Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 2 July 2022

A Sizzler, and Wythenshawe parkrun #480

It's time for the Sale Sizzlers again, one every two weeks for the next six weeks, so four in all. The first of this year's 5km races took place on 30 June. They are evening races, starting at 7:30, so a bit different from the parkruns, also in Wythenshawe Park, which start at 9am.

For this event, Sue and I joined some 470 racers, around two laps of a course in the park that incorporates the running track.

These pictures were taken at the start, before Sue and I made our way to the back. Most of the participants are club athletes from far and wide. Some go very quickly - the winning time was 15:00.

Full results are here. Sue was pleased with a quick time of 24:41, and I wasn't far behind her in 24:56, in position 391, so I must have overtaken about 80 runners! It didn't seem too crowded though, thanks to the chip timing system.

Thanks to all those who cheered us on, it was most appreciated.

Click on the image to view the detail

And so to today, and Wythenshawe parkrun number 480. Due to a festival closing part of the park in which we usually run, we reverted to the original course, starting near the athletics stadium. Luckily the grass had been cut along our route, though it was pleasing to see that most of the field has been allowed to grow wild. Setting off slowly, the field of 184 runners soon stretched out ahead.

Not everyone was ahead, whilst Sue and I ran together for a while.

Sue paused to run with Jeanette when we caught up with her, finishing in a leisurely 28 minutes, whilst I caught up with Michael D and ran with him to finish in 27:00, both ahead of the only other VM70 participant.

Jeanette and Sue, exhausted at the finish!

After recovering our breath, we enjoyed coffees at the pony place and were joined by some of the 'usual suspects'. A lovely way to start the weekend. Full results are here.

Lto R: Owen, Sue, Annie, Jeanette, Paul and Andy

Friday 1 July 2022

Friday = Isabella Day (12)

Isabella has some back teeth coming through, which is painful. So she wasn't on top form today, except whilst consuming a large tub of yoghurt.

We visited Walton Park, and some fun was had, but staying power was limited and there was no appetite for the usual game of football.

Then we went home, fed the birds, and bathed the baby.

"Washing baby is a serious business, Grandad!"

November 2004 - The Annapurna Circuit - Day 13

Saturday 13 November
A Day Off In Muktinath
Itinerary: DAY 13 Muktinath A day for relaxing and exploring Muktinath, a pilgrimage centre for both Hindus and Buddhists. At the pilgrimage site, there is a pagoda-style temple dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu. Next to the temple there is a wall with 108 waterspouts in the form of cows' heads, pouring underground spring water. A Buddhist temple well known for its continual burning natural gas is also situated in the same vicinity. 

[Diarist: Martin]
After another good sleep (Andrew's assisted by codeine and a boiled egg midnight snack), we were woken with tea at 7 am, then hot water, and breakfast at 8 am - onion omelette and pancake, after porridge. 

We watch a buffalo's head being prepared for butchery - all its hair being burnt off with a blowlamp. Meanwhile our crew purchase and butcher a healthy looking goat.

A mammoth clothes washing session continues in our area of the campsite, after which we take turns to shower at a nearby hotel. Hotter water than in Manang, but for some of us, not much of it. Apparently, some wood has to be burnt to get it going. The day is sunny again despite last night's cloud - the tents were covered in frost, and my thermometer read 2C in the tent this morning. 

The sun came up late around 9 am on the campsite, so we strolled around the village (above) before doing our washing. Hosta has constructed a huge washing line which has a tendency to sag! Trekkers drift out of the village during the morning and seem to regard us as some sort of curiosity. Most people seem to move straight on from here, so perhaps our fellow treckkers tomorrow will be a different group of people. 

Crows hop around in anticipation of some leftover goat or yak. 

Postcards, etc, then an excellent lunch - goat's liver, chickpea and paneer curry, chips, coleslaw ("salad") and puri.

A short break, then Sanjeev and Manesh take us up to the temple/monastery - surrounded by a high white wall and barbed wire, covering quite an area. This is the real Muktinath, whilst we are staying in the village below the temple, correctly known as Ranipauwa, but known colloquially as Muktinath.

The temple includes 108 springs flowing from pipes whose exits are shaped like animals' heads. Before we know it, it's 4:30 and the sun has disappeared behind Dhauligiri. Time for tea and snacks, before another nice dinner. Before dinner the sherpas drew "HAPPY TIAAR!" on the earth above our tents and placed candles in the letters. It is Diwali, time to celebrate.

