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Sunday, 25 September 2016

The North-East Skinny Dip

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This event gets bigger every year. This year, I understand, there were around 450 dippers of all shapes and sizes and with varying degrees of nervousness.

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Me and Dawn have been practising, or, I should say, acclimatising with various bivis on Northumbrian beaches. Northumbrian beaches are specially fab at any time, but this time we had Ross Back Sands all to ourselves and a few curious seals for much of the day.

At teatime, we transferred to Druridge Bay where Brian (of the holes in the ground)  turned up and we camped in a quietish bay alongside several bottles of merlot.

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At 5:00 am (in the bloody morning) to the unwelcome sound of rain of the flysheets, we got ourselves unready for the dip and by a bit after six we were on the beach where there was a fire-juggler and cafe’s and burning things…

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And then we dipped, screaming, cold shocked into the stormy waves of the North Sea. The sea was in a very lively mood and there was a strong drift towards the North Pole. It wasn’t outrageously cold, though. My blogger settings prevent me from publishing any pictures involving obvious willies or bosoms and the camera I used didn’t cope well with the low light conditions.

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There was no sunrise, just a cold, grey, spitting dawn.

After, I joined several dippers forming the initials NESD laying face-down in the sand (avoiding pics of willies and breasts again) and before hypothermia properly set in, I was back in the tent in my not-a-onesie and sleeping bag supping hot chicken soup.

And that was that for another year.

I’ve written before about the positive aspects of this event. Even the cold water and weather is positive. It does have an immediate effect on my mood and briefly turns me into a euphoric but goose-pimpled idiot.

Everybody should be skinny-dipping. No, I mean everybody. Really.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

