frostfox: (foxy)
I had help.
Dinner party with Jaine, Dave, Steve, Giulia, Kari and Phil.

Jaine and I took ourselves off on a walk to Pangborne, watching and listening to skylarks dancing over the tops. We met up with Dave in a tea shop and had lunch and vast cakes. This may have been an error. We called in a boutique and were Looked Down Upon (£90 for a cheesecloth top? In Jaine speak 'Yer 'avin a giraffe') Then we walked back to Tilehurst along the river, much gooseage was spotted, plus shags and grebes. 7.86 miles.

Dinner started with a light bean soup, followed by too much delicious food, the hit being the crab curry. Giulia had made both pavlova and tiramisu for dessert, just in case we were peckish. And several bottles of nice wine.

Today, as the weather was glorious, we walked into Reading, again along the Thames, for Lebanese lunch, which was just fabulous. Followed by trip to an ice cream parlor which sells gelato. Some of us had a modest two scoops (chocolate and mango). Some of the party were less restrained. 6.11 miles.

I had a good, easy drive home, left at 4pm home 7.30, and I got to bring some of the tiramisu home with me, hurrah!
Came in to find that Max had brought down the back lounge nets (usually happens when he gets his claws caught in them) and that I had forgotten to put down the extra food I planned to leave him, it was still on the counter. Oops. But, in my defense, he hadn't finished all the cat crunchies. And he could live off his blubber for at least a month.

Tired now. And full of tiramisu.

FF
frostfox: (foxy)
Was go on a pub crawl round Sheffield. In the rather Mancunian rain.
My long time friend Mike The Bastard is 60 on Monday, which seems somewhat unlikely but is apparently true. I met Mike as my first convention, Mythcon in 1982, he was in the bar with Eric Leatherman - this was prior to their Samurai Wookie phase - and they had a local to me accent so I went and sat with them. We have been taking the piss out of each other ever since.

There were about a dozen of us and the really keen ones started on Friday lunchtime. I joined them Saturday and we did The Kelham Island Tavern, The Fat Cat, The Riverside, The Wellington and The Shakespeare. The Wellington was my favouite, it had interesting gin as well as beer and we had a great Cards Against Humanity session too. It also had a lovely map from 1966 of UK breweries, I could have spent an hour looking at it.
Apologies to Sheffield friends, I did consider asking if anyone wanted to meet up in the afternoon but we had enough trouble finding room for us all as it was.

Stayed at the Premier Inn, nice clean room, free wi-fi, easy to get to the pub from, what's not to like? I let the train take the strain, much easier than faffing with the car.
I got home lunchtime today and just popped out to do the shopping. I was planning on a little walk as the rain was slackening, but every time I look out the window, it's raining again. May give it another 30 mins and then try.

FF
frostfox: (foxy)
Fab weekend in Hampshire with five of my favourite friends.

I had an early start and got to Alresford for 12.00, had lunch, started drinking (!) we are helping Jaine to clear her larder before her kitchen is re-modeled. The we walked down to the Titchyknob Arms for a stealthy pint, first time my beloved boots/insoles have been used in anger, still feel like wearing slippers. Though I'm not sure how often I will be able to take the insoles in/out of the boots without them falling to bits. I am a bit hard on boots and insoles and because they are so padded, they are a bit thick for wearing with light shoes.
It was somewhat muddy but a nice afternoon.

In the evening we got a taxi to the wonderful Tanoshi for a feast, we shared platters for starters and I had scallops for my main. The food was marvelous, not too flashy but interesting and Giulia had half a water buffalo on her plate...
Gin and sake was drunk.
Deserts came with dry ice, got to love a restaurant which ask if madam would like more dry ice to play with.
http://www.tanoshiifusion.co.uk/
They brought the birthday boy, Steve Davis, pretty chopsticks and rests in the shape of ducks. And gifts for the women in the party, I came home with another boxed pair of chopsticks, very lovely.

Today we went for another walk along the lovely Alre into Alresford in the gentle rain, and lunch at Tiffin
http://tiffins-tea-emporium.co.uk/
Most of the party had afternoon tea but Jaine and I bucked the trend and had cheese scones with added cheese and watercress salad. I followed it with trifle. Cointreau trifle, Obvs.

Came home listening to The Archers on podcast. Oh Lillian, you sot, got to love her.
Once TA was done, I turned of to Radio 2 for sounds of the 70's, they were interviewing Mr Grumpy (Rick Wakeman) and played "Wonderous Stories" and I nearly had a flashback!
Wakeman played backing on many, many famous tracks, including a lot of Bowie, so they then played "Life on Mars" and he talked about the famous piano at Trident Studios.
Then the focus changed, it's quite hard to headbang and drive at 70 on the M6. "Silver Machine" on Radio 2. Who'da thunk it? Hawkwind are on tour, they've been going since 1969. Boggles.

