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Sunday, 16 May 2010

Long gap but no inactivity

Since I posted last the walking festival has been and gone, as has the Haltwhistle Challenge.  I was very busy with both. Life became more complicted when my Mum was "rushed to hospital" while I was out of Ouston Moor on the Isaac's Tea Trail walk. That meant I could not lead the Botany walk the next day. The good news was that she "only" had pneumonia not a heart attack, and the industrial dose of antibiotics worked like a dream.  Hopefully this means that she will get the same stuff if and when the need arises again.
I loved the festival and the Challenge although it has taken me days to get back to normal again.  I also have withdrawal symptoms from walking every day.
My garden was neglected and I've been trying to put that right this week.  It's amazing how forgiving it is, although the weeds have enjoyed being ignored for a while. The compost area is so large that it is hard to get in there and to dig it out and barrow it to the borders. I've begun to do it.

On Friday I went on a water vole day at Langdon Beck. I now know how to look for signs of water voles and, in particular, their latrines!! Can't resist showing an example!

They leave their droppings in the open to mark their territory. They are as big as rats but look like large hamsters, and they are herbivores. Why have I never seen one??

Friday, 16 April 2010

Walk with Park Ranger

This proved to be an excellent walk. We set off from Steel Rigg and walked east until we met the Pennine Way. This is one of the best bits of the Wall trail - lots of  ups and downs, but the views are stunning.

It was very dry today, but the Pennine Way always manages to be boggy in places.

We walked north until we came to Greenlee Lough, then turned west to walk along the north shore, returning south on the new boardwalk. There were bumblebees on the pussy willow. Lots of plants are very late. It's a 7 + mile walk and a good, varied one. I think I'll offer a version of it for the Wednesday walkers soon.
This was my third day of walking in a row. Tomorrow I'm north of this space.

Walk with Park Ranger

It's a glorious morning, cold but very sunny.  Today's pre-walk is with Sally the park ranger. We start at Steel Rigg and go to Greenlee Lough to hear about the changes made there in order to preserve the environment. Must remember binoculars for the birds.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Singing walk

Carol and I set off this morning to do the recce for the singing walk.  It was a grey and cold morning so we set a good pace in order to keep warm. We are a bit concerned in case we have slow walkers on the day; it will be no problem in good weather, but rather difficult if it is cold or raining. (I don't want to think about raining really........) We went up the Haltwhistle Burn and found some good places to sing. The landslide is problematic because it is uneven and muddy. (On the way back we met Eric who told us that someone has the contract to clear the landslide away, staring tomorrow, so we should be OK for our walk.  Good news indeed.)
We thought about singing at the quarry opposite the Milecastle but would need to use the stile there so crossed that off the list. There is a lovely path to Cawfields off the road, but it is a bit steep in places. We've decided to assess the walkers' ability as they go up the Burn. Cawfields is our site for lunch, toilets and more songs. I think the walk will be fine. An article about it should be in the Newcastle Journal any day now.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

SFP, journalists, Photo Club

An action packed day. Spent the morning transcribing Ye Banks and Braes for the Singing for Pleasure group. Had long conversation with  Tony Henderson from The Journal. I hope he will have a good article on the Festival in Thursday's paper.  He was very interested in the Singing Walk, Bachhan-ale walk and the Bumblebees (now sadly cancelled).
The choir sang very well. It is still very hard work because of the booming acoustic and the number who are deaf. The acoustic makes life impossible for many of us, but the hall is big and we don't pay extra for it......
I did a big supermarket shop at Aldi and Tesco and was very tired when I got home. Quick evening meal and then we were both off out: Mum to NADFAS and me to Photo Club. I saw the prints from Istanbul - what a high standard they achieved. Scary. Always a good sociable night out.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Monday: committees, walking, tree surgeon

Glorious weather today. Spent the morning at the walking festival committee meeting, finalising plans. My Botany and Bee walks have not booked well, but we are still going to run them and cut our losses. We're also trying to boost the numbers for the Vindolanda visit so that we have the talk from the archaeologist - he will speak only if we have at least 15 bodies there (so to speak).
Extra Challenge bookings came in today, probably the result of leafleting at the Allendale Challenge. Colin says they had 800 walkers and 200 runners for their event last Saturday.  Mind boggling. We'll do well if we get to 200 I reckon, but the numbers are creeping up slowly.
Thought I'd do a recce this pm but got embroiled in editing photos. Then went for a short walk down the village in my new boots. They feel very odd because they are higher around my ankles than previous boots. Fingers (and toes) crossed (not that I am in any way superstitious).