More Beer Trekkin–The Missing Link

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Last May me and Dawn attempted to walk between the four highest pubs in England (whether they were open or not) and met with mixed success. Due to superb planning on my part, by the time we reached Todmorden we were two or three days behind schedule. It was a duff schedule anyway. Mrs Pieman relayed us from Todmorden to Skipton and we carried on. Now it was time to fill in the gap between Toddy and Skipton. The team consisted of Me (Executive Planning Manager) Lucky the Dog (Young Executive Emergency Navigation Officer), Dawn( Executive Travel and Logistics Manager) and JJ (Excecutive Musical Director, Peace Negotiator and Director of Suntans)
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We rendons-nous (prolly duff French) en Todmorden at the train station. An Executive Co-Ordinating Committee Meeting was held in the beer garden of the Golden Lion. (We worked out a route)
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The route was this: Calderdale Way ….   enhanced by a few off-route explorations (i.e. getting a bit lost and encoutering “vegetation”, often “very wet vegetation” during which my best socks got wet.)
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It was very hot. We achieved the summit of Bridestones and visited the site of the Sportsman’s Inn – now somebody’s house and eventually turned up at the New Delight Inn just a bit North of Blackshaw Head. New Delight has a campsite, some very nice beer and some delightful scoff – and the locals are friendly too. We counted the New Delight as a Win.
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In the morning – a dewy, damp one during which the burning sun burned down hotly and stewed us a bit, frankly. We followed the Pennine Way not very well for a bit then turned off whilst being seduced by a sign declaring an Aladdin’s Cave of cold drinks, cakes and crisps. This turned out to be true. High Gate Farm provided cold drinks, cake and sugar and thus forified, we pressed on over the Pennine Bridleway to the Packhorse Inn at Widdop where a less-than-friendly landlord thought our route needed redesign. We had jinkies there, though before marching on up the Pennine Way over to High Withens, where we disturbed a  wobbly bloke attempting to take nudie selfies and where the thunder first rumbled in a dark and menacing kind of way.
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Ultimately, after passing several wild camping possibilities, we turned up at Ponden where the campsite is down a big hill in a wood next to a beck and where the showers and bogs are back up the hill next to somebody’s house. It was here that the sky went a bit mad for a few hours. The sky rippled with light and rumbled and cracked and banged for several hours. LTD hid panting under my down jacket whilst I sipped morale-building raw rum and shouted nervous jokes across to Dawn’s tent. In the meantime the rain came down in lumps. I mean big lumps. Not the little tiny lumps they have in rainforests, but big, huge fuck-off lumps.  It was all a bit mad.
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Another dewey morning followed. I explained our mission to a slug. It was a King Black Slug. A big ‘king black slug. We left in case it ate parts of LTD and pressed on for the Bronte Way to Wycoller. This started out reasonably well and we only got a bit lost a couple of times but then we entered The Jungle.
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The Jungle is the mile or two over the International Yorkshire-Lancashire border and ending, with some relief at Water sheddles reservoir. This is a bracken and rhodedendron hell. The bracken is eleventeen feet high and the rhodedendrons bite your legs. Some of the bracken is even deeper. I would say how deep it was but my bracken-depth monitor gave up in a puff of white smoke.
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And then we decided to visit the Herders Inn. This involved leaving the relative safety of the Bronte Way (we could hear Kate Bush singing in the distance) for the utter madhouse of the Keighley-Colne road. It was a waste of time. The Herders is closed and derelict and possibly being done-up. The paths that followed, though were a delight with big views over an escarpment and ancient walls and hedges of the Wycoller Country Park, leading down to Wycoller itself. This was the scene of several childhood visits for me and took me back many years to when almost all the buildings were empty and derelict. They’re not now, though and whilst we did have lunch here, in the heat, a brief exploration provided intelligence that the tea-room was closed. Bugger.
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We continued – inneficiently following the Pennine Bridleway and/or the Pendle Way over cow fields and the lovely Knarrs Hill to Black Lane Ends which happily was open. Were they still serving? (after 3:00 o’clock) – Yes –Would they allow LTD in? - Yes. Would they possibly have anywhere to camp out the back? – Yes…  And could we get a meal at night? Yes. We stayed, of course, camping out the back. We all had Pie-Of-The-Week  which was fab and substantial and served by the most personable waitresses you could wish for and me, LTD and JJ stayed carousing for a while as Dawn went for the dreamy-snoozy-sleepy option. We like the Black Lane Ends…
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And so, in another damp but promising to be hot morning, we steamed off to Lothersdale where the Hare and Hounds was closed and where the hot got hotter, and over the moors to Carleton Biggin and, finally, just by the crematorium, into Skipton.
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JJ went off for a train back to Urmston (There’s two ways you can go) and me, LTD and Dawn went for the Cock and Bottle which provided beer and respite from the heat.
And that, roughly, was that. The Beer Trek is complete. Maybe I should write it all up as a route. We went wrong in a few places, so there’s the route we did and the route we should have done.
Congratulations to anyone who made it to the end of this blog post by the way. It was about 33 miles…


 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Nearly North-East Skinny Dip Time Again

