A Cliffhanger…….

Yesterday I went to the picturesque village of Malham in the Yorkshire Dales above Skipton. It was a 50 minute drive and a beautiful one at that, taking me along the A65 which, when not busy, takes visitors through some of the most stunning scenery anywhere.

Ok so I know you’ll say surely the scenery is still stunning even when the road is busy but for one thing, don’t call me surely (old jokes are still funny) and secondly, no one likes to be stuck in a stream of traffic which often happens on that road, especially in the summer.

But yesterday the kiddies were back in school after the Easter hols and so it was a great time to be on the road to Malham; Yorkshire stone walls breaking up the Dales carpet into a patchwork of fields, new born lambs struggling with the dilemma of wanting to play everywhere and yet not stray too far from mummy, sky blue reservoirs breaking up the vista of greenery on all sides and quaint villages with the one essential necessary for civilised life – a pub.

I managed to find a free roadside parking space, something very rare in Malham, and as it was 12:30, I decided to go to the nearby cafe for lunch.

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The Old Barn Cafe was delightful and despite being initially overcharged for my meal, the Old Barn Special, I was soon full as an egg and raring to start the walk to Malham Cove, the reason for my visit there.

The cove is a limestone formation just north of the village. The large, curved feature was formed by a waterfall carrying meltwater from glaciers at the end of the last ice age more than 12,000 years ago. Today it’s a well-known beauty spot within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. A large limestone “pavement” is above the cove and this would be my first time up there.

The cove was formed by a large ice-age river that fell at this point as a cataract. The water drop was 80 m (260 ft) high and more than 300 m (980 ft) wide. The colossal amount of water flowing over the waterfall created the curved shape of the cove because the lip was more heavily eroded than the sides.

(thank you Wikipedia and now you know)

There are several walks that lead to both the top and bottom of the cove so I picked the one that would take me to both.

This started off by taking me through the village and given its size, I was out in the countryside in minutes. This is the view looking back the way I came.

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I had brought my drone but decided before leaving the car that I wouldn’t take it with me on the walk. There was a fair bit of wind at ground level which I guessed would be stronger at the top of the cove and it doesn’t take much wind to blow my little drone off course and make it very hard to control.

As this sign along the path shows, that was a good decision.

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Soon the cove came into view……….

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Despite the sign asking visitors to stick to the path, I did go a bit rogue at times to take these photos. Forgive me sign.

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At this point the path split and I stayed on the straight (and narrow) to go up the the cove wall as I could see there were some climbers there.

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Stunning as it was, I wanted to get to the top and after watching this guy for a while and realising he wasn’t going to fall, I headed back to the split and going right, I was soon at the bottom of the stone steps which led to the top.

Oh yes….those steps.  Climbing them almost killed me.  I kid you not.  There were over 400 of them and the slope angle was about 50 degrees most of the way. !!

I’m old and unfit although I like to lie to myself that I’m neither.

Those fecking steps were a wakeup call and I had to stop every dozen or so just to stop my heart from bursting, Alien like, through my chest.

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Half way up I had a longer rest, a drink and took in the view.

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A little further on and I needed another rest.  At this point, and seeing what was still left to climb, I seriously thought about returning to ground level but the idea of going back down was almost as bad as carrying on.

Why is there never a Sherpa around when you need one ?!

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Finally, feeling like Edmund Hillary on Everest, I reached the top and after making use of the emergency oxygen supply for seniors, I explored the amazing limestone pavement that spread out before me.

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This zoom photo makes it took like the drop to the people at the bottom wasn’t that great.

Believe me, after climbing those 400 plus steps, I can tell you the drop WAS great.

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I wanted to get a photo looking over the edge but with only a nearby branch in sharp focus. I couldn’t use the dSLR so holding the phone in my left hand, I steadied the branch with my right hand and then thought, now what ?  Despite having my phone camera set to take photos by voice command, I still had to press the focus area on the screen and I hadn’t brought my third hand with me !

Every time I pressed the focus area and then switched to hold the branch, the focus returned to full screen area. I finally held the branch as steady as I could with my right arm, set the focus to the buds, shouted “smile” as my shutter voice command and was delighted to see this result………

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As mentioned before, I didn’t fancy going down those steps as my knees wouldn’t have been happy so I went down the other side of the cove to the village. This was still a steep walk but done initially over grassland and then a narrow road so much easier.

As I went around to the other side, I was able to get one last look at the cove in all its splendour. There were even a few people on the top to give scale.