FF

En-booted!

Mar. 4th, 2017 08:22 pm
frostfox: (foxy)
Long and interesting day.
Nearly started out badly, only my recent habit of checking J19 before setting out saved me a long detour; it's closed all weekend. Hopefully this means that the new by-pass will soon be open. I won't be using it to get to work, but it should make the traffic better for me.

Up the M6 to the picturesque village of Whalley in Lancs, I had a 10.15 booking for at boot fitting.

Now, the observant amongst you will have noticed that -
a. I walk a lot
b. I whinge about foot pain a lot
These two things are kinda related; I did have the foot pain before I started walking but it's got worse. I saw a podiatrist on the NHS about five years ago (when I had been walking for about 2 years) about my nerve pain the my right foot. He had the foot scanned and x-rayed but there is nothing to see. The nerve pain persists, mostly when I have been walking on the flat and in a regular rhythm, it seldom troubles me on uneven terrain or in the summer when I wear walking sandals. He fitted me with inserts for my over pronation (which I was unaware of) as a prophylactic to head off any future knee/hip issues.
When I went back to my GP in the autumn, this time with heel pain in the same foot I wasn't allowed to go back to the podiatrist as the soulless, scum sucking bastards in the Conservative Party have gutted and deprived the NHS to the point where I don't qualify for a referral as I am too healthy. Ahem.
So if I develop heart disease or diabetes or some other debilitating illness which means I can no longer walk, I can go see him again...
I did get to see the physio and his exercises and inserts I bought off the internet pretty much resolved the heel pain (my calf muscles had become so strong they were pulling on the heel pretty badly.

Anyway, fast-forward a few months and my walking boots (£109 about 4 years ago) had developed a leak and were on their way out. My Mum, very kindly, said she'd buy me a new pair and I started scouting about for a boot fitter. I wanted an expert to fit them. Finding somewhere near to home was difficult, I expected to find somewhere in Betws Y Coed or Llanberis but failed. I did find Whalley Warm and Dry in Lancashire. And as well as the boot fitting service, they had a foot specialist who could custom make me an insole to correct the over pronation, the heel pain and the Metatarsalgia.

£120. For the consultation and the insole. Which is more than a month's food. But walking is my favourite hobby, I thought it was worth it.

So this morning I trolled up the M6.
Whalley is a pretty little village, often flooded by the river Calder which runs through it.
Whalley Warm and Dry is on the High Street, set back from the road and they have a positive production line of boot fitting going on. A young lass started measuring and taking my notes, when I mentioned my foot pain, she passed me over to the senior who did a fabulous job.
My bad foot (the right one) is a full half size longer than the left and 8cm wider (that's 3+ inches!). Wow. She has seen worse, of course, and I don't have any degenerative bone issues or bunions to complicate matters. She found me a boot with a narrow heel and wide front toe box. They are by a German manufacturer called Meindel.

Then I went into see the insole specialist, Graham. Who was worth every penny of the £120.
He was incredibly thorough, had a lot of high tech kit, he diagnosed what was going on with the foot'o'doom and what he could do to help. He's the first person to notice that the left foot, which doesn't cause my gyp, has the dodgier ankle - that's the one I buggered in 1987 - the doctor said to rest it so I did a Vike show, a wedding, a TV programme and Worldcon in the next two weeks. And it's never been the same since.
Both feet are very unflexible, a good 10% less than they should be. I have exercises and two rollers, one large, one small (I bought these off him, but there was no selling; ball self-massagers are too intense for me, these are somewhat gentler) to help me self massage to loosen up the adhesions in the fascia in my feet and, crucially, my over keen and over developed calves.
The fat pads have moved, due to all that walking and my poor body trying to correct for the tight calves, he could poke my metatarsals, not ideal.
He made me a custom pair of insoles, cushioned ones with special features to protect the weak areas and with a raiser to correct the over-pronation and protect my ankles/knees/hips. They feel like walking on air.

Then I went back out for further boot fitting with the insoles in (I can use the insoles in any shoe they fit, not just the boots). I was shown how to lace them and walked about and up and down an incline in them to check for heel movement and stability. Then the toe box was stretched further to make room for those wide, wide metatarsals. They showed me two types of dubbing for them, told me when and where to use it and the brushes to clean the mud off. All the time, I am thinking 'There's another £20 in accessories' but, no, the dubbing and brushes were gratis (probably because of the £120 insoles). The boots themselves were £160.

So, an expensive day, but I think it was worth it.