Muktinath, and the Bob Marley Hotel

And so, to an excellent dinner - spaghetti and veg, goat 'steak' (actually very tasty goat burgers, mashed potato and squash fritters. Then we cracked open some beer (takeaways from our pre-dinner drinks hotel nearby) and ate some of Deepak's excellent chocolate cake, before being joined by nearly 20 of the crew for dancing and singing to Nepalese Diwali drum music. This afforded an hour's entertainment - 8 to 9 pm, before the crew went first footing and we went to bed. The celebrations included various rituals including the laying of money by us and the thanking blessing by the crew. The women porters didn't come.

Next Day
Previous Day

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Wythenshawe Park in midsummer

The lack of coverage of last weekend's running exploits has been remarked upon. When you take in these pictures you'll realise why - it was pretty uneventful.

On Saturday we assembled in the field near to Oliver Cromwell, who pondered, as ever, about when he would be able to conclude his siege of Wythenshawe Hall.

Some 248 runners and walkers assembled and took part. Here is Frank Cordingley in the 'Finish Funnel' after a gentle jog.

Sue and I finished in respectable times - Sue even managed an age related score of over 70% for the first time. The full results are here.

On Sunday, I went along to the Wythenshawe Community 2km or 5km run, where Colin told me to be the 28 minute pacer. That proved a lonely occupation until I caught up with a couple of people who I duly cajoled into finishing just inside 28 minutes.

Colin had an even lonelier run - as 30 minute pacer he failed to attract any customers. Here he is - a lonely finisher. There were just 30 of us running 5km, with 35 opting to stick to the 2km distance.

That was exciting, wasn't it!

Tuesday = Isabella Day (A Bonus Day)

Tuesday is Nursery Day for Isabella, but the nursery was closed today, so we had the pleasure...

Sue took her to a play centre - Antz in your Pantz (no photos) - whilst I collected a car, then it was lunchtime. Despite some teething problems with big teeth coming through, Izzie managed some baked potato with tuna and sweetcorn in mayo, before smothering herself with yoghurt and banana.

Then, after a two hour snooze, a stroll down to Newton Park for a bit of football and a play on swings, roundabout, slides and seesaw.

Before returning home via a very fluffy 'street cat'.

All too soon, the waspy child was returned to the comfort of cuddles with her mum and dad.

Thanks, Izzie, for being so well behaved.

Monday 27 June 2022

November 2004 - The Annapurna Circuit - Day 12

                                       Sue and Hosta at 4750 metres

Friday 12 November
Thorung Phedi to Muktinath via Thorong La pass
Itinerary: DAY 12 Muktinath (3,802m) Today we make a very early start to cross Thorung Pass (5,416m). There is a steep section at the beginning for about an hour. Then the walk towards the pass is gradual uphill with several false summits. The view from the pass is simply stunning. On either side of the pass lies Yakawa Kang to the north and Khatung Kang to the south. The Mukut and the Mustang Himal lies in the west with the Kali Gandaki Valley down below. The peaks of Chhulu East and Chhulu West lie on the north and the entire Annapurna range dominate the southern horizon. From the pass there is a long, steep descent down to Muktinath. (8 - 9 hours walk). 

[Diarist: Sue]
The big day - crossing the Thorong La pass.

The alarm prompted action at 4:25 am. Frost glistened inside the tent. Both of us had slept pretty well, although two pairs of boots inside Martin's sleeping bag for the last 2 hours proved a heat sink. 

Tea arrived at 4:30 - no washing water today. We packed quickly and headed to the warmer dining room for breakfast at 5 am. All, except Mark who was feeling very nauseous, managed porridge, a cinnamon roll, and omelette, in preparation for the 1000 metre ascent. Last night's cloud had dispersed, and under a starry sky we set off at 5:30 am. Head torches could be seen on the trail ahead, but ours were only needed for a short time, as the sky lightened.

The first hour or so was fairly steep, culminating in a cleft where a 'high camp' is situated. Here I removed one of the two down layers I was wearing, whilst we waited for others. Warmish feet were thanks to Martin's boot warming technique. Lots of people were doing the same crossing and there was more camaraderie between groups than had been experienced on other days. 