Sunday, 11 April 2010

End of the day

I did go out walking, but it was a bit of a muddle. First of all I could not find the new permissive car park I was looking for, and I drove around the roads near Steel Rigg twice.  I gave up and decided to put my car in a layby and walk on a new permissive path. Then I realised I'd left the maps at home - so I had to rely on my shaky mental map of the area. Then I was too hot/too blown about.  I nearly gave up.  Glad I didn't. I eventually found the car park (on foot by now of course) and the path to Greenlee Lough. Two fields along and I saw a ewe who had just given birth to twins. One lamb was on its feet and being cleaned up. It was trying to suckle. The ewe was ignoring the other lamb who sat crying pitifully but could not make it upright.  Both lambs were bright yellow so I assume that one had passed meconium in utero.  I took a few photos on the long lens - too far away but I didn't want to upset any bonding. I walked on towards the Lough, ran out of time, and on my return was delighted to see the second lamb take its very first steps towards Mum. The ewe still looked rather disinterested but both lambs were working hard to find the spot to feed so I think they would be fine.
Suddenly very tired and glad to have company on return along tarmac to car. Walked with the man who looks after the A69.  I would never have guessed his occupation.  He might come to the festival......

Quiet Sunday?

I need to "break eggs with sticks" today, but hope to do it quietly and with enjoyment. I've started to put the furniture back into Mum's bedroom -it's newly decorated, looks lovely. Also need to get a lot of belated pruning done in the garden, where life is kicking into the borders with a vengeance.  Must split some perennials this year.
Then I want to do a pre-walk of the walk I'm leading on Wednesday (courtesy of Tony who has broken a toe - he is a stalwart of the festival and we will miss him sorely on the walks). So why am I sitting typing this?  I'm enjoying a cup of coffee and Bowlby is enjoying a cuddle in her usual position - I've had to learn to type with a cat's head resting on my left forearm. I have to type evenly and without much movement, otherwise she objects strongly.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Walk around and above Dodd Hill

Went on Shepherd's Walk from South Middleton today. Arrived in good time to find the first arrivals watching frogs in the pond. Already sunny and mild. 7 of us plus our leader, Richard, set out after a discussion about bee keeping. We were in sun and a light breeze all day, so I didn't realise how sunburnt I was getting!

Onwards and upwards, with a stop eventually for an early lunch. (Actually we stopped lots of times to hear about the landscape, the geology, the influence of ancient and modern farming techniques.)

There were plenty of sheep watching the only walkers of the day - we must seem quite exotic to them, because there won't be many people to see in this area.  On the top we saw an old Larsen trap and had an interesting discussion about how crows, magpies, jays, etc should be managed.  This trap made us all feel uncomfortable.

After a leisurely lunch we set off again, had the regulatory group photo (and for once I'm in it!)

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Not up to blogging

It's just like all those years when I tried to write a diary - managed a few entries in Jan and then tailed off by Easter. Failed again!
Have been on holiday for most of March though.  First had 10 days in Keswick on a photo holiday and then at the Literary Festival. Both excellent in their own way. Home for 10 days then a brilliant week in Morocco. Another photo holiday with a company called Authentic Adventures. I can highly recommend them - excellent organisationally and the holiday they organised was superb. That's enough superlatives for one night I think
We're full steam ahead for the Haltwhistle Walking Festival, but T has broken a toe and so can't lead or back up on walks. One of our stalwarts too. Guess we will soon have his jobs reallocated.
Bed time.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Will it all get done?

"Breaking eggs with sticks" here as my nana used to say (and as I have probably said in a previous blog).
Lots to do before I go away on my photo course on Monday - just hoping for dry weather, with or without snow.  I hate sleet and rain when I'm taking photos.
I've put most of my photo gear together but have to make sure all the batteries are charged, lenses cleaned, etc, etc.
Over the weekend I'm leading a walk for the Geltsdale Fellwalkers on Saturday and on a walk with Shepherd's Walks on Sunday so there is not much time to pack.
After the photo course I'm going to the Literary Festival in Keswick - a lovely change I hope.
Back here, the curtains are now hung in R's room. B put the rail up for me yesterday, a job that required a special glue gun (never used when I've put fittings up!) and a curtain rail that remained obstinately curvy.  The curtains hide it OK so it's better than no curtains up there.
Carla has just been violently sick - was it fur balls or a bad mouse? Yuck.
I have an article to write for the Northumbrian and writing this is a delaying tactic. The job MUST be done asap.
I've had a wonderful invitation for the evening when the Wall is illuminated. I'm going to Barcombe Fell to watch from there and then back to B and J's for drinks.  It will be fun to go with a crowd and I think the view will be great.  Hope no one else thinks of it!! (Shhh.)

