Thursday, 31 March 2011

Race for the prize

One of the best live bands around

Flaming June

I'd planned to do my Bob Graham on June 17 but after learning that's the night of the Dark Peak mass attempt plus the date for many other contenders' goes I've decided to put my date back until July. Last year I spent days and days thinking about the BG, obsessing about the logistics and planning what might have been. This year I've focused on training harder and what will be will be

Work is the other issue affecting my decision. It looks like I'm going to India (and probably Bangladesh) around the middle of May and two weeks in South Asia starting four weeks before an attempt would make things very difficult. I'm in Turkey next week but the trip will be okay as I'm not flying until Monday late morning and I'll be back early Friday afternoon ready for another trip to the Lakes (I'm up there this coming weekend with Stef recceing with some friends from the FRA forums)

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Plain Sailing

Liver Hill fell race

Spring has now officially sprung! Last night I went over to Rawtenstall in Lancashire for the Liver Hill fell race organised by Rossendale Harriers This is seriously fast and furious; an all-runnable 5mile / 800ft, held every year on the first Tuesday after the clocks are put forward. For me it marks the transition from winter to spring running and last night I ran in vest and shorts, which felt just right

This is the third time I've done the race and it's a good sharpener when the vast majority of your training involves slogging up mountains and jogging the flats before running back down. The long moorland section is more like a cross-country race than a typical Pennine fell race and this year the going was fast with just the 11 stiles to hold the runners back

I was talking to an old friend last week and he suggested I try to include some quality running each week into my training. Last night was certainly quality running because after finishing I could hardly stand and I dropped my Cadbury's Creme Egg because I was shaking that much (entry is free and all finishers get chocolate at the end!). The results aren't out yet but should be posted here soon

Monday, 28 March 2011

Fieldfare, Pikes and Peaks

Well everything I had planned for the weekend came off!

My Friday afternoon birdwatching walk was lovely in the sun and I had an enormous cornet from the van at Barden Bridge. Still no sand martin but most of the usual suspects were out on or by the river plus I saw a flock of around 30 fieldfare in the field behind the path into the Strid Woods

On Saturday I met Geoff near Kendal as arranged and we climbed Harrison Stickle from the new Dungeon Ghyll then picked up the Bob Graham route as far as Scafell Pike before returning down the pony track by Rossett Gill. We worked out we'd done 15miles and 6000ft of climb plus we'd taken the correct line over to Rossett Pike and up Billy Bland's rakes on Bowfell and memorised a few useful landmarks on these. On the way down to Mickleden we spotted a very smart male wheatear, surely a sign that spring is now here

Yesterday after meeting Dave at his home around lunchtime we headed over to Three Peaks country and ran over Whernside and Ingleborough. We got back to Ribblehead in time for a tea each at the famous Fourth Peak burger van. I felt great climbing Ingleborough and am very satisfied with my 39miles and just shy of 12000ft of climb for the week

Friday, 25 March 2011


The first band I really loved. Who'd want to listen to Pink Floyd or the Bee Gees when they could listen to Pete Shelley and the lads?


I went over to Ilkley Moor last night and did three reps of my 550ft climb route up past White Wells. It was a lovely evening to be out and it was quite possibly my last headtorch run of the winter. I time my mid-week training runs rarely but noticed I was back two minutes quicker than my 'usual' on returning to the car

I've arranged to meet Geoff tomorrow to recce a good chunk of Leg 3 of the Bob Graham (Langdale Pikes to Scafell Pike and back, possibly over the Crinkles) and am going up to Ribblehead to run up Whernside and Ingleborough with my friend Dave on Sunday afternoon as part of his Three Peaks Fell Race training

If it's nice this afternoon I'll probably go for another birdwatching walk by the river. It cannot be long now before the sand martins arrive, plus there's the incentive of the ice cream van at Barden Bridge to spur me on!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Empty Chairs

There's a guy who goes to the Swan in Addingham and sings this on acoustic, open-mic nights. He has a good voice and a great taste in music. Has there ever been a better song about lost love and missed opportunities?

