Friday, 14 July 2017

Berwick to Somerset again

When I fell on my intended walk from Berwick upon Tweed to Castle Cary in Somerset I had a b & b farmhouse booking that night at Westgate in Weardale and three other advance bookings which would take the walk through what I anticipated would be particularly evocative parts for me: upper Swaledale, Wensleydale, and Langstrothdale (i.e. upper Wharfedale) where in the late fifties and early sixties, with friends, Gimmer in particular, and on my own, we walked, rock climbed, caved, pot-holed, fished for trout, and downed plenty of ale and hobnobbed with locals in those characterful pubs with that kind of teenage naivety that can never be repeated in later years, but those memories hardly fade, therefore re-vsits are always special. So, I had always thought of this part of the walk as a definite highlight.

I have now re-booked those four nights starting on 15th August so I am hoping that no spoilers turn up. The intention is to carry on with the whole of the rest of the walk. I have been doing the set of exercises given me by the physio four times a day without exception, and I have another appointment next Tuesday. Although the arm will not fully straighten so far everything is much improved and getting stronger every day. I can now use that arm to eat and raise a cup (or glass) to drink, and I am back to keyboard typing as before.

Starting after the summer break, daughter High Horse who teaches at a school in Barrow has secured a place in the related primary school for granddaughter Katie, so I will be less involved with child minding and more free to roam further - I have plans!

If anybody wants a gpx file of my plotted route for my forthcoming trip email me at and I will send a copy.

If you are interested in the rationale for this walk read the blue writing at the end of my Nicky Nook post, 6th April 2017 -  CLICK HERE

Langstrothdale, near Beckermonds from a previous visit.(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Monday, 3 July 2017

Idle moments

No walking for the last.few days, other matters have interfered. I'm off to the physio for the second visit tomorrow at Kendal hospital. Last Tuesday she ran out of time after a thorough assessment of all my movements, and just managed to give me a couple of exercises to work on.  I  was impressed with her attention to detail and her pleasant manner. That has resulted in me just being able to touch my face with my hand, but not sufficiently mobile to allow me to use it with my fork for feeding. I tend to pre-cut food American style and then wade in with the fork alone with my right hand.

I have been chilling out watching Le Tour, and kidding myself that I'm not up to tackling my now hugely overgrown garden, and in the evening watching multiple episodes of House of Cards - I have just kicked out Sky TV and gone for Freeview and Freesat (including Netflix). From my armchair I viewed this seagull through my window and watched it for a couple of minutes debating about a photo, but pessimistically assumed it would disappear before I could go to the other room and get my camera. All in all my seagull stayed there for about twenty minutes. My armchair is about ten feet from my window, and the chimney-pot is perhaps another fifty yards away. I was quite pleased with this triumph of armchair photography. The view, excluding the chimney-pot, was the major influence on me for buying the house seventeen years ago. I have a fantasy of winning the Lottery and making them an offer they can't refuse for that house then having it demolished, chimney-pot and all.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Arm update

As you can see I am able to walk and live comfortably during the day, but I am not sleeping at night. As soon as I lie horizontal I get pain in my shoulder despite the fact that it was the humorous that was broken. I have taken to sleeping downstairs in my armchair suitably propped up, but that is obviously a compromise and sleep has been poor ever since the op. I was up at 4:30 am this morning.

The arm is solidly bent at about seventy degrees, so I can't use it to wash my face or get food to my mouth with a fork or spoon, and I can't reach very far with it compared with my right arm, so I am now even more dexterous in the strict Latin meaning of that word. The arm and wrist are still weak and swollen, and my little finger and the left edge of my hand are permanently pins-and-needles and sometimes quite painful. I have had a sit in the car and I can operate the gear shift, but I intend to leave a try at driving for at least another week or so to give my arm the chance to settle down a bit more.

I am still awaiting an appointment with the physio and in the meantime I have devised my own set of exercises which I am doing every couple of hours. One step forward is that I have now resumed typing with two fingers instead of one.

I would be surprised if I can ever get the arm straight again, but it should improve to some extent with the exercises, but I reckon I will be permanently disadvantaged, but I see no reason why I shouldn't get back to multi-day walking. You will have read in the last post that I have tried on my rucksack and that is fine, and my exercises confirm that I can comfortably employ the arm in the motion required for walking with poles! On these local walks I have only been using one pole  for now.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017


I prefer to have an objective for a walk. I read maps like books; I suppose that includes several reasons, not least that our OS maps are works of art in their own right. I am also on the look-out for unusual features that cannot be fully explained by the map's graphics or  text, so these can provide potential targets for on the ground exploration.

A few years ago, before I was fully tuned into GPS,  I had spotted "Three Brothers" at SD 494 734. Memory is distant now but I recall investigating unsuccessfully on two occasions. Unfortunately I was relying on my less than precise skills, and also, I think on those occasions the Three had only been a secondary objective, and the terrain was challenging: quite thick old deciduous woodland, mini hills, dense bracken and no paths (marked on the map) and I was running out of time.