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Back down in Malham, I had time to take a short walk along the small village stream which joins the River Aire which then meanders through the Dales to Leeds and on to empty into the River Ouse and finally the Humber on the East coast.

But at Malham it’s just a beck with a pretty bridge over it…….

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And even a small piece of quentessential Yorkshire for sale………

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And a view straight from the cover of a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle box.

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The last house on that side of the beck was a B&B called Miresfield Farm and with 10 ensuite bedrooms at £32 pp, it would seem to be the place to stay if visiting the area.

Certainly the views would be hard to beat.

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And then I was back at the car and ready for the short, scenic drive home.

I’d recommend a visit to the cove but think twice before taking the steps route to the top.

Especially if you’re an unfit, overweight pensioner like wot I am !

P.S. If the limestone pavement looks familiar, then you must be a Harry Potter fan. In 2010’s Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1, Harry and Hermione are camping overnight up there and even have time for a little dance.

Here is a still I took from the movie………..I know it’s dark but it was nighttime !

 

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Oh ok, here’s one from a bit earlier.

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When One Door Opens……..

First….a rant !

Welllllll it wouldn’t be me without a rant or two now would it ?!

I’ve just returned from a Tesco shopping trip (more detail on that later) and putting car park reversing drivers to one side, this time my rant is a double one….

  1. Cars with no lights on when it’s overcast, raining, foggy or just plain hard to see.
  2. Cars with faulty indicators – they MUST be faulty otherwise why would they not be used ?

Today is a typical British spring day, overcast and dull. Definitely a day when lights are needed to help other drivers see you more easily….NOT for you to see better yourself.

I add that bit because I suspect the reason these “no lighters” would say they don’t need lights on is because they can see other cars perfectly well.

Maybe that’s because THEY have their lights on, eh ?

I just don’t understand it.  It’s not like having your lights on uses more petrol or anything. And if the rain is heavy, you have to turn on your lights by law. Many don’t…..or use side lights which are as useful as an ejector seat on a helicopter.

Most modern cars have “running lights” but clearly their owners aren’t aware that normally (like on mine) this setting doesn’t light the rear ones and in heavy rain seeing the car in front of you is as important, or more so,  as seeing the one coming towards you.

Indicators. Now I know that we all occasionally forget to use them, especially when a passenger or kids in the back are rabbiting on about something and distracting us a bit.

But come on, every single car I saw today not indicating at roundabouts or even when turning at a junction had only the driver inside. And, trying not to be sexist here, most were women.

I’ll leave that fact with no further comment.

Again…..why ?  Why not indicate ?  At best you hold up traffic waiting to join as they can’t read your mind; at worst you may hit, or be hit by, another car for the same reason.

Ok, I’ll never change the habits of people who do both these things but hey, this helped get it off my chest – for now.

Now for the extra bit about my Tesco shopping trip today.

Yesterday, on a trip to Costco, I bought 2 collapsible crates so I could load shopping into them as I walk the supermarket aisles and then simply reload the items back into them at the checkout and finally transfer the full crates into the car.

No more bags (sometimes just one could be taken up by a large bulky item) and the crates can then be taken into the house much more easily than multiple bags.

Now I know this isn’t new and shoppers have used crates for years and even collapsible ones have been around a while. But what can I tell you – they are new for me and today was their first supermarket test and although I just needed one crate for my small shop, it worked a treat and even the cashier remarked on it.

Shopping Crate

I could get a part time job as a home shopping delivery man.

This last story links both previous topics – being forgetful (giving those drivers the benefit of the doubt) and the crates.

As I said, I was at Costco yesterday and my usual pre shopping routine is to go to the cafe area and get a hot dog and soda. I then drink what’s left as I go around the warehouse and after checking out, get a free refill to take to the car.

At the checkout yesterday, in preparation for loading the items into the newly bought crates (decided I might as well use them there and then), I popped my drink onto the payment shelf – and then forgot to take it with me. I guess the excitement of using the crates overwhelmed me !

I stopped off at the cafe again to get an ice cream (3 scoops in a tub) and off I went to my car. Now I’d managed to park in the closest bay possible to the warehouse as to my right were two extra large bays reserved for their rental vans and those bays were empty. Wanting to put my ice cream tub somewhere safe, I opened the driver’s door and put it into one of the cup holders and then went back to open the tailgate to put the crates into the back.

