December 6 2022

Day 6, Paine Grande to Campamento Frances

The night was disturbed by the mass of kids camping right next door. A change to noise of wind and rain that is for sure. We listened to their whoops and gaggle for some hours and we might have provided some entertainment in return, had they watched our tent after dark, lit up with our solar lamp. But we shall never know!

The food at Paine Grande was far from the best and breakfast, like the evening meal, was pretty ghastly. We sat with an older American couple, members of The Appalachian Mountain Walking Club, who were part of a guided group on the ‘W’. We were in no hurry, this being a short walking day. Our Russian friends waved through the window on their way to the boat, their circle was complete, and they were heading out. We stopped for a farewell photo, before we pulled on our waterproofs and set off into the cold morning towards Camp Frances.

We soon found ourselves stuck behind a long line of kids. ‘Chico’s, podemos pasar?’, got their attention and they move aside. I wish my Spanish extended beyond such three word sentences, mostly assisted by google translate. Babble got me off the bottom rung, but come our next major excursion I will do better and attend a language school.

We passed through another large area of dead trees. Apparently these were lost to a fire a few years ago. Further along we passed the track which goes up Valle del Frances, our route for the following day. Our ‘rest’ day. The main valley opened out and we began to get spectacular views across the azure coloured Lago Nordenskjold. I wondered how this lake got its name, as I struggled along. I tried to keep up with Kris and Ona who were deep in conversation, if I could listen in, I might be able to distract myself from the pain in my growling stomach.

We arrived at Frances before checking in time, so took the steep track down to the hut and sat inside to eat our lunch. It was a hive of activity, bread was being baked and packed lunches for the following day were being prepared. The weather cleared so we ambled back along the route to a lookout over the lake. It was just about warm enough to sit out and enjoy the view.

Before supper, we showered in the best campsite showers on the track. The design of the block was terrific made from wood and corrugated plastic. The experience might not have been so great had it still been snowing of course. The evening meal in the tiny hut, was also very good, on par with Camp Seron.

Safe travels Yulia and Daria, you ROCK!
Leaving Paine Grande in the bitter cold, good advert for Osprey but there is a MacPac backpack under that wrapper.
Colourful school kids from Santiago causing grid lock on the path
Dead forest with new growth on its way
The beautiful azure Lago Nordenskjold, with some crazy people standing in the way!
Camp Frances
Kris reclining in the sun!
Ona in the fabulous shower block at Frances

December 4th 2022

Day 4 Los Perros to Refugio Grey

Where to start?

This was a short walking day, only 9.3 miles (15km) but it took us 9 hours and 20 minutes. We moved at a rate of less than 1 mile per hour. The conditions were that bad.

Early, the day started early. All hikers had been told they had to be off by 7:00. It had been a cold night with snow. Our tent was was pitched in a slight dip, straight on the ground rather than on a platform. We rented mattresses to keep us from near death or worst still, drowning.

It was one of those nights when you were not going to escape the desperation to pee. All the tents were huddled together under trees, so peeing just outside the tent was not really an option. The loo in the shelter was too far away with trip hazards aplenty from tree roots to tent guys, not to mention the snow and mud, so what to do? In the end I chose my blue cup! It became my wee blue cup after that!

We left the camp at 6:00. Most others in our cohort had left before us, but there were one or two stragglers. The path was treacherous from the get go. Steep, muddy, riddled with streams, slippery tangled tree roots, snow, blustery winds which smashed into you on the scree slopes between the relative protection of the trees. Once above the tree line it was a matter of turning your back to the wind, legs wide and firmly planting your hiking poles, 4 points of contact with the ground, until the gust passed.

Once into the vast expanse of the upper valley, we decided to move forward in tight convoy, stopping together for each white out. The snow got deep, the foot prints of those ahead, soon vanished. The path was marked by red poles and it became very important to catch site of the next before leaving the last. None of us had expected conditions quite like this.

