Llanfechain February 2013

Sat 23rd February

We both got up very early and I delivered Carol to Huddersfield hospital for dialysis at 7.30 am. C had swapped with another patient so as to get the early slot. I went back home and packed the car up and did lots of last minute jobs before returning to collect C at 11.20. We set off and arrived in Llanfechain at 2 pm.
Unloaded the car and then out for a swift trot round the lanes from the cottage, very cold and snow threatening. Back at Pentre we saw Nicky who had sad tale of her dogs, one now ok elsewhere and one savaged to death by a neighbouring collie. She now has a pug puppy which is quite sweet. It snowed in a light dusting way.
Nicky had rung us on Friday eve to say the heating wasn’t working but we still opted to go as we’re not free at the same time together for a long time. The heating was fixed thank goodness, with snow about.
Quick relax then out to Seeds in Llanfyllin. I had smoked salmon, then rib eye beef with mushrooms in port sauce with green beans, red cabbage, carrots and potato, then lemon posset with black currant on top. Mainly I had the posset because I didn’t know what it would be like. All very nice indeed. C had chicken in sauce followed by white chocolate cheesecake with passion fruit. We discussed whether white chocolate actually is chocolate at all.
All washed down with Spitfire beer from Shepheard Neame in Kent. Well stuffed.


Sun 24th February
Lazy start to day. The snow had mostly gone by the time we set out. Stopped in Llanfyllin for supplies then up on ridge looking to Clawdd Mawr. More snow and much colder up there. So cold that we quickly changed plans of climbing the hill for a short wintry circuit of about a mile and a half. Had lunch in the car and then took the little roads to Pontrobert and back to Llanfechain.
I cooked us a pasta and minced beef concoction which was good, then we watched War Horse some of which is supposed to be Devon but it looked like Kentmere in the Lakes to me. Not one of the horses received a credit which was really annoying.

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Mon 25th February
Today we got up lazily and drove to Llanidloes where we looked in the Great Oak bookshop and had a coffee (Carol) and a hot choc (me) to warm up in the whole food cafe. I bought some broccoli in the organic veg shop and then we went to Spar for milk.
We left the town to park up and walked in a south westerly direction away from the town. We got onto a ridge which took us along hidden tracks and through beech woods and past the most messy farm I’ve ever seen. Really horrible and quite discomfiting. A lot of the ground was muddy and some was frozen and our boots got heavy with mud and manure.
We arrived at another farm which was a lot tidier but with loads more mud and 2 barking dogs to come and run at us. They did have an old farmer to call them in. I got goosed by one of them. Back to the road and the car. Past a place marked on the map as Ppg Ho. I know Welsh is hard but this takes the biscuit.

I’ve got a thing about stands of trees on the skyline.

We had a lovely time and this was very significant as it was the first of our trips away now that Carol is on dialysis and shows us we can get to Wales very quickly and stay in lovely cottage and have a short break away. Although nearly as much packing as for a whole week!

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

First bike ride February 17th 2013

My first bike ride of the year and since the terrible flu. It’s 8 weeks since that started and I’m only now feeling about back to normal but massively unfit.

Another lovely day so just to get into the swing of it, a very short ride for about 40 minutes or so covering about 8km. There is a stone circle marked on the map near us and we’ve been talking about it checking it out for a while. You can see it from a distance from Ringstone reservoir but to get to it you take a longer track round. However it’s in a cultivated field which had just been sown so it wasn’t possible to go up to it and although the circle is a noticeable shape, it seems what stones are there are very small or flat.

Very glad I managed to get the motivation to go out. It was bitterly cold today so I wore a t shirt, a merino baselayer, a micro fleece and an insulated jacket. On my feet I tested out cycling shoes with neoprene overshoes, these worked very well to keep my feet warm but took forever to get on and made me so hot I had to take my jacket and helmet off during the procedure. On my hands I wore my new Christmas present from Chris cycling gloves which feel hot when you put them on indoors and which did the job brilliantly. At last warm hands on the bike!

