29 November 2005

What a pain...

Went back to the gym tonight, the first time since doing the BHF walk just over a week ago, and the old knees gave up on me again! Only managed around half an hour of cardio stuff before having to stop. The pain in my left knee was just too much again. After doing some fixed weights I headed for the swimming pool - much easier!

The air temperature was just below freezing tonight making the outdoor pool feel even warmer that it was - just like swimming in a hot bath it was! I managed about 30 lengths of the pool before it was time to head home. You certainly feel just how warm the water is when you climb out and walk back to the indoor pool area!

Will give the legs another try again on Thursday and see how it goes then! Think I must be getting old!

27 November 2005

Weekend re-cap...

Work was quiet on Saturday morning so the fish tank did get it's clean! I started it at just after 9:00am, after having a sausage & bacon cob whilst sorting the days workshop parts out, and was finished by 11:15am. For the third time I got a "friendly" bite from the biggest fish in the tank - that one really is pushing it's luck now!

Saturday evening's meal at The Plough Inn was great! We picked Mark & Sheila up at 7:15pm and arrived at Normanton on Soar by around 7:40pm. As the table was booked for 8:00pm we ordered some drinks and went and sat in one of the lounge areas. The big leather sofas were so comfortable I could have stayed there all night. If a fire had been lit in the big open fireplace, then I'm sure I would have!

Once at the table it was the usual problem when at any of the pubs owned by this group - what to choose - as there is such a choice! I'll not go through what we all had but the Potato Skins with Cheese and Pineapple starter was very nice, as was the Marilyn Monroe chicken that I had! The chicken is a boneless breast covered in a sauce made with cheddar cheese and cider with a light bite of English and wholegrain mustard, very tasty. The steak that Mark had looked very good as did the Boozy Bullock Pie chosen by Sheila. Lynda tells me that her Chicken Napoleon was also very good.

When the friendly waitress asked if we would like to see the dessert menu we all jumped at the opportunity! Not because we were still hungry I must add, just because we could!!

I'd have liked to have put a picture here of the Crunchy Bailey Boo that Mark and I both chose but I'm not sure you could face it! It's a HUGE bowl of ice cream, covered in small pieces of Crunchy chocolate bar, with a rather large measure of Baileys liqueur added! What an end to a meal! We rounded off a very pleasant evening with coffees back at our friends home.

Over the next 3 weeks we have another 5 "meals out" and thats BEFORE Christmas arrives! Think I need to hit the gym hard again!

Today I went into work for a short time so that I could feed the fish there, then spent most of the day sorting out hundreds of photos that I have on my PC. Most are now safely stored on CD!

25 November 2005

Chill time....

It's Friday! Time to look forward to the weekend again!

Tomorrow I've got work in the morning, may be cleaning the fish tank if there isn't too much going on, then back home and stay in the warm in the afternoon. We've missed the snow here so far but it's freezing cold and the wind will cut you to the bone!

Tomorrow evening we are going out for a meal at The Plough Inn, at Normanton on Soar. We've not been here for a while and when our friends, Mark & Sheila, suggested it was time we met up again we chose The Plough for a change! Any excuse for some good food! Might not be a bad idea if I start looking at the menu now - there's always such a choice I can never make my mind up!

Not sure about Sunday yet, all depends on what time I can get out of bed, if the snow holds off and also if Mel decides we're doing another walk! I'll let you know on Sunday evening!

21 November 2005

BHF Walk Day...

Well, we did it! 17.5 miles in the Derbyshire Peak District, in November! It's now 8hrs since we finished and I can honestly say.... THAT HURT!!!

So, how did it all go? Well, I was up and out of bed at 5:40am, had a cooked breakfast, packed all my gear, made a flask of coffee and loaded the car. By 6:50am I'm ready for setting off. No such luck! It may well still have been dark but one of our friendly Blackbirds wanted some food!

