Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Wednesday 31 January 2024

Saturday 27 January 2024 - Owen's 200th parkrun

                                   Owen and some of his many supporters

Wythenshawe parkrun #556 was notable in that it was Owen's 200th parkrun. Congratulations to him, and to all the people who have taken the trouble to accompany Owen around various courses since he started running in 2017. 154 of those runs have been at Wythenshawe, so he quite rightly chose this, his 'home' run, for his 200th outing.

Cary had generously produced a magnificent cake in celebration of the occasion.

There were two cakes, as the previous week Cary had completed his 250th parkrun, also his 200th at Wythenshawe, amongst the mayhem of a record 609 finishers on that occasion.

Tris had an easier job as Run Director this week, with just 273 finishers spreading out nicely in the starting field. (Full results are here.)

By the time I reached Oliver Cromwell's statue, most of the 273 were strung out ahead of me.

Owen was supported today by Martha and Annie.

They stuck with him to the finish, where numerous others who had already finished peeled off to avoid confusion with the results.

Here are the supporters - mainly Barbers - but I should mention Graham Horsman, who often steps in at the last minute to accompany Owen. His efforts may go unnoticed, but they are greatly valued.

We adjourned to the tea room to sort the barcode tokens, ready for next week, with Owen still hanging on to the balloon provided by Annie, another unsung hero.

Tuesday 30 January 2024

Friday = Isabella Day (61)

It has been a while since we looked after Isabella for the day. We started today with a batch of presents that had arrived late due to Father Christmas getting stuck in the chimney!

Isabella had missed her family of bears, who were tired this morning and needed a nap.

Before we knew, it was lunchtime, finishing with lots of ... guess what? Yes, apple crumble and a bit of ice cream.


Then a secret assignment with Grandma Sue was recorded by Sue. Grandad has no idea as to what is going on here.

Well, that was fun! And well behaved as usual. Thank you for a lovely day, Isabella.

Monday 29 January 2024

23 to 25 January 2024 - Pen y Bont

We were privileged to be invited by Paul and Jeanette to spend a couple of nights, along with Andy, at a lovely holiday cottage in the Ceiriog Valley in North Wales. Pen y Bont has been a holiday refuge for Paul and Jeanette for many years. It's a great spot.

We arrived on Tuesday lunchtime and after a leisurely lunch we set off along the high road to Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, in the pouring rain of Storm Joselyn. The views along the valley were glazed by a dense sheen of mist and rain.

The Upper Ceiriog Way was joined briefly by the five adults and Rufus, the reluctant dog, when it comes to walking in the rain.

An information board describes a defeated threat to the valley in 1923 when a proposal to create two reservoirs for the benefit of the residents of Warrington was defeated, thanks partly to David Lloyd George, whose roots were nearby.

Click on the image to view all the text, and click on any image for a slideshow

Here's a view from the information board on this rainy afternoon.

Paul and Jeanette had already enjoyed a superb lunch at 'The Hand', which appears to be a culinary destination. We spent some time there, drying out, enjoying afternoon tea and beer, before heading back past the church.

A move to follow the road was defeated, so we stumbled along a path laced with descending streams as far as Tregeiriog.

Luckily there was a bridge to cross the river before a final trot along the road, reaching Pen y Bont at dusk.

Here's our route - 9 km with 230 metres ascent, during which we spent 2 hours in the rain.

Sue and I had brought some provisions with us, and we enjoyed a 'one pot spatchcock chicken' meal.

Rufus ensured there was no need for any washing up, while the rest of us tucked in to a lemon cheesecake tart.

The weather was better on Wednesday. We drove to the Trevor basin, next to the Pont-Cysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal.

Paul and Jeanette were soon installed in their sea kayaks, whilst the rest of us strolled along the scenic towpath.

About half way to Llangollen, we enjoyed some coffee and cake, and Paul swapped places with Sue.

From our bench, the Bryn Howel hotel looked to be in a sorry state. Built in 1896, it was owned by the same family for many years and was a prized destination with over 30 rooms. After being sold to a hotel chain that later went into administration, it was sold in 2012, but the new owner seems to have lost interest. All rather sad.

The 46 mile Llangollen Canal dates from the late 18th century, and unlike the aforementioned hotel, is still going strong as a magnet for tourists. We met numerous dog walkers and several kayakers on a training course in preparation for a kayaking holiday

We enjoyed views down to the River Dee, which beyond Llangollen rises higher than the canal which it feeds.

The kayakers called it a day in the centre of Llangollen, where after some faffing we found a good cafe in which to enjoy some bowls of soup with chunky slabs of brown bread.

The river was frothing with fury as it passed through Llangollen. Not seen in the next picture, a couple of kayakers were expertly navigating the rapids.

We returned to the towpath, with Paul and Jeanette installed in their kayaks, and Sue eagerly anticipating another go in one of them.

We approached Bryn Howel and I took my place on the bench whilst Paul and Jeanette got out of their boats. This didn't quite go to plan (assuming Andy didn't plan what follows!).

Paul was out of his kayak and just about to help Jeanette get out of hers, when helpful Andy decided to assist by pulling on Jeanette's kayak. He succeeded in removing her from the kayak... directly into the canal! I decided that the taking of any pictures might be regarded as unacceptable voyeurism, so I stayed put whilst the theatre played out. (Non existent pictures are now in high demand, not least from Jeanette!)

So Sue never did get to have another go, as after emptying her kayak of 'flood' water, Jeanette wisely chose to strike for home (the Trevor basin) and the change of clothes that had wisely been left there.

By the time the rest of us arrived, the boarding platform was empty and Paul and Jeanette were gone. The view here takes you past the boarding / disembarking point and along the aqueduct, which at this time of year is closed for maintenance.

We pottered around the World Heritage Site while Jeanette sorted out her appareil and Paul stashed the kayaks. Meanwhile the nearby cafe closed spot on at 4pm, just as we arrived, when the staff wanted to go home. Never mind, it was an easy journey back to Pen y Bont and our own plentiful supplies of tea and cake.

I got a shot of the aqueduct as the car flew past it.

Here's today's there and back route - we did about 16 km, with 150 metres ascent.

While Andy was creating a tasty sausage casserole, the owner of Pen y Bont was enjoying a stroll out, and a couple of snaps of the cottage. 

On Thursday, Andy went home after breakfast and the rest of us walked to Glyn Ceiriog and back on a dull and slightly drizzly day.

Walks from Pen y Bont seem to start up a never ending hill!

Having gained the height, we found ourselves in a cloud.

Elevenses were on a breezy corner by a virtually traffic free road. Rufus wasn't impressed!

Down in Glyn Ceiriog the cafes were closed but the snowdrops were in bloom.

After lunch - we'd sensibly brought sandwiches - in the village centre, we walked up the road towards Pandy and joined an old tram track leading from a quarry near to Pen y Bont.

The infant River Ceiriog rushed on as we progressed serenely along the tramway.

Judging by the huge amounts of mosses and lichens, the air should be pretty pure around here.

Is this the old gunpowder works?

This is definitely the disused quarry.

Here's today's route - 13.5 km, 300 metres ascent, taking around 4 hours.

Well, that was an excellent walk, and an excellent trip altogether. Thanks go to Paul and Jeanette for inviting us along, and to Andy for his good company.

We look forward to visiting Pen y Bont again. It's a great spot, and we only touched the surface of all that can be done from that cosy base.