I had to stop to put on an extra layer, so we all had to stop. In the lee of a boulder I got my back pack off, opened it, pulled out my hooded top, handed it to Andy. It flapped in the wind and quickly got snow covered. I shut my bag, took off my anorak, handed that to Andy. Quickly I put the top on, zipped it up, grabbed my anorak, got that on and got the pack on my back. I found myself apologising to the others for the stop. There was no talk of turning back. On we moved. Heads down. Later a quick stop to drink and eat handfuls of nuts and dried fruit. We reached the pass, stopped briefly for photos and gingerly started down.

The snow rendered the landscape uniform, our feet disappeared under it, sometimes knee deep, this was dangerous, potential bone crushing, ankle twisting, knee dislocating territory. What if….?? There was no protection here, no way to shelter an injured person and keep warm while waiting for rescue. Both Ona and Kris had Satellite emergency devices but quite how a rescue would be initiated or executed and how long it would take were unknown. We kept going. I felt I could trust my body and hoped the others could trust theirs.

My thin gloves froze solid. I wondered what frostbite might feel like and how many fingers I could afford to lose. My hands could no longer grip my hiking poles. I forced another stop. We huddled together against the wind like emperor penguins, Kris produced another pair of gloves, Ona some hand warmers. It was a battle to get the cellophane wrappers off the warmers then and activate the heat giving chemicals. With help, I forced my numb hands into the dry gloves, stuffed the warmer sachets inside, and then somehow got my frozen gloves over the top. The relief from the biting cold was near instant.

Dwarf trees started to emerge, we were soon back in forest, it was a little warmer but not enough to rest for long. The path became crazy steep, giant boulders, massive roots, muddy, slippery and in places exposed. Andy was not happy, vertigo messing with his mind. We worried about the other walkers. The Russian American girls were wearing shoes, not boots. How would they manage in these conditions? We were aware of a few people who were walking solo. Where were they now?

We began to get views of the massive Glacier Grey, a welcome distraction. Sometime after, and rather dazed, we arrived at the Paso Shelter. There, we found around 10 walkers standing at a high bench brewing hot drinks. We were greeted with cheers! These people had worried about us just as we had worried about them. They, on account of our age (we were definitely the oldest on the trail), and we on account of their youth!

Next on the list of distractions, but not welcomed by Andy, was a series of long and bouncy suspension bridges, slung across dramatic deep ravines. This really is the stuff of nightmares for someone who suffers vertigo. He decided to be the first to cross, not wait for any discussion or pep talk, but just to get it over with as fast as he could, and he did! From one bridge, it was possible to see straight up the sheer rock wall of the Torres, but this was not a good place to stop and take a photo.

Further on we began to encounter groups of walkers, coming up the valley, towards us, day trippers from Refugio Grey. We were muddy, wet, heavily laden, slow moving. They were clean, fresh, being steered by guides. The ‘O’ can only be followed in an anti-clockwise direction to enable walkers to cross the John Gardiner pass in the early morning when the wind, apparently, possibly, sometimes, occasionally, might be somewhat less, than later in the day. Most people follow the ‘W’, or parts of it, routes that avoid the John Gardiner altogether, and for good reason.

Ona heading up valley towards Paso John Gardiner
Miranda and Andy in the upper valley as conditions got worse.
Andy charging over one of the suspension bridges
Ona enjoying another of the bridges!
Kris!
The snout of Glacier Grey, but still a long long way to go!
Finally reconnecting with the cohort at Refugio Grey. Everyone made it over safely, those on their own, teaming up with others, a great achievement one and all! Two sets of newly weds (one who had lost his ring), three British lads, Tom, Sam, and Kyle from Birmingham, Connie and Melissa from near La Junta, Connor, the runner with a new hip from Newcastle and last but not least the Russian-American girls. Andy and Ona were showering at the time!