I then wandered round Whalley for a bit, had lunch, came home and did the weekly shop. All the while wearing the insoles.
I want to go play with my new toys but the weather for tomorrow looks vile and I'd rather break the boots in gently, I'll wear them lunch time at work for a week or two; 2.5 miles is not far enough to develop any serious blisters and after a couple of weeks, they'll be fine. So tomorrow I will put the insoles in my sad old boots and go for a squelch up the canal to Marbury.
frostfox: (foxy)
Snotty as a very snotty thing.

Saturday I indulged in some retail therapy in Port, (Serena, I got you two small fleeces, one in purple, one in black for the princely sum on £4 each), damp, miserable day. But a nice evening with James Cooke and Helen and an unfeasible amount of home cooked Chinese consumed. I'm just hoping I wasn't as generous with my cold.

Sunday I did a delightful 7 mile walk down the Vale of Ffestiniog with many, many waterfalls, Jaine, you are going to love this one. There is an opportunity for lunch at The Grapes at Maentwrog, ideal for Intrepid Lady Explorers. The rain held off until I was on the home straight. Met a farm cat but he was playing Cat Chess with the ginger next door so not interested in me. One horrible, horrible slate style onto a main road near the end. Wouldn't be horrible if you had long (male) legs but terrifying if your are a short arse in the rain.
Dinner at Dylan's with Fiona (the previous owner of Caerwylan).

Came home today via a quick walk at Criccieth between the showers.
I used the coast road as the mountains were bedecked with snow and mist.
Home now and doing the washing. Still snotty.
frostfox: (foxy)
Not as sunny as yesterday, but still not bad.
Met up with a couple of men from The Wirral doing the same walk from the same Pathfinder Book so we walked together. Just over 4 miles, pretty Cheshire countryside, not many stiles, not much road walking, 20 minutes drive from home, so I can see me doing it again when I fancy a short walk. I did 10 miles yesterday round town and the woods so I thought I should take it a bit easy today.
Spent the afternoon making a vast vat of chicken stew with the whole roast chicken I bought at Waitrose yesterday, carrots, cabbage, turnip, leeks, garlic, smells wonderful.

Little Budworth church has a fabulous sundial with dials on all it's faces, looking like a mad chess piece. Plus an impressive 16c tower and snowdrops in the churchyard. There was a pub at the end of the walk too, but 4 miles isn't really long enough to need refreshment, maybe next time if I combine with another walk.

FF

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frostfox: (foxy)
Cambridge for a dinner party, quite a long way to go? Not when Phil Nanson is cooking sublime oriental food. And three, count them, THREE different cakes for dessert! From Kari Sperring's talented hands. Snaffled two slices to bring home and just had one for lunch. Max is curled up on the sofa with me, I think he's just after my body (heat).
And I need to go finish a commission while there is day light. And vac the lounge. And re-pot my fern-from-work. And get the washing out of the machine.
Horrid drive home, due to standing water and rain, but still worth the trip.

FF
frostfox: (foxy)
Back from a long weekend in Kent and Reading with The Plokta Cabal, adorable dogs, spherical yet adorable cats and Hippies, assorted.
Lots of good food and good company, nice walk to the pub (note to self, their veggie burger with halloumi is delicious! As was the local beer - Old Dairy Red Top) the last of the presents swapped and quite a lot of champagne/beer/wine drunk. Drove home today in glorious sunshine, pity to waste the day, I'd have loved a long walk, but I wanted to be home in good time to do a shop and feed kittens and do a bit of washing. Including the sofa bed cover as Max had peed on it. Again. Now going to wash myself and have a long soak with a good book.

I also took down the calendars and counted up - 28 nights spent in Wales... that's not too many. I quite like these lists when other people do them, so, as the old calendar is at hand, here is my list of nights spent away in 2016.

Winsford - 1 night
Cambridge - 1 night
Reading - 4 nights
Manchester - 3 nights
Criccieth - 15 nights
Kent - 6 nights
Portmeirion - 12 nights
Clun - 2 nights
Alresford - 5 nights
Middleton - 1 night
Clevedon - 1 night
Oxford - 1 night
Chesterfield - 5 nights
Nottingham - 1 night
Porthmadog - 1 night

59 in total, no wonder Max pees on sofas...
frostfox: (foxy)
Saturday, down to Titchborne Arms beer festival with Jaine, Dave, Steve and Giulia. Then up to Oxford for my best friend's son's wedding reception.
Tired now, but the Mac is working again so I am back on LJ.

Photos under the cut
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frostfox: (foxy)
I have been tending a patch of waste ground at work (keeping down the weeds so that it doesn't get too mad) and I now have a crop of Bee orchids and northern marsh orchids.

