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]

Sunday 25 March 2007

A Short Walk, Then a Shorter One

Earlier in the week, Husband expressed a desire to up the distance of our training walk this weekend to 25 or so miles. I was thinking more along the lines of 20 miles.

This morning, despite waking up with my cold more fully developed, I was still in the 20 mile mindset. Husband, with a couple less days than me to prepare for going away on Wednesday (as he’s away Monday/Tuesday), was feeling the pressure of too much to do and too little time and had shortened his ambitions to just a short walk of 10 miles.

Rather than walking separately, we started out together this morning and walked 9.25 miles, arriving back home at lunchtime. After lunch, and a quick change of jacket, I set back out for an extra 5 miles. I figured that that would still get me back home in time to cook a curry to be dehydrated overnight tonight and get the packing done, not to mention whipping up a roast dinner for tea tonight.

The routes taken were entirely uninteresting repetitions of parts of previous weeks’ walks. To be fair, the routes weren’t uninteresting in and of themselves; they were only rendered less interesting by the fact that we’ve walked them so many times in recent weeks.

But, the weather started out fair and turned to good (and the return home in the middle of the day allowed me to change my Velez for my Fuera in recognition of the improving weather), and repeated route or not, you can’t beat walking along under sunny blue skies.

The wind, which was quite noticeable in places, had a bit of a chill to it, but my new Mountain Cap (another item that I’m loving and wish I’d bought a long time ago) dealt with it admirably and without me overheating.

The mud of previous weeks had dried up (save for a couple of interesting spots by gates), so I remained dry-shod the entire day, even though I had opted for my Terrocs today. Husband tried out his RocLites for the first time, he started out thinking that they felt strange, but pushed for an opinion as I write this he says “They’re all right, aren’t they?”. To be fair, he is trying to work and so probably isn’t relishing my constant interruptions.

Best go and put that curry on, I guess.

Saturday 24 March 2007

No-News Round-Up

There was nothing to report from an outdoorsy point of view last weekend, which was spent at CenterParcs. Despite missing our weekly training walk, plenty of other (unfortunately unaccustomed) exercise was taken.

A flexiball class, line dancing, a pilates class, plus two games of badminton (the first two games I’ve played in 18 years) certainly worked muscles in different ways to usual. It was Thursday before I was free of aches.
I’m hoping to get a walk in tomorrow – all depending upon how I feel in the morning. I’ve been fighting a cold/ear infection this week; hopefully the battle will be won overnight.

Hopefully Husband, who is sitting working at this late hour of a Saturday night, will have sufficient work done that he is able to join me.

And, if I do get out for a walk, hopefully it will rain. I would really like to test my new Paramo Velez before taking it away for the Cumbria Way next week.
Talking of the Cumbria Way, my earlier predictions have materialised. With only two more nights at home, I have tonight stirred myself to get some fruit into the dehydrator. Tomorrow will be a curry. There are maps still to be printed (although I concluded a couple of days ago that where I don’t already have maps, we can easily make do with 1:50k Anquet prints, rather than scanning 1:25k versions, which saves lots of time). We’re fairly organised on the packing front – kit has been sorted out (and all found without the usual multiple ‘have you seen the X?’ searches) and is sitting in two piles ready to be packed.

My hunt for a Psion 5 or 5mx continues (I’m not sure whether I’ve already mentioned this subject before?). I’m taking the Psion 3c with me next week, but in the absence of a memory card and a PC link cable I’m not only risking losing all of my notes, but also I’m going to have to type everything up again once I get home – but it will certainly be quicker and easier than a pen and paper in the tent each night.

Tuesday 13 March 2007

Colour Co-ordination

I am not a follower of fashion. Neither would I class myself as a frump, but I’m far too tight to buy clothes that are going to be dated within three months, so I’m quite happy with my casual wardrobe of jeans and not-going-to-go-out-of-fashion tops, which I wear until they fall apart.

Perhaps it’s because I don’t often peruse high street clothes shops that I don’t think ahead on the co-ordination front.