December 1st 2022

Torres del Paine National Park hiking trails, refuges and campsites. The ‘O’ circuit is labelled in red, the ‘W’ in yellow

It arrived, the much anticipated date, the day we were starting the epic ‘O’ circuit of the Torres del Paine. The name says it all, (learning to pronounce it was another matter). In the months leading to our departure from home, we upped our exercise, he rowing and me running, and we added a weekly ‘personal training’ session to be sure to be able to complete this mountain circumnavigation injury free. Never have I been so glad to have given so much time to lifting, squatting, lunging, pushing and pulling. But the preparation fully paid off.

There was chaos at the entry to the Torres del Paine National Park. Hikers and day trippers poured off coaches from Puerto Natales. For all the complexity in the booking system, there was little information on what to do, where to go, how much to pay, what to expect.

At the Welcome centre, whilst Andy left a message for Gerado, who was due to deliver our repaired camper, left behind at El Calafate, (Argentina) I went in search of the water bottle that had got lost in the scramble for the bus. Fortunately, I found it on a counter along with someone else’s box of small pink pills. I asked around the groups gathered outside if anyone might have dropped their medication. “Probably birth control’ said a young women with dreads and piercings. ‘ Ah yes’ I responded, ‘not critical then’. ‘No’, she agreed, ‘but this sure is a cool place to conceive’!

We set off, not quite sure of the route but soon found the way. After a few steps Andy informed us, in true tour leader style, that the ‘zonas de recouperaciones’ were for habitat recovery, not ours.

The route to camp Seron was gentle, a lovely path through forest, along the bank of the aptly named Rio Ecantado. We were warmly greeted at the camp. There were only 12 walkers dining in that evening, the others were cooking in a shelter outside. On our table were two women, in front of them a bottle of wine which they immediately offered to share with us. They were Russians, living in America, with no desire to return. Thirty somethings, mothers, married to Russians met in the US. They were fresh, beautifully poised and turned out. One was in clothes that coordinated head to toe, pinks purples, mauves. They were on their 5th day of the circuit, having started at Paine Grande. That day they had walked two stages, starting from camp Chileno at 3:00 in the morning, hiking up to the Torres for sunrise, then all the way down to the Central Sector and on to Camp Seron. A mammoth hike. You must be totally exhausted’ I exclaimed. Think Villanelle, from Killing Eve, ‘ I feel totally rested’ the coordinated one replied. She took a long slow breath, her eyes closed for a second or two. ‘I have no worries. Children (three, under 7) are with father.’

The evening meal was excellent, each plate carefully constructed – a tower of gratin potato, roasted veg, crowned with a fillet of chicken finished with a crispy ‘leaf’ of Parmesan.

Working out what not to take!
The Torres from the bus
Valley Encantado with two mujeres encantadores!
A bright yellow tent at camp Seron to have some fun in!
A cold night, I slept in all my warm clothes but look, clean knickers!

Piano!

Haven’t you always wanted to take up the piano?

Have you ever wanted to ‘lift the lid’?

Here is your chance!

I am selling my baby grand with proceeds going to The Red Hen Project a charity that supports vulnerable children.

The piano was made by the East German company, August Forster, between 1929 and 1937. It has the dimensions 126cm long x 152cm wide x 99cm high. It has been housed for the last few years by the family of a diploma student. It has been well looked after, but since the student left for University 18 months ago, it has not been tuned.

Having grown up playing mostly on an upright piano, I had only really experienced playing on a grand during lessons and at concerts. This was a totally different experience! Being able to play Miranda’s piano whilst working towards first my Grade 8 and later when beginning to prepare for my diploma was incredibly helpful; not only did I become more confident and creative playing on a larger piano, but the novelty factor of having a grand piano in my back room and being able to play it whenever I chose never quite wore off! I’ve really enjoyed having Miranda’s piano. It has made me fall in love even more deeply with the piano and I am so sad to be parting with it.  I owe a lot of gratitude to this piano which went a long way towards helping me improve my playing and building my confidence as a pianist. Whoever buys this piano will cherish as I have’.

Thank you to Maurice Hodges for running his fingers over my ivories! You can hear him playing the piano here: https://youtu.be/BmtfMXEtrKA! and here:https://youtu.be/zwM9N7c576w

Please DM to view. Buyer must collect from Cambridge.

