Archive for the ‘Saturday Walk’ Category

The busy summer continues …

img_0329For the first few weeks since returning from Spain at the very end of June, life was a bit hectic. The first event of no small note was the birth of Betony (and Josh)’s baby – Chester Jax. He was born on July 3rd (and weighed just 5lbs – such a tiny thing). Chester is my step-Grandson (??), although I guess I will be Grandad to him or abuelo, if Josh speaks Spanish to/with him.

During July and early August, I had several nice long (and hot) walks. Tony and I went up above Rotcher as far as The Rose and Crown and then along Bradshaw Lane and Laund Road before descending back into Slaithwaite via Moor Side Lane and Meal Hill.  John R, Mark S and I followed much the same route but extended it along Crimea Lane, Slaithwaite Gate and the Golcar Lily Ginnel Trail as far as the canal – then back to Slaithwaite.

David T and I walked along the cycle track to Bradley and back along the canal – a route John R and I often follow on Tuesdays when we meet.  This is part of the Calder Valley Greenway, which meanders through pleasant countryside all the way through to Dewsbury, although we rarely walk beyond Mirfield (where a tasty lunch can be had at Café Nosh).


Alone, I’ve walked to Huddersfield several times and to Marsden several more. I even walked to Marsden and back on the canal with Carol one day; it’s a nicer experience when there’s someone to talk with.

Now though, the weather has turned a little cooler and I’m not as inclined to bother (although I really should).  So, I’m looking forward to my return to Spain in September, where and when my ambulatory activities can recommence.

We’ve also had a variety of people come and visit us to see our new home and/or to wish Sharon a happy birthday.  It’s been lovely to see Chris and Paul, Karen, Karen and Darren, Carol, David and Gail, Emma, Ann, and Tony and Gill.

I’m writing this en-route to London, where I will undertake some training with City and Guilds. Down there, I will meet Alison (with whom I have visited India several times), Karen, and Sue.  This time it will be a new work venture – something to occupy my semi-retired time?

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I took advantage of an unusually dry day today,  to take a bus up to the top of Varley Road (I wasn’t walking up; it’s too steep, too busy and there are no footpaths) and I then walked along Chain Road (B6107) to Marsden.  The views from up here are tremendous and now that we’re a good way into August the heather is beginning to populate the hillsides and tops.  Along with the purple thistles, and other pink/white flowering wild flowers – the colours are just beautiful.


There is a slightly higher route, on Marsden Moor proper, alongside the water channels originally designed to move water to and from Deerhill and Butterly reservoirs, but I fancied the road route as I would return to Slaithwaite along the canal.

The canal was wet and muddy after all the rain and in places, showed signs of having been flooded at some point. Still the rain stayed off and I had a pleasant five-mile walk.


When the weather is nice here in the UK, we can experience the most wonderful scenery. From where we live, rugged countryside is never more than a few minutes away.


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I’ve used Google Maps a lot over the years. But recent updates may prevent me using them as much.

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 18.25.59When this mapping service introduced street view, perhaps a thousand years ago, it was really exciting. We were planning our trip of a lifetime across America and to see Seattle, San Fransisco and Apalachicola at ground level was phenomenal. It took a while for us to see bits of the UK but whilst we waited, holidats in France were also planned. Well done Google with street view, perhaps you could do Germany some time soon?

However, my main use of Google maps has been to detail walks I’ve made (originally on Saturdays – hence Saturday Walks) with my friend (and over a thousand years ago – best man) John Rousell and sometimes others – Example. Some of these walks (most of these walks) avoid roads and a good while is spent walking across country. With the ability to ‘draw a line’ across the map, it was easy to record the walk and to assess the distance walked.  However, the update, whilst purporting to ‘Add walking route’ seems to assume that the ‘walk’ will be along the roadside and refuses to cross country and follow MY (the user!)’s route.

I really don’t have a problem with progress – it might seem that I have, because many ‘new’ ‘updates’ are put forward as that – progress. But they are often just ‘new’ and not often so progressive. Developers often forget the user and concentrate on the advertisers. I’m sure (please tell me I’m wrong Mr. Google) that the better, shinier, superb updates to the mapping service are just to make it easier for advertisers to place links to their businesses on the map.

Go on tell me I’m wrong – then put the ability to ‘walk’ across the map back like it used to be.

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two bikes, two blokesThis week I have done two things that I haven’t done for five years or more.

The first thing, and I only mention it first so I can get it out of the way, was a visit to Burger King for what used to be called a Spicy Bean Burger meal. It certainly isn’t the spicy bean burger I used to get there anymore. Let me say right now, that wherever possible I avoid burger joints like the plague – I detest everything they stand for, but the one oasis I used to find amongst these purveyors of saturated fat and hormone fed beef was a Burger King Spicy Bean Burger. No longer!

What they served yesterday was not one but two of the most flavourless and textureless patties of cack I’ve ever eaten. They came wrapped in a soggy bun that will forever taint my understanding of the word ‘bread’. Had I known before I risked eating here again, I could have had a home made pie with hand cut chips and mushy peas for less in a pub up the road. Shameful.

