On my own on a family walk: Kidsty Pike, High Street & Mardale Ill Bell

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Small Water below Nan Bield Pass

We had planned this weekend in a Lake District cottage with our son and daughter-in-law some time ago.  In my head we would spend time together and enjoy a couple of days good walking that I hoped would become part of our treasured family memories.  So why did I find myself walking on a Lake District mountain all on my own?  The day had started off so well; the weather forecast was perfect, we had shared a leisurely breakfast in the comfy cottage we were staying in and we had managed to find a parking space at the end of Haweswater Reservoir.  Boots on, all four of us had strode out around Haweswater Reservoir to the top of Kidsty Pike.  We sat on the summit eating our lunch while we watched the deer in Riggindale, the u-shaped valley below us.  The eagled-eyed in our group also made out a fox sidling across the hillside around the group of deer.  The day was set up to be a flawless and delightful.

There were three Wainwright baggers on this walk, these are people who are trying to walk up all of the 214 Lake District hills described by Alfred Wainwright in his pictorial guides and I was not one of them.  Our son and daughter-in-law were the first to leave Kidsty Pike to ascend High Raise, just off the main route and already bagged by Mr BOTRA some years ago.  We agreed we would all meet again on High Street, the broad-backed hill that was on our planned route.  What could go wrong?  As they headed up the hill we realised we had forgotten to remind the youngsters that we would be detouring by The Knott, a small nobble of a hill that Wainwright had decided to include in his list and needed ticking off!

We also forgot how fast the two younger family members are when they don’t have to wait for us.  We firstly dawdled over setting off and then stopped to chat to another walker about the local wildlife for quite a few minutes, getting engrossed when she told us she had recently seen otters on the River Greta.  Tearing ourselves away from a chat, we left the main path for The Knott but becoming concerned about missing the others, I turned back hoping to meet up with them as I headed towards High Street.  I was now on my own, Mr BOTRA was somewhere behind me rushing up and down a small hill.  In front of me I saw that our son and daughter-in-law were already heading up the slopes of High Street.  Some family walk this was turning out to be!

Rejoined by my partner we pounded up High Street as fast as my short legs can take me, waving every now and then in the hope that the two of them would look back.  At no point was our pace any match for two people 30 years younger.  They were apparently surprised not to meet us on the summit of High Street and decided that we must be in front of them!  They rushed on without even stopping to look at the view and never once looked back.  We followed behind, occasionally catching glimpses of them as they strode over Mardale Ill Bell.  They chose to use their descent from Nan Bield Pass as good practice in fell running for the National Three Peaks Challenge they hope to complete this summer.  We gave up any hope of catching them and sat down to rest and enjoy home made fruit cake and the spectacular views before tackling the tricky rocky descent.

In the end we were an hour behind the two of them.  On the positive side, we all did get the opportunity to tackle the mountain at our own level and the weather forecast was right, it was a glorious day.  It wasn’t quite the family together time I had planned but it will be a day we remember!

 

 

 

 

Blackfriars Street: #surprisingsalford #40

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Blackfriars Road in Salford crosses Trinity Way, going under the railway line.  From the Chapel Street junction this becomes Blackfriars Street and continues up to the River Irwell where Blackfriars Bridge crosses the river in to Manchester.  Along Blackfriars Street a few impressive buildings from old Salford remain.

The sandstone three-arched Blackfriars Bridge replaced a previous wooden footbridge and was opened in 1820.  The tollbooth on the bridge was removed in 1848.

On the corner of Blackfriars Bridge and chapel Street is the Black Lion Hotel, where John Cooper Clarke gave early performances and the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain was born.  This organisation was founded at the UK Van Dwellers Protection Association in 1889 to protect the rights of fairground workers and changed its name in 1917.  The Guild represents travelling funfair businesses and I remembering finding their lovely and moving memorial in the National Memorial Arboretum that remembers the Guild members who died in the First and Second World Wars.

The splendid building in the photograph is the former Baerlein’s warehouse and was built in 1877.  The building is listed and today it has been converted to residential use and is known as Textile Apartments.  Baerlein & Co were an engineering company that made machinery for the textile industry.

 

 

 

Walking 2,019 km in 2019

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Walking in the woods near Henley-on-Thames

It all started with a conversation with a friend towards the end of 2018.  We were on a walk together and he was keen to take the long way round to the pub because, it turned out, he sets himself a target for miles walked every year and he was worried he wouldn’t make the distance before 31 December.  This conversation made me realise two things; firstly, although I consider myself a keen walker I have no idea how many miles I walk each year and secondly I have a bit of a competitive streak.  We get out for a walk most days now we are retired as this is a free activity that we enjoy.  These walks might just be a circuit around Salford Quays for a mile or two, or to the local park or cemetery or it might be a utilitarian trip to the supermarket.  On top of these daily trips around Salford we take longer and what you might consider ‘proper walks’ in the countryside in Scotland, the Lake District and wherever else we might be visiting.