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frostfox: (foxy)
A snail ate my four leaf clover...
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frostfox: (foxy)
I can’t touch type on the iPad, so writing anything substantial is not going to happen, so here it what I would have written if I’d had the druthers last week.
Friday – nipped into town to pick up trousers from M&S and bank cheque. Haircut, nice and short so it would survive multiple washes and hattage.

Set out about 12.20, via Pentrefolas and a stop at the Riverside Chocolate House for a lunchtime sandwich. http://www.riversidechocolatehouse.com/. Drove to Porthmadog and purchased essential beer from the Purple Moose brewery shop, now conveniently on the high street, http://www.purplemoose.co.uk/ then over the Cob to my favourite right hand turn in the world; the entrance to PM.

Picked up the Dolphin key from The Castell, and nearly dropped the crate of beer I was carrying when I walked through the door of the cottage; Dolphin had had a complete (and long overdue) refurb. Shiny new kitchen with dishwasher and new oven, hob and microwave, both bedrooms now en-suite with fabulous showers and a bath in the double but the triumph was the new layout in the lounge. Gone was the huge and redundant downstairs loo and boiler in the middle of the house, the whole place opened up with room for a huge dining table as well as a new suite. All very designer with dozens of light switches and a glorious new stair case. Very well done and doubling the downstairs space. Twin bedroom is now a bit cramped (though that might just be because ‘travling light’ is not a phrase Clare or I have ever used) but the en-suite makes up for this.
Beat the bounds of the village to check it was all still there, it was, then an early night as we were all tired.

Saturday – The Intrepid Lady Explorers walked over the hill behind Portmeirion and across The Cob to Porthmadog, where we proceeded to buy most of the town via craft shops and clothing boutiques. Shopping in Port seems to be getting better, at least three boutiques, possibly a ripple effect from people going down Pen Llyn to Abersoch? We managed to whittle away a good two and a half hours, and considerable money (well, Clare and I did, Eileen was somewhat more restrained) the Portmeirion café in town does a lovely latte, but, sadly the charming little café and pizzeria on the quayside seems to have closed. We had planned to walk over the flank of Mole Y Gest to Borth but it chucked it down while we were in the shops and my walking notes for that particular decent say ‘DO NOT DO IN THE WET’ in big letters. So we bought lunch in the Big Rock bakery and ate it on the quay then strolled back across the Cob to PM.

The Festival, in September is a good source of extra income for The Village; the paths over the hill behind PM are much improved and they have built an anaerobic digester on the edge of the car parks to burn wood pellets from Y Gwillt and all the surrounding woodlands, which should make The Village self-sufficient for energy. They have also cleared and extended the paths beyond Bone’s View, you can get down to the beach but it’s still very steep and not suitable for everyone, again, a path I wouldn’t want to attempt in the wet. I gave up on getting to the beach when I tried it as I was wearing a long skirt, I’d have been fine in trousers, detoured through the Ghost Garden instead.
Sunday – Walked the Y Gwyllt again, astonishing how few of the day visitors stray away from The Village centre, ‘tis ever thus. Then a drive over the Golan heights (yes, really, look it up on a map) with Dave and Martin, we were aiming for Cwmystradllyn but missed so ended up driving down Cwmpennant instead, one of the most beautiful valleys in the area, we also passed The Marvelous Tower - http://www.menaiholidays.co.uk/cottages/details/brynkir_tower~overview but it doesn’t have Wi-Fi so the chance of me convincing most of my friends to stay there with me is slim. We stopped for lunch at a café then they dropped me off in Port and I walked over the Cob again back to PM.
Sunday evening we went to Castell Deudraeth Brasserie for dinner.

http://www.portmeirion-village.com/eat/castell-brasserie/ We all scrub up well, even if I do say so myself. I had Moules Marinière, which was wonderful, followed by lamb so tender that the steak knife wasn’t necessary, dessert was chocolate and Cointreau panacotta, poached pear and astonishingly light shortbread and then a cheese board, obviously. Copious amounts of wine, we very kindly helped finish some bin ends… a tough job but someone has to do it. Anwen is clearly fitting in well (and looks marvelous!), and her staff were attentive and pleasant. The view from the dining room is particularly fine in the evening and any meal which lasts 3 hours, starts with champagne and ends with mead is a good meal.

