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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Not much to report...

It's been a poor week for running and photography.  Just three short runs amounting to 8 miles and a weekend when I never stepped out of the house other than to bring in more coal and logs to keep the cottage warm.  A banana back was the problem,  aggravated somewhat during a contretemps with an irresponsible dog owner on Thursday's dawn run up Castle Hill.
My Castle Hill circuit  (Click to enlarge)
It was an icy morning.  Gritters had been out all night.  Not only had I to wear a jacket and hat, and lag my legs, but also wear a buff over my mouth to warm the freezing cold air I was inhaling.  Reaching the perimeter path round Castle Hill at breaking dawn I noticed what looked like a 20 stone Sumo wrestler ambling towards me through the gloom with a huge black Labrador of similar proportions and a very unfriendly spaniel, neither of which were on a lead.
Gritter in action  (picture from Huddersfield Examiner)
As I got closer the spaniel flew past and proceeded to attack from behind, thankfully without actually biting, while the overweight Labrador backed off a few steps before hurling itself at me like a sack of coal, bouncing me off the path and temporarily numbing my Lt thigh.  I limped off, swearing and massaging my leg while the Sumo guy shouted at his idiot dogs and carried on his way.
Sunrise brought no joy that morning.
A bit dodgy past Ashes Farm on the way home
Saturday and Sunday heralded Grassington's first of two Dickensian market weekends.  I'd planned to include it in a five mile run with the idea of getting new and different pictures for my blog but it wasn't to be.  There was no way my back would allow me to run.  Crosswords became the order of the day, and I struggled with those.  We both did.
Sunset, for a change, from my window
I forget which day it was, my wonderful partner was struggling to fix a curtain rail in the bedroom but eventually finished up breaking it and having to take the whole thing down.  It corresponded with the rising of the latest super moon which that night cast its luminous light through the curtain-less window to sweep through the room and across the bed, filling my sleepless brain with mega doses of Puccini and that beautiful love duet sung by Rolando Villazon with the amazing Russian Soprano, Anna Netrebko -         O soave fanciulla.
...Lovely maid in the moonlight...  
There's still a wee bit of romance left in the old dog!

Monday, 27 November 2017

What we pensioners do for fun...

After the afore-mentioned syringe full of cortico-steroid to gunge up my Rt eye it was a couple of days before I ventured out of the house again to allow it chance to clear.  On this occasion it cleared rather quickly prompting me to think the Consultant must have reduced the amount injected, from 8mg to the original 4mg.  Regardless, it was six days before I plucked up courage for another run.
My trusty Inov-8 Terraclaws   (Click pictures to enlarge)
On Saturday we'd woken to a winter wonderland as first snows of winter painted the landscape a uniform white, sparkling in dawn light under a cloudless sky.  Pure magic.  
Passing below Pickering End - Hebden's answer to Wuthering Heights
Sadly, there was no time for photographs as 45 miles away a hundred assorted saplings were waiting to be planted at the foot of Hebden Ghyll. Remarkably, there was no snow in Hebden, much to the relief of the intrepid gang that turned out for digging holes, planting and tubing.
Crossing the Miner's Bridge
Saturday night was clear and cold.  Jack Frost worked hard throughout his moonlight shift, turning water to ice, coating car windows and generally making a nuisance of himself to those who don't always appreciate such things.
Icy water, moss, bracken and a cold blue sky 
 It wasn't easy leaving a warm bed on Sunday morning knowing what Grassington Moor and remote Bycliffe Hill would have in store for us.  But eventually we did, though I'll admit to becoming a bit nesh in my dotage and lingered over three mugs of strong coffee before slowly donning running gear and activating TomTom. It was 11am when we stepped outdoors into the winter sun. 
getting high...
Weekend walkers who'd arrived earlier to block the village with their cars had all mysteriously disappeared.  We'd the Ghyll to ourselves as we jogged gently uphill, over the Miner's bridge and past the waterfall to the heathery heights beyond.
Ice is nice...to look at!
The gravel track across Grassington Moor gets longer every time we run it, or so it seems.  We reached a spot far from civilisation where opening scenes of Casino Royale were shot way back in 1967.
Endless track and icy puddles to old Casino Royale film set
   John le Mesurier was M's chauffeur though local sheep thought he was a shepherd bringing them feed!  Ursula Andress also starred, cough, cough, just saying...
Posing on the desolate 1967 film set
Bell pits, sink holes, swamps, and maybe snares, call for care and undivided attention over Bycliffe Hill, the absolute epitome of desolation and loneliness.  In my dotage I've lately resorted to carrying a mobile phone over this route, not so much because of its obstacles but more the likelihood of succumbing to cold and exhaustion in the Arctic conditions that prevail there.
Crossing Bycliffe Hill
On most routes I just carry a whistle hoping, in cases of emergency, I'll have enough puff for the statutory six blasts a minute to call attention to my plight.  Such is the remoteness of Bycliffe Hill, I reckon no-one would ever hear my whistle.  Particularly if they're as deaf as me!
Dodging a boggy bit over Bycliffe with a shower looming ahead
We crossed without incident, enjoying our wild surroundings while dodging bogs and odd patches of snow across the trackless waste.  Typically, as we neared the high point, the sun disappeared behind threatening clouds, wind increased and showers sped across distant horizons.  
Starting downhill...
But we were dressed for wintry conditions and didn't care, knowing we'd soon be dropping down to our marker cairn on the Mossdale track, to a short stretch of smoother, more runner friendly terrain.
...to our little marker cairn beside the Mossdale track
   At 1,500ft on the exposed track that Arctic wind was blowing straight into our faces so we didn't hang about.  We noted the Stone Man, a large cairn marking the high point of the track has been vandalised and is now only half a cairn.  It was too cold to stop and begin a repair.
Into the shelter of the long wall - with another shower threatening
We dropped quickly down to Howgill Nick and turned for home down the long wall that sheltered us from the nithering wind. 
Stone with phantom fossil stud marks!
 With only three miles left to run, all downhill, we could relax and poddle gently home at a speed least harmful to our legs and ageing joints.
Crossing Coalgrove Beck...