After feeding the wildlife I'm off to meet Mel, my sometime training partner at the gym. Having picked her up we set off to Cromford and the starting point of the walk. The drive there only takes around half an hour so we arrived in plenty of time for our 8:30am start. Once in the car park we met up with my mate Paul and then handed in our registration cards. A quick photo call and we're off.

The first mile or so was alongside the old canal and nice and flat, after that we hit the first climb of the day, and it's a big one! Still, best getting it out of the way now and not at the end of the day! The view from the top was worth the effort in the end. After that we had another few easy miles before hitting our second climb - I was glad when we reached the top and the first BHF rest point. We grabbed a quick cold drink here and set off again.

The next 6 or 7 miles were quite easy going, the ground was still very hard from the overnight frost ( -4C when I left home ) and we made good time, passing many of the walkers that had set off ahead of us. At 10:45am we took a 10 minute break for drinks and a bite to eat. I'm not sure but I think it was around the Longcliffe area, so we'd covered about 8 miles.

Minninglow was the second BHF rest halt at 10.5 miles. Here Paul had some soup from the BHF, Mel had a cup of tea and I had more of my coffee. We rested here for 15 minutes - the breaks were taking longer now! We decided to push on for another 2.5 miles so that we could reach Friden where we had our lunch stop. This was at around the 13 mile point. Lunch took us 25 minutes, I said the breaks were taking longer!

Getting started again after lunch proved a bit of a pain! Literally! My knees were starting to feel the distance now. Still, only a little over 4 miles left. The next couple of miles didn't prove too bad once we'd settled back into our pace. Even my knees eased off a little.

Parsley Hay was our final rest point only 2 miles from the end, and we only stopped for 10 minutes! What a mistake though! My legs were starting to seize up by now! We also noticed that we were no longer catching other walkers up, or being overtaken! Everyone was feeling the strain! Having said that, the morale was still very high with everyone - ourselves included.

We covered the last 2 miles in half an hour so the pace was still quite good but it certainly hurt. Not just me, but also Mel and Paul! And just about every other walker that was around us! At the final check point we had our sponsorship forms stamped, took a few more pictures and headed slowly off to find the coaches that were waiting to take us back to Cromford and the car.

All in all a great day! Rouned off by a gentle swim back at the gym followed by a short time in the spa pool. Can still feel my knees though!

So, will I do it again? I think so! I've had problems with one of my knees for a few years now so expected a bit of a pain there, the muscles in my legs feel fine and I'm not tired at all. If my knees are OK in a day or so then yes, I'll be back again next year!

BHF walk photos here!

Andover break...

What a nice easy trip to Hampshire, for a change! We left home at just after 6:00pm and by 8:35pm we were in Andover - no traffic jams and no fog or rain like the week before. Why can't our roads be like this all the time? We did see two shooting stars on the way as well, which were good.

We sat and chatted with Lynda's aunt and uncle for the rest of the evening, catching up on news and also having our first taste of sandwiches with "invisible crusts"! Don't ask! Having sorted out the plans for the following morning, we were doing a walk and pub lunch, we headed off to bed and an early night.

Thursday was very frosty with clear blue skies - ideal walking weather. We met at just before 11:00am for a circular walk around the village of Quarley. The walk was an event arranged by the Andover U3A and was well attended with around 30 people there. The birdlife was a little quiet, we only saw the more common species such as Pheasant, Crow, Magpie etc but did see around 8 or 9 deer on the edge of one of the woods. We also came across an old barn that has so far escaped being turned into a house!

After the walk we headed off to the Old Plough at Grateley for lunch. Lynda and I both had chicken in white wine with Yorkshire puddings, very nice it was too!

On Friday Lynda, her aunt and myself visited the Fairground Craft and Design Centre at Weyhill, a complex of converted old barns from a no longer working farm that now house a variety of craft workshops and shops. Here Glenys, Lynda's aunt, treated us to two hand turned vases made from the seed cases of a Banksia tree. Very unusual and attractive they are too! In the afternoon I sat in the house reading while the girls went off shopping and Morgan, Lynda's uncle, went to his photography group.