A few years ago, I bought a Buff, which still gets a huge amount of use. It’s red.

Last year, I bought a Powerstretch top, which I love. I bought that in purple. You may spot that there was a bit of a clashing issue at that point between the powerstretch top and the Buff (in fact, there’s a bit of an issue that the purple top is made by Lowe Alpine and thus has an orange logo; there should be laws against clothes that clash with themselves).

Then, for Christmas I requested a pair of Buffalo Mitts (which really are made of magic and I can’t compliment them enough). Surveying the colour options, I selected for the purple (but a slightly different hue to my top).

Last week I ordered my Paramo Velez smock. Needing an XS size, I had a choice of only two colours: black or ‘amber’. As most of my current outdoors clothes are black or navy blue, and as Husband keeps extolling the safety virtues of clothing that stands out on a mountainside, I was persuaded to buy the ‘amber’ (for those not familiar with the Paramo colour scheme, ‘amber’ means bright orange).

So, yesterday I went for a walk wearing an orange jacket, a red Buff on my head and a pair of purple gloves.

What a fashion leader I am.

Monday 12 March 2007

A New Toy!

I ordered a Steripen from a shop in the USA just over a week ago. On Friday I got home to find a Royal Mail card on the doorstep. Knowing that the item was waiting at the Sorting Office for me made me want to get my hands on it immediately (irrespective of the fact that I won’t be using it for another couple of weeks yet), but as I was away on Friday night, it was going to have to wait until this morning to be collected.

On Saturday night I got home to another Royal Mail card (the Lowe Alpine Mountain Cap that I ordered), giving me double the reason to make myself late for work by swinging by the Sorting Office this morning (and no, leaving the house earlier doesn’t help; the Enquiry Office opens at 7am, which is the time I start work 15 miles away).

I’ve not had the chance to get it out of its box, to touch it and to feel it yet, but I am now the proud owner of the Steripen Adventurer (100g) for the princely sum of £62 (including P&P) – £30 less than I could have bought the heavier version for in the UK and around half the price of the Adventurer in the UK.

I’m very pleased with that. My first foray into buying kit from the USA seems to have been a success (should I say that before I’ve opened the parcel to find out whether it got broken en-route?).

Sunday 11 March 2007

Warm AND Sunny!

Yesterday I spent most of the day laying a laminate floor for the girlfriend of elder step-son (hadn’t anticipated the flooring exercise, so had taken a hand saw, but not an electric one). The rest of the day I spent lying under the bath, uttering the occasional expletive, as I fitted a new set of taps (and let me just say, twelve screws just to hold the bath panel on – had I taken my drill/driver? Course not!).

Spending a day laying a laminate floor is like spending a day at the gym doing squats. Sawing a room’s worth of laminate flooring by hand certainly uses the arm muscles to an uncustomary degree.

This morning I woke up aching quite considerably. The glutes, the inner thigh, the back: it all ached.

But, I wasn’t going to allow such aching to put me off the planned 18.5 mile training walk today.

The route was the same as last Sunday. The difference was that whereas last Sunday it rained for the entire 6 hours, today the sun shone on us for the entire 5.5 hours (half an hour time difference – amazing how fast you can walk when you’re not slipping sideways on mud the whole time).

Perversely, having taken delivery of my new Paramo Velez this week, I was hoping for rain today. As it went, I completed most of the walk in shirt sleeves. Had I had convertible trousers on, I would have zipped the legs off. How Husband managed to remain comfortable in merino baselayer under this Paramo outer and with long johns under his trews, I do not know. He didn’t even take his hat off until over half way.

It was certainly the warmest day of the year so far, which also brought everybody out of their houses. Last Sunday we say two other people. This weekend we saw dozens in the space of twenty yards at Fradley Junction alone.

By the time we reached the 16 mile point I was hurting a lot. Temptation to take the short route home was strong. However, I plodded on – even managing to jog the last hundred or so yards to home – reaching the front door just as the national anthems were being sung by France and England for the rugby. What perfect timing.

