For newcomers

At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

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Sunday, 27 September 2009

34 Could you handle loneliness? (Ed Wardle)

A recent television programme – “Alone in the Wild” portrayed film cameraman Ed Wardle who had a boyhood dream: could he survive alone in wilderness for ninety days? He was flown to a lake in Canada and left with a rifle and limited food supplies.

After fifty days Ed pressed the emergency button and was rescued, his main problems being lack of food, loneliness and fear of bears. This guy is no wimp having filmed on the summit of Everest twice, visited the North Pole and chalked up an impressive list of mountaineering achievements. Unfortunately Ed has no particular skills in survival and may therefore have been somewhat naive.

Channel 4 was criticised for making this programme. Ed filmed and recorded himself in a progressively deteriorating mental and physical state making agonising viewing. I have no problem with the concept of this production – it is laudable to always have, and pursue a next ambition, but Ed was not allowed to shoot game due to national park regulations – he did bag the odd porcupine and caught some fish. Shooting an Elk could have ameliorated the hunger problem, but not the loneliness and fear of bears.

Having lived alone for ten years and done most of my walking solo, I have said I find no problem with my own company, but I pondered seriously at this stark production and wondered how I might have fared in Ed’s situation. Ed seemed to suffer acutely from lack of human contact and it demonstrated how different we all are (but are we)? If you want to find out go and give it a try.

The American blogs I read came at it from a different angle. They criticised the suitability of Ed’s rifle, and offered many conflicting opinions on what firearms he should have carried.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

33 Munros and computers

I downloaded an application onto my iPodtouch called Hill Lists which cost 59p. listing: The Munros, Munro Tops, Murdos, Corbetts, Corbett Tops, Grahams, Donalds, Marilyns, Deweys, Hewitts, Nuttalls, Wainwrights, and Wainwrights Outlying Fells. If you want detailed information and definitions go to www.biber.fsnet.co.uk/downloads.html suffice to say there are over five thousand British hills listed. There is a facility to tick ones  done and thereby produce your list of ones remaining. There are other features too.


After downloading this application I accepted a free update, and then the system crashed. Delving into Apple App Store info. I found you could email the compiler direct.  On Sunday 20th Sept. I emailed with little hope of progress, but received a reply within twenty minutes from Graham Haley. After exchange of information with Graham over a couple of days he told me the problem was solved. He had filed an update with Apple and asked them to expedite approval and publication.

Today (Tuesday 23rd Sept.) I received email from Graham (sent at 6:44 am) saying that Apple have published the update. I downloaded the update and all works well.

What a refreshing service in the world of computer software.

During the correspondence I established that Graham has done 148 Munros out of 283– it should be noted that the total was 284 until two weeks ago when the following announcement was made:

Sgurr nan Ceannaichean has been reclassified as a Corbett following surveys carried out by John Barnard and Graham Jackson for The Munro Society. The news was announced at a press conference on 11 September. Rab Anderson of the SMC was present and confirmed that Munro's Tables were changed with immediate effect.

Who are these nerds? A pity it wasn’t one added which would have given me an excuse for another visit to Scotland (not that I need an excuse).

Sunday, 20 September 2009

32 A memorable day from my Land's End John o' Groats walk.

I have just read the latest post from Gayle and Mick http://gayleybird.blogspot.com/ They are planning the Kent to Cape Wrath diagonal for next year. There is mention of a trying day, and an extract from their journal on their LEJOG walk which brought a wry smile to my face because I encountered similar problems at the same place. This prompted me to post this extract from my journal.

Day 68

Sunday 22nd June (2008)
Inverlael to Knockdamph Bothy
10.5 miles

What a day!

There had been terrific winds and rain in the night and The Terra Nova did its business again; no complaints.

The rain stopped briefly as I packed up but started again. The route went on forestry road for a while, but then I spent ages looking for a path branching off up a very steep hillside. Much new forestry road work had been done here and the profile of the road altered, and I suppose the start of my track had been obliterated. In the end I took a compass bearing from a known GPS reading and went straight up the hillside which consisted of felled forest, bracken and thick heather. After fifteen minutes I hit another forest road and then found my track leading off it.