A runner caught us up, one we'd never seen before, heading for Grassington before it rained.  A stone with fossil stud marks called out to be photographed.  Then another unknown runner passed us, running strongly up the beck in the opposite direction.
...and finally back to Hebden Beck
It was getting busy.  Time to call it a day - before suffering the ignominy of being criticised for our doddering behaviour!  At least, we'd survived the challenging eight miles.  TomTom, I discovered, had thrown in the towel at three!

Monday, 20 November 2017

A braw November day......

This posting will be short with apologies for any typos or mistakes.
Another syringeful of triamcinalone into the ball of my Rt eye today has put paid to any thoughts of running for X number of days, though I'm hoping to be out again by weekend.
Over the stile to Grassington Moor on a braw day  (Click to enlarge pictures)
  Viewing the world through a mixture of milk and shirt buttons tends to mask all those obstacles I'm very good at falling over.
Dodging ice across Grassington Moor
But I managed to dodge the rain again last week for my two midweek dawn runs whilst Sunday possibly turned out to be the best day of the month weather-wise.
and more ice...
My wonderful partner may disagree about the latter.  She feels the cold far more than I do so was well wrapped up in warm tracksters and Buffalo jacket.


Running in the sun, past Teal Tarn
It was cold, freezing cold and sub zero temperatures had frozen all the track-wide puddles up the ghyll and across Grassington Moor. We'd to run a zig-zag chicane to avoid them.
Grassington boundary stone.  Over the wall is a very wet Hebden Moor
 It isn't everyone's idea of fun or choice of exercise which more or less guarantees we have the moor to ourselves in such conditions.  Apart from a few sheep and some lucky surviving grouse we saw but one other intrepid couple who, to be honest, didn't look very happy.
Another typical obstacle
Initially, we'd the luxury of wall to wall sunshine but it clouded over for the last three miles or so as we sloshed through ankle deep sphagnum moss.  It might be good for hanging baskets but it gave us very cold feet
Dodging ankle deep sphagnum - where we could
Gateways were awash with water too, requiring some clever maneuvering to pass through into the next morass.
How do we get through here?
TomTom told us we'd run 7.41 miles with a little short of 800ft of ascent.  
Not a bad little workout to round off the week.

Monday, 13 November 2017

TomTom says I'm slow for my age......

