Llanfechain June 2014

Fri 13th

Journey to Llanfechain was long because of a pile up near Chester just under a roundabout over the A55. A very enterprising young man helped us to reverse back through all the accumulated traffic and we got onto the slip road and away. Good to see someone with a bit of nous.
After settling in we took a short stroll from the cottage, about 2 km and back.
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Sat 14th
To Dolanog and then along a bit of Ann Griffiths’ Way and a bit of Owain Glyndwr’s to locate a hill fort. Found it using contours only.
To Seeds in Llanfyllin for dinner.
I had dressed crab which was excellent, steak also good and a creamy thing. C had rack of lamb and huge piece of treacle tart.
From the hill fort
From the hill fort
Sun 15th
To Pontrobert and then all the way along Ann Griffiths’ way to the point at which we left it the day before so we have walked the whole of it. She was a hymn writer. I have now found another bit of it on the map so we didn’t do it all, oh well I am sure we will be back and can finish it off.
Can anyone identify this?
Can anyone identify this?
Cool, calm and collected
Cool, calm and collected
Mon 16th
To Welshpool very early for C to dialyse.
Strange knocking sound in car has been bothering me so drove to Kwikfit in Oswestry which also had the benefit of being opposite Skoda dealer in case I did need to do something urgently. Nothing was found to be loose. I then went for coffee and shops in Oswestry and back to Welshpool to collect C. Drove to a point on the Offa’s Dyke Path with the intention of walking a bit of it. C not well so brought her back to the cottage to sleep.
Went and put up blue balloons to guide Chris in.
She arrived and after waking Carol we went for the full circuit from the cottage. This was the first showing of Carol’s sun hat which gave her a surprisingly artistic appearance. All most fitting as there was a cook book in the cottage of Monet’s recipes. He wasn’t the most inspired of cooks and perhaps should have concentrated on the painting! Here he is in his hat: http://pinkpagodastudio.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/happy-birthday-claude-monet.html
Green Thai chicken curry with rice and broccoli.
Played 1980s quiz game, surprisingly hard, perhaps not, I don’t remember being very sober in that decade.
Imelda
Imelda
Early morning Oswestry
Early morning Oswestry
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The Monet hat makes its appearance
Tues 17th
We all drove to Lake Vrynwy. Went in all the gift shops (3) and the RSPB shop.
Walked a circuit which had a couple of steep sections. Chris not so good.
Back to cafe for yummy ice cream which picked her up a bit.
Farewell to Chris at lake.
We used the washing machine and put it all on the line to dry.
Set off a bit late to go to the Pen y Dyffryn hotel at Rhydycroesau. 2 AA rosettes.
Appetiser was a small coffee cup of veg soup. Tasty.
Starter, I had a goats cheese and tomato tart. C had mackerel pate.
Main, I had a pithivier because it sounds so silly to say. Not a good way to pick food as it was more pastry. C had guinea fowl which tasted like chicken to me.
Pud, we both had welsh cakes with berries and creamy blob of stuff.
I enjoyed dressing up and eating out but C says she would rather go for a pub meal in her jeans!
Claude and Chris
Claude and Chris
Straining tower at Lake Vyrnwy
Straining tower at Lake Vyrnwy
Crumbling Victorian concrete
Crumbling Victorian concrete
Weds 18th
Up horribly early to Welshpool for dialysis. I went off and walked up to Beacon Ring which is on the ODP. The ring isn’t exactly creepy but I didn’t feel like walking through the dense wood on the top so went round it. Which council gave the planning permission for not just 1 but 2 mobile phone masts on an important archaeological site? On the way back down I came across some people having sex in a car. He looked very hot with the windows shut and singularly unattractive with his bald head and straggly hair. I only saw his naked torso you understand.
After this excitement I drove down to Leighton and parked by the church (locked) for a while. Then into Welshpool for coffee and lemon drizzle cake. Not drizzled enough.
Then picked up C.
To Church Stretton for a wander round. Hot. Nice shops.
Back near Chirbury to walk some more of the ODP. Stayed on the flat as very hot. We saw a kite at very close quarters.
Back home, supper and stroll round the lanes.
Beacon Ring without
Beacon Ring without
Beacon Ring with
Beacon Ring with
Leighton church
Leighton church
Church Stretton
Church Stretton
Claude has been let out again
Claude has been let out again
Lovely line of trees
Lovely line of trees
The kite
The kite
Thurs 19th
Lazy start. Plumbers came and gave us lots of hot water.
Went up to Lake Vyrnwy and took road up west side that was closed when we were here in March. Mountain road across the passes and into the National Park. Very steep road almost as alarming as the Bealach to Applecross. Stopped at Pennant to walk in the mountain. Lovely path, saw no one. Practised belaying and felt starting to get the hang of it it with my other hand. Picnic lunch and back to drive home on the A roads.
Bad squirrels had got in the window and eaten Carol’s bread rolls this time. Also poo everywhere. Not nice.
Still straining
Still straining
Claude admiring the view
Claude admiring the view

