Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 2 January 2021

Bridgewater Canal Memories

Today's (not)parkrun took place before it was properly light, so no photos from that, and because of the current restrictions due to the relentlessly ongoing Covid pandemic it was best to meet by Zoom, rather than at the park today. It was cold out, and running was great, as the muddy sections had all gone satisfactorily hard.

But not as hard as on 8 January 2010, when the above picture was taken on the canal near Dunham Massey. We had walked nearly all the way there on the surface of the canal, which was much easier than the snowy towpath. We persuaded this cyclist to follow our example, and so he did, finding cycling on the canal surface much easier than on the uneven towpath.

Happy Days!

Friday 1 January 2021

Friday 1 January 2021 - Around Appleton

For our regular NYD walk, Sue and I chose to stay close to home, like we are supposed to under Lockdown, and take a scenic stroll around Appleton. I did this walk on 31 May 2019, on which I reported here, so I won't repeat all the historical elements.

This time the route was a bit different due to a navigation error, but never mind, it was still only 15 km or so, and we were back at home for lunch on the rather dull day.

The top picture shows the Bridgewater Canal near the start of the walk from outside the London Bridge pub. The swans were attentive - they must be used to being fed.

Shortly after leaving the canal we passed what I take to be a millennium sculpture or similar. The snow from earlier in the week is well frozen in places, so the paths today were icy, if not muddy in the more sheltered parts.

We made our way uneventfully through the Dingle and Lumb Valley.

Catkins were out, as were some daffodils. "Happy New Year!"

Then we took a wrong turn and finished up next to the A49 main road, unusually quiet today. There were some nice houses en route, this one with impressive carved owls.

We paused for coffee and fudge at the double-faced sculpture of Janus in Pewterspear, before continuing along the course of the Roman Road to Stretton. There are columns and guards.

Beyond Hatton Lane, muddy paths led back to the start, past fields and  through woodland - very pleasant in trainers in the summer, but boots were needed today.

So that's just a brief pictorial reminder of our first outing of 2021. We hope there will be many more, and that at some point we will be allowed to stray a bit further from home ("Stay at Home" is the current mantra) and be allowed to walk in groups of more than two people. 

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.