With the tailgate closed and cart/trolley empty, I suddenly remembered my drink !  Now even I wouldn’t have gone back for it but as I was returning the cart anyway, I decided to get it. Walking away from the car, I locked it without looking back and went to get my drink.

Have you spotted what I didn’t do ?

I went to the checkouts and the lady had put my drink to one side so I did get it back. After filling it up, I went to the exit and with nothing obstructing my view to my car, I was gobsmacked to see the driver’s door was open !!!  Wide open.

That’s what I’d forgotten to do……close it.

I rushed over to the car expecting to see something missing from it and was sooooo relieved to find nothing had been taken. To be fair, the Costco car park isn’t really the place where you’d expect anything to be taken from a car but an open door would have tested the honesty of a few people.  I think anyone passing would have assumed the driver was around, maybe putting the cart back.

Not inside the warehouse for about 4-5 minutes as I was.

Maybe this memory thingy is more serious than I thought.

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To Sleep, To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

Joe, a blog reader, asked me in a comment for an update on the mattress I bought back in January.

Well Joe, I’m very happy with it. Best mattress I’ve ever bought.

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Yes, as many reviewers had said,  it took a week or so for the smell to fade – or maybe that’s how long it took for me to get used to it !

Is was also my first memory foam mattress so I did take a while to get used to its unique texture; now I love it.

I sleep on my side/front so had been advised to get this mattress as it used zone “technology” to give support where my body needed it most and more importantly, wouldn’t give me the backache I’d had with previous mattresses.

I can now say it does that.

Reviewers also said it tends to get you too warm but as I’ve had it in the winter months, that’s been a blessing for me.  How I feel in the summer months will be another matter but my attitude will be that when in the bed, covers can always be thrown off more easily than added.

So yes, Joe, it’s been a great success and thanks for the comment.

I’m glued to the tv right now watching and hoping that Rory McIlroy can win The Masters and complete the Grand Slam of Majors. I’d love to play the Augusta National course – hell I’d be happy to drive down Magnolia Lane to the clubhouse and back out again.

But unless you’re a member or a professional golfer, maybe only a PGA golfer, you’re not even allowed to drive ONTO Magnolia Lane from the main road.

Believe me, I tried.

Back in the early 90’s when on one of my trips to Georgia where I was staying with friends, I drove to Augusta to see if I could even see a part of the course. The club’s owners don’t even give visitors that pleasure. It’s more private and secretive than the Scientology HQ !

Tall trees, thick hedges and high gates at the few entrances ensure you can’t even get a glimpse of the place. Remember how Jack Nicholas was asked to show his pass one year. They probably even have people employed to shoot down drones trying to capture views from above.

Oh well, Roundhay Municipal Golf Club may not be as famous but at least I can drive right up to the clubhouse, such as it is.

AND I can use my Senior Discount Card so ya boo to you, Augusta National.

Sadly in the time taken to write about Augusta, Rory has lost the plot and lost his chance of winning, or even coming in the top 10. In fact with 6 holes to go, only 4 players have scored more than him today.

At Augusta National, a bit like me, he’s not going to get a look in.

 

 

 

 

Thanks For The….Umm….Oh Yeah…. Memories !

I have a problem with names. Simply put, I can’t remember them and a combination of age and watching too much crap tv has been making it worse by the year.

Take Coronation Street as an example.  I know…….I keep chastising myself about watching it so don’t start.

The point is that when I start to talk about it to another watcher, I find myself saying…..

“Oh I hated it when….ummm…whatshername….the woman who runs the shop……the corner shop……oh yeah, The Cabin; well when she was gossiping with….ummm….the guy who runs the factory…no not the old guy….his son, the one who fancies whatshername at The Rovers…..the guy who gave a kidney to the one who just came back into the show ?”

You mean Rita and Aidan ?

Yeah them……

And so it goes on.  The thing is, that given a few minutes, I WILL remember the names but when on the spot, I just can’t. I’d be no use in a quiz when on a timer but I’d ace an email quiz !

Then again, ask me to identify a song or a song lyric from the 60’s and I’m like a University Challenge super brain.

I used to be worried that I had early onset…..ummm….you know, that loss of memory thingy. But I now believe it’s just that my brain is so full of all the tv shows I watch daily that it’s in desperate need of a format.

Actually no; to stick with the hard drive analogy, my brain needs a reorg to clear out gaps and spaces and bring all the bits of knowledge together ! As there isn’t much of that, I should be left with lots more room for important data – like Corrie cast names !

