Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Thursday 31 December 2020

Thursday 31 December 2020 - A Snow Day

It was a delight to discover that Alan and Sheila enjoyed making some of Granny Banfield's Fudge today. It was snowy outside, and both Sue and I took advantage by going for a walk, Sue to escape from 'Vaccine Issues', and me for a short break whilst both lasagne and chardonnay chicken were on the stove. We now have stocks of both those and of Sue's moussaka.

With the aid of a broom, the snow was soon cleared sufficiently for the birds to access their food - much appreciated by our robins and blackbirds.

A walk in the ongoing effort to break in my Scarpa Delta GTX boots saw me on my 5 km (not)parkrun route through De Quincey Park, during my cooking break. (The ankle rub has almost vanished - the boots are getting there - they are identical to their predecessors - bought from Alpenstock Josie before she retired - that have covered nearly 3000 km over the past four years and still don't leak at all.)

Dog walkers, and small children with sledges, were enjoying the snow in the recreation grounds near Navigation Road.

The canal towpath was fairly busy with family groups and couples, larger groups having been prohibited from today onwards. So Lockdown continues into 2021. I'll start a new photo folder tomorrow, the 'Lockdown 2020' folder is overflowing despite only having been used for Lockdown specific images. 536 of them.

Our road is a bit of a mess, but after yesterday's burst water main the water is back on, the flood has subsided, and the big hole has been filled in  - just a bit of tarmac is needed.

So that was 2020.

Our very best wishes go to everyone for 2021, though it starts much the same as Lockdown 2020 back in March. Friday walks for six people aren't now allowed so I'll be hoping for a gentle stroll with Graeme every now and then for the time being.

Wednesday 30 December 2020

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 49: 19 May 2013)

The Grouse Inn at Ardwell was most welcoming when I eventually arrived after nearly ten hours 'on the hoof'. It was great to encounter 84 year old Archie McBain, who enthused over having completed three Challenges, the last of which was in 1993. "Nobody will remember me" he said. 

After setting up camp in a nearby field (NJ 381 302), I strolled back to the inn for a couple of beers and a wonderful beef casserole that Maria kindly generated from her kitchen on a day when they weren't serving food. 

The Grouse Inn was a place full of character and whisky, if not a place to bank on for a tank of petrol!

My camping spot was in the field pictured in the distance beyond the inn.

This was my ninth and last wild camp of the 2013 Challenge, my ongoing route to Frazerburgh being via campsites at Huntly and Turriff, and the excellent hotel at Pennan Bay, where I met up with Sue.

My contemporaneous reports on the walk are here.

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Granny Banfield's Fudge


½ lb caster sugar
½ lb soft brown sugar
½ lb butter or margarine
Tin of sweetened condensed milk
Vanilla essence (1 tsp)


Put all the ingredients except the vanilla into a large saucepan. Bring to the boil. Boil for 13 minutes, adding the vanilla after 11 minutes.

When cooked, the mixture leaves the edge of the saucepan.

Stir with a wooden spoon, continuously from start to finish.

Lightly grease a suitable dish and pour the mixture into it. When nearly cool, cut into squares.

I have vague memories of granny (1894 - 1970) making this fudge, and true memories of my mum (who will read this - "hello"!) making it. They both used margarine rather than expensive butter. My children also remember me making this when we lived in Chorltonville. I think they are enjoying the current batches that I'm making, and maybe they'll enjoy making their own fudge at some point. I wonder who will inherit granny's ancient dish?

Monday 28 December 2020

Lockdown Continues

This posting is basically just a few pictures for the archives, so feel free to skip it. 

Sue and I know increasing numbers of people who are having to self-isolate, whether or not they have tested positive for Covid. It seems like 'ten days in your bedroom coming to you soon'. So, nine months after this all kicked off, the emergency services are more stretched than ever and people are still dying by the thousand. So we are mainly staying in and not mixing, except on 'social media'. It's rather trying, but we are currently 'The Lucky Ones'.

I put out meal worms and peanuts several times a day, and capture the recipients on camera through the kitchen window. Here's one of them.

We had a dusting of snow last night, as you can see from the header picture. The towpath was slushy, but it remained cold all day and the risk of black ice tonight means I won't be going anywhere soon.