Simon's Seat

It was our final 'timed training run' of the winter last night. A 5 miles / 1000 feet climb of Simon's Seat from the Craven Arms in quite possibly my favourite Wharfedale village, Appletreewick

I've not seen the results yet but guess there were around 15 to 20 of us including local fell running champions Ted Mason and Ian Holmes. I managed the run in seven minutes faster than I've done in the past and was very pleased with myself (in fairness Ted, who 'won', set a record time and it was a perfect evening for running)

After the race, oops, 'timed training run', we retired to the pub for beer and the usual stories of getting lost, discussions of summer plans etc. I'd managed to organise a lift up and back down the dale, which was handy because the Saltaire Raspberry Blond went down even better than ace descender Ted in a new pair of fell shoes!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


I'd planned to go over to Ilkley Moor last night and do some hill-reps but it was a lovely evening so I went for another walk by the river instead (I'll do the reps on Thursday now). After parking by the cricket ground near Bolton Bridge I walked across to the 'old bridge' and there was just enough light for me to get to the priory ruins and back (what people refer to regularly as Bolton Abbey was actually a priory)

The second I arrived at the old bridge I saw a dipper and around halfway between there and the ruins there was a flock of 41 oystercatchers preparing to roost together on the river bank. I've got a great affection for these noisey waders and often hear them at home when the weather's good and the windows are open in early summer

On the way back down the river I saw three goosander plus three bats. One of the bats was the size of a snipe (I thought for a second that's what it was on first sight) but sadly my bat id skills are non-existent, so I've no idea what species they were

The sand martins that spend the summer in Wharfedale haven't arrived yet but it cannot be long now, and there was a real feel of spring in the air on my forty minute or so riverside jaunt!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Dub Qawwali

I drove past Prashad in Bradford yesterday on the way from work to the Brown Cow, and that's where I first heard this music a couple of years ago. I ordered the album the next day on-line after the owner's son told me what it was they were playing. I love the Kraftwerk sample!

The Bedlamites

I called in at the Brown Cow in Keighley last night for an informal showing of a brilliant new short film made by Sheyla and Lukas Lee called The Bedlamites. The film focuses on fell running but in particular fell running at night on the local South Pennines / Yorkshire Dales hills

The Lees had posted a trailer of the film on their website and our club website but I'd purposefully not seen it before last night. I'll have to admit I got slightly emotional when I saw the first screening (it was so good I stayed and watched it three and half times in total). I'm not sure if it was because I knew many of the runners in it, or simply because it is such a superb little film. Anyway I had a fabulous night out and it was great to see a good crowd at the Cow including many of the 'Bedlamites' themselves

Monday, 21 March 2011

Dippers, passes and cakes

What a fantastic weekend I had! As I'd hoped I went down to Barden Bridge for a walk along the Wharfe on Friday afternoon after work. No sign of any sand martins yet but I saw curlew, goosander, oystercatcher, dipper, treecreeper, heron, long-tailed tit and nuthatch

On Saturday Stef and I did the Four Lakeland Passes LDWA event, which was very informal (no numbers or tallies were issued, no times taken and no results will be posted). The route was brilliant and we ran round in a couple of minutes over five hours, which we were both really happy about. Ian Charters has some great photos on his blog

Yesterday it was over to Heptonstall for the first running of Stephen Grimley's new race. To be honest it was hard work after Saturday but we really enjoyed it and weren't last! There are some photos from the race here and here Steve put a huge amount of effort into the race including getting the local vicar out to bless the 202 runners before the start plus laying on a mountain of cakes for afterwards. I think he has an instant classic on his hands and reckon we've got a worthy addition to the FRA race calendar

With the LDWA event and yesterday's race we managed eight and half hours training over the weekend and both me and Stef bagged a 40mile+ / 10,000ft week

Friday, 18 March 2011


Douglas and the weekend

I went to see my best friends Dave and Sara last night. Their son Douglas is nine months old now and growing so quickly it's amazing. I shared a house with Dave when I first moved to Yorkshire and his family is like my family now. It was great to see them and lovely to see wee Douglas doing so well! I've done a lot of running with Dave in the past (including several Howarth Hobbles and the Round Rotherham 50) and he's training currently for the Three Peaks fell race. He had a bit of a calf injury scare a few weeks ago but is back on track now

Stef is coming up from Southampton after work this evening and we've got a good weekend's training planned. Tomorrow it's the LDWA Four Lakeland Passes challenge event, and on Sunday we're going over to Heptonstall to run the first Heptonstall fell race The two runs combined will give us around 33miles / 8500feet climb. I know there will be a lot of familiar faces at the events, so we should have a fun time plus both manage a 10,000feet week