I can't remember now if I set off from home before, but it is six miles out (and six miles back), and today, as I am still not driving I had no option, so this would be my record distance walk since the accident. I experimentally tried on my daysack-rucksack and pleasingly found it was no problem, and a welcome improvement on the satchel I have been using.

Previously I had used the 1:50 map, but today, with the 1:25 I saw that there was a lane leading off the Tarmac road in the appropriate direction to within two hundred yards of the Three. That may not sound much, but it was pathless, up and down hills, and wading through thigh high bracken whilst consulting the GPS on Memory Map on my iPhone, and using my compass. Those two hundred yards from the lane took me fifteen minutes or so. GPS was telling me I was there, but stood in the bracken I was looking up to my right at a twenty foot high banking covered in brambles and shrubbery, and I was on the point of concluding the Three Brothers, whatever they were, had succumbed beneath that lot, but a few yards further a well defined path lead round the back of that banking, and there was number one, a limestone rock,  roughly cuboid and the size of a small car - not all that spectacular, and then twenty yards further another similar one. The third was smaller and another twenty yards further, but the alignment made it impossible to get them all in one photo together. All in all,  some may say, a pretty disappointing result for a twelve mile round walk, no pot of gold, but I was well satisfied. There were paths all over and I bashed on with my circular route.

Wolf House Gallery, teashop and painting gallery (RR once bought a painting there!), completed my pleasures with a thirst quenching pot of tea on this hot day along and a unique pecan nut flavoured sponge.

Hawes Water (Arnside/Silverdale AONB)

Leighton Hall

Two of Three Brothers (the third was behind the camera)

Clockwise. Red star indicates Wolf House Gallery 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Pot off!

Yesterday - appointment 9.55 am Lancaster hospital The plaster was removed using that panic-striking mini circular saw with a fear inducing high pitched whine. How on earth do they work? They seem to go dangerously near the flesh, but I have never heard of any resulting fatalities. Once the initial incision is made they have an ingenious tool that works like pliers in reverse forcing the crack apart. At one point there were three of them working on me, one holding my arm in an unnatural position and the other two cutting and prying.

Then it was off to x-ray (follow the red arrows on the floor). Again I seemed to be the exception. She wanted my arm in a position it refused to move to - much pain trying. She then had to manoeuvre her machinery into what seemed to be a rarely used vertical option combined with supporting my arm on various foam blocks.

Back with the consultant I was told the x-ray was ok and he prescribed a support gismo and muttered a few scanty instructions about exercise and I was bundled off into another room. Two nurses arrived carrying a selection of three hideous looking mechanical contraptions one of which they fitted to my arm - it looked like part of the Forth Railway Bridge. My arm will only straighten to about 70 degrees but the consultant had prescribed "no restriction" on the dial setting of the support thing so that in theory my arm could extend fully if it could physically do that, so I couldn't really see the point, and the two nurses seemed a bit vague about this monster's value - as I type it is lying abandoned on my study floor.

My arm feels lost and doesn't know whether to participate or not in certain actions, and on the whole I feel less adept and in control than I was under the discipline of only using one arm and the protruding fingers on the other. The arm is weak and my wrist feels as though it is sprained. Last night I had severe pain in my shoulder and didn't sleep, but it is ok during the day. The nurses again vaguely mentioned exercises, but I am awaiting an appointment at Kendal with the proper physios, meanwhile not being sure whether I will do more harm than good if I start exercising before I have had professional instructions. I always half suspected that I overdid it with my knee. I was told that I could let the arm dangle when appropriate, thus encouraging self-straightening.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017


Having been a most times abstainer from football I feel a bit hypocritical admitting that I watched the England France game last night.

Ok, football is a fine spectator sport, and, although I wouldn't describe myself as ultra jingoistic I do take some interest when an England game is afoot, unless there is something more compelling ( I recorded  Cardiff Singer of the World to revel in after the sun had gone down).

My objections are directed at the endless cheating, diving, pansy faked pain and injury, and arguing with the referee, to say nothing of the obscene amounts of money involved.

There was one French guy who went down three times last night, and to see his acting combined with lengthy sessions with medics on the field you would have thought he'd broken his leg in three places, but miraculously he was up and running again after engineering these stoppages to the game and supposedly trying to convince the referee that a penalty should be awarded and his opponent sent off.

All that is pretty run-othe-mill stuff, but what prompted me to write this post arose from one of the commentators:

"It was a good foul, he didn't get booked"

I messaged my daughter who is a secondary school head of English with responsibility for, amongst other things, the instilling of good behaviour, firm moral values and potentially responsible citizenship in her school-kids. Her reply, "what hope?"


Why do a large proportion of football managers...

chew gum disgustingly?

Look permanently miserable, even forcing themselves to refrain from at least smiling when there is good cause?

 I can understand those traits in a particular individual, but they mostly seem to follow the herd.

A refreshing exception -Jürgen Klopp