Monday – The Intrepid Lady Explorers (TILE, henceforth) were on the march again. Cnitch, as I have told many people, is my favourite of the Moelwyns, such a pretty mountain (doesn’t everyone have a favourite mountain? Oh, just me then...). There’s no formal path up the mountain so I’m a bit leery of scaling it, despite various webpages saying that it’s not as intimidating as it looks, they tend to use the words ‘scramble’ and ‘hands and knees’ in the descriptions of the ascent, and also ‘boggy’ and ‘not much of a path’. But I did find an interesting walk from the village of Croesor on the slopes of the mountain, down the valley to the main road and back up.http://www.eryri-npa.gov.uk/visiting/walking/leisure-walks/croesor-circular-walk

The weather forecast had been sunny, so I was slathered in factor 50 suncream, but it was overcast; not ideal for photos but definitely better for walking in. The drive up to Croesor is beautiful in itself, up a narrow green lane rising above the wide Glaslyn valley, we parked up and set out down, down, down from the village, past old slate mine workings down to the A road then back up again on the other side of the river. We had been worried by how far down we had gone, but the ascent was fine, short sharp wooded rise and heathland all very well signposted, very easy to follow. On the heath, with stunning views of Snowdon and its attendants, we found a large adder basking by the path. It must have been asleep, because it put up with four curious TILE watching it for several minutes before it woke up and slithered away. I believe Eileen managed to grab a photo of it. We got back to the village about ten to two, in time for TILE to drive back to Portmeirion listening to The Archers (Stabby, stabby, stabby, stab. Stabby, stabby, stab, stab…) and cursing R.Titcher esq loudly, much to the trauma of the local sheep.

Tuesday – I drove down to Aberdaron for a lovely walk on the beach (in the drizzle, warm but damp). I met the Spar shop heron, Bill, and bought Too Many Bready Comestibles from Islyn Bakery, which used to be in an old tin railway hut but now has its own rather splendid thatched cottage, http://www.aberdaronlink.co.uk/business-details.php?local_businesses_key=15 I also had fresh crab sandwiches at one of the cafés. Life is hard.

RPG run by Dave on Tuesday night, not many dead, indeed, no fatalities amongst the party, quite unheard of! But a set up for a new campaign was put in place. We have birds of our own, in Dolphin and Government, as well as Bill-the-heron. I had brought fat and meal worms and we fed them on the Dolphin balconies and in the new seating area in front of Government. Government has always been blessed by great outdoor space, it has The Lawn and The Campanile but, as the village faces east, the sun goes off the back of the house pretty early in the day. The new outdoor patio at the front is great, it was light out there until 21.00 some nights, and it’s the perfect place for feeding birds, reading books, drinking beer/wine/cocktails and socialising (better than the Government lounge which is a bit stuffy and oppressive, particularly in warm weather, it has a very low ceiling). So we did. One robin proved to be particularly friendly, small and skinny by PM standards, but full of robin cheek and charm, but we had various finches and blackbirds and hedge sparrows also in attendance. Blackbird wars ensued several times but our presence kept the big corvids and the tree rats (grey squirrels) from stealing the small birds food.

Wednesday – Two of TILE, that being myself and Clare, to be precise, went for my usual 5 mile walk at Criccieth, down to Llanystumdwy then down to the beach, along Ynysgain and back to Criccieth, we did it the opposite way to how I usually do it (and without the side walk down the Dwyfor, it had been rather wet overnight and the river path would have been very boggy) which I think is the better way to do the route, the climb (which is neither steep or long) out of the village is over at the start and it’s all downhill after that. We then met with Jaine and Dave and James and Robert for lunch at Dylan’s on the seafront in Criccieth. Dylan’s is a fabulous seafood restaurant in an old Clough Williams Ellis designed Art Deco building which has been lovingly restored. The food was superb. We all started with the seafood tacos, which were tasty and interesting, and then I won the lunch by having the fisherman’s sharing platter as my main. Four humungous prawns, pot of homemade mackerel pate, smoked salmon, trout fillet, homemade bread, seafood salsa, salad, it was utterly fabulous and, for once, I had Had Enough Fish, which doesn’t happen very often (I think the last time was when Stephen Davies bought too much sushi to a Plokta New Year) at £17 it was superb value for money too. We didn’t manage dessert but we did manage to drink rather a lot at lunchtime and a gelato in The Village when we got back. https://www.dylansrestaurant.co.uk/

Thursday – Ynys Llanddwyn, Anglesey. Dave very kindly dropped me off in the car park on the beach at Niwbwrch, then he and Trevor drove off, they were planning a visit to the Jam Factory http://www.jams.co.uk/ and bird reserve on the top of the island. I was aware that high tide was 14.30, though I need not have been concerned, I now found out that the island is only cut off at the highest tides. The view from the beach was breath-taking, miles of golden sand, blue, blue sea, the Snowdonia range across the Menai in the mist and the island itself to my right. I walked in the sea along the beach, nothing I love more than cool sea on my toes. The island itself is magical, with stunning views, wild life (Ponies! Stone chaffs! A tern on the beach!), sea pinks, daisies, bluebells, crushed shell paths and interesting buildings. I spent a good couple of hours taking photos and walking round the place, it was busier than the last time when Jaine and I last visited, but then, it was a warmer day. I walked back to the car park and then back through the cool pine woods to Newborough, which is a tiny village, only one road. The Red Squirrel Café was open and I had a fabulous cup of tea and waited for Dave and Trev, they were running late, but Anglesey is not very big, I didn’t have to sit for too long, in the glorious sun, eating an appl and watching the village life go by.