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The artist resting
The artist resting

Friday 20th

We packed up and bade farewell to Nicky who told us a most amusing story of one of her old boyfriends and his false teeth. As we left we came across a giant 2″ wasp creature which appears to be an Asian hornet. After I posted it on Facebook I was advised to report it to the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology which I have duly done.

We drove to Rhydycroesau and took on a bit more of the ODP. We actually met someone doing it, a nice man with a beard and a dog and kind eyes.

Looking forward to the next trip!

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

Asian hornet
Asian hornet
Hatching a bale
Hatching a bale

Bruce Coventry June 20th 2013

Chris and I managed to take quite a long time to reach our hotel on the east side of Coventry. We set off quite smartly but made the most of shopping opportunities: Lidl in Sowerby Bridge, the first services on the M1, then Waitrose at Leicester Forest services. We followed the instructions for getting to the hotel but they were poorly written and we took the wrong junction 2 which led us a merry dance round the villages. They had meant J2 on the M6 not on the M69. Grrr.

When we got the tickets for the gig, Chris booked us into the Royal Court Hotel via Easy Bookers. A week before the gig, Easy Bookers emailed to say the hotel had cancelled our booking. Chris then had to waste what seemed like about 3 days of her life getting through to them and getting us a new hotel which was the Mercure Brandon Hall. The hotel is on the edge of Brandon which is a pretty village with half timbered houses and is set in extensive grounds. It’s a 4 star hotel whereas the other one was I think 3 star. Certainly no stars at all after their behaviour. We got a spacious room in a new build at the back accessed via a “covered walkway”.

We had our Waitrose lunches and got changed and then set off for the Ricoh Arena. We got there very easily and were in the car when the only shower of the day turned up. Given that the forecast for Thurs and Fri had been rain all day, this was the only wetting we experienced. We reached the arena fairly easily, even with the large volume of traffic. We took the car because public transport meant going into Coventry and back out again which looked like it would take a long time and probably not happen at all later on. A taxi would be expensive for 2 trips and hard to get one afterwards.

So we had to park the car! The arena website had said that none of the parking on concert days was pre-bookable so we tried to get into the on site parks which then turned out to be pre-booked only, with AA signs saying that certain of them weren’t pre-booked, but it was all very confusing. We headed off towards the off site ones which were a long way away and got turned out of one of them, the next one had no access, presumably full, so in the end we parked up in a field with knee high wet grass for £20 which was very unofficial. The good thing with this was that it was right next to the arena.

Into the arena and straight to the casino! Badlands (UK fan club) was hosting a get together which really meant they had a table with T-shirts to buy. Chris bought one. The casino was a vast cavernous room which smelt of swimming pool thanks to its big water feature. We got chatting to a man from Mansfield who was quite sweet and who has never been able to persuade his wife to join him at a Bruce gig, she likes Michael Buble.