The sun had lit the top of Gangapurna before we left 'high camp'. Mountains surrounded us but today we were certainly among them instead of admiring them from a distance. The trail ascended more gently now. Ice had to be negotiated and I helped the 'table man' over one such section, whilst one of the sherpas, Hosta, was assisting us.

Amazingly, small tea houses break the ascent. After 1 hour 40 minutes lemon tea went down well inside one of these, warmed by the sun streaming through the window. Mark provided chocolate and we listened to the concerns of a girl who was worried about continuing. Outside, horses awaited anyone unfortunate enough to need carrying to the top (or more likely back down) - it would have been a chilly journey. 

The sun took a little of the cold away, and when Andrew arrived the rest of us were ready to continue. This was the 5000 metre mark. 

With Martin ahead*, Hosta and I chatted on the next section. This was difficult due to the need to breathe heavily. The mountain scenery was bleak but beautiful under its snow, with Thorong Peak close to our left.

Today, as usual, was cloudless. A cold breeze meant that no more layers were removed, despite the sunshine. Just after 9 am, fluttering prayer flags signalled the top of the pass at 5416 metres - in fact, the pass was festooned with colour. Unbelievably, a tea shop is located here too! A little higher was Martin, behind a rock on a small high point. Out of the wind, it proved a warmer place to wait for the others than the pass itself.

Mary soon arrived, but it was some time before Mark and Lindy turned up. Lindy had felt faint and had wondered whether she would make it. Andrew was not far behind them. The view onward and the views back were superb. Mary's 'Minstrels' were welcome too, although we weren't really hungry. 

The six of us, plus Sanjeev and the three sherpas, plus a couple of porters, squeezed into the tea shop for hot lemon. It was dark apart from the stove and light from the open door. Finally, photos were taken and it was time to go down. Martin managed an hour and 20 minutes here, and me not much less. Both of us were going well and had no symptoms of the altitude apart from shortness of breath. Before leaving, Sanjeev and the sherpas produced some prayer flags that they fastened to the many that were already there.

Looking down from our high point to the Thorong La tea shop

The descent was nearly 1700 metres, mostly on a dusty path, but with occasional icy patches. This side of the pass was less snowy, but covered in boulders. After about an hour, it warmed up considerably and a clothing removal stop turned into lunch. Our packed lunch, taken at around 11:30, was welcome. A raspberry yoghurt drink, muesli bar, hard-boiled egg, bread and chocolate, all fortified us for a few more hours.

Ahead, a brown landscape, which is the Kali Gandaki Valley, with more snow-capped mountains. It was an open vista. Later, the snowy cone of Dhaulagiri (another 8000 metre peak) comes into view. We have fun on a snowy section which a few people struggled on.

More lemon tea at another 'restaurant'. It is now warm enough to remove thermal leggings, and comfortable sitting around. Our destination, Muktinath, comes into view and we are surprised by the white wall around a temple, passed before coming into the 'Wild West' town. Wares for sale line the edges of the streets, with women trying to sell coloured beads and weaving to us.

We reached camp at 2:30 pm, a brown site at the edge of town, brightened by our yellow tents. A good spot to relax. We're able to wash off the dust, and have tea in the sun in the dining tent at 4 pm. Due to the wide valley here, we benefit from later sun, and it disappears at 4:30. 

Between then and dinner at 6 pm, we all adjourn to our warm sleeping bags, as it gets cold here at 3800 metres. A Nepalese dinner in the mess tent included rice, dhal, vegetable curry, and a hot chilli chutney, after soup, with mango to finish. It was tempting, once hot water bottles arrived, to go to bed after such an early start, but a celebratory beer was in order. Down clad, we found the bar on the top floor of the North Pole Hotel, where the four occupants already there, left. Tuborg beer went down well, its effects greater than they would be at sea level.

Under a cloudy sky, bed at 9 pm.

 * I remember this well. I was going slowly but steadily, and to my surprise I passed the leader of another group. This stimulated him into rushing ahead of me whilst I continued my slow plod. A few minutes later I passed him again, after pausing to check that he was ok in his collapsed state, apart from being out of breath! - Ed

Start: 4500 metres
Ascent: 920 metres
High Point: 5420 metres (525mb)
Descent: -1720 metres
Finish: 3700 metres
Time: 8.8 hours
Stops: 3.1 hours
Walking time: 5.7 hours