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Visit from an old friend

Day started with visit to vet for Bowlby who needed a jab.  Just was I was getting ready to go, the tumble drier repair man came.  (We'd expected him on Tuesday.)  Mum was in the shower,  and not at all ready to face the world, much less the repairman.  Thankfully he had the problem sorted in 6 minutes - there was nothing wrong anymore, but he was able to confidently diagnose the fault - good man.
Then to vet - in and out of there in 4 minutes.
Home to try to tidy up after decorator.
To Hexham to meet train bringing my lovely friend, S, to visit. We have been friends for 35 years, don't see each other often, but it's always excellent when we do.
Did a bit of shopping in Hexham - really enjoyed going around with her - normally I'd prefer to be alone and just get on with it.
Lunch at home catching up. Mum loved seeing her (she made S's wedding dress all those years ago and they have a special bond).
Lovely day.

Wednesday walk

Dense fog here on Weds am, not promising. Drove to Haltwhistle along the Military Road in poor visibility.  Very foggy in H too.  We drove to Lanercost for the walk - and spent all the morning and early afternoon in brilliant sunshine.  It was cold and clear. Lovely walking conditions.  It's an ace walk from Lanercost. We have done it in the Festival before.  M forgot her back pack and had to go back for it.  Great hilarity because it contained the first day of her diet lunch.  (We're really a very supportive lot!)
There were 25 of us and the short walkers mustered 16.  Lots of laughs and we nearly filled the pub on our return.
I'd walked 19 miles in 2 days and felt fine.  Hooray.

Wall walk continued

Once we reached the top of the rise, we turned east and walked along the Trail, crossing over the Military Road and then gradually making our way back to Fallowfield by Hangman's Hill and Written Crags.  We visited the alpacas who were very friendly. D is a bit cautious near them because one spat at him in the past. Then down the path to Wall again. A good 10 mile stretch with 1800 ft of ascent.  It may be too long for the Geltsdale walkers next week but will make a good Wednesday walk for Haltwhistle.
I can shorten it for Geltsdale.  It contains such a lot of interest. The snowdrops are out. There is the battlefield and the church to visit, the industrial archeology and the views. Superb.

Excellent walking week so far

Tuesday morning saw me setting out to pre-walk a walk for the Geltsdale Ramblers with my friend DH.  He and his wife know this area extremely well and devise good walks. We left Wall and walked up the Trail to Heavenfield.  It is a steady pull up hill for the first part of this walk. At Heavenfield we admired the open views north. Cheviot was hiding but it was fairly clear.
Out of the churchyard, over the stone stile I had missed on my own recce, and downhill towards the Cockshaw farms. There is an old quarry with disused equipment to view.  Then the view of the North Tyne Valley opens up beautifully. You can see Humshaugh, the river and Chollerton as you scan from left to right.  The tarmac lane at the bottom of the descent is a respite from very muddy fields. After striding out on this for a while, you turn south again and begin the long ascent back up to the level of Hadrian's Wall. By the lane side someone has constructed a bird hide and there are bird feeders.  Must go there with the camera one day. Up and up and up the lane, but rewarded by good views, and now we could see Cheviot.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Monday morning

Off to Haltwhistle today for a training session for leaders and back ups for our walking festival.  Should be fun.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Walk from Netherton

Shepherd's walk from Netherton yesterday.  Only 5 takers and a quiet group.  Pleasant walk, about 11km. We reached the snow line but nothing hard to cope with. We could see that clouds on the coast were disgorging rain/sleet onto the land below, but it was fine and sunny all morning for us. It became grey in the afternoon.  Not too many photos and none I was really excited by.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Old habits die hard

Typical. I started this blog in January, just like I used to start diaries years ago, and by February the entries had dried up.   Will try harder!
Very busy day: played piano for the Unlikely Ladies at 0900 in West Woodburn. We are performing in a concert in Bellingham next Friday evening.  I've decided not to continue to be "musical director" and I'm flattered that JR is taking over.  (Very prestigious catch.)  Then came home, read Courant and saw decorator who finished painting the dining room.  Excellent work.  Read bits of Northumbrian and was very disappointed that there was no mention of the Haltwhistle Walking Festival in a big article about the new Wainwright book on the Pennine Way.  Not only that, they have used one of my photos in the article with no acknowledgement!!  Must make sure the next Northumbrian contains reference to the Festival. Had lunch, went to help J and D with their computer. They are like so many older people who get a computer, but who then don't believe they can work it. I can help, but I know they will have to put in some work themselves to understand the basics.  Once they are over the hump they will be fine. Then taught a flute lesson - well done M who had worked hard between lessons.
Now cooking tea (cooker is buzzing away) and we are going to the Hexham Music Society concert tonight. This will be Mum's first time out in the evening since mid-December. Another step forward.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Haltwhistle Spring Walking Festival