The piano was purchased by my grandfather in 1957 from Jaques Samuel Pianos:

Walking on the Coast to Coast – respite in the time of covid

St Bees, in Cumbria to Reeth in Yorkshire over 7 days

Day 0 Oct 10 2020

We journeyed by train to St Bees. From Cambridge to London with an overnight at Highbury Quadrant, then together with my son Fabian, the 07:10 train from Euston via Carlisle. The trains were empty. Everyone masked. On the line south from Carlisle our carriage suddenly filled. A group of men sat in the seats opposite, in front and behind us even though there was lots of space on the train. The nearest asked if he we minded if he ate his toast, pulling down his mask before we had responded. Others were drinking beer. We decided to move carriage causing an uncomfortable exchange. The term ‘social distancing’ has so many connotations. It was clear to them that we were from elsewhere and on holiday, and in that moment, I felt socially distant to those men for more reasons than one. Once settled in our new seats, we enjoyed the views over the Irish sea, as we cruised along the coast passing Flimby, Workington and Whitehaven.

We dropped our bags at The Queen’s Hotel and walked to the beach, picked up pebbles as tradition dictates when commencing this path, then walked up and around St Bees Head visiting the inlet with red sandstone rocks, all the new RSPB cliff-top lookout points, although the nesting Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars, Kittiwakes and other sea birds had long since departed. Then we headed back to the hotel, via Sandwith, over the fields. We had supper in the bar – lasagne with a side order of chips. We were both totally wiped and slept soundly.

St Bees beach

Day 1, Oct 11 2020 – destination Ennerdale Bridge, 25km (map below is incomplete as we did not switch on Strava until our breakfast stop) .

We departed early, with a packed breakfast, in order to catch the sun rise. We walked adjacent to the railway, across St Bees school grounds and eventually under the railway to pick up the official trail. We took a detour to walk along a disused railway line, now a cycle path and stopped for breakfast in a sunny spot. Fabian fired up the cooker and made coffee. Runners, cyclists and dog walkers passed by in both directions. Then it was through fields and up onto Dent, with good views back to the coast, and then gently down the other side into a lovely valley with a babbling brook. We wended our way this way and that over little bridges then through a gate, stopping for lunch on a rocky outcrop above the path. Sunday walkers and all-terrain bikers stopped to chat. Then a short walk up onto a road and down into Ennerdale Bridge. We stayed at Thorntrees. We were booked into the Fox and Hounds Inn for the evening meal. We had the special -lamb shank and mash. This sounded good in principle. Certainly, we could not complain about the size of the portions.

Dent
View from our lunch time picnic stop

Day 2, Oct 12 2020 – destination Seatoller (Borrowdale) 24.33km

The day started dry but it was raining by the time we left. We met Dave Heath, another C2C walker, at breakfast (see his videos on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0Np6p9bX0GZzF-5yVrUk7w). He was walking on his own, carrying all his belongings for the full journey across. We swapped phone numbers, just in case either party needed help. By the time we arrived at Ennerdale lake the rain was lashing down which made the walking tough and the path a rocky stream. Ennerdale is a re-wilded valley but this was hard to appreciate in the conditions. We squelched our way across the valley and onto a forest road, heading for the Youth Hostel where we thought we could shelter and have lunch. It was closed. We back tracked to the ‘field centre’. A bunk house and some barns. Someone gave us access to one of the barns. We fired up our cooker for tea, munched sandwiches and hit the trail again, up the valley and out onto to the moor. We passed another really lovely youth hostel, but this too was closed, having been booked by a private group. Up into the cloud we trudged, more rain pelted down on us. We found ourselves on the wrong side of a stream bush whacking. We realised our error and crossed the stream and found ourselves on a much better path with steps all the way. At the top, we were greeted by the local (Herdwick) sheep, and a vast emptiness, a distant open cast mine to the left. Haystack Rocks were blanketed by cloud. A blast of wind sliced into the gap between my back and pack, chilling my spine. We kept moving, now downwards, eventually to a very steep and slippery path to Honister Hause and the green slate mine, in torrential rain. We stopped here for a few minutes, but my mask eluded me, hidden in one of countless pockets, so I remained dripping wet and cold outside whilst Fabian enjoyed a solitary banana in the relative comfort of the visitor centre foyer. We walked down a path alongside the road to Seatoller and Glaramara House Hotel, with a little hiccough near the end because one of us failed to read the instructions properly.