Sunday 4 March 2007

18 Muddy Miles

An 18.5 mile walk around the local area today, starting off across fields, then resorting to lanes in order to get ourselves onto the tow path of the Trent and Mersey canal for the walk back home.

Water was, once again a big feature of the day. Apart from that falling from the sky (the rain started as we left home and stayed with us for the entire 6 hours that we were walking), the ground has again suffered from the recent rain. The fields around the Trent which had almost drained from their previous lake-like state are now more flooded than ever. All of which meant that the going underfoot was muddy – even the tow path involved a lot of slip-sliding around.

Husband was smugly comfortable in his new Paramo Vasco jacket and his Cascada trews. I was less comfortable in my Wynnster bottoms. Once again, my Buffalo mitts get a round of applause for keeping my hands snugly warm even when they became sodden after all those hours of rain.

Saturday 3 March 2007


We have an entire spare bedroom of backpacking and camping stuff. Strictly speaking, there is nothing that we don’t have that we need. But, we don’t have any other expensive habits or hobbies, I try to avoid ordinary clothes shops and don’t do make up or hairdos. All of which seems to justify our obsession with outdoor gear.

When we first made the bold step from just walking into backpacking, we bought a whole pile of new lightweight stuff. Unfortunately, at the time I hadn’t found the OM forum and hadn’t done a whole lot of research. A number of those items turned out to be functional, but not ideal from a lightweight point of view. Other items turned out not to even be entirely functional.

I have now learnt a lot and I spend plenty of time reading people’s opinions.

I’ve also come to realise that what’s good for summer is not necessarily the best choice for winter, and vice versa.

So, despite having an entire spare room full of stuff, I still have a ridiculously long wish list. Today inroads were made into that wish list. The carrier bags contained:

- A Paramo Vasco top for Husband (he wanted a jacket rather than a smock, good for me as I’ve been lusting after the Velez for quite a while and I didn’t want to be ‘his and hers matching’ yet again; today I resisted buying the Velez in any case)
- A Paramo Velez Smock for me (okay, I resisted it at the time; on the 3 hour journey home I realised my mistake and ordered it as soon as I got home)
- A pair of Inov8 Roclite 330’s for Husband (must talk about the service in George Fisher separately and about my experience and thoughts on the Terrocs)
- One of those ridiculously lightweight towels for Husband (I make do with a small chamois-esque towel, Husband likes something larger, this seemed like a good compromise)
- A pair of Icebreaker boxer shorts for Husband (I’m contemplating the Smartwool alternative for myself, but again, that’s a different story; for Husband, I was relishing the ‘no stink’ claim!)
- An Osprey Aura 35 litre (I had the 50 litre for Christmas, but one can never have too many backpacks (surely?) and I think that this one will get a lot of use);
- An Osprey Atmos 50 litre for Husband (he just has to copy…)
- A Rab thermal pro fleece for Husband.

I think that completes the extravaganza. As you will note, I was a whole lot more restrained than Husband was.

More about individual items to follow.


After a mud-fest at Keswick C&CC Site last night, we took a quick jaunt up Skiddaw this morning. The first time I’ve been up there in about 25 years.

I like to set off up to popular summits as early as possible. A number of reasons: mainly the fact that you don’t have to share the path up with a thousand other people and don’t have to take a photo of the summit with nineteen other people in the shot; also, if you want to drive to a local car park, it’s a darn sight easier to park early than it is mid-morning.

The down side of reaching a summit by mid-to-late morning is that the cloud hasn’t had the opportunity to burn off.

So, once again, we stood on a summit with pretty poor visibility. This time we also had a little bit of an arctic ‘breeze’ with which to contend. I managed to stay on my feet, but only just.

By the time we got back down to the car park, the last wisp of cloud left the summit, so that long line of people we passed on our way down will have experienced spectacular views.

Hey ho. We still got the solitude … and the views from below the cloud level were pretty good anyway.

Getting back to Keswick by early afternoon, there was then a gear-fest to be had. But that’s another story.