Time to take our seats, these were very good and in amongst the other Badlands ticket holders which was infinitely preferable to being in amongst the day trippers. This is especially true for the UK gigs where if we get non Badlands tickets, we end up with the beer swillers and talkers who don’t shut up for the quiet songs. In Euro land the fans tend to be much more polite and listen attentively during the quiet numbers.

Bruce came on at 7.20 and started with a solo of The Ghost of Tom Joad. The first few songs were great, including My Love Will Not Let You Down (played at mine and Carol’s civil partnership ceremony) and Trapped, another favourite of mine. Then as a tribute to James Gandolfini who was a friend of the band they did the whole of the Born to Run album which should have been a treat but came over as a bit lacklustre and it felt like they raced through it. We did think perhaps they weren’t on top form because not only Gandolfini but also Max Weinberg’s 97 year old mother had died at the weekend.

The last section of the set picked up a bit. I wish he would do more of the old stuff and less of the audience participation. Part of me wonders if they now have to include Tenth Avenue Freeze Out at every show because that’s when they show the photos of Clarence and Danny. And do they have to include Waiting on a Sunny Day because that’s when some hideous brat who doesn’t know the words to the song and who can’t sing anyway, is pulled out to do just that? Or do they have to do Dancing in the Dark just so that some “girls” get to dance with either Bruce, Stevie or Jake? Perhaps a bit too formulaic for me, but I’m prepared to put up with that if the other 27 or so songs include things I’ve wanted to hear him do for years.

Greasy Lake set list

This is my wish list:

Whole album (if he must do this, I can’t help feeling it’s a bit lazy) Tunnel of Love

Frankie

The Wish

Jersey Girl

My Beautiful Reward

I will dream on and see what the next gig brings.

We got back sometime after midnight and ate more snacks and drank more beer. I slept badly as had managed to develop a cold during the gig.

The next day we had a lovely breakfast, I actually had a cooked one!

We went to Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve which was about a mile down the road. This was a lovely spot on reclaimed gravel pits. We looked in all the hides and spotted some birds! There weren’t many people about which was a plus, we managed to hide from a couple of women we found annoying and got chatting to another couple who we did like.

We had lunch of cake and coffee sitting outside the cafe in a courtyard. There were some people with learning disabilities who were not being looked after by their “carers”.

Then we headed homewards and this took a long long time because we had to stop to get tape to secure my wing mirror which is trying to leave its casing and because the traffic was just incredibly slow for miles and miles.

I still can’t wait to see Bruce again!!

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Chris thinks this is entirely normal!
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Shades of Jurassic Park!
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Chris says she likes this one!

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

Rant to Ramblers

Dear Editor (of the Ramblers magazine, Walk)
Andrew McCulloch (Walk Spring 2010 Your View) believes that litter is not a serious issue. Whilst his opinion is of course valid, I can’t allow it to go unchallenged. I am 52 and can remember the time before cars ruled our country and before plastic packaging became a scourge and a recycling nightmare. The spread of the automobile, as well as the increase in ready to go food and excess packaging have all contributed to the spread of litter.
Litter in the UK is now totally acceptable. There are almost no places we can go where there is no litter, except for the places where Ramblers ramble. If only it were just the odd crisp packet or even just the odd bit of agricultural debris, but it’s not, some areas are so badly littered that any enjoyment of e.g. spring flowers is destroyed by having to wade through other peoples’ detritus.
We have all grown complacent. Those who drop litter have no care for soiling their own territory. Did we nurture this attitude of selfishness without accountability? There may be signs up signalling financial penalties for littering, but who polices these laws? To be a responsible citizen we have duties to perform in order to gain our rights, and also codes of how to behave publicly. Do we teach our children responsible citizenship?
I work at a university where international students visit our country. Sadly, all too often I have had to deal with the question of why do we make such a mess of our towns and our countryside, when there is so much natural beauty? Visitors from around the world are shocked at how we in such a wealthy (comparatively) country live in such filth.
So no, I don’t accept that litter is not a pressing issue. The other issues Mr McCulloch mentions are of course all very important but we need to sort out our own backyards as well. We must not succumb to the disease of complacency.
Yours faithfully
Jak Radice
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.