So with this in mind, it probably wasn’t a good idea to start reading the latest Ken Follett tome last night, A Column of Fire. When it comes to numbers of characters, his books are like modern versions of War and Peace.  In my pre Kindle days, I bought the actual books and I’m now thinking of offering them to my neighbour to be used as part of the new foundations for his house extension.

I’m sure my Kindle feels heavier too !

It also wasn’t a good idea to start the book in bed so I was tired already. The thing is, I only read in bed as when downstairs, I’m watching tv…….you know, lots of tv.

The sleep experts tell us we should go to bed to sleep…not to read first or watch tv in bed or anything…..just to sleep. I’m thinking the world’s population would soon dwindle if that advice was followed but maybe they don’t mean EVERYTHING should be avoided.

It’s obvious that reading or watching tv in bed will “stimulate” the brain so sleep may be hard to achieve but although I’ve resisted the temptation to watch tv in bed, I’m not giving up reading. I think it usually helps me to get off to sleep, although a lot of that may be down to the book.

So last night I was about 15 pages into “A Column Of Fire” and had to go back twice to remind myself who Ned fancied, who Bart was (no, not Homer’s son), how did Rollo fit into the plot, not to mention trying to remember who was Catholic and who was Protestant.  Then there was sorting the hierarchy of Viscounts, Earls and other nobs and don’t get me going on the dodgy alliances of the royals of England, Scotland, France and Spain.

Not surprisingly after all that, it took a while to get off to sleep after putting down the Kindle.

Maybe I’m being too adventurous.  A book with over 88 characters ? Maybe I should be reading Robinson Crusoe except I’d probably still have to go back to remind myself who Man Friday was !

The previous books in Follett’s Kingsbridge series helped a bit as back in the early days of this grand historical epic (12th century) most working men had names relating to their jobs…Tom Builder (Bob’s ancestor no doubt), Prior Philip, Bishop Henry, George Doubleglazingsalesman and William Centralheatingengineer to name a few. This made it easier for me to remember who was who and what they did but now I’m starting the 3rd book in the trilogy, we’re in the 16th century and names aren’t helpful at all.

There are even several members of the Cobley family, although I think Mr. Follett missed a trick not including Uncle Tom somewhere in the story !

But enough literary shenanigans.

As many regular readers may know, I spend Friday evenings with friends when we have a takeaway and watch a movie. Yesterday, being a Friday, we watched Jumanji : Welcome To The Jungle. Needless to say, when asked who was in it, the conversation went as follows……

….the big BIG bald guy…..ummmm……was in Baywatch“.

“Nope”

Oh you know…..him…..The Rock” (I was quite sure that would do it).

“Nope”.

Oh come ON.  Was a wrestler.  Oh oh oh….was in Fast & Furious 17“.  (slight exaggeration there…..and therefor not very helpful).

“Nope”.

I gave up and we started watching the movie.  After they entered the game and I saw him, I shouted out……

Dwayne Johnson” !!!

See, I got there eventually. I also got Jack Black when I saw him but had to look up Kevin Hart as I always get his fast paced delivery mixed up with that of Chris Tucker.

Names. It’s a worry.

These same friends “inherited” a lovely cat called Wendy when their son and his girlfriend moved down to London. After a few years of being relatively normal, Wendy started staying out all the time, only coming in to eat and would then shoot out again as if startled by something. All throughout the winter, when temps would drop below zero and when snow occasionally covered the ground, Wendy insisted on being outside somewhere in the bushes and no amount of coaxing would entice her inside.

Then a few weeks ago, as suddenly as this behaviour started, and with the arrival of Spring, she changed again and decided to come inside – for good.  Well so far, for good.

She’s a very strange cat but it’s nice to have her inside.

As a bit of a cat whisperer, she likes to spend Friday evenings on my lap which is fine by me. While waiting for me to get settled, she was posing on the settee top and I took this photo of her. I include it here for no other reason than I wanted to have one photo in the blog.

And she’s so darn cute.

Wendy

But she wasn’t a fan of Jumanji, Dwayne Johnson notwithstanding, and ended up sleeping next to me until the movie ended and we all got up to stretch our legs.

Cute, strange and obviously a harsh movie critic.

That’s Wendy, not me.

 

 

 

 

 

A Rant And A Near Miss. Happy Easter.

Sweet mother of all that’s holy……why oh why do people reverse into parking bays ?