Although this is not a competition, my small competitive streak wanted to find out just how the distance I walked each year compared with my friend and so I decided to set my own target for walking in 2019.  My own rules are that I can count any distance that I walk, even if it is just to the supermarket, as I have chosen to walk there rather than take the bus, cycle or drive, although I don’t count distances under one kilometre such as to the corner shop or our tai chi class.

Someone I follow on Twitter is aiming to do 2,019 miles in 2019 in aid of the Trussell Trust.   You can combine cycling, swimming, running and walking for this challenge but it is still quite a challenging target and I am in awe.  I don’t intend to put my own target out there for fund raising for a charity but I did begin thinking I could try and walk 2,019 miles throughout the year.  I quickly calculated that this needed an average of around 5.5 miles a day and that this was perhaps too much of a stretch.  Thank goodness for kilometres!  I always walk and cycle in kilometres, they are so much easier to get through and sound more impressive and so it was only natural that I would come up with my own target of 2,019 km in the year, around 5.5 km a day – much more achievable.

A spread sheet was set up and the counting began.   After two and a half months I am feeling the target is achievable [unless, of course, I break a leg during the year] but not easy and I certainly don’t feel I can let up for a few days.  If I have a couple of days when I don’t walk anywhere I know I have to make up those kilometres with a long walk.

Up to the time of writing this post I have walked 486 km (301 miles) this year, which is an impressive [I think] average of just over 6 km a day.

A couple of things I have learnt from being target driven with my walking this year:

  • I am now keen to get out whatever the weather – not necessarily a bad thing.
  • I have to be organised and record how far I have walked every day before I forget.
  • I am more keen to walk than cycle when we are making the choice about how to travel somewhere so the bikes are feeling neglected [perhaps next year I’ll have a cycling target].
  • The added frugal bonus has been that we rarely take the tram into town these days as I prefer to clock up some kilometres.
  • The expensive downside could be that I wear out more pairs of shoes during the year!

 

Chapel Street Police Station: #surprisingsalford #41

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This is surely one of the most attractive police stations you have ever seen.  The old police station on Chapel Street in Salford is near to the junction with Blackfriars Road and on the junction of Chapel Street and Salford Approach.  The latter went to the former railway station.  This is the historic core of Salford and at one time this police station would have faced the busy Flat Iron Market place, a bustling area of second-hand clothing stalls and auctioneers with lively patter and a fairground with roundabouts, shooting galleries and a boxing booth.  A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4  originally published by Victoria County History, London in 1911 described the market as a ‘sort of rag fair.’

This charming red brick building was built in 1888 and above the door you can still make our the ‘Police Station’ sign.  The single-storey building has an unusual curved end with a short spire above it and a decorative baluster around the roof line.

For a time the old Police Station was boarded up and its future looked dismal.  Today, despite being surrounded by new build offices and flats the building appears to be safe at least in the short-term, it is listed and is now used as offices.  Apparently between its life as a police station and its current use it was also used as a tram ticket office.

Salford City Council plan to improve this part of Salford, known as Greengate, in their Chapel Street East Scheme.  The proposals include cycle and pedestrian friendly routes which can only be an improvement on the area which is currently a nightmare for those on foot and two wheels.  The Greengate Regeneration Strategy states:

‘The Vision of the Strategy is to deliver a dynamic
residential and commercial place with an exceptional
public realm. Greengate will be a focus of cultural
activity for both residents and visitors alike, building
on the current strong brands within the area and
developing new exciting opportunities. The area
will witness the regeneration of important historical
aspects of the Collier Street Baths and the Market
Cross.’

 

Silver Cinema – a frugal thing to do in retirement in Greater Manchester

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I’ve chatted before about the fun of going to a cinema matinee now we are retired and the thrill of this simple pleasure that feels almost illicit hasn’t worn off despite it being two years since we last went out to work!  But an 11.00 showing at the cinema, that felt like a whole different experience.  We had never been to the cinema so early before, would this feel even more sinful than watching daytime TV?  Would the people of Salford and Manchester judge us harshly?  It turns out it doesn’t really matter what time of day I go to the cinema, once those house lights are down I am immersed in the world of the film with no distractions and the hour is pretty irrelevant.

The Odeon Cinema in Manchester has a Silver Cinema deal on a Tuesday morning.  For just £3 you get to see a film, get a free cup of tea or coffee and a couple of custard creams!  What’s not to like.  The only hurdle is that you have to be there at 11.00.  On their website the Odeon note that these showings are for over 55s and we were somewhat disappointed when no one checked our ID!  I reckon anyone in their 50s could sneak in and enjoy an affordable cinema trip.

