Some Stuff About Me ......

I live in Harrogate, North Yorkshire with my wonderful wife and soul-mate Helen. I have two incredible sons - Evan and Matthew - who are occasionally show up at home, usually when they're hungry or need money. The three of them are the best thing that ever happened to me and I love them all. I spent over 24 years in the Royal Navy, but since I packed it all in and got a proper job my life has gone from strength to strength and I've never looked back. I am a die-hard soul music fan, but my heart truly belongs in the fells of Northern England, it's what I was made for. Please read about my adventures and experiences ....

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Leg 3 Wanderings

I'm a bit knackered. This is mostly to do with the fact that I've been sleeping very badly in recent weeks, my sub-conscious mind is obviously a very unhappy place and needs a good talking-to. I think I know WHY it's so unhappy, but doing something about it - heck, being ABLE to do something about - is a completely different matter.  I'll concede that my poopedness *might* be something to do with some fairly strenuous exercise of late: I went up to the Lakes on Friday to meet up with some blokes from the FRA forums and do a recce of most of BGR Leg 3. We met up at the Old Dungeon Ghyll (ODG) hotel in Langdale, then followed the Langdale Horseshoe route up to Stickle Tarn, but then cut across to the NW and Sergeant Man. It was the standard route from that point onwards, the intention being to get at least as far as Scafell before we turned back. I think I should point out here that this was always going to be a *long* day out and it proved to be just that. Weather was a bit murky to start with, but it wasn't any worse underfoot than you'd expect for this time of year and we made reasonable forward progress. Still gloomy as we reached the top of Bowfell (you couldn't see the Scafells) but from then on the cloud did begin to lift ..... we reached Scafell Pike and all agreed that if we were going to make it back to Langdale before 5.00pm, we couldn't really go much further. I was a bit disappointed, as I wanted to recce the Lords Rake/West Wall Traverse route, however this was probably a sensible decision and there were a few pockets of snow still around. We decided to drop off Scafell Pike down the scree to the Corridor Route and head back to Esk Hause and then down into Langdale via Rossett Ghyll .... I have to say (and this is a bit of a confessional) that I completely screwed the descent up down that scree and I don't know why. My legs felt completely unstable and balance poor, I just don't know what went wrong, I'm thinking that I might have got a bit cold on the top of Scafell Pike, but I couldn't say for sure. Not good.

Anyhow, we made it back to Langdale OK, having covered about 20 miles and 6,500 of ascent, weather was very nice by now and the sun had been in our faces pretty much from Esk Hause. After cake and cuppas, I took a leisurely drive home, completely forgetting that Helen had a night out planned with the girls. I called her when I was close and was told that the pub they were in (Revolution in Harrogate - highly recommended) was a bit quiet, but more importantly had dark lighting and if I showed up and got past the door staff she'd order food for me It was a bit surreal to be honest - I went into this posh pub clad in mud-spattered running tights, a very smelly Helly, a battered baseball cap and some old trainers that I had swapped for my Mudclaws. I didn't even have socks and you could see the mudline around my ankles ....nobody batted an eyelid and I enjoyed a couple of pints of Guinesss and a tasty Revo-Burger in some of my favourite circumstances (ie. being the only bloke surrounded by girls in full Going-Out mode). So now I know: It really doesn't matter what you wear and the girls really DO like a bit of rough (he says, nursing a slapped face).

Saturday was spent getting my breath back and contemplating my navel, however we scooted off to Ilkley on Sunday for the annual Ilkley Moor Fell Race. I was never going to do this hard as my legs were far too tired from the preceding day, however I totally enjoyed it. It cost me at least a couple of minutes getting boxed-in at the start - you really do have to position yourself sensibly for this race, but once underway I made some good progress and managed to overtake everyone I was racing with on the final descent, which has to be one of the best around, taking you straight to the finish line. Just five miles, I'll concede, but it felt a lot longer!

Felt a bit more alive after this, so cleaned cars and kit etc on Sunday afternoon, then collapsed into a rather nice bottle of Shiraz on Sunday evening. A mistake, methinks, because I felt terrible at work the next day .... not good at all. My training plan called for a session on the Hill Climber after work, so I knocked out about 2,700ft before wobbling home and the Monday Pilates session.

So here we are, and apart from a bit of lethargy I feel pretty good. I do believe that things are looking up .....

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Gritted Teeth

With one grain of salt and a teardrop,
we can build an ocean of love;
With two grains of sand and a rock,
we can build a mountain of faith

~ Soul Bros Inc.

I apologise for the gooey intro. It works well for a friend who puts out the most absorbing, beautifully crafted blogs, but not so for me I think - I don't have the whimsical turn of phrase that supports such things. The quote? Well, it's a bit twee I know ... it's from a very rare and gorgeous soul record called "Pyramid", one of my all-time favourites and easily found on You Tube if you're of a mind to look.