This track went endlessly upwards and I was walking directly into at least a force seven gale and driving rain which persisted most of this very demanding day. The track ended and became a path which then disappeared necessitating walking on a compass bearing across several kilometres of featureless moorland and bog and peat hags to reach a river. The river cut into a ravine and every few hundred yards side ravines fed into the main one and all these had to be negotiated steeply down and up with no path. Even looking at the map and taking GPS readings in these conditions is a trial. At a point which had to be identified I branched away from the river to climb over a pathless bealach and descend to Loch an Daimh. The route now followed the edge of this loch to arrive at last at the bothy. It was 4:30pm. In the past I have poked a bit of fun at bothies, but I’m telling you that when you need one they are the best thing in the world.


I was not exhausted when I arrived, but fairly damp and starting to get cold, but I was elated to have managed this tough journey properly and under control. It had only been about eleven miles, but it had taken me eight hours.

I had a hot cup-a-soup and then got into my sleeping bag wearing my Berghaus Primaloft jacket and dozed until 6:30pm on a proper bed in the upstairs room.

After I had made a proper meal I decided that the upstairs room was colder than downstairs so I put my Therm-a-rest on the floor and I had found an old duvet upstairs which I put under and over the Therm-a-rest with my sleeping bag sandwiched between them, and I had a surprisingly good night. Prior to retiring I made sure that all my food was stowed in the rucksack and no scraps left about so as not to encourage mice or rats.

Friday, 18 September 2009

31 - Walking Aspirations

Leg dressings have been dispensed with. I am driving and getting around fairly normally. Jill’s house is on the market and I am looking after Jake the dog so viewing can take place in her absence. For the last two days I have taken Jake for short walks, fifteen minutes or so, but I do intend to take things very steadily for some time.

My knees are still suspect so I’m not sure if I will be able to do long walks again but my appetite has been mightily whetted in the last twenty four hours by news on Gayle and Mick’s blog: http://gayleybird.blogspot.com/

I met Gayle and Mick last year on my LEJOG walk which they also completed. They have since done The Coast to Coast, The TGO Challenge (a several day west to east traverse of Scotland), and a weekend crossing, west to east of Wales. Their next project is the diagonal from Kent to Cape Wrath, a route I have considered myself. When I tried to define a route on Memory Map the footpath system through Kent and even to the north of London seemed fragmentary and unsatisfactory, so I will be interested to see what Gayle and Mick make of it. They have stated a proposed start date for 2nd April.

If I feel I can tackle another walk there are two possibilities for next year. The first would be in France following the GR7 through the Languedoc and the Cevennes. The second would be a route in the UK which I have already plotted on Memory Map starting at Lowestoft, meandering through The Broads, then round the perimeter of The Wash and heading up the east coast as far as Whitby then cutting across to St Bees Head on the west coast of The Lake District.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Post number 30

The recent conviction and sentencing of the three plane bombers has been regarded as a success for the security forces. As I understand it the plan was to blow up seven airliners. I assume the three people convicted would have accounted for three of the planes. Presumably, therefore there are still four others out there somewhere about which l have read or heard nothing. This is a bit worrying. Has anybody gleaned anything about this that I have missed?

Friday, 11 September 2009

Post number 29 random thoughts - the past

The leg improves. I am looking forward to getting out and about again. Looking forward is good. But what about looking back?

An email has arrived from the other side of the world – I was tracked down from this blog by a person I met at a party over forty years ago, and this prompted me to air some thoughts on looking at the past with my brother during one of our regular, long telephone conversations.

I see nothing wrong with looking back and learning from past mistakes and valuing old friendships and remembering friends and relations who are no longer with us; these activities give us a sense of perspective and values and are essential to the make up of a well balanced individual, except when this becomes obsessive. I think of this obsessive condition as wallowing.

A monthly dose of dreary wallowing is manifested in a publication I receive from my previous employers. This is produced by fellow pensioners on a home computer on sheets of A4 stapled and all in black and white. Much of the content concentrates on people reminiscing about the trivial detail of life in a bank fifty or so years ago (my role in the bank was in a more dynamic subsidiary). Typical examples range from remembering Jim Smith putting plastic silver coin bags on his shoes in lieu of galoshes to “…this was in the days of pen and ink, no ball points…” There are accompanying grainy and depressing photos of interior and exterior shots of the old branches, most of which were architecturally atrocious.





