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Monday, 11 December 2017

Cold as the grave......

The freezing weather continues and I'm beginning to wonder whether I'll soon be eligible for an extra fuel allowance?  But in spite of all the ice I haven't yet resorted to wearing Yaktrax, though some of my routes have been modified to avoid known slippery pavements and ungritted roads.  I'm lucky insomuch as I can step out the door and in less than 25 metres be running on grass. 
Staying low - thankfully not so low as some!  (Click to enlarge pictures)
It was well below freezing for midweek runs, so sensibly stayed low to avoid wind chill.  Most cemetery paths had snow on them but only the tarmacked one from the main entrance was slippery.  I took shorter, faster steps up that one for my uphill reps and found it quite enjoyable (particularly as a Personal Trainer and his client seemed reluctant to run in such conditions).
Setting off to Grassington
The dashboard thermometer told us it was -3ºC as we drove back to the Dales on Saturday, but beautifully clear with hardly a breath of wind. We lit the stove to warm the cottage and made ourselves a mug of coffee.
Obstacle on High Lane, but nothing we couldn't cope with
  Then, my wonderful partner managed to get an envelope jammed in her printer and we'd difficulty extracting it to get the machine working smoothly again.  Probably feeling neglected, the stove sulked and went out.  By the time we'd re-lit it the sky had clouded over, obscuring the sun for the rest of the day.
Which side to go?
Undeterred, we set off over frozen fields to the flesh pots of Grassington where folk from far and wide were braving  the second Dickensian weekend festivities.  High lane was plastered with ice though most of it was avoidable.  It still slowed us down as we pondered which sides of the lane were safest.
A joyful bunch of carol singers, especially the one on the right!
Grassington was heaving with sight-seers, thronging the streets, queuing at various food stalls, warming their hands round mugs of hot chocolate (suitably laced), joining in the carol singing, watching the Morris dancers and various other colourful entertainers.
Leeds Morris men do their thing..
But the surprising thing was that very few people this year were traditionally dressed in Victorian hats and clothes.  It was mainly stallholders who'd made the effort to dress appropriately to suit the occasion
and this sweet little girl
There'd been complaints the previous weekend that no-one had provided a donkey for the pregnant Mary to ride upon while Joseph knocked on various pub doors seeking some place for the infant Jesus to be born.  In desperation an alpaca was hurried into use.  But it wasn't quite the same!
Some strange looks..
To be honest, such crowds and festivities are not my scene and I was glad to be running through the car park, down the Snake to Linton Falls and heading for home.
The Wharfe by Linton Falls
With most people crowded into the village the riverbank was appreciably quiet and we'd a pleasant run back to Hebden.
Hurrying home before the snow
But the sky had darkened, our cameras had difficulty coping with dull conditions and we'd a distinct feeling that snow wasn't very far away.
Less than a mile to go - to hot tea and a Keelham pork pie!
  It felt wonderful to step back into a warm cottage where, I'm afraid to say we stayed for the remainder of the weekend.
Just a short uphill now...
Not that it was intentional.  We'd planned to do a Sunday morning run but, because it was foggy, decided to fit a new curtain rail in the bedroom first.  The fog duly cleared but I'm afraid it was after lunch before us two fuddy-duddies had mastered the intricacies of our task and got a curtain hanging again.
Next weekend, we'll try to get our priorities right...

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Not much to report...