Thursday evening, everyone else in our party decamped to an Indian restaurant in Criccieth but I cried off, it was way too nice to be inside so I did a final walk of The Village and beach. I am by nature a solitary creature, it’s my default setting and I am much more energised by nature than company.

Friday – Leaving The Village is always hard… and leaving friends too, knowing it’s a full 10 weeks before I get back to Wales and furthermore, a full year before I see some of my friends again. We tided up the houses, packed the cars (in glorious sunshine, which makes it harder to leave but also easier to pack up – Dolphin and Government are a short walk from where you can park your car, it can be a bit soggy in the wet). Some of us decamped to Gelert Ices in Beddgelert for breakfast then we went our separate ways.
Or nearly so, Jaine, Dave and I had booked extra bonus holiday in Shropshire, so we made our separate ways to Hawkstone Follies for lunch and an afternoon of walking. http://www.hawkstoneparkfollies.co.uk/ Hawkstone is, frankly, bonkers, which, given that we had been in Portmeirion for a week, is quite a statement. It’s a collection of follies and buildings laid up trails up a hill side on an old estate. We had a light lunch in the tea room and started out at about 14.00. It had gone overcast, which was a good thing in that it pulled the temperature down somewhat, there was quite a lot of walking going on, and quite a lot of UP. And down. And along. And UP again. The geology is sandstone, which is very familiar to me; the whole of Cheshire being part of the sandstone ridge, the look of the place very similar to Alderley or Lud’s Church, with outcrops of copper streaked sandstone and a huge, deep, stunning clefts in the rocks. Along with precarious bridges and mad caves (they sell torches in the gift shop) and the odd folly. The Cleft is absolutely jaw dropping in its scale and The Awful Precipice lives up to its name. We took the most strenuous way back (mostly so Jaine could be photographed by Fox’s Knob…) which was a lot of steps and a lot of up and down but all jolly good fun. I would recommend the place, particularly on a good day and particularly to those with kids about 7 and over with lots of energy to burn off, it’s just south of the A49 near Shrewsbury.We were back at our cars by 4.30 and set off for Clun.
Clun is a sleepy little village these days, with a couple of pubs, a Spar shop with a Post Office in it, a tiny museum, a pack horse bridge and the remains of a honking great Welsh borders castle, its history is somewhat more colourful than its present backwater status. We got to Clun just before six having driven down the Welsh/English border in the evening sun. Jaine and Dave were in the local hostelry and I was staying in a beautiful farmhouse, about 50m up the road. http://www.clunfarmhouse.co.uk/ The place was delightfully quirky and beautifully old, my room tiny but clean and neat with a bathroom next door, but again, as a single traveler, I missed out, I pay £5 a night more than someone in a double/twin for fewer facilities – the twins/doubles had a courtesy tray, en-suites and were, of course, much bigger. I’m used to this by now. single rooms - in all fairness to the B&B, this is far and away not the worse I've seen, I was looking at a hotel today where the twin room rate was £37.50per person per night, the single £55. Of course, it's different if you are booking a double for single occupancy, but paying more for fewer facilities ticks me off. It's one of the (many) reasons I love the Caerwylan in Criccieth; a single room is half the price of a standard double. http://caerwylan.co.uk/

We had dinner in The White Horse when J&D were lodging; it was a bit like being in a time warp back to the 70/80s, a lovely loud, boisterous pub with genuine un-reconstructed pub food and good, honest, real ale (okay, maybe the beer was better than in the 70s, wouldn’t be difficult). We were starving after our long drives and exertions at Hawkstone, I had bangers and mash with delicous local sausages and a couple of pints. J&D’s room was just up the stairs and the floor sloped alarmingly, due to the old building, it was also huge, but not as nice as my farmhouse.