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Littleborough 16th February 2013

Just a short nearly 6 mile walk around the hills above Hollingworth Lake with Babs. Lovely day for it. We wandered about on paths that Babs knew and it was nice not to have to navigate. We went under the motorway and did some of the route Chris and I have done on bikes. I was feeling very tired and out of condition so it was good to be out in the air and shoot the breeze with Babs.

Old coke ovens
Our industrial landscape


Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

Oxford February 2013

I arrived in Oxford in the early afternoon with Angela’s excellent directions. She and Paul live in Jericho which is close to the centre of the city. Although I went to Oxford quite often as a child, I haven’t been since my brother’s graduation which was quite a long time ago, he is now 60.

After some delicious leek and potato soup, we headed off out for a whizzy tour of the city, taking in Christ Church Cathedral Choir School where Mum taught until 1951 when she married Dad. I had made a donation some time ago for Mum’s name to be put on the hearts on the railings at the front of the school and wanted to see these. They had promised a small ceremony for the people who did this but the headmaster had been taken very ill and it had never happened. The hearts were on the railings but no names visible from the street. Angela encouraged me to persevere so we went in through the car entrance and persuaded a parent to let us into the building and he delivered us to a teacher. This chap listened to my tale and then took us to the other side of the railings where the names have been put on the railings themselves on the inside which makes more sense and they won’t be vandalised there. Mr. Bagnall then kindly showed us around the school which was great as I’d never been there before.

Commemorating my Mum in a place where she was very happy
Christ Church Cathedral Choir School

Then we wandered around a bit passing several of the colleges and ending up in the Old Bank hotel in the Quod bar where Angela had a mojito and I had a bottle of Old Hooky. Back to Walton Crescent and then out again to the Lebanese resto at the bottom of the road. A glass of wine came and then an interesting plate of salad – carrot sticks, olives, strange pink pickled cabbage, one large tomato (whole) and one Little Gem (also whole)! And no dressing! Then a substantial wait until we decided to chivvy them along only to find that something terrible had happened to Angela’s fish. I explained the need to hurry and Angela opted to have the same as me, our food then arrived very quickly. We had lentils and rice with fried onion and spices. It was tasty but could have done with something else to lift it! A little dry cake arrived as a complimentary item in an effort to redeem themselves. We had sweet black coffee and then toddled off to Christ Church.

A lovely concert in aid of Christ Church Cathedral School Education Trust. Vaughan Williams and Faure. I liked the music and liked being where Mum and Dad were married nearly 62 years ago.

MumDadWeddingI saw Gordon and Richard who are Old Boys (I am an honorary Old Boy) which was great, lovely to see them. Gordon had organised the concert. Richard I’ve known since I was a child.

We continued to the Rickety Press pub in Jericho where I had a Laphroaig. They also did Caol Ila but I didn’t spot that until too late. Followed by seeing how Paul’s concert in St. Barnabas (St. John Passion) had gone. St. Barnabas is interesting and has half completed art work, very dramatic and unusual church.

Today we took Boris the bearded Collie for a walk in the park and then Angela took me for a tour of Boar’s Hill. We managed to go past Foxcombe Orchard without me realising as I couldn’t remember the orchard part of the name. This was a house built by my Radice grandparents which is now worth a very silly amount of money. Sadly my paternal grandmother was a nasty bit of work and none of the cash they got upon selling it came to my Dad, This was his punishment for marrying my mother (you should see the letters Dad’s mother wrote to him upon his engagement – pure venom). Dad’s father in complete contrast was a lovely gentle man, with a delightful Italian accent.

Then we drove through Wootton where my Radice grandparents are buried, straight through Abingdon and onto Clifton Hampden. My Guillaume grandparents are connected with CH but I can’t remember how and one of my cousins is finding out about this so will edit this post when I know. We went in the church which sits on a small prominence, just as well because a lot of the village is/was badly flooded. The church was a bit of a tardis and very dark inside and the lights didn’t work but I liked the gloom.

Clifton Hampden church

Finally back via Cuddesdon where my Dad trained to become a priest and then back to Oxford. It was great to be driven about, a real treat for me and very interesting to see the landscape and places that meant so much to my parents. Many thanks to Angela and Paul for everything.

This is the clock that the boys of the school gave to my Mum when she left to get married:

Mum’s clock


IMG_0013IMG_0018Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.