It's been a poor week for running and photography.  Just three short runs amounting to 8 miles and a weekend when I never stepped out of the house other than to bring in more coal and logs to keep the cottage warm.  A banana back was the problem,  aggravated somewhat during a contretemps with an irresponsible dog owner on Thursday's dawn run up Castle Hill.
My Castle Hill circuit  (Click to enlarge)
It was an icy morning.  Gritters had been out all night.  Not only had I to wear a jacket and hat, and lag my legs, but also wear a buff over my mouth to warm the freezing cold air I was inhaling.  Reaching the perimeter path round Castle Hill at breaking dawn I noticed what looked like a 20 stone Sumo wrestler ambling towards me through the gloom with a huge black Labrador of similar proportions and a very unfriendly spaniel, neither of which were on a lead.
Gritter in action  (picture from Huddersfield Examiner)
As I got closer the spaniel flew past and proceeded to attack from behind, thankfully without actually biting, while the overweight Labrador backed off a few steps before hurling itself at me like a sack of coal, bouncing me off the path and temporarily numbing my Lt thigh.  I limped off, swearing and massaging my leg while the Sumo guy shouted at his idiot dogs and carried on his way.
Sunrise brought no joy that morning.
A bit dodgy past Ashes Farm on the way home
Saturday and Sunday heralded Grassington's first of two Dickensian market weekends.  I'd planned to include it in a five mile run with the idea of getting new and different pictures for my blog but it wasn't to be.  There was no way my back would allow me to run.  Crosswords became the order of the day, and I struggled with those.  We both did.
Sunset, for a change, from my window
I forget which day it was, my wonderful partner was struggling to fix a curtain rail in the bedroom but eventually finished up breaking it and having to take the whole thing down.  It corresponded with the rising of the latest super moon which that night cast its luminous light through the curtain-less window to sweep through the room and across the bed, filling my sleepless brain with mega doses of Puccini and that beautiful love duet sung by Rolando Villazon with the amazing Russian Soprano, Anna Netrebko -         O soave fanciulla.
...Lovely maid in the moonlight...  
There's still a wee bit of romance left in the old dog!

Monday, 27 November 2017

What we pensioners do for fun...

After the afore-mentioned syringe full of cortico-steroid to gunge up my Rt eye it was a couple of days before I ventured out of the house again to allow it chance to clear.  On this occasion it cleared rather quickly prompting me to think the Consultant must have reduced the amount injected, from 8mg to the original 4mg.  Regardless, it was six days before I plucked up courage for another run.
My trusty Inov-8 Terraclaws   (Click pictures to enlarge)
On Saturday we'd woken to a winter wonderland as first snows of winter painted the landscape a uniform white, sparkling in dawn light under a cloudless sky.  Pure magic.  
Passing below Pickering End - Hebden's answer to Wuthering Heights
Sadly, there was no time for photographs as 45 miles away a hundred assorted saplings were waiting to be planted at the foot of Hebden Ghyll. Remarkably, there was no snow in Hebden, much to the relief of the intrepid gang that turned out for digging holes, planting and tubing.
Crossing the Miner's Bridge
Saturday night was clear and cold.  Jack Frost worked hard throughout his moonlight shift, turning water to ice, coating car windows and generally making a nuisance of himself to those who don't always appreciate such things.
Icy water, moss, bracken and a cold blue sky 
 It wasn't easy leaving a warm bed on Sunday morning knowing what Grassington Moor and remote Bycliffe Hill would have in store for us.  But eventually we did, though I'll admit to becoming a bit nesh in my dotage and lingered over three mugs of strong coffee before slowly donning running gear and activating TomTom. It was 11am when we stepped outdoors into the winter sun. 
getting high...
Weekend walkers who'd arrived earlier to block the village with their cars had all mysteriously disappeared.  We'd the Ghyll to ourselves as we jogged gently uphill, over the Miner's bridge and past the waterfall to the heathery heights beyond.
Ice is nice...to look at!
The gravel track across Grassington Moor gets longer every time we run it, or so it seems.  We reached a spot far from civilisation where opening scenes of Casino Royale were shot way back in 1967.
Endless track and icy puddles to old Casino Royale film set
   John le Mesurier was M's chauffeur though local sheep thought he was a shepherd bringing them feed!  Ursula Andress also starred, cough, cough, just saying...
Posing on the desolate 1967 film set
Bell pits, sink holes, swamps, and maybe snares, call for care and undivided attention over Bycliffe Hill, the absolute epitome of desolation and loneliness.  In my dotage I've lately resorted to carrying a mobile phone over this route, not so much because of its obstacles but more the likelihood of succumbing to cold and exhaustion in the Arctic conditions that prevail there.
Crossing Bycliffe Hill
On most routes I just carry a whistle hoping, in cases of emergency, I'll have enough puff for the statutory six blasts a minute to call attention to my plight.  Such is the remoteness of Bycliffe Hill, I reckon no-one would ever hear my whistle.  Particularly if they're as deaf as me!
Dodging a boggy bit over Bycliffe with a shower looming ahead
We crossed without incident, enjoying our wild surroundings while dodging bogs and odd patches of snow across the trackless waste.  Typically, as we neared the high point, the sun disappeared behind threatening clouds, wind increased and showers sped across distant horizons.  
Starting downhill...
But we were dressed for wintry conditions and didn't care, knowing we'd soon be dropping down to our marker cairn on the Mossdale track, to a short stretch of smoother, more runner friendly terrain.
...to our little marker cairn beside the Mossdale track
   At 1,500ft on the exposed track that Arctic wind was blowing straight into our faces so we didn't hang about.  We noted the Stone Man, a large cairn marking the high point of the track has been vandalised and is now only half a cairn.  It was too cold to stop and begin a repair.
Into the shelter of the long wall - with another shower threatening
We dropped quickly down to Howgill Nick and turned for home down the long wall that sheltered us from the nithering wind. 
Stone with phantom fossil stud marks!
 With only three miles left to run, all downhill, we could relax and poddle gently home at a speed least harmful to our legs and ageing joints.
Crossing Coalgrove Beck...

