Friday 27 April 2018

A braw day on Castle Hill

My mind is constantly telling me to "Get running, you've rested long enough".  My body, in no uncertain terms says "Sod off, I need sunshine on my skin with healing ultra-violet, like I'll soon be getting in Menorca".
A little jog up to the Castle   (Click to enlarge)
Not that I've been completely inactive.  Every now and then I'll break into a little jog for a hundred yards or so, just to remind the old legs I'm not done yet.  Like last week on a braw day up Castle Hill when all the world, and their dogs, were taking advantage of warm Spring sunshine.
A well behaved Labradoodle playing with children
Gorse was flowering at its glorious best giving off a heavy scent of vanilla. In years gone by it was a favourite haunt of yellowhammers that bombarded us with their constant requests of 'a little bit of bread and no cheese'.  Last week I heard not one.
Blackthorn was looking good too.  At its best it often presages a cold spell of weather - the dreaded blackthorn winter.  It may have been thinking about it for days later the temperature certainly plummeted.  Each Spring when I see the wonderful blossoms I make a mental note to revisit them in September and gather their juicy sloes.  I never remember!
In Springtime next door's garden puts mine to shame when a beautiful camelia comes into flower and outshines everything else in the neighbourhood.  I really must sneak some cuttings off it when they aren't looking...
In the  gloaming, just after sunset, a strange object appeared in the sky. It resembled a comet and stayed there unmoving until light faded. It was a long way away, just above the horizon and difficult to photograph without a tripod to steady the camera when zooming.  My old hands tend to shake a little, but I did my best.
Comet?  Or what?
Lastly, after 65 years, my service medal arrived in the post.  Upon demob I was homeless, so nowhere to post a medal to at that stage.   My guardian had died while I was on active service in the Canal Zone, her house sold and all my belongings mysteriously vanished.
For services in the Canal Zone
Earlier this year I got talking to a guy on a bus who'd also served in Egypt during the Suez crisis.  "Did you get your medal?" he asked  "No" I replied, "didn't even know I was entitled to one".   At the guy's suggestion I applied to the Ministry of Defence and after a couple of months they duly obliged with my boxed souvenir.
It brought back many memories.  I was a medic at RAF Kabrit on the Great Bitter Lake.  I was also a marksman and often had to ride shotgun on ambulances driving the 22 miles to the Military Hospital at Fayid.
Thankfully, I never had to shoot anyone!

Wednesday 18 April 2018

The good - not so good - and distinctly ugly....

We made the right choice by visiting Staithes during a quiet few days prior to Easter rather than in the official Easter week.  We enjoyed some of the best weather in Britain with far more sunshine than we'd had in Tenerife a month earlier.
Staithes    (Click pictures to enlarge)
 The old village of Staithes is a geometric mish-mash of a thousand steps and dark passageways zig-zagging between random architecture on a steep hillside overlooking the harbour.   From our cottage eyrie high on Cowbar Lane we looked out over roofs of blue slate and red pantiles which, as coal fires were lit on chilly evenings, were sometimes shrouded in a blue haze.
Nesting gulls
 There was a constant crying of gulls and noisy nattering of jackdaws that nested on precarious ledges of surrounding cliffs.  Yellow flowering wild cabbage has taken advantage of any waste ground it can find on steep uncultivated slopes and roadside verges.  I don't think it's edible...
Rough sea
 It was coming up to full moon with resultant high tides that flung clouds of spray high up the cliffs and pounded the rocky breakwaters.  All very dramatic. 
A fishing boat arrives with screaming gulls
A mere half dozen boats bobbled in the harbour, vastly different from years gone by when Staithes was the busiest fishing port north of the Wash.  Hundreds of creels and lobster pots were stacked neatly by the harbour wall.  None appeared to be currently in use though we noticed some being repaired.
A wonderful watering hole - the Cod and Lobster
 The only general food store is a Co-op situated on the main Whitby road, 25 minutes walk away from where we stayed, but a few vegetables, cheese and milk can be obtained from Betsy & Bo in the old village.  The Cod and Lobster was a hive of activity making it difficult to move freely among drinkers, diners and dogs.  But it was warm and welcoming offering excellent value for money on all its commodities. We couldn't visit Staithes without sampling freshly caught fish from the pub's extensive menu.  It was excellent, but huge.
Inside the cosy Cod and Lobster
 "When I decided I should eat more fish, a whole haddock wasn't quite what I meant" I remarked to Mine Host.   He laughed, glad that we'd enjoyed it.  We departed, puffing and panting up the steep hill to our rented cottage.
On the Cleveland way towards Runswick Bay
 Conveniently, for us runners, the Cleveland Way undulates along the cliff tops on its 109 mile route from Filey to Helmsley.  We took full advantage of it for our morning runs clocking up 18 wonderful miles over 3 days.
Gently does it - running north
 We weren't running fast but gently and enjoyably as befits a pair of senior citizens with 158 years between them.  We began by running 7 miles south to Runswick Bay and back on a day of blinding sunshine, blue sky and extensive views.  Gorse was flowering, skylarks sang and all was well with the world.
Doesn't get much better than this
 The next day we ran the opposite direction past Boulby mine and Red House Nab, up Rockhole Hill to a viewpoint at 2½ miles.  We stopped for the obligatory photographs against sunlit seascapes, of waves rolling in and breaking on the rocks below while a strange object drifted across the horizon.
Strange contraption floating by
 We repeated the same run two days later but ventured a little farther, as far as a deep hole in the path surrounded by poles and wire netting at the 3 mile mark.  We needed sun glasses to shield our eyes from dazzling sunlight.  The sky was a beautiful Titian blue.
The path over dramatic cliffs
 As on our Runswick Bay run, flowering gorse and lesser celandine enhanced our route as skylarks scattered their joyous notes into the clear air.  Gulls crying over the sound of the sea and a gentle breeze brushing our faces, kept us cool and happy as we ran the undulating path high over dramatic cliffs and breaking surf.
Enjoying wonderful blue sky while most of Britain got soaked
 On Good Friday, as many folk were setting off on their Easter holidays, we drove home to rain, snow and bitterly cold temperatures. We managed an Easter Sunday run round a snow grizzled Grimwith reservoir where greylags, oystercatchers, curlews, lapwings, chaffinches and wonderful whistling teal formed a combined choir to cheer us on our way.
Grey sky and snow round Grimwith reservoir on Easter Sunday
 But, to be honest, we were glad to get home to our porridge, toast and hot, reviving coffee.
Dunno when I'll run again. 
Note that tiny spot over my left eye
I'm grounded for a wee while after recently having my perishing skin cancer thingy hacked out.
...and the mess after all its roots had been dug out
It was only a little raised spot but it's roots spread all over the place, like a bloomin' octopus.  It made rather a mess.....but I'm recovering.