Yes this is one of my pet peeves which usually bubbles up within me after a trip to a supermarket as these are the locations where reverse drivers seem to go to perform their devilish manoeuvres.

Why ?

I understand that one reason might be that it makes driving out of the bay so much easier and that’s clearly correct. But what I fail to understand is that it ALWAYS takes these same drivers several attempts to reverse into the bay in the first place…..so they’re only switching the “ease” from the start to the end of the process.

I’m sure those who do reverse in will take exception to my ALWAYS comment but let’s face it, even if you can park like a professional, you’ll still hold people up with that first move as you have to go beyond the empty bay in order to start the reversing process.

If the car park is busy with new arrivals bumper to bumper all looking for that elusive empty bay near the doors, then that first reverse move may take an age as the innocent car behind will be blocking your route as he/she will have no idea what you’re up to until they see the reversing lights come on and then they have to reverse as well !

But can’t…..as there are cars up their rear end as well.

Now wouldn’t it be much easier to just pull into the empty bay without even having to slow down the flow of cars behind you ?

Yes it would.

And if you say the “getting back out again” can be an accident waiting to happen, then that logic and lack of basic ability should mean you shouldn’t be driving a car in the first place.

So you’ve reversed into the bay and gone shopping.  Wonderful.  You come back out pushing your trolley/cart full of goodies and approach your car, safe in the knowledge that you will soon be able to drive out as easy as leaving your driveway – which of course you’ve also reversed onto !  Wonderful.

Hang on though. The goodies have to go into the boot/trunk. But it’s round the back now and you can’t get to it as cars are on each side and even opening the tailgate will be tricky as a car has come right up to your rear end and…and….and. Oh well. the goodies are in bags so you can just hump them along the side of the car, causing potential scratches to both vehicles and after 3 or 4 trips this way, you’re good to go.

Oh yeah, this reversing into the bay has saved SO much time and effort. NOT !!

I can’t remember having shopped on Easter Saturday before although I can’t claim that as a fact. But I’d run out of milk and needed a few other necessities (no not Easter eggs) so went to my local Sainsburys thinking it wouldn’t be too busy with families gathered at home watching “The Greatest Story Ever Told” or visiting family/friends or clogging up the roads going nowhere fast.

Boy did I get it wrong.  It was a zoo. Cars were actually waiting in line for parking places and the management had got staff at the entry and exit points doing traffic duty to try and keep the flow….flowing. But everyone seemed to be in holiday mood and laid back and I never heard any horns being tooted or voices raised in parking rage.

Being in the rather posh suburbs of North Leeds, a huge proportion of the vehicles were monsterous SUVs that looked like they could park in a bay even if there was a car already in it !  These ridiculously oversized status symbols seemed to be driven by “yummy mummies” and if I hadn’t been wanting to park myself before it became Easter Sunday, I would have enjoyed watching their numerous attempts to reverse into bays never designed for their size.  The vehicle size I mean of course.

Costco car park yes, every other car park, not so much.

It was even funnier to see them finally get into the bay only to realise they would have to climb out the tailgate as there wasn’t even room for a fashion model to squeeze out the doors.

With the turning circle of a camper van, getting out wasn’t always an easy process either but you live by the sword, you die by……and so on.

So whether in a Toyota Landcruiser or a Fiat 500 I still don’t understand the value of reverse parking and before you ask, no, I don’t understand why it annoys me so much either !

Back to Good Friday and still on a motoring topic, I came very close to wiping out a kid on a bike when I was on my way to my friend’s house for lunch.

Coming down Princess Avenue in Leeds I passed 4 kids who were on the pavement and in their own way, were motoring along at a fair lick. There was the leader on a bike and his 3 friends (I’m assuming) were strung out behind him on those basic old fashioned two wheeled scooters where you have one foot on the thing and use the other to propel it along.  As the road approaches Oakwood traffic lights, it slopes considerably so these 4 little tykes (probably 9 or 10 yrs old at most) were flying.

I had to stop in the line at the lights and by the time I was moving off again, the foursome were just about parallel with me.  It’s a complex junction and all the cars in front of me went straight on up Oakwood Lane but I was turning left, and indicating, to go along Wetherby Road.

Just as I started the turn, I noticed the lad on the bike was reaching the end of the pavement at speed and had no intention of stopping as he clearly wanted to carry that speed across the road to help him on the steep climb up Oakwood Lane.  If other cars had turned left, he might have realised the potential danger he was in, but as they’d all gone straight on, I was not on his radar, literally.