I have had a busy few days. My man-cold thankfully didn't develop into the full-on pneumonia that I'd been predicting and allowed me to wobble up to the Lakes on Saturday for a bit of reacquaintance with the Bob Graham Round. Met pal Ben from Ripon at Threlkeld and I think we were both thinking the same thing as we observed the snowstorm raging on top of Blencathra .... something like "f*ck this" or "I must be barking mad" would have been about right. Discretion was the better part of valour, so we scooted over to Newlands intent on doing the Horseshoe, I had a sneaky idea to drop down to Honister from Dale Head like we did with friends Dave and Alix last year ... it wasn't to be. Weather was OK until we got to the Dale Tarn area, where we met snow. As we climbed Dale Head, the wind really got up and by the time we got to the summit it was like something out of a Himalayan mountain documentary .... I hope you can imagine this ..... "inch by inch, Martyn dragged his tired body to the summit of Everest while the 120mph winds tore at his shredded jacket, his broken leg manfully ignored in the quest for glory" .... something like that anyhow. Look, the point I'm making is the the wind was terrible and nearly blew us off the top of Dale Head, OK? We decided not to go down to Honister on the basis that we may never have made it back up!  Hindscarth was nearly as nasty, but by the time we reached Robinson things had calmed down. It was a conventional descent down Robinson, although the crags were a bit icy. As I was waiting my turn to scramble down the lower crag I noted a little shelf to my left and what looked like a nice grassy trod beneath it - a quick wiggle over the side and hurrah! I found the shortcut that I've completely managed to miss on my last few visits. I was down at the bottom way before Ben and Helen - they just gave me dirty looks and asked why I hadn't told them.  I'm a complete bastard, apparently.

Ben scooted off home as the heavens opened and snow fell, so without anything pressing we went into Keswick for fish and chips at - where else? - The Kingfisher and a wobble round the photo galleries. Didn't buy owt though -it's the Yorkshire influence :-)  Went into Planet Fear where there are some good bargains right now and Helen bought an Osprey hydration pack. I like this Osprey kit, possibly the best rucksacks and packs out there .... I just bought one of their bumbags (they delicately call it a "lumbar pack") and it's ace.

Sunday was spent cleaning kit, cars and house (there is always a downside), but I must relate one small story from the morning: You may recall that my garden is frequented by the odd sparrowhawk? Well, as I was boiling the kettle for my morning cuppa and (as usual) gazing through the window, I noticed a small bird sitting on the fence (ominously, I thought) behind us, right over the nesting box we have there. It was a young female sparrowhawk and I watched her for a couple of minutes while I was having my coffee, knowing she was looking for breakfast ..... I was right. A spuggie flew across the garden, heading for the bush in the corner where they seem to congregate. Little Miss Sparrowhawk was off the fence in a flash and actually went into the bush to grab the spuggie. As they do, she dropped down to lawn to kill the poor spuggie and I thought she was going to eat it there and then, but something must have alarmed her (I hadn't moved a muscle) and she flew off with her prey in her claws. What really struck me was the dispassionate way the little hawk slowly killed her prey, she didn't look down - just looked slowly around, it was really quite chilling.

Monday: work was crap, but enlivened by a tough session at the gym afterwards. I have been using a hill-climbing maching (aka "Jacobs Ladder") and currently have the 3000ft record by miles (29:19), nobody else seems to spend much more than 15 minute on the murderous thing. Decided to drop the rate of climb tonight to about 90ft/minute and go for a 45minute stint. Music is absolutely essential, as the thing faces a wall and it's very boring and incredibly hard work, you sweat buckets. 4090ft in 45 minutes is a new gym record, basically as I'm the only one who has been stupid enough to stay on it for this length of time.  I will continue with this machine, I intend to put a picture of the Moot Hall on the wall behind it, just to remind myself why I'm putting myself through this God-awful pain.

Collected Helen from work, amazed to see her wearing a skirt and heels for a change (simple answer: all trousers in the wash), endured her moaning for 30 mins and then carted her off to college where she is doing an Indian Head Massage course. Took myself off to pilates with the delicious and incredibly flexible Jennie (I'm the only bloke in the class, I feel like a proper lech) and tortured myself for a further 45 minutes before being ejected into the fresh Yorkshire air. I think I like pilates.

Plan for the week: Interval training Tues, over to Addingham on Weds for a run with Stef up Beamsley Beacon, Thurs rest, Langdale Friday for a long, long day out over to Wasdale and back. Somewhere among all this I will attempt to see my youngest son, who has just come back from Canada (skiing holiday) and who I desperately miss. I miss the other one too, but he's at uni, spending all his money on beer and beyond my reach right now.

Postscript:  Training with the Harriers was murder tonight, my legs were like lead at the end.  Home to a big bowl of butternut squash soup and enough pancakes to choke a horse.  What should I give up for lent?  I can't think of anything remotely worth giving up right now.

I do hope you're all OK.