Monday 30 December 2013

Christmas comes but once a year.....thank goodness!

Here's a brief synopsis of our geriatric activities over Christmas'13 when, in spite of all the extra ballast, we managed to run a total of 24½ miles with 1,529 ft of ascent over five good days..
Gathering clouds before sleet and hail, Christmas Eve
      24th. We were up and breakfasting by 06.15 in order to pick up our Christmas meat order before a queue outside the butcher's stretched half way down the street. A few early risers had beaten us to it but we'd paid up, exchanged greetings and on our way to Hebden by 07.30 with enough beef, pork, poultry, bacon and pigs in blankets to last us until the haggis flies in on New Years Eve.  The temperature had dropped to 0ÂșC under a cloudless sky and with no wind conditions were ideal for a six mile run round the sleepy little village of Appletreewick. But we dawdled too long over cups of reviving coffee and by the time we set off some clouds were gathering, the sky darkening and a band of rain mischievously turned to sleet, then hail. Dunno whether I'm a masochist or just becoming more senile, but strangely enough I rather enjoyed it - though I didn't envy Father Christmas having to work through that lot, especially in the dark!
Burnsall bridge on Christmas day.....
25th. Each Christmas morning some wonderful aromas pervade the Hebden household - from things like bacon, egg, tomato, mushrooms, black pudding, toast, coffee and the like. Not that I'm complaining about muesli for the rest of the year, but it might entice me out of bed a bit quicker if it smelt more like bacon frying.  After our early morning fry-up we just had to go for a run to get things moving through the system before another salvo, scheduled for lunchtime, was forced upon us by our generous neighbour. And there's another thing, I wouldn't normally touch alcohol before the sun drops below the yard-arm, but there are a couple of exceptions to this rule, Christmas is one of them, the other is funerals.  I've never been invited to a wedding......
      We limited our run, or bloated jog, to just 4 miles around Burnsall where, along the riverbank, we met
A favourite tree along the riverbank...
local artist Rosemary Lodge, out gathering holly and ivy to decorate her studio. It was so nice to see her back on her feet after a nasty accident when she was trampled on by a horse. It was her right cheek she offered me as I gave her a warm Christmas hug. The left side of her face, she said, was held together with nuts and bolts and still felt very tender. Most of Rosie's evocative paintings are of Romany scenes and one of them is hanging not five feet away from my head as I type. I love her work.
      After a table-load of our neighbour's hospitality, helped on it's way by the obligatory bottle of bubbly, all I wanted to do was sleep - and I probably did - while my wonderful partner tripped off down the road to yet
Late dinner, Christmas Day
another festive gathering, leaving me to guard the house!  I can't quite remember what time we started to open our own presents, but it was coming dark and instead of our customary bubbly to accompany this ritual we both opted for strong coffee!  After puzzling over some of the many presents, what they actually were and how they worked, you'll not be surprised to hear that Christmas dinner came rather late, but it was cooked to perfection and you can't really improve on that. The wine was rather good too, courtesy of our retiring postmistress.  Cheers Linda!  I don't really remember going to bed but I suppose I must have done because that's where I woke up.
Daughter Sue, at Feizor village pump 57 years ago, or thereabouts...
      26th. At some point, don't ask me which, of the Christmas activities I'd phoned an old friend (88) to ask if it was convenient to visit him and exchange presents on Boxing Day. It was. Herbert has been virtually housebound for quite some time, hardly able to walk without crutches or by hanging on to furniture. The next day he was booked into Airedale Hospital for a hip operation and was a bit worried in case the surgeons and nursing staff were still a bit tipsy. And after recent stories of a surgeon alleged to have branded his initials on patient's livers, who could blame him? However, we found him quite cheerful and chatty, resigned to his fate, and reassuringly shouted "See you...." as we left.
...and the manicured ornament today
      Herbert lives in a Dales village called Austwick where I used to live and work in the late 40's, and where I  first met him, so decided it would be a good idea to have a run round some of my old stomping grounds. It was bordering on freezing and quite misty as we jogged through fields and over stiles towards the tiny village of Feizor.  Years ago these fields, known as Feizor bottoms, teamed with rabbits and a local character known as 'Rabbity Dick' used to set dozens of snares at night-time, then pick up his catch the following morning. Occasionally another local character got there first.....   Feizor has since been spoilt with monstrous stock sheds and silos that totally ruin its previous olde worlde character. It used to be one of my favourite places on earth. Now I'm not so sure. We looked for the village pump, once so very functional, and eventually located it, painted and reduced to a mere ornament.