He shot off the pavement and as these dashcam stills show, I was already doing 23mph when he appeared right in my path. So close did he come that I only saw the top of his body because his bike was totally hidden by my bonnet/hood. The dashcam is mounted at the very top of my windscreen so gives a more aerial view.

It’s also got a wide angle lens to cover a wider area so the lad was much closer than he appears on these photos.

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As you can see already, the two cars ahead of me have gone straight on and I’m turning left and actually still accelerating away from the lights. Suddenly I realise the kid hasn’t stopped and in the next photo, you can see he’s finally aware of both my car and the danger he’s in !  As I hit the brakes, he swerves slightly out of my way but still carries on across the road and never actually turns around as he starts up the hill.

His first friend comes along on his scooter and stops with a shocked look on his face and then he also crosses before I move off again.

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The dashcam is quite slow to register initial speed ups and slow downs so although it shows 9mph in the last photo, I had been stopped for a couple of seconds already and it was just catching up.

I must have been inches from the lad’s rear wheel when he swerved away from me.

I always wondered how I’d react if I ever hit someone, adult or child, when driving and now I have some idea.

Looking back on it now, I realise it gave me a strange mix of emotions within a short period of time.

In no particular order, as they say, shock, concern, relief, anger, relief, relief, relief.

And a bit of pride in my ability to have done an emergency stop and not stalled the car.

My driving instructor would have been proud.

Thanks Dad !

 

 

 

A Day Out In East Anglia.

It’s been a funny old week.

As detailed on the previous post, I went up to High Force Waterfall on Monday and then on Wednesday workmen were due to start ripping up my neighbour’s back patio and half their driveway as phase 1 of building a new extension on the side of their house and also erecting a conservatory at the rear.

The side extension will bring a wall right up along my driveway (ever since I moved in here 36 years ago, both our drives have been parallel with no fence or hedge separating them and that’s quite unusual for this street) so although I’m not happy about it, there is nothing I can do. I didn’t contest the plans as I couldn’t.  It’s just that my kitchen window will look out on this wall instead of looking across their back garden and on towards other homes. I’m sure I’ll loose some light into the kitchen but it was all approved so on we go.

I’d already planned on going out every day as the noise will be annoying and as the building work will risk damaging my car but when my neighbour informed me early on Wednesday morning that work wasn’t going to start till Thursday, I had a lie in and enjoyed this delay.

So when, on Thursday morning, I was woken by the noise of heavy equipment arriving, I got up, had a quick breakfast and set off for a road trip. When planning where to go, I ruled out routes based on the forecast weather (heavy rain spreading up from the south west) and finally picked East Anglia in general and the seaside resort of Cromer in particular.

I’d only been to East Anglia a couple of times and never to Cromer.  Apart from small parts of the M11 and A1(M), East Anglia isn’t blessed with motorways and so getting to the coast there from the north of England can be painfully slow.

My outward drive wasn’t helped by the fact that starting on the A1, I managed to go onto the M1 towards London !  I think I was enjoying the start of the drive so much on a lovely blue sky morning that I took my eye off the ball, so to speak, and totally missed the overhead signage informing me to be in the 3 left lanes to remain on the A1 or pick one of the 3 right hand lanes to merge onto the M1.

Clearly I’d been in one of the right lanes and didn’t leave it !

This situation partly came about because I’d decided that I didn’t need to waste my phone’s battery by using its GPS app (Waze) as it was only 5 different roads to get me all the way to Cromer and I had them memorised.

Ha !

And so it was that a mile or so later, I saw signs for Wakefield and London and the penny dropped. Now I HAD to use Waze to get me back on track and after powering it up, it advised me to leave the M1 at the M18 junction a few miles away and rejoin the A1(M). This added 24 miles to my journey but I didn’t mind as my recently serviced car was purring along nicelyand its cruise control took the strain out of driving.

My first stop came 177 miles and 3.5hrs after leaving home when I was well into Norfolk. If I’d known it would take so long to get there I’d have picked somewhere different to drive to in order to avoid the workmen next door !

I was on the A149 along the top of East Anglia, just beyond Hunstanton, and saw a narrow road to my left and a sign saying “beach”. Needing a break, I fancied a walk along a beach so I took the single track road till it ran out at a small parking area.  Unable to drive any further I parked up and started walking towards the beach.