After a luxurious shower, we joined others, far smarter than we, in the dinning room and enjoyed a good meal. Back in our room, we managed to wash clothes and lay them out to dry. Unfortunately, my phone, which had been in my anorak, had got wet. I tried to dry it on a radiator overnight. In the morning it lit up, but the keyboard had a mind of its own, opening and closing apps, sending random gibberish texts to who knows whom and generally taking the piss. The screen displayed ghostly patches. I switched it off. I could do without. Even if there had been signal, Dave Heath would not have been able to contact us should an emergency have arisen.

Ennerdale
The locals

Day 3, Oct 12 2020 – destination Patterdale 25.7km

Again, we were unable to get an early breakfast, so we made a late start. The weather was fairly ok. We by passed Rosthwaite and re-joined the path at Stonethwaite Fell. We walked up into the clouds. It was quite misty as we crossed Greenup Edge. On the other side we took a detour which we hoped would buy us time, but almost certainly did not. We took a left turn walking via Middle How along the Wyth Burn. There was a clear path on the map, but it was non-existent on the ground. The centre of the valley is aptly labelled The Bog. There was a cold wind funnelling up the valley and we could not find shelter. So, it was a quick stop for lunch in the lee of a rock, and then off again, hard walking over thick tussock grass, rushes and reeds trying to keep our feet dry. Eventually we came out under the cloud and we got a bit of sun, wonderful autumn colours, a rainbow and views over Thirlmere. Then we navigated our way around the corner scrambling over a dry stone wall, up a cycle path along the Pass of Dunmail Raise, and then onto a well-marked foot path following Raise Beck to the eastern side of Grisedale tarn. As we climbed, the wind got up and there were massive gusts, full frontal. At the tarn, the water was inky black with white horses. The wind scooped up the water and it swirled like a tornado up into the air and up the valley. A small tent was pitched at the water side, right in the stream of airborne water twisters. We marched around the valley, hatches battened, and followed the rocky path down to Patterdale. On our way to Old Water View BnB we passed the pub where we planned to eat that evening only to discover that it was chef’s night off. So we took a cab (£12 for 2 miles) to Glenridding, where we had a pretty decent meal in the Patterdale Hotel.

Trudging towards Greenup Edge
The Bog
Thirlmere
Grisdale Tarn, a green tent is just visible in the centre of the picture at the water’s edge.

Day 4, Oct 13 2020 – Patterdale to Shap 28.68km

We had given up trying to convince any of the hostelries to provide an early breakfast, so we went with the flow. It looked to be a fine day, so we were less bothered about a late departure. However, this lack of concern would come back to haunt us. As we were leaving, our host informed us that Margaret from Brookfield in Shap, our next stop, had been trying to contact us. There had been an outbreak of Covid at the pub so her advice was to pick up fish and chips and eat them in her dining room. The C2C grapevine was working like clock work!

We climbed out of Patterdale with the clouds lifting and wonderful low, golden autumn light. We stopped for a coffee break by Angletarn, dodging the bog to get to the rocks jutting out into the water. Then we followed the path up towards High Street and took a detour to High Raise, the highest point on the C2C.

