Thursday, 7 December 2017

Braving the elements in Cumbria

Earth, air, water and fire are the basic elements the ancient Greeks used to explain matter.  (Not to be confused with Earth, Wind and Fire, the American R&B band who had a string of hits in the 70's and 80's including their huge hit September. You can thank me for the earworm later.)

As Steve had broken his old rucksack, those lovely folks at Millets sent us a North Face one to play with to see what we thought of it. Well, when I say "we", Steve got to play with it while I was stuck in exciting places like Wythenshawe, Hindley and Ashford (Kent) - as I braved the rigours of Northern Rail, London rush hour and the high speed train to Kent (that thing is SERIOUSLY fast - 140mph - Northern Rail, you could learn a lot!) Steve did battle with the elements on the Cumbrian hills and I wasn't jealous at all. Nope. Not one bit.  I mean, why should I be...?


Helvellyn (with awesome Akus boots from Keswick Boot Co)
Honestly, you can feel the cold air nipping at your nose here can't you?  Steve tackled Helvellyn and while I was snug and toasty in an office he sent me a text saying "on top of Helvellyn but not hanging around as it's a bit windy".  He also sent me the photo above.  I gazed out of the window at the car park and supermarket and didin't swear once. Honest I didn't.  Thankfully he didn't show me the rest of the photos until later.  Apparently the rucksack was doing well and he particularly liked the fleece lined pockets which kept his camera batteries warm so they lasted a lot longer in the freezing cold.

Crucial point - the side pockets are big enough
for a flask of tea.


Standing behind Ashgill Falls
Cumbria has a reputation for rain and we miss it so much that when it doesn't rain we go and stand behind a waterfall to recreate the experience.  Ashgill Falls are well off the beaten track and, to be honest, I was a little disappointed when Steve told me that there wasn't an evil lair or a stash of hidden treasure tucked away behind the falls.  Or maybe he just didn't look hard enough...  Of course he tried to make me feel better by telling me he was working,  He was.  He was working hard,  but his work looked like this and mine, on that particular day, looked like and office on a trading estate with a view of an air conditioning unit outside the window...

Apparently everything fitted in. Apart from
the tripod. But that dangled outside.

The North Face of the Waterfall

Are you SURE there was no treasure?


See - I told you the tripod strapped nicely to the outside
Having scaled the heights of Helvellyn and hunted for hidden treasure behind waterfalls, on day 3 he decided to keep his feet firmly on the ground and take a wander along the Langdale Valley.  (For the record, I was in another office with a view of another car park, but I was being supplied with an excellent selection of biscuits & cakes).  We both love the Langdale Valley - the views are immense and it's such a peaceful place to be, especially at this time of year.

Yeah, yeah, of course I'm working...

The other good thing about the Langdale Valley is that you can see the weather closing in on you.  You could run for cover when you see a snow storm approaching, or you could stay and photograph it like Steve did.  Nutter.


Whether you've been on top of a windy fell, ducking behind waterfalls, dodging storms in the Langdale valley, working in an office or simply strutting your funky stuff to a disco classic (honestly, Let's Groove was way better than September in my book), there's nothing quite like putting your feet up in front of the fire with a proper Cumbrian pint.  Sequins and spandex tights optional.

With thanks again to Millets for the lovely rucksack - which withstood all of the elements Cumbria could throw at it.  😀

Monday, 4 December 2017

What's wrong with walking?

I walk. Anyone who reads this blog knows that. I live in Cumbria & I walk up big hills. BUT I also travel around the UK a lot with my job & I like to walk then too, but it's not always easy.

I use public transport & prefer to walk from the station to wherever I'm working or staying and so many times when I do that I realise how hard it is. Not the distance, that's the easy part; it's finding a safe route that causes the trouble.

Take this evening. I arrived in Ashford, Kent, at 6:17pm. My hotel is 1.7 miles from the station. Easy? No. Finding a route along a busy road is the first challenge, followed by navigating roundabouts and roads with no easy crossing places.

After that comes the long walk along a well lit but very quiet road.  The thing is people don't walk anymore, they drive, so routes are deserted.  When I was a kid in the early 70's I remember closing time at the local factories when you couldn't have driven if you'd wanted to because the road was choked with people walking home.  Today, at 6:30pm in Kent, where the traffic report on the radio is an endless list of holdups, I only saw 2 other people on foot in the space of a mile & both of them were runners.

Today there were pavements for most of the way - not all mind, I still had to take my chances on a narrow bridge with no pedestrian option - but in the past I've tramped along grass verges and, on one particularly memorable occasion, skittered along a very narrow footpath alongside a dual carriageway.

Walking is cheap. Walking should be easy. Walking gives you time to unwind, refocus & burn a few calories. "Walking Rage" isn't a thing (as far as I know) - at least not along quiet suburban pavements.

I love the film WALL-E and think they were right on the money with the scenes in the spaceship where folks float around glued to screens & have largely lost the use of their legs. It wasn't just a cute Pixar film, it was a warning about where we're all headed.

Walking doesn't have to be up hills. Walking should just be something we do every single day - it shouldn't be such a rare thing that it merits a 5 minute shocked conversation with a hotel receptionist who can't believe you walked "all the way from the station".

I do understand why some folks don't do it - especially women - it was scary walking along deserted unfamiliar streets alone after dark, but if more people did it, the streets wouldn't be quite so deserted and we'd all be a little bit fitter.

I walk because I like it, because it helps me unwind and because I know it's good for me.   I'll be honest - I also do it because it means I can scoff a warm chocolate brownie & not feel too bad about it afterwards... See? What's not to like? 😀

AND AFTER YOU'VE ENJOYED YOUR WALK - why not put your feet up with a good book or 3? 😀
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