It was quite a walk, first crossing Hunstanton golf course and then crossing over sand dunes before finally reaching Holne Beach. And what a beach it was. Enormous in both directions. Flat hard sand as far as the eye could see and not a soul on it.

Photographically it was boring as there was nothing to break up the beach and provide some interest. I only took one phone photo but it gives an idea of what I experienced.

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I walked along it for about a mile before walking back to the car and rejoining the A149 towards Cromer.  I turned off the phone again (and so no GPS) as I knew the road led all the way to Cromer but when I came to a T junction at Wells with no mention of the A149 in either direction, I knew I’d made another mistake but had no idea how.

Later on I found out…….

Going through Wells (or Wells-next-the-Sea to give it its full name), if you stayed on the main road, which I did, the A149 simply becomes the B1105, There was a turn off to the left which was the continuation of the A149 but the sign was actually AT the turn off, on the right hand side of the road, with no easy way of spotting it. So it was the B1105 I was on when I came to that T junction. I went right and after a few minutes I joined the main A148 to Cromer, the road I’d wanted to avoid as I wanted to hug the coast and pass through the numerous little villages along that route.

This little screw up added 11 miles to my drive and so by the time I parked on Runton Road in Cromer, I’d driven 221 miles and it had taken me the best part of 5 1/2hrs of actual driving.

I’d only had cereal at 8:30 before setting off so by now (4pm) I was very hungry. Wanting to take advantage of the lovely weather and knowing rain was on the way, I put off eating and walked around the town, along the promenade, out along the pier and finally back near to the car to eat that most traditional of seaside meals, fish and chips.

In winter, UK seaside resorts can be like sad ghost towns with the amusements closed and few people around. Despite officially being spring and it being relatively mild and sunny, this was the case on Thursday with Cromer. I’m not sure I’d ever want to return, even in high summer, as there wasn’t much to see or do there.  Yes the pier was well maintained but there wasn’t anything to see on it but a restaurant and theatre at the end.

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After walking the length of the pier and back, I went along to the actual beach but that was a great disappointment as it was all shingle and large stones at that. It was so deep that every boat that was above the water line was connected to a tractor so they could be towed to the water when needed.

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There was also a lifeboat station and a museum but the aged tractors fascinated me. They were mostly very rusty and it was hard to believe they’d actually start when called upon.

One in particular, the most rusty, reminded me of the field of sleeping tractors in the movie “Cars” when Mater and Lightning McQueen crept up to do a bit of sneaky tractor tipping one night !

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I was impressed with the standard of the “bathing huts” lining the seafront as they weren’t the usual basic wooden constructs. You could easily live in each one although I’m sure that wouldn’t be allowed.

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After that, I walked back to the town centre, smiling as I passed the main seafront hotel, the Hotel de Paris. Not quite as grand as the one I’d seen in Monaco but with a faded glory nonetheless.

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I popped in to a couple of souvenir shops but decided against buying my usual souvenir when visiting somewhere new, a fridge magnet. My fridge freezer has no more room on it for any more magnets so I just looked around and after buying a bottle of  Pepsi Max Cherry from an Iceland store and spending a few moments of reflection in St. Peter and St. Paul Church, I headed back to the car, getting a box of fish and chips on the way.

I sat eating them in the car and with a view overlooking the pier, it was a lovely spot to do so. By now it was 6pm and 9 hours since I’d last eaten – that cereal before leaving home, so I was ravenous. The sea air and all that.

While eating, I used the time to charge up the phone as I knew I’d need to use the Waze app due to doing most of the drive home in the dark. Once I’d finished my meal and when the phone was on 65%, I put in my home address and was pleasantly surprised to see that it estimated it would be 186 miles and 3 hrs 45 mins back as I was going a more direct way.

Checking the dashcam footage and timings, I left Cromer at 18:08 and driving non stop, I was on my driveway at 21:52.

Yes Waze is pretty impressive when it comes to forecast timings !

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Yes, as you can see, I didn’t “spring forward” the dashcam clock.  There’s always one you forget about !

All told, I drove 399.5 miles and was behind the wheel for 9hrs and 5 mins. I never meant to drive that far just to get away from the work going on next door (you can see the pile of soil etc on the left of the photo above) and if I’d realised I’d be driving 400 miles, I’d have gone to somewhere more interesting than Cromer.

I could have gone to Edinburgh and back or London and back for goodness sake. Then again that would have involved mostly motorway driving which I find quite tiring (and boring) these days. I enjoyed my time on the minor roads in East Anglia and my time on the beach so it was still a good day out.