I'm hoping to go for a walk by the Wharfe this afternoon after work, probably around the Barden Bridge / Strid Woods area. It's probably a bit early to see sand martin but dipper, goosander and kingfisher are all quite probable. The four mile circuit from Barden up to Cavendish Pavillion and back along the other side of the river is one of the great Dales birdwatching walks and it won't be too long before wood warbler, redstart, common sandpiper and pied flycatcher are all back for the summer to breed

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Doubler Stones

A group of us from K & C had a headtorch run out from Silsden last night. We went up to Nab End (the end of the high ground that slopes westward from Ilkley Moor), then over to the Doubler Stones. From there we dropped down and joined up with the Rivock Edge fell race route and returned back to Silsden by the canal. It was a good run of around 6miles and 750ft climb and we finished off in the Kings Arms, where they had a rather good selection of well kept real ales. I can vouch for the quality of the Saltaire Blonde and the Brew Dog Trashy Blonde in particular

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Beacon

It was back to the hill reps last night for the first time since I got back from Asia. 6 x 150ft very runnable reps with my headtorch on the Langbar Bridleway at the bottom of Beamsley Beacon. I remember a time when one climb of these two sloping fields used to bury me but last night I reckon I could have kept going for hours, which is handy because come July that's what I'll need to be able to do

I love Beamsley Beacon. It's very much my local hill, and I always enjoy going up there whether running or walking, and at any time of the year. The views over to Haworth Moor, Boulsworth, Pendle, Embsay Moor and up into Wharfedale 'proper' are excellent on a clear day, and in spring or summer there's often the chance of seeing an interesting bird or two including at times red kite, golden plover, snipe, wheatear, and if you're very lucky short-eared owl


Anyone who can incorporate the word 'camouflage' into the lyrics of a lovesong and make it sound poetic is okay by me

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Best dressed chicken in town

I bought a Greensleeves re-issue CD of the Best dressed chicken album and like a fool lent it to a friend, never to be seen or heard again

Monday, 14 March 2011

Hobble weekend

I got back into Manchester airport around 8.30am on Saturday, drove home and then went over to help out at the Hobble HQ following a quick shower and a mug of tea. I'm not sure how it happened but I ended up doing the time-keeping with another lad from K&C and really enjoyed it, especially seeing the runners finish. Duncan Harris, winner of the Fellsman Hike last May, was first man back and Aly Raw from Bingley Harriers first woman

Stef had planned originally to go up to the Lakes recceing but decided to run the Hobble instead so I was there to see her finish with our friend Phil Jones. She enjoyed her run immensely (her first Hobble) and had spent a good chunk of the event running with Phil, which I reckoned was good thinking as he knew the way!

After a Chinese takeaway and an early night on Saturday we went up to Starbotton in Upper Wharfedale yesterday and did 15miles / 5500ft including climbing Gt Whernside by Pete Jebb's excellent race route. It was a fabulous spring-like run and the drive back down the dale was great with fields full of lambs and oystercatchers and curlews everywhere

Home again

Still with us after his stroke and still making great music

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Haworth Hobble / Wuthering Hike

It’s the Haworth Hobble on Saturday and it will be the first one I’ve missed since I moved up to Yorkshire six and a half years ago. It’s one of my favourite events and for that matter, days of the year. Even though its 32miles there is a surprising amount of tracks and paths, making for lots of decent running. The weather has been good the years I have done it too
I’m flying home tonight but hope if I feel okay when I get home via Paris, I might go over to Howarth to help race organiser and friend Brett, even if it’s only washing up or making tea in the kitchen. The Hobble is good Bob Graham training and many runners do it on the way to a successful round. I’m gutted not to be running but it’d be nice if I can take part in some way on the day
Good luck to all running or walking or involved with the organisation or marshaling. I hope to see you on Saturday afternoon

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


The late, great Gregory Isaacs. What an amazing suit, such a wonderful voice!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pho Bo

Everywhere you go in Vietnam you will see the words Pho and Com written on notices outside cafes. Com is the Vietnamese word for rice and Pho the word for noodles. Cafes, especially small roadside ones, specialise generally in one or the other

Pho Bo (pronounced something like 'fur bear'), is white rice noodles with beef, in beef broth flavoured with typical SE Asian ingredients like shallots, lemongrass, star anise, chilli, spring onions and basil. The dish originated in the North but is popular now all over the country. It makes a great lunch, but I had it for breakfast on holiday in Hanoi a few years ago and it is a lovely way to start the day too

Today we had Pho Bo at a restaurant belonging to Pho 24 This is a nice chain, which has now spread as far as Australia and I notice on their website, London. We've eaten here a few times and although the food isn't as authentic as you might get on the street, it's still pretty good!

