Monday, 19 April 2021

Photo Catch-Up

Things got quite busy towards the end of the school Easter holidays, so here's a very short photo catch up from: a day of "Silence & Solitude" canoeing on Ullswater; sport climbing in the North Pennines & a spot of Weardale caving. The April weather has been very kind, a predominantly northerly airstream has brought much cool but dry and sunny weather to the North West of England which has been much enjoyed. I'm sure Marion will want to say a bit more about some of these days but for now its just a few photos!


Friday, 16 April 2021

Bouldering With Grandchildren!

Over the past 12 months or so we've spent quite a bit of time at various bouldering venues across the North of England: Lake District; Yorkshire Dales; Northumberland etc (and at indoor walls  pre-lockdown). The simplicity of turning up with nothing much more than a crash pad; climbing shoes; a guide book & whatever other comforts might be required for the day has an appeal to it. We've seen others out with quite young children, so when a day looking after the grandkids coincided with some dry warm sunny weather we took the opportunity.

We are blessed to have Carrock Fell boulders just a short drive away - it seemed like an obvious venue choice. There were a few folk about but parking remained plentiful & we headed for the "warm up" area in the Central Group of boulders. Evvie is 10 and Iris 6, they both had a great time! The morning passed quickly with a mixture of scrambling about on the boulders; weasling between them & generally larking about!! Carrock's Gabbro can bite a little but it also provides outstanding traction even for small feet that aren't wearing climbing shoes.

There was much triumph and no mishaps!

We were sufficiently encouraged by the success of the morning to consider this as a potential venue & activity from a work perspective.

As little people began to tire (ever so slightly!) it was even possible to get a couple of climbs in ourselves with Maz breezing up Frustration Slab & me feeling quite pleased with myself with a first attempt success on White Streak at F6a+


Monday, 12 April 2021

Vaccination 2

In a similar vein to the recent post "Vaccination Day" this is more of a diary entry to commemorate a significant day & moment in time.

On Saturday 10th April 2021 both Marion & I received our second dose of the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine. It was organised via our GP surgery, we went into the vaccination room together and emerged no more than five minutes later - an incredibly efficient process with zero fuss & faff! For Marion the second dose came just five weeks after the first and for me just over four weeks.

In many ways we see science as now having played its part in building a new foundation for UK society to go on and build its "new normal". Our prayer for both ourselves and those we share this country with is that we carefully, considerately and intentionally go on seize the opportunities afforded to us to grasp an improved version of reality.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Wandope & Whiteless Pike - Lake District North Western Fells

It was February 2015 that we last wrote up a day out in the Lake District Fells on the blog! It feels like a very long time ago, similarly as a result of UK Lockdown 3.0 its over four months since we last ventured out together for a day in the mountains - so it was good to be back!


Wandope & Whiteless Pike from Buttermere via Mill Beck

Marion, Charis & Me

Approx 5.75 miles

Bright sunshine; blue skies; keen northerly wind; no precipitation; great visibility

We set off quite early from the National Trust car park in Buttermere which was already moderately full before 09:00 am. The weather forecast for the day was a fine, dry and bright morning with the chance of snow and hail showers developing in the afternoon (they never materialised).

I'm not sure how well trod the Mill Beck valley is but unless the footpaths have recovered from last summers heavy footfall it has the look of a "path less travelled". We didn't see a soul until we reached the summit of Wandope. Anyway it was a pleasant steady ascent crossing Third Gill before starting a much steeper section at Addacomb Beck.

The ascent following the line of Addacomb Beck was a joy, the path fades in and out (its possibly much less apparent when the bracken is growing) and often has a bit of an off-piste feel about it, navigation is never a problem as firstly the beck and secondly the distinctive ridge feature that lead up to Wandope summit are easily followed handrails. We diverted into the magnificent Addacomb Hole - a beautiful high valley with a look of a place visited relatively infrequently. Its a fairly steep pull up the ridge to Wandope summit from which the views across the whole of the Lake District were superb, the summit itself though was not one of the more impressive in the area!

Our descent was via the main summit ridge, across Whiteless Edge (above Third Gill), with another sharp pull up on to Whiteless Pike for more outstanding views in all directions.

The way down from Whiteless Pike towards Buttermere is initially quite steep but levels out over Whiteless Breast and its a gentle finish back down into the village.


Monday, 5 April 2021

Easter Paddling

A total of 138 days had elapsed since last paddling a canoe, possibly the longest gap in 30 years of canoeing and kayaking! Post lockdown comeback day was Good Friday and a day of 1:1 coaching on moving water at a site on the England-Scotland border. Conditions were near perfect with bright sunshine; little wind - possibly another six inches of water is all we could have asked for.

We should have been away on our annual Community Easter Canoe Expedition from Good Friday until the middle of this week, unfortunately for the second year running Covid had its say and we were unable to go. Most of the team who were due to be on expedition opted to head out for a day of "mellow touring" on a section of river Marion & I had never paddled before. The trip was essentially through the tidal section of the river and provided a mixture of urban & rural scenery - it was also Charis' first ever river trip paddling a kayak, she did well! Amongst the seemingly inevitable debris that seems to mar our urban rivers we saw: Kingfishers, Heron & Redshank. It was very much not our usual day on the river but nevertheless a really enjoyable trip.


Thursday, 1 April 2021

First Week Back

The period of time between around mid-November when we last worked and now has been by far the longest period of my life in which I haven't worked. The biggest issues on a personal level in dealing with lockdown(s) have been the restricted freedoms faced and the lack of purpose that work brings (there are certainly plenty of other things that bring purpose into life, however, not working has been a real challenge from this perspective).

We made the decision a couple or so weeks ago that in order to be ready for work resuming this week (29th March 2021 was named as a key date for relaxing of certain English restrictions with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic) that some preparation would be necessary eg. checking venues; being fit enough and making at least some effort to ensure that skills were up to scratch. This was a difficult process to manage and carry out in a responsible manner, it certainly couldn't be achieved by "working at home" as such we endeavoured to keep contact down to no more than one other person; keep anything we did as local as possible and obviously conduct all of our activities outdoors. There are a few photos at the foot of this post from this preparation phase.

Anyway, the 29th March 2021 came around and we found ourselves out caving twice in the first three days of the week. They were events of a very different nature with Monday seeing us out with two folk who hadn't spent much (or any) time underground before, whilst the second activity was with a much more experienced individual. The weather also had its say with the first day following immediately after a period of heavy rain - with all the challenges it brings to caving - whilst the second day (evening) saw settled high pressure in control and a mild dry evening for our visit to Alum Pot. Both events went off extremely well and it was a pleasure to be back up and running again. There are a few pictures below that capture the nature of the first week back & some more later from our short time of preparation.

The following images capture some of the preparation in the days leading up to 29th march 2021


Sunday, 28 March 2021

Some Thoughts to Consider ...

Marion & I have been attending Elim Community Church in Carlisle for about seven years now and we've been part of the leadership team for maybe five of those years. During the last few months I've had the opportunity to share some thoughts & insight from the platform on two occasions, the most recent being this morning!

If you fancy taking a look there's a YouTube link below, a decision to watch the whole thing will probably need a pot of coffee, if you decide to watch / listen only to the message it starts at just after 42 minutes and lasts just over half an hour - you'll still probably need at least a cup of coffee!!