Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Bank Holiday bivvy view

This is the view we had when we woke up on Sunday morning. It's not a great photo (it was taken on my phone's camera) but it captures an idea of what a lovely morning it was. I love sleeping outdoors and especially like the 'low-faff nature' of bivvying. We must sneak out for another night before the winter!

The Smiths

I was in a foul mood driving to work this morning. The dark grey sky, my upcoming trip to Asia and general post holiday blues played on my mind. A rummage in the glove-box of the car turned up my copy of Hatful of Hollow and half an hour later, after a good old singalong, I was feeling a  good deal more chirpy 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Bank Holiday owls

Stef arrived as planned on Friday evening and in time for something to eat and drink before bedtime. On Saturday after an hour or so shopping in Ilkley (I bought a new moka coffee-pot, inspired by our recent holiday plus some espresso cups), we picked up Steve Brock then went over to Malham Show. Steve and I ran the fell race while Stef went to buy cakes. Steve won £8 for coming 5th and I wasn't last! Results should be here soon and Andy Holden was on the hill taking photos, which can be found here

After eating Stef's cakes and having a wander round the show ground we drove over via Malham Tarn and Littondale to Grassington, where pub food and drinks were taken (Black Sheep for the runners, Crabbies for Stef) before heading out on the Dales Way to find a suitable bivvy spot. Steve had a site in mind and it turned out to be perfect. The highlight of the evening was all three of us being woken up by a pair of calling tawny owl at 1am. They could not have been very far away at all and we could almost feel the answering 'wooooo' vibrating the still night air. The sky was crystal clear and the stars were just amazing

On Sunday after dropping Steve off at home to meet a climbing friend we went to see Dave, Sara and Douglas. Sara is expecting her second baby in November and looked very well. Douglas was busy walking round the kitchen and Dave was in good spirits after a mountain-bike ride

Yesterday (Monday; I find Bank Holiday weekends so confusing) Stef and I went to Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve as planned. We had a great day in spite of the weather, which was more like October than August. Highlights included a beautiful yellow wagtail, close-up views of a roosting tawny owl and loads of waders on the various scrapes including spotted redshank, ruff in various sizes / plummages and several snipe

The weekend was rounded off nicely with an unscheduled trip last night to the Swan to meet Brett and Sue. How long is it until Christmas?!

Uncertain smile

Friday, 26 August 2011

Reps and plans

It was back to hill-reps on Beamsley Beacon last night. I managed five times up and down the bottom two fields and it was hard work. In fairness I felt (and slept) so much better for just getting out of the house and doing something. My fitness has been slipping away and I really need to get going again now, especially with Bob Graham recces coming up

Stef is coming up to Yorkshire for the weekend and we've planning a night out bivvying tomorrow with Steve Brock, plus we're hoping to catch up with Dave, Sara and Douglas, who's walking now. I've not seen Dave and family for weeks due to my trip to Bangladesh then two week holiday so it'll be great to see them

On Monday we're going to Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve We went this time last year and saw marsh harriers and a wood sandpiper along with curlew sandpiper and little stint. It's a great reserve and August is a good time to visit with many migrants passing


Thursday, 25 August 2011


I thought a bit of John Cooper Clarke might cheer me up on a grey day in the office and I was right. I've got the 10inch clear vinyl live album this reading is from and it's brilliant. John is well into his 60s now and still great live (I've heard him several times). I notice from his web-site he's on locally soon as part of the Ilkley Literature Festival in October. That should be good!

White Lion, Kildwick

The White Lion in Kildwick used to be the permanent base for KCAC Wednesday night social-runs when I first ran with the club nearly seven years ago and I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the pub. Last night around a dozen of us did six miles or so up over Farnhill Pinnacle, on to Bradley, then over the hill and along the canal back to the pub. It was a perfect late summer's evening for a run out and we only got 'temporarily mislaid' once or twice

After the run it was into the pub for the usual banter plus some rather good Ilkley Brewery 'Ilkley Black' I just need to get running a bit more frequently now!

Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Obsession

Becca from our club is planning a Bob Graham attempt for early next summer. I've just e-mailed her a spreadsheet outlining the training I did over the last two years plus links to a couple of blogs I found helpful and inspiring. These are Ian Charters' and Mark Smith's excellent records of their training and experiences on the way to successful rounds

After getting going again quite well after my round, which incredibly is three months ago now, I'm struggling to get inspired with running at the moment. However the thought of a few recces in Lakeland with Becca and perhaps Martyn from Harrogate who is also having a go next summer, has fired me up a bit. I might even nip over to Ilkley Moor for a few 500feet hill-reps this evening!