Views were terrific and weather too! We knew we had a long way to go to reach Shap but the people at Patterdale had led us to believe that the path along the north side of Haweswater was good, so we reckoned we could march it out. The path was good, in that it was easy to follow, but it was definitely NOT a marching out sort of a path. At the other end of the lake, it was worse. We still had miles to go and we had a sinking feeling that we would not make it to Shap before dark. We picked up pace, but it was hard going. The path was poorly marked or not marked at all, and deep mud, sculpted by grazing cattle, slowed progress further. It was beautiful by the river but there was little time to enjoy it. Eventually we left the river behind, and climbed up a field. We were harried by some cattle so crossed a fence on a style and continued on rough ground arriving at Rossgill as the sun was dipping. We were concerned that it would be darker still if we followed the official C2C route through the valley, so we crossed the bridge into the village and took a public footpath, tucked away between the houses and then across fields hoping it would be mud free and easy to follow.  With the help of google maps, we eventually hit a road and decided to walk the rest of the way on hard ground. It was now pouring with rain and dark. We found the Shap chippy, with just 20 minutes spare before they closed. We still had just over another-very-long-wet mile to Margaret’s at Brookfield. On arrival, we peeled off our wet kit, stuffed our boots with newspaper and stepped into the other world that is her house. We disappeared up the stairs to wash. When we came down, Margaret had laid us a lovely table with hot plates, condiments, napkins, a steaming tea pot, cups and saucers. Magic! She also provided me with a bag full of rice to help rescue my phone. We slept very well that night. She had beautiful bed linen and very comfortable beds.

Angletarn
High Raise
Heading down to Haweswater

Day 5 Oct 14 2020 – Shap to Kirkby Steven 33km

After the best breakfast so far, (lovely fresh fruit salad, creamy porridge, toast, coffee) with no single use plastics, we set off in reasonable weather, a little misty, on the long haul to Kirkby Stevens. Should we have taken a day off to rest before this next marathon? We had not considered days off when we booked the holiday, and it never occurred to us to take a cab. We gritted our teeth and set off. The prospect of another mad dash in the dark at the other end of the day did not appeal, so we decided to keep close eye on the time and our pace. Margaret had packed a superb lunch. Fresh salmon sandwiches, cherry tomatoes and lettuce leaves on the side, buttered tea bread and a thick piece of cheese, also fruit cake. We kept the last treat for the final few kilometres of the day, a lovely almond tart. This was surely the day when we would need the extra calories and luckily, we had them.

It was a spectacular walking day. Massive open spaces, limestone walls, much, much drier under foot. We got into Kirkby Stevens just as dark was falling. On a bench in the high street we took off our muddy over trousers and spruced ourselves up before heading to The Mango Tree for a typical Yorkshire Indian. Great choice, fantastic meal and a nice change from pub fare. We then staggered back up the road to Lockholme where we were hosted by the wonderful Chrissie, a runner with many medals. Home bakes and tea rounded off a terrific day.

Crossing the M6 outside Shap
Lime stone pavement
Downing a beer at The Mango Tree in Kirkby Steven

Day 6, Oct 15 2020 – Kirkby Steven to Keld 19km – via bog knows where

Over another lovely breakfast, with home made marmalade, Chrissie informed us that on a good day, the 9 Standards Rigg could be seen from her dining room window. We peered out imagining the view through the thick, low cloud. The days walk started with a stroll back down the high street. We stopped at the camping shop. My feet were not in good shape. New socks for us both and a blister kit were purchased. We put them on in the shop and took off again, through back streets then out along a stream and eventually up a small road passed a quarry, towards the grim, cloud-cloaked moor. The path became steeper, blacker and boggier. The erosion was stark. It is no surprise that there are now three routes across this stretch of ground, an attempt to preserve the precious peat bog. We passed the Standards in the rain. Off to our left was a line of beaters, driving petrified grouse towards blokes in tweeds with guns. Everywhere on the ground were little piles of grouse poo, a good indicator of the millions of birds that are reared here for the shooting industry. The path became hard to navigate let alone traverse. Large chasms in the surface peat, tens of metres wide and deep, cut down to the thick gluey mud, broken up with streams. Further along was a flag-stone floating pavement, which made the going much easier, however it was not long before we were back at the mercy of the bog. Small posts marked the trail but, in many instances, these had sunk into the ground. Had the cloud been lower still, we would not have spotted them and would have been quite lost. Our lunch was a standing stop, it was too wet to sit down. Eventually we came down to a winding stream. Along this next bit of path, were snare traps, and sign posts about protecting ground nesting birds – the super abundant red grouse. One day this ‘sport’ will come to an end, the balance of the ecosystem will recover, sphagnum moss will rejuvenate, more carbon will be sequestered than released, the water holding capacity will rise, native wild birds and mammals will flourish and the driven grouse shooters will switch their focus to nurturing native wildlife and with any luck, the health and well being of all!