Just maybe a couple of hundred miles too far !

Then yesterday on my way to my friend’s house here in North Leeds where we have lunch together every Friday with sandwiches I collect from Cooplands on the way, I had a very close call with disaster – all caught on the dashcam.

But I’ve waffled enough on this post so THAT story can wait till the next time.

See you then………..

 

 

Waterfalls……Yes It Does !

The weather on Monday was promising and so I decided to go for a day out and visit a waterfall I’d never been to before…….High Force Falls up in Teesdale in Co. Durham.

Actually I thought it was in North Yorkshire when I set off but that’s me. I always assume stunning places are always in Yorkshire !

The drive took me up the A1(M) and I was pleased to find most of the long standing road works had gone except for those near Scotch Corner where I turned off onto the A66 to Barnard Castle and beyond.

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Taking my time and enjoying the sunny weather, it was a 2hr drive to the waterfall car park just across the road from the private path leading to the falls. The little car park payment “sentry box” was unmanned (£3 a day and £1.50 for using the path) but across the road at the start of the path there was an honesty box so as I’d the money to hand anyway, I popped it in.

The path was very well maintained and it was a pleasant stroll down to the falls. Along the way there were signs informing us that due to health and safety considerations, the ongoing steps up to the top of the falls were closed off by a locked gate – although until I got to the bottom, I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant.

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After getting some tantalising glimpses through the trees, thankfully bereft of leaves at this time, I came to the end of the path and found I could go no further. From a photographic point of view, I’d hoped to get right up to the falls as you usually get to do but not at High Force. To my right were some steep steps which eventually led to the top of the falls from this northern side but as the signs had warned, there was a gate closing off this route.

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With nothing much else to see or photograph, I looked around and noticed a few people up at the top but over on the southern side of the falls. Having no idea how they’d got there, I just decided to return to the car and leave.

Rather disappointed.

When I got back up to the road, I saw there was a public footpath a few feet away and as it clearly led down to the river, I decided to go exploring.

So glad I did.

The walk East along the river (River Tees) was delightful and after 1/3rd of a mile, there was a lovely bridge across to the other side where the route joined the Pennine Way and went back West along the river towards the falls.

Look, I’ve created a wee map !!

High Force Falls Map

Well what a revelation. Despite not being able to get a clear view approaching the top of the falls, once at the top I was able to risk life and limb (no health and safety in force here) and get right to the edge for some dramatic photos and video.

At this point I’ll take the easy way out and slot in a photo + video montage I created yesterday and posted to Vimeo.  I know it includes photos I’ve already posted on this blog (and still to come) but hey, you get to see them again to peruse at your leisure.

Hopefully you can watch it without having to log onto Vimeo.

Make sure you use the two icons to the left of the word “vimeo” to watch the clip at its best. The star wheel lets you pick 1080p and the four arrows icon means at full screen.

UpdateI’ve just checked the published post and at my end at least, the video plays in the page and there is no option to make it full screen. Shame.

I spent a couple of hours at the top as it was a wonderful place and I mostly had it to myself. Occasionally a couple would come and if it was obvious they wanted photographic memories together, I helped out by using their camera to get them both.

I make a habit of doing this at scenic locations as selfies have their place but you can’t better a photo properly framed by a 3rd party.

When one young man asked if he could do the same for me, I took up the offer and here is the result.

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The only problem was he faffed with my phone to get it comfortable in his hands and then gave no warning he was taking the photo; as a result I’m standing like a statue waiting for an instruction that never came !

Amateurs !!

Actually to save space on my blog account, I’ll not add any photos from my time at the top as I’m almost at my limit and you can see them in the video above.

There are two photos I do especially like as the sun burst out from the clouds on my walk back to that bridge and I had a lovely view across the high moors with a typical farmhouse on the right helping to frame the image.  The other one is on my approach to the bridge.

I love the light on the yellow/green landscape – although for some reason it looks a bit dull on here.  Oh well, I have the originals and that’s all that matters !

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I returned to the car park and weary in body, I set off back home. I’d had no lunch and as it was after 4pm, I stopped off at Barnard Castle and just happened to park right by a fish and chip shop.  Late lunch sorted.

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And that was it.  A nice drive home and back by 6:30pm.

A grand day out and a new waterfall to add to my list. If you go, be sure to take the Pennine Way path to the top as even the scenery there and back is worth the walk.