The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Random Thoughts (and Rants)

Train Tickets:
Our train tickets for our C2C and WHW trips arrived last weekend.

I’ve ordered a lot of train tickets from thetrainline in the past and that has always resulted in one ticket per journey per person. That single ticket, whilst too big to fit through an automatic ticket machine, has contained all of the necessary information and the only other bits of card in the envelope were the two containing my address and my receipt respectively.

This time each envelope contained a piece of A4 paper plus fourteen (yes, fourteen!) normal sized tickets. Four of the fourteen are the actual travel tickets (the other pieces of card contain seat reservations and card receipt, plus one with my address on, even though the windowed envelope uses the address printed on the A4 paper).

Admittedly the total amount of card used is probably less than the previous oversized tickets, but surely there’s a more efficient way of conveying the necessary information without fourteen separate pieces of cardboard per journey?

(Hmmm, am I just prematurely becoming a grumpy old woman?)


In the post this week I received a CD from Conrad. He was LEJOGer No. 2 who we met on our walk and the CD contained both his photos and his journal – and what a good read it was.

What I did note about his walk was that he was more than unfortunate with the number of things that conspired to disturb his sleep at night. Whereas Mick & I suffered only two and a bit nights that were disturbed by others (flapping-tent-coughing-bird in Horton; the drunken louts in Peebles; the group who started their party in the next tent at Keld with Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence’!) Conrad had much worse luck. In fact, had I read his journal before we set off, I would have been somewhat concerned about the chances of getting a good night’s sleep at any point during the walk.

There are a few of his photos that I would like to put on here, but I will ask his permission first. We will pop up to see him when he’s at home in Cumbria, but for the moment though he is up in Scotland trying to achieve a few of his last 38 outstanding Munros. This is a 68 year old chap (and a very nice chap at that) who had a knee operation in December. He walked a similar LEJOG route to ours (he avoided the Pennine Way, the WHW and took the off-road far north-west route) and took not a single day off. An inspiration!

End-to-End and the weather map:

Watching a weather forecast a few nights ago, Mick commented that it’s a jolly long way.

I agreed, but whereas he was looking at the bottom left to top right, I was looking at the opposite two corners.

Then, in the modern way of whizzing the map around the screen to give you maximum opportunity to miss the weather for your area (I didn’t like it when they introduced it and I still don’t (oops, there goes the grumpiness again)) it paused for a long time on the south-west peninsula. As if rehearsed we were in time as we said ‘Even that is a long way’.

It’s hard to believe that we walked even Land’s End to Bristol, never mind the rest!

A Packed Bag:

We’re off to the Lakes in the morning. Only a flying visit, to return two pairs of boots to George Fisher (both Asolo Prism; one pair is going back under the ‘fit guarantee’, the other is going back because they’re faulty). It would be rude to pop up there without making the most of the hills, though, so we’re planning to pop out for a quick overnight. My bag is packed. It’s a minimialist outing. Even my 35-litre pack isn’t full and it looks like it’s going to weigh in (without food and water) at somewhere around the 5kg mark.


[Rant Alert]
I am so not impressed. I like the idea of sterilising water with UV light – it has no moving parts to break, no filter to clog and no clean/dirty-end issues to lead to contamination of the clean water. Plus, due to its alleged unit life and long battery life, the Steripen Adventurer claimed a very low pence-per-litre lifetime cost.

What a load of bollocks!

Because I imported mine, I paid half of the UK price – and even then I feel royally ripped off. For my £60 I have managed to sterilise, I would estimate, 15-20 litres of water.

The first trip during which I tried to use it (in March 2007) it failed, even though I had used it successfully at home. I bought new batteries and it worked, so I just put it down to it being supplied with faulty batteries.

During our LEJOG it died because water got into the light tube (yes, a device designed to be used in water died because it got water inside of it). A couple of weeks later it sprang back into life, albeit the tube was still misted.

Tonight I tried it again, and it failed.

So that’s three times that it has failed on me now. What is the point of a water cleansing device that’s liable to fail to work at a critical time? [Rant Over]

Such a shame, because as I say, I do like the concept.

Because I’m a cautious sort of person when it comes to water, I’m not happy to just drink out of streams (yes, I know that lots of people do it and come to no harm; I think my caution arose due to a nasty malady obtained in Goa a few years ago).

That put me in the market for a new water-solution, so I’ve just ordered one of the Aquagear Survivor Water Filter from Backpackinglight. It’s bulkier than the Steripen; it’s heavier too, but hopefully it will prove to be significantly more reliable.


  1. Oooh can you let us know how you get on with the water filter as I'm tempted myself. I've always just drunk straight from the hills before, but in Feb I got a bit of a gyppy tummy. Could have been the water, my age, or the beer to be fair, but maybe its time for a water filter just in case.

  2. I too am looking to invest in one of these. I've been truing to find ways of reducing water carried weight and this appears to give you 'fill as you go' flexibility.

  3. Aquagear - 100% reliable base don my own and the expereince of the others we know who've used it over the summer
    As to grumpy - just challengeing at times. Whats Mick think, or is he hiding down the shed again?

  4. Maybe I will make the Scottish meet. May even trundle up the WHW myself. Transport will be on the bus though. National Express now do e ticket thingies. Just wave a sheet of paper at the driver and grab a seat. grumpy? Nah, just letting off a wee spot of steam. Dawn.

  5. Gayle, I've never really bothered with a water filter in the UK, but was tempted by the Aquagear. Used it (a bit) on the TGOC and in the Alps. It seems to work fine. Probably best to discard the sleeve and to use a mug to fill it, otherwise water tends to dribble down the side and into the water bottle you are using for the filtered water, unless you are very careful.
    My initial comments on it, which pretty much stand, are here:

  6. I normally boil or pop in a tablet to keep my water fine. Cant be bothered to carry a filter - got one just don't take it.

  7. Steripen will replace the UV tube for $20 or free if it a defect (according to their website). Could be worth getting done so you can sell it . Mines done about 30 litres so far without a problem, just needed the original batteries replacing.