Very busy this week with preparations for the Spring Walking Festival.  Suddenly there is loads to do, and I've lost time while Mum has been ill.  (Still no at all well, but managed to get dressed yesterday.)  Booking starts online on Wednesday 20th January, and there are lots of things to sort out to make this go smoothly.  I'm also trying to sort out the new leaflets we want to use for publicity.  The printers we had chosen are not able to batch the leaflets for us, so I have to find a new printer and a good price; so far impossible.  I also have to make sure that the entries for the Haltwhistle Challenge run smoothly. They are much more complicated than the walks bookings. I've had a few nights of wakefulness while I try to work out appropriate solutions. I do like having problems to solve, as long as I can find good solutions that is.
Reading Ruth Rendell on writing a good detective novel.  Very interesting book so far.  It's a break from reading detective novels.......

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Leaking windows and walls

Oh the joy. I went to bed last night and could hear a noise. Thought it was the cat doing a noisy manicure. Turned out to be water dripping from the window frame - not the window that opens.  Had to get a bowl and towel, and then move bedrooms so that I could sleep.  Lay awake worrying for ages.  It's not good when the house lets you down, even in exceptional weather conditions.
Going off to destroy icicles now - that might make me feel better!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Reminiscences of past winters 2

In 1981 I had started in general practice on Jan 4th. The weather was terrible and I scraped the side of my car doors against a low wall that was covered with snow. That was before I arrived at work.  Oh dear. So embarrassing.  Not long into my tenure the snow was bad and we had to borrow a tractor to do home visits. That was fun once, but not when it had to be used again. Most patients in the outlying areas were very good and did not call.
One night I went to North Skelton to visit a family who lived up a farm lane. The directions were not too helpful, and I found my car stuck on a narrow track. I could not move in either direction. I walked about 300 yards back to the village and went into the tiny pub. I was covered in snow from head to foot. There was a sudden silence as I entered. I said "I'm the new doctor, and my car is stuck in the snow, and I need help to get it out" or words to that effect. The silence was deafening and for a few seconds I thought that no one would respond. Then a few men downed their pints, put on their wellies and came with me. They lifted my little mini and turned it 180 degrees so I could drive back down the lane.  Wonderful.  I never found the house and the poorly child recovered without my attention!

Reminiscences of past winters 1

So much snow, and such low temperatures.  Of course it makes me reminisce about the previous winters when the snow was excessive. I  can remember '63 and '81.  My Mum can remember '47, when one of her family had to climb out of a bay window in order to dig the snow away from the front door. Then the rest of the family could get outside.  In '63 I had just started grammar school. We had no days off, but trudged through Barnes Park every day. The worst thing was getting up the steps from the park onto the school field. The boys (from the next door school) stood there and rained snowballs down onto us - poor little fusties (first years) that we were.  It was grim, but I remember just getting on with it.  I don't suppose I told my parents, or if I did, they would not have complained to school.  (I probably didn't tell them in case they made me walk around the park, a much longer journey to and from school.  Same as when there was a flasher in the park - I didn't know what that was all about, but I certainly did not tell them. I knew I'd be banned from the shorter walk.)

Monday, 4 January 2010

Bravely into the New Year

The days have blended one into another with a routine developing as Mum continues to be ill and I continue to look after her. I requested a nebuliser on New Year's Eve and that has helped with her symptoms, improving her breathing with each dose, but then slipping back again before the next was due.   We are both pretty tired but doing our best to be positive.
Today I asked for another home visit since we were out of medication and she still has lots of chest signs (consolidation of the left lung base). The new GP at the practice came - excellent - did all the things that proper doctors are supposed to do. Mum is now on steroids and feels much more confident about her treatment.
I've been shovelling snow to try to make it possible to use our drive.  Hard work!!  I expect my back will object later.  The snow is very beautiful and I realise I have not uploaded any images from the last few days.

Taken on Jan 1st in the evening from our lounge.

Taken by the road end where the Wark Road passes our village

A field near Lincoln Hill

Everyone I met on my walk yesterday was cheerful and enjoying the weather.