The other thing I’ve done this week for the first time in many years is to go for a ride on my mountain bike. I used to ride my bike quite a lot once. John and I have even been known to cycle from Barmouth in Wales to Great Yarmouth – the widest coast-to-coast route.

Picture of Sir nigel Gresley's Mallard locomotiveI have no real excuse for not riding my bike for so long, it just seemed to slip right to the bottom of my things to do. Urged on by John and Jim, I had the bike serviced in summer last year but then weather, work and holidays prevented me from riding it then. So, this spring I was full of hope that the bike would be ready for use without any more servicing. And, apart from a bit of air in the tyres it was ready to go.

I’d bought a new cycle rack the other week; one that sits on the tow-bar and doesn’t damage the paintwork like my other one did. It just clips on, so I drove to John’s house, loaded his bike behind mine and drove to Silkstone Common, where we joined the Trans Pennine Trail. For my first outing, we didn’t go all that far, just about eight miles to Wombwell and back, but the trail was quite interesting. It crosses the M1 just below junction 37 along the route of an old railway track. Although it seemed fairly level on our way to Wombwell, we certainly felt the incline upon our return. Apparently Sir Nigel Gresley, designer of The Mallard, was called in to help develop engines that could cope with the 1:40 slope that covers 2½ miles of the track.

It was a great trip, but now my bum feels like it’s grown two small broom handles for me to sit on J. But they will go and they will become less painful each time they appear following future rides.

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I’d initially thought that I’d call this short post ‘dirty bastards’ but I’m not sure that would have been exactly right. Lazy is a truer description of the dog owners who scoop up their dog poo into tiny plastic bags (so far so good – not too dirty then?) and then throw the plastic bags into the undergrowth.

Lazy, thoughtless bastards!!!!

This is something that has taxed me for a while. I go for a walk with John Rousell every Saturday I can (hence the blog title) and at other times, I walk whenever and as often as I can. I like walking and it helps to keep me fit. However, more and more, I see these tiny plastic parcels along my route.

My routes vary. Over the year, John and I will cover most of Kirklees and some of the surrounding areas; we have apple tree walks, canal walks, reminiscences walks (around areas we used to live) – pretty much all kinds of walk across a variety of terrains. And as we walk we see more and more of those little plastic bags of dog shit.

Surely it would be better to just let the dog crap and walk away? At least the canine faecal matter will degrade at some time – the plastic won’t!  Not that that’s the answer – I actually applaud those dog owners who have the care and commitment to carry shit collecting equipment with them and to take the dog poo away with them for proper disposal.

But those dog owners who just chuck the shitbags away are lazy, thoughtless, ignorant bastards.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/crustyscumbrothersontour/2065702929/ Thanks for using creative commons.


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Fresh Fruit

Since discussing fresh, free, fruit before (http://bit.ly/r8WPnK and http://bit.ly/qtyNkb), John and I have done quite a bit of fruit scouting on our (usually regular) intermittent Saturday walks. We started ‘clocking’ wild (or at least, in the public domain) fruit trees last autumn and have spent this late summer, checking them out.

We started picking some apples about a month ago around the area where my grandma used to live (now waste ground), on Willow Lane and they are fabulously sweet but quite small. Yesterday we decided to start picking the others!

There’s a beauty down by the Incinerator that’s easy to climb and ripe for picking. There’s another at the end of 15 arches that has tiny but sweet, bright red apples and yet another just by our parking spot on King’s Mill Lane. Furthermore, my grandma’s tree is still full of fruit – so yesterdays’ haul was a big bag of apples each!

Today, I washed and dried all of the unblemished ones and wrapped them in newspaper – they can wait in the garage until I’m ready for them. The damaged and blemished ones have now been peeled and cooked for sauce (and or anything else).

Free food? Fabulous!

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Each year, in early October, we troll up to Marsden for the Jazz Festival. Most years, the weather lets us down and this year was no different. It’s not a ‘big’ issue, as many of the bands are playing indoors, but there are many more outdoor activities that are spoiled by the weather.

However, one regular outdoor activity amused me this weekend.

We’d been joined this year by Martin and Lin (MJF virgins) along with Karen and Dave, old festival hands. On Jazz Weekend Saturday, at 12.00 noon, there is always a Jazz Parade with the Red Rose Brass Band. This begins at the top of Peel Street, where it joins the A62. We all sheltered from the rain inside the New Inn on Manchester Road, and waited for the parade to start. One benefit of this move was that they sell Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, my favourite draught beer.

Anyway, the parade got started just after 12.00 noon and folk started to move around Marsden with the band. They play a New Orleans type Jazz as they mozzie on down, followed by school children all dancing in some kind of synchronised rhythm. Onlookers also follow the parade all the way around the village, including me. The amusing bit came when the band took a wrong turning and instead of heading for the underpass, they headed for the A62.

Now, the A62 (Manchester Road) isn’t what it was before being replaced by the M62 about forty years ago but it is still a busy arterial road between Yorkshire and Lancashire – even on a weekend. After much debate, the young copper charged with traffic control had to step in and stop the traffic from moving along this busy road while the parade passed. It wasn’t planned and was all the more amusing therefore when some of those car drivers stopped (for about five minutes!) chunttered about it.