Last week should have been a rest week, no running and nothing very energetic until the course of antibiotics was completed on Friday.  But "the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft aglay"... and not just for old Rabbie Burns.  I terminated the medication on Tuesday and went plodding off through fields for a steady 4 miles before sunrise on Wednesday.
It turned frosty last week   (Click pictures to enlarge)
It was cold, very cold.  I made a mental note to seek out more thermals when I got home.  It's  winter.  Extra layers are needed now to lag my old bones.  Before I'd even crossed the first field a little demon was shrieking at me to 'have some sense man, abort this crazy run and get the hell back to where it's warm'.  I reminded him my central heating boiler is broken down....and carried on running into the sunrise.  It's probably more mental than physical but it's amazing what a difference the sun makes as it peeps over the horizon, imparting it's energy and warmth.
TomTom can manage maps but it doesn't know much about geriatrics
My new GPS watch is full of surprises.  It old me today that men of my age (85) 'typically' run 10K in 1.04.21 so I should quicken up!
The cheek of it!
 I told it to sod off and come back when its got my age digits the right way round (having said that, I recall my 10K time was a little over 37mins aged 58 but I don't think that was 'typical' either).
Revelling in Sunday's beautiful conditions
I was blowing a bit after Friday's cemetery run which I'd shortened a bit in order to do it faster.  Don't ask me why, that bloomin' TomTom I suppose...
Saturday was a non-day so far as running was concerned.  My wonderful partner's upstairs phone, next to her computer, had given up the ghost, so we bought a new one.  Having plugged it in, that wouldn't work either.  I fiddled around but the only way to make it work was to place a micro-filter at both ends of the extension lead which is a big no-no.  Her WiFi disappeared and wouldn't come back.  We rang Plusnet to do a check from their end.  They concluded her router was rather ancient and were posting a new one to us poste haste.  We await its arrival.
View from Bridge at Linton Falls
Sunday dawned clear and bright so it wasn't long before we were donning our running gear ready for a slightly longer run to make up for Saturday's lack of mileage.  We set off up river to Linton falls and were amazed how recent frost had brought down all the leaves from Chestnut trees that were so colouful the previous Sunday.
Linton Church and Armistice celebrations left of picture
Outside Linton Church the congregation were gathered around a memorial for the Armistice Day service.  Their singing voices drifted up to us as we ran across fields high above, a beautiful poignant sound.
These stiles get narrower..
We were sure upright stones in old stiles had tilted closer together over the years making it more difficult to squeeze past.  Indeed, one lady of generous proportions got herself jammed and had to be forcibly dragged free.  Fortunately, we're still slim enough to wriggle through.
Berries and bum, Thorpe village
We reached the sleepy, hidden village of Thorpe where a photographer sunk down on one knee to film us as we ran through.  I stopped to photograph a bush dripping with red berries and it wasn't until I'd blown it up I noticed a bum sticking up over the wall beside it.
Running towards Burnsall
Fine weather had attracted hoards of weekend walkers many of whom we ran past on the trail towards Burnsall which I believe was once voted Yorkshire's prettiest village - though there's not much of it! 
A few autumn colours left on the way to Burnsall
 Seventy years ago names like Burnsall, Grassington, Appletreewick, Barden Moor and Bolton Abbey read like a litany but were all quite inaccessible in my teenage years.  Little did I know that years later I'd be running through these places on a regular basis.
Resting by the new sign.
Chicken liver paté was on the menu for lunch.  I'm not sure which bottle(s) were used to enhance its flavour but it was absolutely delicious.  My wonderful partner had lovingly made it to feed guests at a wine tasting group she hosts once a year.  Meetings are held at members houses on the third Tuesday of each month and we mistakenly thought the next one should be this coming Tuesday.  It was pointed out to us by a lady not yet prone to 'senior moments' that the third Tuesday is in fact the week after.   
We've a lot of paté to eat.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Off colour?