Every time I receive this well-intentioned labour of love I am briefly depressed and have an overpowering desire to get out into the fresh air and do something.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Post number 28 - inititial views of the iPod touch.

My iPod touch is the 16gb version (8gb and 32gb are available).

I have now loaded 53 CDs (mostly classical), 560 photographs, and over 30 applications (software programmes) which include weather, shopping list, Radio Times, diary system, dictionary, games, and direct links to: my e mail, Wikipedia, Google, my own and several other blogs.

The unit is designated with a nominal 16gb, but I guess its own operating system takes up a certain amount leaving a net 14.52gb free. So far I have 60% of this still remaining, so I could more than double my cd collection.

If you have a cd with a major symphony with another item thrown in to fill the cd the only way to ensure you play only the symphony is to isolate this into a separate “playlist”.

There are hundreds of applications that can be downloaded direct onto the iPod. Initially you have to set up an account with iTunes and through this you can organize and purchase music and download your own cds then connect up the iPod to the computer and it loads all the changes or additions you have made. I have now got a playlist of Wogan Tog like pop music that would play for 1.2days!

I have established that I can blog from the iPod touch, but was unable to upload photos. I think there is a way of doing this by setting up a special Blogger account and your post is sent to them and they post it to your blog, but I will have to set a day (or perhaps a week) aside to explore this further.

This is by far the most user-friendly piece of computer related equipment I have ever come across. The main drawback is of course that you can only get onto the Internet through a local wifi connection, and I suppose if this were available you would use the proper computer anyway, although I do find it handy to use the iTouch if I’m watching tele when I wouldn’t normally be bothered to get up and use the pc to Google something. All this can be solved by acquiring the iPhone which has Internet connection wherever you have a phone signal, and also includes a camera, but at the moment this is exclusive to O2 and they have no signal in my home area; there are rumours that their exclusivity expires in October and it may be that Vodaphone et al will be able to market the iPhone. If this comes to pass I will certainly have one.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Post number 27 -I pod Touch - first post

This is really an experiment to test the viability of blogging from my I Pod touch.
Typing is quite easy and I wouldn't be concerned at writing at some length.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Post number 26 - shopping

In my semi inert state I cannot shop for food and I am feeling guilty sending Jill off on such trips consuming her time, fuel and car mileage.


Yesterday I set up an account with Tesco Home Shopping ("you shop, we drop"). As usual this was not entirely straightforward because Yorkshire Bank asked me to enter a "secure code". I had no idea what this was and eventually ended up with my card being blocked by YB followed by a twenty minute call to their helpline before eventually untangling this problem. I have no doubt I will have forgotten this rarely used "secure code" next time it is requested. Another thing about computer based technology that irks me is the use of different names for the same thing, or the same name for two different things. I know the large number across a debit/credit card is referred to as "the card number", but on my debit card there is another number at the bottom which also has the title "card number". Another example is the wide ranging nature of the information one is required to input under "user name" - there are many other similar instances I frequently come across.


Anyway there was one amusing result from my first Tesco shopping list. I ordered some carrots which were sold by the kilo, and thought I had entered 0.5kg. When the delivery arrived there was a solitary carrot in a plastic bag, and on consulting the accompanying list I found I had ordered 0.05kg!
g!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Post number 25 -i Pod touch

Having returned the i Phone I purchased an i Pod Touch. The i Phone was returned because there is no O2 signal in my area.

The Touch turned out to be an excellent item, especially as a music player until yesterday. An upgrade was offered which would have included the cut and paste facility on the 3Gs i Phone. The upgrade was downloaded and access to the internet through my own wi fi connection became impossible. My daughter Jill spent an hour and a half on the phone with Apple Help with no solution - they told us to contact Amazon where the unit was purchased quoting their case number.

Today we spoke to Amazon and they agreed to post us a new unit even before confirmation of return of the original. I also spoke to O2 today to confirm they had received the returned i Phone which they had - they were very helpful. They confirmed that I would be refunded and my contract cancelled.

The leg is getting better daily, but it has along way to go. I am now on oral antibiotics until Sunday. I visited my gp's practice nurse today for a new dressing and now have an appointment on Friday for a review with the doc.