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Yes readers, as the sun finally dips behind the shadow of the equinox and the dark time of the year begins, there’s the annual get-em-all-off-and-run-screaming-into-the-North-Sea and-back-out-again-fairly-quickly-whilst-shivering-uncontrollably event. (Its at dawn at Druridge Bay visitor centre on 25 September 2016)
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In order to lengthen the amount of time spent in salty water at around 12, maybe 14 degrees of your Queen’s centigrade, and to make the experience much less of a shock on a body better designed for warmer climes than Northumberland, its quite useful to have a few dips into the sea first, probably over an extended period. Thus, the body gets used to the cold and, in fact, this happens reasonably quickly.
So it is possible, whatever you may think, to extend the period of enjoyability as far as the water temperature is concerned by a substantial and significant margin. And this means that the other aspects of the skinny dip can be much more enjoyable too. I’m talking about the positive aspects of doing something slightly daft and that your Mum might not approve of. And the positive effects on body image and the realisation that, as there’s several hundred naked people involved in this, that the fact that we’re all different, makes us all the same.
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So, in order to get a bit of acclimatisation, me and Dawn have been having little bivi’s to Druridge Bay and Ross Back Sands and these have involved a certain amount of “dipping”, although not necessarily of the skinny-type. They’ve also involved Dawn developing bivi shelters and the lighting of small fires or barbeques and attemptin to cook meat and spuds.
They’ve involved starry nights and the sound of waves.
Lucky The Dog has enjoyed these trips too.
And we’ve had a walk or two in the Cheviots beforehand.
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This week’s bivi was at Ross Back Sands again – a beach which has been competely deserted from early evening till late morning and occasionally populated by naked people and dog walkers ignoring the naked people. Prior to this we bagged Humbleton Hill on a short walk from close to Wooller. The day had started wet, but cleared up quite suddenly producing a day of blustery breezes and blue sky.
The sea was remarkbly calm given the windy conditions. It was still cold, though…
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I’ve just bunged a tenner in the North-East Skinny Dip’s Virgin Money-Giving Account. I have supported Mind in the past and Mind is the Skinny Dip’s charity. So, if you have a spare spondoolie or two, you can support me and Dawn’s daftnesses by inserting some of your cash into the NESD’s account.
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There’s a link here which will allow you to do it, or you can click on the picture of the naked girl and the press photographer below…
Gwan – spend some dosh. Or come for a dip…
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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

(Don’t) Get Lost - Read Bondringo

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In the vernacular of the vicus attached to the Southern approaches to knipetowers, we’re full o’ busy this week, having a guided walk, plus the reccy wot I did yesterday, a possible, nay, probable splodge down Ash Gill and bits of the River Tyne between Ash Gill Force and Garrigill during which I’m hoping to a) not get bitten by horseflies like wot  happened last time and b) not to drown or otherwise get washed away and c) that its fairly warm weather. Friday should be a walk with Dawn followed by an overnight with lamb steaks on a beach somewhere oop Northumberland and Sunday is for shopping and packing for the Beer Trekkin missing link between Todmorden and Skipton with JJ,  Dawn and LTD. This should take 3 nights and is likely to end either in the Cock and Bottle or the Royal Shepherd in Skipton.
If anybody knows any dog/scruffy hiker-friendly pubs in Todmorden, I’d be pleased to receive appropriate intelligence.
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In the meantime, out of the blue, I was contacted recently by Matt Hale asking me to review the navigation part of his outsoor website.  There’s a link to it below and if you’re interested in learning hill-walking navigation or improving or otherwise revising what you already know, click the link for a look, or, indeed, click on any of the pictures in this post.
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I’m leading an 11-Mile guided walk tomorrow starting at Bollihope near Frosterley and views exactly like the one in the picture above will be available. Pretty, innit? 

Friday, 2 September 2016

Leg News–Final Installment (We Hope So Anyway)

The thigh muscles with rectus femoris outlined in red

I went to the doctor. I said “Doctor, it hurts when I do this…” He said, “Well, don’t do it then”. Joke stolen from Tommy Cooper.

But I did go to the doctor eventually. It took me five weeks to get a non-routine appointment. The purpose of the consultation was to get a final explanation about whatever it is that’s going on with my thighs.

It seems that a seriously big thigh muscle in my passenger-side leg – my Rectus Femoris, apparently, has a tendon rupture at the knee and is retreating in an uphill direction and is now cuddling itself at the top of my leg, just a bit to the left and down a bit from the naughty parts.

This explains why the pain was in the knee and the lump higher up. Apparently, the doctors expect the muscle to shrink upwards even more over time and, as it’s not being used any more, to begin to reduce in size.

Other muscles at each side are helping out whilst there’s a vacancy in the Rectus Femoris department.

The leg appear to be working at almost, but not quite, 100% and so, the docs are saying that it should be left alone although a repair is possible.

There is a space where the muscle has left and this seems OK too… 

As there’s no change to my ability to walk up hills and over longish distances, I’m not going to do anything about it.

And that’s that. If it’s not broken, it’s not mine.