On the road down to Keld, we met a young lad getting off a bus. He was in school uniform and was walking up the rough track in his school shoes with laces flapping. He travelled 1.5 hours in each direction for school, then had to climb the steep path to his moorland home, be it in sunshine, wind, rain, snow and darkness. I told him that he did not know how lucky he was. He gave a rye smile but probably thought I was barking mad! We arrived at Keld shortly after 5pm. A short day in comparison to the previous few, but for me, one of the toughest, bleeding blisters, and water logged boots did not help. We had a very warm welcome at Butt House by Jacqui and Chris. They impressed us with their super high tech boot driers. Supper was served in their front room and shared with two other sets of visitors, one of which was was a pin hole camera enthusiast. We were the last Coast to Coasters of the season.

A short but most welcome stretch of floating flag stones. Thank you to all the volunteers and donors who made this happen!
Whitsundale Beck, where the upper valley is full of snare traps
Another floating flag stone path, making the going so much easier!

Day 7, Oct 16 2020 – Keld to Reeth

We decided at the very last minute to take the valley route through Swaledale rather than spend yet another day on the tops in cloud. While our boots were dry and warm, having been dried to a crisp over night, they had shrunk and it took best part of an hour before I was able to walk properly and forget the pain of the soft broken tissue on my heels! Fortunately, the valley was lovely, lush green with beautiful golden autumn colours, sheep fields, dry stone walls, Cowuss’s and yes, loads of styles! Some were very narrow, forcing us to take off our packs to get through. Clearly this route would be prohibitive to anyone a bit broader than I!

We were met at Reeth by my partner, Andy, and celebrated the the completion of half the Coast to Coast walk, with a wonderful meal at The Burgoyne. The following morning after a quick tour of the village and purchasing of beautiful woollen socks at Dragon Ridge Hills, we folded our bodies into the car for the long drive south. We dropped Fabian at Kings Lynne for his onward journey to London (and tier two) and we headed to the north Norfolk coast to catch a momentary glimpse of a Rufus Bush Chat, at Stiffkey. A great end to a great holiday.

Ivelet Bridge
Suspension bridge just before entering Reeth
Sheep, Swaledale

Sometimes when you are feeling blue….

Sometimes when you are feeling a little bit blue…

It does not matter which way you look…this way….

or that…

You cannot escape that feeling….you cannot turn your back on it.

It just won’t go away….

You have to DO something….

But it’s a little bit scary…

You take a deep deep breath….

Reach out…..

You land …

That felt good!

Have another go!

Whoooooaaaaa

You are away!

You might have to loose sight of the shore….

…be brave and learn new ways….

But you will come back and you will remember how to put out your landing gear…

And all your friends and relations will be waiting for you!

FirstTri for Camfed

SWIM 750m

We did it! Three of us braved the cold water of Jesus Green Lido where the temperature was literally off the scale. The others took their plunge at Parkside.

CYCLE 20km

We all met on Jesus Green for the bike ride up the river to Clayhithe and back. One of us broke down. Wonderful Paul, who was bringing up the rear, fixed the puncture in a flash, and the race went on. 

RUN 5km

Andy stormed in first…closely followed by Mary

Then Jenni

Then Jaana

My turn…

Then Laure, then Sophie who made it through despite the puncture!

Tilly hands out personalised medals

We convened at Stir for brunch and chat, feeling very pleased with ourselves. We then collapsed for a few hours before rocking up to The Carpenters for a lively evening with music from OneStop, beer and pizza’s, and more fund raising. The pub was packed out. It was great to see so many many friends.