A runner caught us up, one we'd never seen before, heading for Grassington before it rained.  A stone with fossil stud marks called out to be photographed.  Then another unknown runner passed us, running strongly up the beck in the opposite direction.
...and finally back to Hebden Beck
It was getting busy.  Time to call it a day - before suffering the ignominy of being criticised for our doddering behaviour!  At least, we'd survived the challenging eight miles.  TomTom, I discovered, had thrown in the towel at three!

Monday, 20 November 2017

A braw November day......

This posting will be short with apologies for any typos or mistakes.
Another syringeful of triamcinalone into the ball of my Rt eye today has put paid to any thoughts of running for X number of days, though I'm hoping to be out again by weekend.
Over the stile to Grassington Moor on a braw day  (Click to enlarge pictures)
  Viewing the world through a mixture of milk and shirt buttons tends to mask all those obstacles I'm very good at falling over.
Dodging ice across Grassington Moor
But I managed to dodge the rain again last week for my two midweek dawn runs whilst Sunday possibly turned out to be the best day of the month weather-wise.
and more ice...
My wonderful partner may disagree about the latter.  She feels the cold far more than I do so was well wrapped up in warm tracksters and Buffalo jacket.


Running in the sun, past Teal Tarn
It was cold, freezing cold and sub zero temperatures had frozen all the track-wide puddles up the ghyll and across Grassington Moor. We'd to run a zig-zag chicane to avoid them.
Grassington boundary stone.  Over the wall is a very wet Hebden Moor
 It isn't everyone's idea of fun or choice of exercise which more or less guarantees we have the moor to ourselves in such conditions.  Apart from a few sheep and some lucky surviving grouse we saw but one other intrepid couple who, to be honest, didn't look very happy.
Another typical obstacle
Initially, we'd the luxury of wall to wall sunshine but it clouded over for the last three miles or so as we sloshed through ankle deep sphagnum moss.  It might be good for hanging baskets but it gave us very cold feet
Dodging ankle deep sphagnum - where we could
Gateways were awash with water too, requiring some clever maneuvering to pass through into the next morass.
How do we get through here?
TomTom told us we'd run 7.41 miles with a little short of 800ft of ascent.  
Not a bad little workout to round off the week.

Monday, 13 November 2017

TomTom says I'm slow for my age......