It rained on both weekday mornings when I stepped out the door for my dawn runs.  It was fine when the alarm went off at 6.15 Thursday but by the time I'd made coffee and donned my fell shoes the heavens were starting to open.  I changed back into trail shoes, donned a hat and jogged down to the cemetery for a few short but fast hill reps, thinking I'd be back in ½ hour.  
The nearest I got to Church last weekend......  (Click to enlarge)
Not surprisingly, as soon as the rain realized it had failed to send me back to bed, it stopped, leaving me to enjoy an extended session with the world to myself.  Well, almost.  As I launched into my third rep an urban fox shot across my path and disappeared among the tombstones.  I suspected it might be holed up in one of the many collapsed graves and wondered whether there'd be cubs to brighten up my runs in the Spring?
......but this was a good substitute
  With 3 miles and 15 reps under my belt I jogged home a happy man to enjoy an extra glass of double chocolate milk to boost the protein levels. Come Friday, when my wonderful partner arrived, I'd been suffering for almost 2 weeks with a painful blister pushing out from under my Rt thumb nail (don't ask!).  "Get yourself down to the chemist and see if they can do anything about it" she ordered.  So I did, although it was already late afternoon.. 
The path to Linton Church
 "I'm very sorry" said the young lady pharmacist "but it's badly infected. Just look, it's gone yellow at the end.  It needs an antibiotic and I can't give you that without a prescription". 
"Oh spit" (or words to that effect) I said, and stormed out of the chemist thinking I wouldn't get sorted till the following week.  But lo and behold I was back again ½ hour later, all smiles, after a sympathetic doctor (or someone unseen behind closed doors at the Surgery) had kindly signed a prescription for a week's supply of Flucloxacillin 500mg capsules.  
Grogging along......
Although the enclosed leaflet said 250mg was the normal dose and warned people over 50 to have words with their doctor before taking them, I happily swallowed 2 before going to bed, hoping they'd alleviate the pain I'd been suffering for the last fortnight.  We double checked the leaflet for any warnings about washing them down with alcohol and were pleased to note we couldn't find any.  After all, it was Friday!
Chestnuts along the River Wharfe
I'd already taken 4 (one every 6 hours) prior to Saturday's run and, to be honest, was feeling a bit wobbly as we set off through saturated fields towards Grassington.  I blamed the chicken we'd eaten, in a Cabernet Sauvignon wine, part of a £10 meal for two from Tesco's where they give people an extra bottle of wine in case there isn't enough in the main dish!You can't trust chicken! 
Autumn tints
  My wonderful partner sensibly suggested we cut our run short, from 5 miles down to 4, and hopefully get back home before I keeled over.  So we did, and I didn't.  I was glad I hadn't succumbed to that nasty little demon that tried to push me over and shouted at me to turn back.  The air was crisp and invigorating while the sun shone from a cloudless sky, enhancing all the fantastic autumn tints as we ran beside the horse chestnuts lining the riverbank. 
"Stand under that tree" she said
 Oh, and I was wearing my brand new TomTom runner 3 GPS watch, an amazing piece of kit that measures heart rate at the wrist without having to wear one of those uncomfortable chest straps.  From a resting heart rate of 42 I managed to get it up to 138 while running which prompted my watch to instruct me to take it easy as I'm already fitter than most men of my age.  Only 'most'?
Sun on the hills back o' Grimwith
It syncs all the data to my phone along with maps of routes and a little man who whizzes round registering pace and heart rates at any given point.  He seems a lot quicker than me!  Also, when I got home today and switched on the computer all the TomTom data had mysteriously appeared on there too.   Something to do with Bluetooth, I'm told, which is all very confusing to my 85 year old brain.  I've enough with my yellow thumb...
Well wrapped up for a frosty run
The silvery light of a full moon, a hooting owl and white frost greeted us as we slid out of bed for a dawn run round Grimwith reservoir on Sunday.  There was a pinging noise and a frost warning popped up on the car dashboard as we set off up the road in breaking light.  Hundreds of partridges and pheasants scattered ahead of us.  We'd have run over them if we hadn't slowed. 
Sun's up - thank goodness
 As the moon sank in the west the sun rose in the east, lighting the hill tops around us with exaggerated redness that within minutes had flooded the entire landscape and tinted the reservoir till mallard were swimming in blood.
Mallard - I think
It was a good run but bitterly cold as we circuited the reservoir anti clockwise at what TomTom tells me lies on the 1,000ft contour, and I'm sure it knows!  A skein of greylags came arrowing in from the south, bugling noisily, sounding like they were having an argument, before splashing into the water.
Those wonderful colours
It was another beautiful run but it felt good to get back into the car and drive home to a warm cottage, porridge, toast and hot coffee. The sun continued to shine, late into the afternoon, as I went for a wander up Hebden Ghyll to capture elements of autumn and breathe the invigorating autumn air.
On a stroll up the ghyll
Of all the seasons of the year, autumn is the most colouful and, as keen frosts arrive, probably the healthiest too. 
Red against blue
 It encourages the feelgood factor and boosts morale prior to the onset of winter snows, sunless days and long winter nights.
Ash keys
Except maybe for wobbly old folk with yellow thumbs, groggy with over doses of Flucloxacillin, and possibly a glass too many of their favourite Merlot, as they stagger round frozen fields and cemeteries in dawn light with temperatures around or below zero, waiting for the sun to warm a little life back into bare legs.
Ah well, once a runner.......