Saturday and we had to start thinking of heading home. After a lazy morning in front of the TV with the papers we loaded the car with our bags before heading off for petrol and then down into Andover for a pub lunch with the rest of the family. We had a great time there, all eating far too much as usual!

The journey home wasn't as pleasant as the journey down, we encountered patchy fog around Oxford and then spent the best part of an hour queuing into roadworks just before the M40. Once through that the rest was quite straight forward and we got home around 5.00pm.

Walk photos here!

16 November 2005

Looking ahead....

Only just over 2 hours till I finish work for the week!

Then it's straight off to Andover for a couple of days break. We're back sometime Saturday afternoon ready for my sponsored walk Sunday.

Just had a look at the weather forecast for Buxton on Sunday.......

High: 2°C
Low: -3°C
Rain / Scattered snow showers
Wind: From the West Southwest at 3 mph
Precip: 30 %
Max. Humidity: 88 %

Sunrise: 7:41
Sunset: 16:05

Hmmm, could be a fun day then!

13 November 2005

The sun still shines...

After what seemed like weeks of rain, with only the odd bright day, Saturday arrived dry and cloud free, if a little cold! If only it would stay like it for the rest of the day! The morning continued in a positive manner as we waited in the centre of Derby for the coach to take us to Titchwell, Norfolk, for the day's birdwatching. A male Peregrine Falcon flew over and landed on the cathedral across the road from us! First good bird of the day!

By just after 9:00AM we were stopping at the Farm Cafe on the A17 - one large sausage, bacon and egg cob later and I'm ready for anything the day can throw at me! Having done this trip many times before I took the chance to sleep off my second breakfast at times during the rest of the journey! 11:00AM and we were at Titchwell. By now the weather was looking great, clear blue sky, plenty of sunshine and only a light breeze.

The first good bird on the reserve was a "heard only" Cetti's Warbler. We did spend a short while waiting to see if it would show but then moved onto the marsh itself. From the path down towards the sea we saw Curlew, Little Grebe, Dunlin, Ruddy Duck, Little Egret, and large numbers of Brent Geese feeding on the salt marsh. A Water Rail caught us by surprise as it took flight from the side of the path. It wasn't just the fact it flew up from close to us but also seeing a Water Rail in flight was pretty unusual.

From the sea shore we managed to pick out Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Diver and Great Crested Grebe on the water and also 5 Gannet flying past some way out to sea. After much searching we also picked up 2 or 3 Velvet Scoter in amongst the Common Scoter. Three Sanderling that flew past were the only waders of note.

On the walk back towards the visitor centre we stopped off at one of the hides for a while and saw a flock of around 400 Golden Plover and large numbers of Oystercatcher. Other birds of note included Turnstone, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Grey Plover, Ruff and Pintail. A Peregrine hunted overhead for a while but failed to make a kill. A Marsh Harrier showed briefly over the reed beds as we walked back along the path to the visitor centre. By this time the sun was starting to set on what had been a very good day's birding! We saw a total of 59 species ourselves, not a huge count but still a very enjoyable day!

Titchwell photos here!

11 November 2005

It's Friday......

It's only been a four day working week but it's been a long four days! Another hour left at work and then I've two days off! Roll on 5:30pm! Straight from work we're off to the gym for an hour or so,then home so I can clean my walking boots - been going to do them all week!

Tomorrow we're off to Norfolk, with the Derby RSPB Group, for a days birdwatching at Titchwell. Just hope the weather is better than it is here right now, it's raining and the wind's blowing like crazy!

No idea what I'll do Sunday yet, maybe just sit around the house and catch up on some TV! Then again Lynda may well have other ideas - mow the lawns, wash the car, clean the house, shopping, gym!

Is it time for work again yet?

08 November 2005


Not long now!

It's just under 2 weeks until the British Heart Foundation walk. My sponsorship total, so far, stands at just over £290.00!

I'd aimed at raising £100.00 when I first received my forms, that target soon became £200.00, now £300.00 will be no problem! Can you help me hit £400.00???

You can sponsor me via the BHF web site on the following link....!