Flascoe clapper bridge, near the end of our run at Austwick
     We left and ran slowly up the hill between Feizor Wood and limestone outcrops to Higher Bark, then Lower Bark before turning downhill and crossing the ford to Jop Ridding, another old farmstead tucked away in the hills. In a field just beyond it is an ancient hollow tree where I used to hide a 12 bore shotgun because the chap I worked for (a farmer called William Hird) wouldn't allow firearms on his property. In those dim distant days rabbits would sell for four shillings and sixpence each (22½p) which contributed nicely towards my almost nightly consumption of Yates & Jackson's nut brown ale at the Game Cock Inn. As we continued our run to Austwick a host of memories came flooding back, all of them good. I cannot recall one bad one. Back at the car Mr Garmin told us we'd run exactly 5 miles with 477ft of ascent. That should have blasted a good few calories off.

Another favourite tree, I call it the bunny tree...
    28th. The 27th was pretty much a non-day as storms and torrential rain battered the house. We battened down the hatches and stayed where it was warm - until the sun peeped out again and invited us for another run on 28th. Some years ago my wonderful partner and a chap called Alan Dawson, now deceased, used to race each other round a little switchback circuit to Burnsall and back which, according to Anquet, is 2.65 miles with 308ft of ascent. Alan always won and prided himself on once getting round in under 20 minutes. After 20 odd years my wonderful partner still runs this circuit, as part of a longer route, and is delighted if she gets below 30 minutes. So she was all smiles on Saturday when, with me acting as pacemaker, she cut it down to 28 minutes. I'm not sure I shared her joy, bearing in mind I once tore round in a little under sixteen minutes and had ambitions to break fifteen. I never did and it's far too late now.
A beautiful day - running round Fewston reservoir.....
      29th. Another beautiful day so, for something a little different we motored over to Timble for a run round Swinsty and Fewston reservoirs, a delightful 6½ miles with a mere 300ft of ascent. That's flat, compared to most of our other routes, and a runner's paradise. It was gloriously sunny and we needed sunglasses to absorb the reflections from the water. The track around Fewston was fairly quiet, mostly runners, but the smaller Swinsty reservoir was heaving with weekend walkers - and their dogs - taking short strolls from their cars. We were round in a moving time of 77 minutes which isn't bad for a pair of old codgers bloated with Christmas fodder. We enjoyed it so much that there's talk of going again...
      Now, I'd like a few hours rest before the haggis, tatties and neeps is wheeled in for Hogmanay, then..... oh heck, we've Linda's retirement party to attend on 2nd January. There's no rest for the wicked! Good job I'm a runner.......
        A Very Happy New Year to all my fellow bloggers and readers....


  1. Nice to see a little of your Christmas! I love how you woke up in bed, but don't remember going there :D
    Well done with the running! You have some lovely routes. The bunny tree has a whimsical shape! Hope you have a great rest of 2013!

    1. Thanks Raina, I reckon you run in some stunningly beautiful places too.
      Christmas was a long day and I've got to admit the old man was flagging a bit towards the end. But I survived!
      All the very best for 2014....

  2. You must be stopping constantly to admire those beautiful views! We are also struggling with appalling weather at the moment - gales and pouring rain again today. Let's hope it improves soon - Happy New Year!

  3. Got to get back to eating normally again... I've had to run even more than normal not to put on any weight!

    1. I've been running more than normal anyway CD, and still managed to put 4 lbs on. Seem to be fighting a losing battle! Happy New Year....