It took me back to France, where they close down whole towns to allow this type of thing to happen. Just this year, in Montbron, they had decided to have a night market and closed down all of the through roads to allow it to happen. Tough if you didn’t know your way around. As I say – tough.

The rest of the festival has proceeded in its musical, damp way. I’ve just dropped Martin and Lin off in Marsden. I’ll pop back in an hour with John and Carol and watch/listen to Backwater Blues at The Shakespeare Inn on Peel Street! We’re all back here for dinner tonight. 🙂

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picture of tapasTonight I made Tapas.  Not necessarily anything a Spaniard would recognise, but tapas nevertheless.

I’d been out walking this morning with John, and for the second week running, with Jim. Jim’s news this week was much better – he’d feared the melanoma found on his now non-existent thumb tip would have spread far and wide, but after checking four lymph nodes – he’s been given a cautious all clear.

We took my bike to Mirfield for a service/repair, and then walked on sundry routes back to Huddersfield, taking in all of the canal from Battyeford through to the University’s Aspley Goit! Then a train back to Mirfield to pick up the car and job done.

I’d planned the tapas around three dishes; Patatas Bravas, Italian Meatballs, and Feta and Bacon Salad (with cucumber and cherry tomatoes, lightly minted), but in the end we also had beef tomato bruchetta and the last piece of last night’s pizza (which Sharon made with fresh dough and home made sauce). I cheated with the patatas bravas and used some sauce from a jar; the meatballs I made earlier in the week. It was a delightful meal.

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This week’s walk took place in and around Reeth in North Yorkshire. Both Sharon and I enjoy the time we spend in Reeth and have visited the town on many occasions.

We were there for my ‘rearranged’ birthday weekend, originally planned for early December. We’d not been able to get to North Yorkshire at the time because of the bad weather. Snow had prevented us from leaving Wellhouse, and even if we could have got out, it was doubtful if we could have made it into Reeth itself as the weather was even worse up there. Furthermore, the keys for the cottage hadn’t arrived until the Monday after we were due to return because post at that time was somewhat erratic.

Anyway, as previously arranged Tony and Gill were with us and the walking was great.

We all walked together as far as the moor above Marrick and then as they set off north to walk along Fremington Edge we turned right and headed down towards Marrick and then Marrick Priory, down by the river.

It wasn’t the longest walk we’ve ever done but just as pleasant as any – as they always are in this beautiful part of the world. We did see a few newborn lambs but were probably just a week too early for the bulk of them. Many barns had fat pregnant sheep inside, waiting for the midwife! Daffodils too – not quite yet.

Runkeeper App Result = http://runkeeper.com/user/dsugden/activity/28476700

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Man shown up a treeThis week’s walk actually took place on a Saturday. We both had errands we wanted to carry out too, so the walk pretty much revolved around those. I needed to drop a letter off at the bank and John needed some oil for his new thumper machine (which is a machine for thumping up and down on his new path, rather than a machine that turns out Disney rabbits).

I now have the RunKeeper App on my iPhone so I set that up and recorded most of the walk. http://runkeeper.com/user/dsugden/activity/27588875 however, I must say that if we’d stayed out another hour, there would have been no battery left, despite it being fully charged when I left. It saves me having to plot our trips on Google maps when I get back. Although that is the best way of finding out how far we’ve walked, it’s tedious and time consuming. Using RunKeeper makes it so much easier.

My letter for the bank had contained some documents for the bank manager to see, following a sneaky attempt by them and my credit card company to rob me. I really am not surprised that bank are almost all back in (huge) profit now, because they have most of us over a barrel. Tesco Bank for example, who supply my credit card, send Sharon a text some days before our payment is due. She then makes sure that money is transferred amongst our accounts (we have an off-set mortgage, with several ‘pockets’ of money making up the account total) and into the one which pays Tesco. However, last week she missed Tesco’s request for money by about an hour. She wasn’t to have known this as they asked for the payment five days before it was due!

The first we knew about the problem was when a letter from NatWest (our bank) arrived on our doorstep. This was written on 25th February and we received it on 4th March. No rush then? They said that they’d had to refuse Tesco’s request as there were insufficient funds in our account! Two things to note here: banks no longer re-submit requests like this and we are all therefore, susceptible to a fine for allowing this to happen …. (wtf?) Now, I have a good relationship with my bank manager and he checked straight away and said he couldn’t see what the problem was as there had been money in the account – don’t worry. But I did worry and insisted that he check further and deeper. It turned out that the ‘technology’ did it’s stuff at xx o’clock, about half an hour before Sharon transferred the money (thinking that she still had over a week before the money was due).

To shorten a long story, we have been able to STOP the fine by NatWest and the fine by Tesco Bank (as well as the ongoing interest payment that would have been then due), by assiduously following this through. But how many of us would notice, or bother to do something about it? Why Tesco ask for our money over a week before it’s due and why our bank take a week to let us know only adds fuel to my question – are banks there to serve us, or to rob us?

Answers on a postcard please to your local bank manager.

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