It was a wet and blustery Tuesday morning when we turned up to see Bohemian Rhapsody.  We had intended to see this film anyway but hadn’t got round to it and spotting that we could get to see it for £3 each was a real frugal bonus.  It turns out we aren’t the only retired people in Greater Manchester that can get their act together by 11.00 in the morning and there were a few of us shaking the rain off our raincoats and queuing up for the drinks and biscuits as the staff members woke up the cinema for another day.

Of course, we knew this film was never going to have a happy ending but a few hours later we emerged red-eyed from so much weeping into lunchtime Manchester.  The movie was occasionally uplifting and funny but ultimately sad and, of course, is packed with good songs.

 

 

Any flying is good flying in Eastbourne?

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‘Any flying is good flying,’ the paraglider pilot told me when we both stopped to talk about his sport.  He had landed below Beachy Head and was wrestling with ballooning fabric to fold away his kit, a task that looked trickier than packing away a tent or an awning.  Jumping off Beachy Head, even with a paraglider strapped to your back looked terrifying to me as I peered cautiously over the 550-foot high chalk cliffs.

It was the hottest February day on record and really a perfect day for my first visit to Beachy Head.  We had walked up the cliffs from Eastbourne, a town that turned out to be much nicer than I had been led to believe.  On the seafront we had chosen All Decked Out cafe, after walking by a couple of seafront cafes that only provided disposable cups; nothing spoils a mug of coffee as much as that plastic taste!  The friendly owner at All Decked Out not only had china cups but good coffee and delicious cakes and we sat enjoying these with a sea view over the shingle beach from their outdoor terrace.  It was an idyllic start to a splendid day and hard to believe it was February.

We walked along the tidy sea front to Holywell, passing the Martello Tower on the way.  Called The Wish Tower  we learnt that this is number 73 of 74 Martello Towers on the south coast built in the early 1800s to defend the country against Napoleon.  We also read information boards about the devastation of the bombing of Eastbourne during the Second World War.  From Holywell we were soon in the countryside and the South Downs National Park.  Climbing and contouring around the cliffs through yellow flowering gorse bushes and holm oak trees on paths through the cropped grass we met the happy paraglider.   Every time we stopped to rest I could enjoy the stunning views back to Eastbourne with its shining white pier in the brilliant blue sea.

We found the sobering memorial to Bomber Command that reminded us how dangerous it was to be part of the crew in a plane during the Second World War.  The memorial, unveiled in 2012, is dedicated to the 55,573 airmen who lost their lives.

At Beachy Head we could see west to Seven Sisters and the red and white striped lighthouse was far below us.  The ideal spot to take your photograph on the edge of the cliffs was eroded, this is such a popular spot.  We were not only lucky with the weather, we also had a close encounter with a peregrine while we had our picnic lunch.

Heading inland on the footpath towards East Dean, with views to Birling Gap.  We turned right too soon, having misread the map, and so lengthened our walk by a mile or so as we had to retrace our steps.  No one else had chosen this route and we were accompanied only by sheep in the green fields; this wasn’t the crowded south of England that I had imagined.

Back in All Decked Out the friendly member of staff remembered us as she served us ice-cream and we chatted about how good the walking is from the heart of Eastbourne.  What a memorable day!

 

One Rug, Four Houses: A Story

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This Lansdowne Wilton 7′ 11″ x 8′ 7″ rug was bought from the fantastically named Connoisseur’s Corner in 1984.  This carpet shop was something from another era and a shopping experience like no other.  Two young newly weds, we nervously browsed the piles of rugs in Connoisseur’s Corner, discussing the merits of each one, admiring the different colour schemes and patterns.  This was an old fashioned sort of shop, even then, and we were made welcome with relaxed and courteous customer service.  Once we had made a choice we sat with the salesmen having tea in china cups while he completed the sale, how often does that happen today?  It was a civilised and special shopping experience.

This rug cost £120 which was more than our household weekly income at the time and a massive purchase for two people with little money who had just started paying their first mortgage.  This is a hard wearing wool rug from Wilton in Wiltshire and with a traditional design with a floral centre.  We bought it because we knew we wouldn’t be staying in the house we were living in for many years [less than two as it turned out] but wanted something to cover the worn living room carpet we had inherited from the previous owners.  We decided a large rug would cover the awfulness of this carpet while we needed it to and we could take it with us when we moved, therefore not wasting the money.  A good call as it turned out!

Our next house had new carpets, thanks to a generous re-location grant, but we still used the rug in the living room.  In our next house the rug looked great on the old wooden floors that we tirelessly striped with a hired industrial sander and varnished.  The rug was really in its element here on the honey-coloured boards.  Today the rug is under my feet as I type.  It sits on cork floor tiles that always remind me of Portugal and keeps our dining room / study cosy and warm.

This cherished rug has moved with us to four houses, each time it has fitted in and has been something consistent among the change.  Nowadays the fringe looks somewhat bedraggled but I’m pretty sure this rug is something that we will be using until we die!