descent to a large puddle surrounded by slippery grass. We were warned that many runners come to grief here. I nearly joined that statistic.
Here are most of the Wythenshawe contingent before the start, including Owen and Jenny, who featured in parkrun's weekly bulletin this week.
L-R: Martin, Greg, Paul, Jenny, Owen, Jan, Ron, Andy, Sue and Sheila
Half our contingent ran gently round with Owen, and the rest of the team were led home by Greg, who on his 418th run finished 7th out of today's 159 participants. Full results are here.

The following picture shows three soaking wet finishers...

Post run refreshments were available from a cabin near the toilet block. Inside the cabin it was a steamy and very friendly atmosphere, with urns of hot water with which to douse tea bags or coffee granules, and a copious supply of cake.

We were told that usually the gathering is outside the cabin, but in today's steadily heavier rain most people squeezed inside the increasingly muddy building.

Greg is pictured below, dashing back to his car. Paul and I changed into dry clothes and enjoyed a twenty mile ride home in driving rain. Luckily the wind was mostly behind us, so it really was enjoyable! No photos though - the camera was well stashed.