Last week should have been a rest week, no running and nothing very energetic until the course of antibiotics was completed on Friday.  But "the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft aglay"... and not just for old Rabbie Burns.  I terminated the medication on Tuesday and went plodding off through fields for a steady 4 miles before sunrise on Wednesday.
It turned frosty last week   (Click pictures to enlarge)
It was cold, very cold.  I made a mental note to seek out more thermals when I got home.  It's  winter.  Extra layers are needed now to lag my old bones.  Before I'd even crossed the first field a little demon was shrieking at me to 'have some sense man, abort this crazy run and get the hell back to where it's warm'.  I reminded him my central heating boiler is broken down....and carried on running into the sunrise.  It's probably more mental than physical but it's amazing what a difference the sun makes as it peeps over the horizon, imparting it's energy and warmth.
TomTom can manage maps but it doesn't know much about geriatrics
My new GPS watch is full of surprises.  It old me today that men of my age (85) 'typically' run 10K in 1.04.21 so I should quicken up!
The cheek of it!
 I told it to sod off and come back when its got my age digits the right way round (having said that, I recall my 10K time was a little over 37mins aged 58 but I don't think that was 'typical' either).
Revelling in Sunday's beautiful conditions
I was blowing a bit after Friday's cemetery run which I'd shortened a bit in order to do it faster.  Don't ask me why, that bloomin' TomTom I suppose...
Saturday was a non-day so far as running was concerned.  My wonderful partner's upstairs phone, next to her computer, had given up the ghost, so we bought a new one.  Having plugged it in, that wouldn't work either.  I fiddled around but the only way to make it work was to place a micro-filter at both ends of the extension lead which is a big no-no.  Her WiFi disappeared and wouldn't come back.  We rang Plusnet to do a check from their end.  They concluded her router was rather ancient and were posting a new one to us poste haste.  We await its arrival.
View from Bridge at Linton Falls
Sunday dawned clear and bright so it wasn't long before we were donning our running gear ready for a slightly longer run to make up for Saturday's lack of mileage.  We set off up river to Linton falls and were amazed how recent frost had brought down all the leaves from Chestnut trees that were so colouful the previous Sunday.
Linton Church and Armistice celebrations left of picture
Outside Linton Church the congregation were gathered around a memorial for the Armistice Day service.  Their singing voices drifted up to us as we ran across fields high above, a beautiful poignant sound.
These stiles get narrower..
We were sure upright stones in old stiles had tilted closer together over the years making it more difficult to squeeze past.  Indeed, one lady of generous proportions got herself jammed and had to be forcibly dragged free.  Fortunately, we're still slim enough to wriggle through.
Berries and bum, Thorpe village
We reached the sleepy, hidden village of Thorpe where a photographer sunk down on one knee to film us as we ran through.  I stopped to photograph a bush dripping with red berries and it wasn't until I'd blown it up I noticed a bum sticking up over the wall beside it.
Running towards Burnsall
Fine weather had attracted hoards of weekend walkers many of whom we ran past on the trail towards Burnsall which I believe was once voted Yorkshire's prettiest village - though there's not much of it! 
A few autumn colours left on the way to Burnsall
 Seventy years ago names like Burnsall, Grassington, Appletreewick, Barden Moor and Bolton Abbey read like a litany but were all quite inaccessible in my teenage years.  Little did I know that years later I'd be running through these places on a regular basis.
Resting by the new sign.
Chicken liver paté was on the menu for lunch.  I'm not sure which bottle(s) were used to enhance its flavour but it was absolutely delicious.  My wonderful partner had lovingly made it to feed guests at a wine tasting group she hosts once a year.  Meetings are held at members houses on the third Tuesday of each month and we mistakenly thought the next one should be this coming Tuesday.  It was pointed out to us by a lady not yet prone to 'senior moments' that the third Tuesday is in fact the week after.   
We've a lot of paté to eat.