Another recent view from the kitchen window had me wondering what these guys were up to?

Meanwhile, Boxing Day was an opportunity for Jessica to spend some of her Christmas money, mainly on various forms of stationery. It took her some time to count up all her pens during one of our 'zoom' calls. About 65, I think. But she went shopping again today and may now have over 100 pens, crayons, etc. I remember her mum being like that with shoes.

Mike and Sarah's daughter Isabella is now three months old, and paying a bit more attention to things when she's not either asleep (she sleeps through the night with minimal disturbance) or feeding. She doesn't need 100 pens. Yet!

Here's St Pauls, in Sale, that I pass by without really noticing every time I visit Daz's wonderful fish emporium.

Today I walked my daily (not)parkrun, taking the 'wet' route that doesn't go through De Quincey Park. It follows Bagueley Brook alongside the park, then Sinderland Brook after the junction with Timperley Brook. I was glad to be wearing boots through this 'wet' section of path next to Sinderland Brook. I think I'll be running the dry (but not today) route through the park for a few weeks to come, unless there's a hard frost to firm up the ground.

By now (3 pm), further along my route, the towpath had cleared, the veneer of ice on the canal had disappeared, and Kynnita and another boat were slowly making their way towards Sale.

That's enough for today. Stay safe, everyone.

Sunday 27 December 2020

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 48: 18 May 2013)

After a night in a B&B in Grantown, I endured a day of indifferent 'There was little evidence of a path on the ground.  The ascent to the watershed, through giant clumps of steep heather interspersed with boggy quagmires, in pouring rain, in a cloud, was a little on the tedious side.'

Anyway, I finished up here, at NJ 180 253, very close to the 550 metre summit of Carn Daimh, having gone over the Cromdale Hills to arrive there. It was a wet but comfortable, and very quiet, night from which I emerged from the tent (below) into the same cloud I'd gone to bed in.

Saturday 26 December 2020

Christmas Day 2020 - Around Appleton

This Christmas Day, social distancing etiquette restricted our non-media social contact to a walk with Richard and Jenny. We chose Jen Darling's 'Appleton' walk from her 'Walks in West Cheshire and Wirral' book. I wrote about this back in September - described here - so this is basically a small collection of images by which to recall our current outing, which was on a lovely clear frosty morning (more of these, please).

Our first pause in the walk was to cross the road to look at the double-faced sculpture of the Roman god Janus, atop a sandstone column.

At the end of Hillside Road, the path goes left to avoid Hillside Farm, and since I was here in September new fences and gates/stiles have been installed. Hillside Farm can be seen in the distance in the next picture.

Here, there were good views today over the Cheshire countryside in the low sun.

After passing numerous empty and eerily silent duck houses on the way to Bellfields Farm, we turned left at the farm, down Park Lane, passing a golf course and another farm before reaching Appleton Reservoir, a haven for wildlife.

We were grateful to the hard frost that had stabilised what would have been a very muddy walk around the reservoir just a day earlier or a day later.

Hough's Lane took us down to the Bridgewater Canal, but not before we were held up briefly by this cherry picker.

The local farmer uses a drone to monitor her livestock, and unfortunately it had got stuck in the top of a tall tree. Rescue was imminent.

After this we strolled along the towpath until just before Red Lane Bridge, where a convenient bench served as a table for drinks and cakes - luckily Sue and I had enough for four, as Richard's absent mind had left their rucksack at home...

Leaving the canal at London Bridge, we made our way up the 'rabbit run' to gain a good view over Warrington and its surroundings, with Winter Hill prominent in the distance.

After that we took easy paths back to Dudlow Green Road, and our starting point behind the Co-op, after passing a delightful little pond by Pineways, where we saw a heron (one of many today) and a buzzard, as well as many smaller birds.

The 10 km stroll took us about two and a half hours and proved a great way to spend Christmas morning. Thanks go to Richard and Jenny for their excellent company.

Friday 25 December 2020

Some Christmas Photos

Fletcher Moss Park

The Bridgewater Canal at dawn in Timperley

Christmas morning present opening

Christmas dinner in Timperley