We retired early and on Saturday I started the day with a marvellous home cooked breakfast at the farm house, local bacon, sausage, free range egg from their own hens, toast off the Aga, before we met up to explore Clun, which didn’t take very long, there was a small gallery, a gift shop, where Jaine and I bought matching silly sunhats, a local museum, very local, for local people, with some incredibly detailed smocks, farm implements and the odd Sumerian tablet, no, we had no idea either. We also explored the castle ruins, it must have been quite something in its day, the huge 3 story tower was abandoned by the family who built it as it was too remote, their seat was down south somewhere, it’s enough of a drag in a car on modern roads, I can only imagine how long it took 500 years ago.

I drove us the 5 miles up to Bishop’s Castle, in search of lunch and a walk, it was a gloriously sunny day. Another pretty village, almost a town, with lots of shops, we had lunch at a café and left Dave at another café cum brew pub (http://www.sixbellsbrewery.com/) while Jaine and I went for a little walk, across lovely rolling downs. We saw a couple of buzzards circling and commented on them, turned out to be a recently deceased ewe that they were planning to have for their dinner. Our path back to Bishop’s Castle was through a steep dell, Cwmmawr Dingle, alive with the last of the bluebells, fragrant in the sun. The Welsh/English border here is petty porous; lots of Welsh place names on the English Border and visa versa, such as Church Stoke and Hurdley (in Wales) and Llanblodwel and Porth Y Waen (in England).

Back in the village, we picked up Dave and did a little retail therapy in a shoe shop – new walking sandals, mine are at least six years old and falling to bits, the new ones are black and rainbow coloured, win! Of course, after a few wears, they will be a uniform muddy brown, same as all my other walking kit. Just look at these beauties - http://www.rieker.co.uk/rieker-ladies-c2/rieker-ladies-sandals-c83/rieker-68863-91-p5106 they do them as shoes as well, but I couldn’t afford both and I have too many shoes and not enough walking sandals.

We then had another lovely drive up the borders to the stone circle, Mitchel’s Fold. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/mitchells-fold-stone-circle/ This is on the top of a moor, which gave astonishing views across the countryside and deep into Powys, we could see a huge mountain, almost lost in the haze to the northwest, after perusing the map, Jaine and I decided it must be Cader Idris, 40+ miles away, there was absolutely nothing else that tall in that direction, a quick google when we got back to civilisation confirmed our mad map reading skills.
Sadly, I didn’t get to drive south of Clun, I really wanted to go through the village of New Invention, four houses on a cross roads, but I just wanted to say I’d been there. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Invention,_Shropshire

We tried the other pub in Clun for our dinner, with mixed results, the beer was very fine, particularly the mild, having only traveled from Bishop’s Castle, it came from the oldest UK brewery we had passed earlier in the day, established 1642. http://www.threetunsbrewery.co.uk/
The food was a bit hit and miss, Dave and I had fish and chips which was great but Jaine’s ‘fish of the day’ wasn’t very inspired. They had a very large booking of the local firemen and their families in, which seemed to be stressing the landlord and kitchen staff out. We left at nine, being both tired and not really wanting to stay for the evening entertainment (a bongo drum player… yes, you read that right) we walked down to the pack horse bridge and saw bats swooping in the twilight, then said our goodbyes and went our separate ways (it’s a whole 3 weeks until we meet up again!).

We very much liked Shropshire and will be visiting again, there’s a lot of places still to see, we barely scratched the surface.I came home Sunday morning to a very grumpy cat after 9 days away from him and a mound of washing which felt never ending. I love holidays but I slept like a log in my own bed again. Jury is still out on if Max will forgive me.

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frostfox: (foxy)
Not quite to Middlewich, 2hrs out, 2hrs back, didn't bother with pub lunch, had bread and cheese when I got home. Rain held off but it's very windy indeed and it was extremely muddy and somewhat slippy underfoot.
Tided the house, had a bath, Guy Martin is reconstructing a Vulcan at 19.30, sounds like my kind of TV.
Max is sulking because he mithered for food early, now I won't feed him again. Starved, starved I tell you.

Sandy Toksvig and The Weathergirls, 'It's Raining Men' on Desert Island Discs this morning. Life is good.

FF
frostfox: (foxy)
Well, Thursday evening was a trip to my best friend's place to supply turkey soup and fresh bread to her and her family as her husband had been released from hospital.
Friday I drove to Mum's and took her shopping at TX Maxx and a couple of other shops, which made her deliriously happy (she loves shopping).
Today I picked up [livejournal.com profile] purplemermaid and we met up with [livejournal.com profile] asphodeline and [livejournal.com profile] johnrw for second breakfast. We went round the many and various charity shops of Northwich and I bought a rather mad purple hat and a copy of Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things. The Plan for the afternoon was to go for a walk but the weather was so vile, we just drove to Alderley Edge and called in at best friend Annie's charity shop, then went for tea and cake and came home.
Still raining and windy out there, fit for neither man nor beast.
Tomorrow, I fancy a bit of a walk, may go along the canal to Middlewich and back? Rain be buggered, I'll put the waterproofs on.