We are grateful to all our helpers and contributors:

For training and help on race day:Tilly, Tom, Juliet, Paul, Ian, Doug, and Chrissie and the team from Camfed.

Our band, OneStop aka Andrew and Pete for playing their hearts out. 

To all those who donated prizes for our raffle: Stir, Radmore Farm Shop, Baccanalia, The Cambridge Literary Festival, The Carpenters Arms, University Cycles

All those who made donations to help girls in Africa get to school! 

WHAT NEXT?

To date, we have made £5,615, and with gift aid, £6,433.26, from 82 donors. This is enough to send almost 36 girls to school for one year. How about we help these girls get to school for TWO years? Please join us at the Carpenters Arms on December 7 at 7pm to plan our next steps and enter the prize raffle! All proceeds to Campaign for Female Education. If you cannot make it but would like to make a donation, please do so here.

First Tri for @Camfed

An insignificant birthday

Turning 54 in March this year led me to consider a gift to self. Having had a couple of rounds of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of daily radiotherapy not so long before, I was pretty pleased to be still standing. There was a moment when I thought I might perish before my severely demented mother, but fortunately that bit of life’s order was not disrupted.

Getting on with living

A year on, I was still suffering aches and pains and could not decide if this was just aging or a consequence of my treatment or both. My consultant told me in no uncertain terms to stop worrying and get on with living. With this push, I decided that for my 55th year I would support a charity that gave life to others. I decided on Camfed, The Campaign for Female Education, a Cambridge based charity, now in its 25th year, that enables girls in Africa to go to school. Going to school means escaping childhood wedlock, teenage pregnancy and offers a world of possibility including potentially, much happiness. Since 1993, Camfed’s innovative education programs in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi have directly supported more than 2.6 million students to attend primary and secondary school, and more than 5 million children have benefited from an improved learning environment. £180 enables one girl to go to school for one year. My gift was made. But what about supporting a few more?

Doing Something

You cannot just ask all your friends for money, my daughter told me, you have to DO something. So I decided to do a ‘sprint’ triathlon – 750m swim, 20km cycle followed by 5km run. I engaged a few friends and we set a target of £4000 to raise, support for 22 girls. Our event will take place on 22 September starting around 11:30 at Jesus Green Lido. In the  evening, we will gather at the Carpenters Arms on Victoria Road for live music by One Stop (aka Pete Mitchell and Andrew Sugden) beer and pizzas. All are welcome to join and contribute to the gift of life!

If you would like to make a donation to our fund raising campaign please follow this LINK and click on the blue donate button in the middle of the page.

 

 

It’s that time of year….

June/July is that time of year when a handful of old time Cambridge city dwellers find ourselves playing host to Michael Cahn who moved, a few years ago, to live in California.

I first met Micheal some 21 years ago when he was collecting his 2 year old daughter from our local nursery. He was holding her tightly in one arm to keep her from wriggling and he stretched out the other,  being most insistent that he take my son home for the rest of the afternoon so the two children could play. And there began a long and rich friendship between our families.

It was around this time that Michael began book collecting and founded Plurabelle Books, a second hand internet bookshop. The ‘shop’ has moved several times around the city but is now located in a warehouse by the railway off Coldhams Lane, in the company of CamCabs, Hilary’s, the vegetable whole saler, The Centre for Computing History, The Belfast Bed Super Store and St. Barnabas Press.

The Plurabelle website indicates that the shop ‘has books you don’t need in a place you can’t find’! The statement is not quite true, but it s not quite false either. Having recently cleared a large west London house that was stacked to the rafters with stuff, a household where everything, from beads, to bones and of course books were collected and carefully stored and certainly never thrown out, there was something quite reassuring in visiting this ramshackle warehouse of past loved, past studied and cherished books. A short bike ride from the centre of town, you won’t be disappointed in the reception you will receive, especially if the book seller is in town.