Monday, 7 March 2011


It's only just after 10pm here in Saigon and I'm really tired. We had three good meetings today but I was back in the hotel around 4pm. I had half an hour or so on my balcony in the sun (it was a glorious afternoon), then I did some work. After another session in the gym it was down for dinner, a couple of drinks and now I'm ready for my bed. When I use the gym I tend to hammer the machines and have been known to have a cross-trainer rocking before now. Maybe two intensive sessions in the gym, albeit only short ones, are why I'm worn out, or perhaps it's the rum and coke, pizza and Saigon beer!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

In My Room

I've spent today resting after having a decent night's sleep finally. My room has a balcony overlooking the swimming pool, so I had some time sat in the sun until it started raining mid-afternoon. It wasn't proper heavy tropical rain; just hard enough to force me back indoors

This evening I went down to the gym and trained fairly hard for forty mins or so on the treadmill and stepper. Then it was dinner with a couple of local 333 beers (Ba-Ba-Ba in Vietnamese). I can see me putting weight on this trip if I'm not careful as there's a rather good selection of cakes, puddings and ice-cream included in the buffet dinner selection!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Thai green curry

I got my Thai curry finally last night in the hotel along with some rather tasty pork fried rice. The curry was made with chicken plus the traditional aubergines, and was green (there are two main types of Thai curry: green made with a lot of fresh herbs including fresh chillies, and red, which is nearer perhaps in appearance to an Indian curry and fired by dried chillies). Plenty of herbs had been used and the first flavour I noticed was a wonderful strong basil taste then coconut, coriander, lemon grass and galangal (similar to ginger) before the warmth of the chillies kicked in. Fantastic!

This morning I few into Saigon (Ho Chi Min City) in Vietnam. We called to see one customer on the way from the airport to the hotel and it was good to catch up with him as he's an old friend and a smashing guy with it. I'm now off until Monday morning so it will be the gym for me tomorrow after a lie in. I've not slept well at all since arriving in Asia on Thursday so I'm hoping to get some much needed rest before a busy schedule of meetings and customer visits starts on Monday

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Twins and noodles

I arrived safely in Bangkok around six hours ago after an overnight flight from Schipol, Amsterdam on KLM. I thought I might be in for an interrupted night as the couple sat opposite me had what I guessed to be six month old twin boys with them. However the twins and I got some sleep on the plane (incidentally I'm a twin and identical twins like the lads on the plane fascinate me as me and my twin brother are not alike at all) and I didn't feel too bad when I got to the hotel

This evening I've been to the bar in the hotel for a 'welcome drink'. This is a freebie to entice you into the bar if you're being cynical and tonight's was some kind of lurid green fruit-based concoction i.e. really not my thing!

The menu in the bar wasn't very exciting but what looked like a pretty unappealing plate of chicken, veg and noodles wasn't too bad, especially after a couple of non-fruit based cold Singha beers. I've been looking forward to a Thai curry for the last few days and maybe I'll get one tomorrow lunchtime or night. It seemed odd them not having what's kind of the national dish on the menu; a bit like an English pub not having roast beef, or fish and chips

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Ramblin' Man

Brilliant, just brilliant


It's my last day in the office before flying out to Bangkok tomorrow, via Amsterdam. I've got meetings in Bangkok on Thursday afternoon and Friday, then move on to Saigon in Vietnam on Saturday morning

I'm relatively relaxed on airplanes but always get slightly anxious a day or so before I fly thinking I've forgotten something, which at the moment is true as I need still to book my car parking at Manchester! I've also got to get some passport-style photos for immigration purposes to get into Vietnam

It'll be my third visit to Saigon since last May and it's one of my favourite cities to go to for business. I stay in the same hotel each time, which has decent wireless internet, a good restaurant and an okay gym and the days aren't too long when I'm there as there are loads of customers to see close to the hotel. The food is great in Vietnam and no doubt I will be blogging about it over the coming week

I'm hoping to either get out for a run this evening, or possibly early in the morning (I'm not flying until late afternoon) and should be able to get a few sessions in the gym done before flying home the day of the Haworth Hobble race, which I'll miss for the first time in seven years. I'm sad to miss the Hobble but have the Four Lakeland Passes LDWA event to look forward to on March 19