FF
frostfox: (foxy)
Just the usual really, Friday I went into Manchester to the Christmas markets, very jolly, Saturday I shopped in town then went for my walk up through Anderton and Marbury.

Today I walked to Davenports, 12.5 miles. Cock a leekie, cheese sandwich and a slab of cake so vast I had to bring half of it home with me. Two sets of kingfishers on the canal, the ones by Saltersford tunnel were particularly busy, diving and swooping in the water. Elderly black lady who lives in a canal side cottage finally deigned to come talk to me. Even older black and white matriarch at Davenports was sunning herself on a doorstep and let me pet her. Tubby ginger boy at The Stanley Arms gave me dirty looks for disrupting his mousie hunt.

FF
frostfox: (foxy)
Drove down Friday, when I stopped for lunch it was gently snowing, only a few flakes and only for a few minutes, but, none the less, snow.
Went for a good Mexican meal on Friday night, and an utterly stunning India at The Memsaab on Saturday (7 course Diwali banquet for £25), but distressingly little boozing, Saturday I only had two pints, one at the restaurant, one at the hotel.
Walked into Nottingham twice to indulge in retail therapy, found a new-to-me shop called Tiger and came away with several presents. Visited the gym/pool once in the hotel, ran up the three flights of stairs to my room several times a day and hung around in the bar with fellow fen and talked too much. Failed to make it to any program items except the art show.
Hotel staff seemed to be more crap than last year? Getting anything from the bar was excruciatingly slow.
Came home via Mum's for a surprise visit, they only live about 25 miles from Nottingham and today was Bill's birthday.

Home now, Max has not yet forgiven me, particularly as I came home with a Mog toy from Sainsbury's...
Weather is getting a bit wild and woolly again out there.

FF
frostfox: (foxy)
Usual Saturday, second breakfast with John and Serena in Kanya, bacon buttie in Marbury park (very fine bacon from local farm in Mobberley), shopping, nothing terrifically interesting.
Today, I was woken at 07.30 by Max headbutting the bedroom door, I managed another hour of dozing before the rain on the window made me get up. I went for my Archers walk (Titchyknob Must Die) in my most waterproof kit, including the clown pants. And it didn't rain the whole of the rest of the morning. Was rather muddy though, my boots are still drying.
This afternoon, Serena and I went to visit Annie's new store in Alderley Edge; she's the manager of an Oxfam Bookshop (dangerous...) and a beautiful store it is too, nice shop fittings, lovely stock, I only bought two books, a necklace and a card. Serena and I then nipped over to see if their Waitrose is better than our Waitrose. Pretty much the same, and no buttermilk crumpets (http://www.buzzfeed.com/lukelewis/agonising-waitrose-problems#.xyD6rp0M) but we did avail ourselves of free tea/coffee (black coffee and Earl Grey, we are a cheap date).
Back home through more driving rain, I am currently typing while a pumpkin, squash and turnip roast in the oven. They smell divine, the main problem will be not eating them when they come out!

FF
frostfox: (foxy)
No parkin in Tescos...
And they were playing some shoddy, inferior version of The Time Warp. Tsk.
frostfox: (foxy)
1. Courtesy of Serena, I have a Purple Moose car freshener hanging in the car. Sadly, it doesn't smell of beer (it smells sort of purple - blackcurrent?)
2. Not figured out yet how Titchyknob has managed to knobble the Berrow Farm herd. But he did. Oh, yes, because he is Tichyknob and it is all going to end in tears...
3. Radio 2 6pm news was over a minute late tonight because The Time Warp may not be interrupted, for anything, even the pips. It's quite hard to do while driving at 70 on the M6.

FF
frostfox: (foxy)
I was at a friends father's funeral in B'ham yesterday, today I took a day off for myself.
Took Maxwell to the V.E.T, now on Metacam for his dodgy hips.
Walked into town along the canal.
Had lunch at Kanya, trolled through the charity shops, bought a Joyce Grenfell memoir, had my flu jab at the chemists, bought another loaf from the lads on the market.
Roasted a couple of squash and parsnips for dinner tomorrow and Thursday then cooked a vast vat of scrumped bramleys for taking to PM on Friday, I'll take a crumble topping and make apple crumble. Put two huge bags of apples in the car boot to take to work tomorrow then washed and dried the remaining 54 apples and boxed them under the stairs, should keep for a month or two if I keep an eye for any bad'uns.

Back to work tomorrow for two days then long weekend in PM, don't whatever you do, tell Max...


FF
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