New Dawn Fades

Monday, 22 August 2011

Wonderful waders

Stef and I had a lovely relaxed weekend in and around Southampton doing loads of our favourite things including sun bathing, bird-watching, eating ice-cream, visiting the New Forest, drinking Bacardi and generally wandering around on the coast

On Saturday morning we drove down to Keyhaven via the cake shop in Brockenhurst and spent a hour or two lounging on the beach before doing some bird-watching. We spent the evening at Stef's and had a nice dinner comprising mackerel, cous-cous and roasted veggies. On Sunday it was a fried breakfast, Titchfield Haven and Hook by Warsash for more bird-watching / coastal sauntering and out for a curry in the evening

I don't bother with lists of the birds we've spotted very often but over the weekend we noted 12 different species of wader (now is a great time for birds migrating from their Northern breeding grounds to either over-winter on our coasts or move on to Africa for the winter). We saw:

Curlew Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Ringed Plover
Black-tailed Godwit


My dad loved Nat King Cole and so do I

Friday, 19 August 2011

Taormina holiday photos

I took only a few photos on my phone but this selection gives some idea of what Taormina and the surrounding area, including Mount Etna, looks like

The O' Jays

I've always loved the Third World version of this song and didn't know until recently that it was a cover of this original

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Pat Kelly

This is included on Good Times Skank a Trojan Records compilation put together by Joey Jay. It's a brilliant collection of classic reggae tunes with great sleeve-notes, and would make a good intro for anyone looking to find out more about roots music


I had my first run for three weeks last night. We ran from the Crossroads pub between Keighley and Haworth out along the Worth Way before picking up the Yorkshireman marathon route up near Harden Moor and returning back to the pub. There was a great turnout from the club and the Copper Dragon Black Gold was in tip top condition when we returned. I'm not a big fan of Copper Dragon beers but like Black Gold

The run felt okay in spite of putting on around four pounds in weight and not doing any real training on my trip to Bangladesh or the two weeks in Sicily. It's time to get some focus back into training again now!

Suspended in time

Stef's operation was cancelled after she'd spent all day yesterday hanging around in hospital waiting to be seen. She was back home at tea-time and is understandably down. The most likely scenario now is a three week wait before the next appointment!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Wednesday Week

The Undertones were one of my favourite bands when I was 15 or 16years old. This still sounds fantastic to me 30years later

Stef's operation

Stef went into hospital earlier this morning for her hysterectomy. Her mum and dad are in Southampton with her for the next couple of weeks or so and I'm going to go down and spend August Bank Holiday there. Our plan is for Stef to come up to Yorkshire as she recovers and have a few weeks up here with me

The operation is being done using the keyhole technique and although hopefully recovery will be relatively quick for the operation being done we have no real idea how soon it will be before Stef will be able to do any kind of real exercise. We're hoping that perhaps some gentle bird-watching walks will be possible in maybe three to four weeks time

I hope Stef will update her blog while she is off work and I'm going to encourage her to do so

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Blow your head

Post holiday plans

I've not got my holiday photos sorted out yet but when I do I'll post a few. Every time I go to Italy (I've been maybe five times on holiday plus I used to go to Milan several times a year on business until quite recently) I come back with the same plans:

1) Buy a scooter. Not in a naff Quadrophenia mod way but a cool 'I'll just nip out with my shades on pretending I'm Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday way'. It never happens and it never will

2) Buy a pink polo shirt. I saw a beautiful Lacoste raspberry pink number in a shop in Taormina. Not baby pink but the colour of raspberry ice-cream. It never happens but might if I got my act together

3) Learn Italian. I'm terrible with languages, having absolutely not aptitude whatsoever. It'll never happen although I'm slowly learning a few more words

4) Eat more pasta. My favourite jeans either shrunk in the wardrobe whilst I was away, or more likely, I put a few pounds on due to the ice-cream and pizza. Eating more pasta is the last thing I need to be doing just now!

5) Drink more coffee. Not the most ambitious plan but it might just happen 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Al Green

Stef and I have been in Sicily on holiday for the last two weeks (more to follow) and after the alarm went off at 4-00am this morning I was in my car to drive back up to Yorkshire from Southampton before 4-30. I pressed 'play' on the CD player and this came on. Cheered me up no end!