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!

My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Friday, 27 December 2013

What did you accomplish in 2013?

Well, perhaps all those posts over the last year were my version of a Donald Crowhurst (Google, or see my post: Whither the next TGO, 6th July 2013).

Here is what I have really been up to:

How many possible games are there?

Wikipedia says:
 There are 52! (i.e., 52 factorial), or approximately 8×1067, distinct deals. However... 

...yes, it can get a lot more complicated than that. If you have any nerdish, or mathematical inclinations at all you would be in heaven looking at the Wikipedia entry.


Katie update.

Playing with dolls' house, Christmas morning

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Home sweet home

Daughter High Horse teaches. I am told pupils start winding down weeks before major school holidays making constructive lessons increasingly difficult.

Our recent Thursday walks seem to have caught something of that ethos. We have kidded ourselves about weather and reduced our six milers to a measly four. Until last Thursday we would actually not have encountered anything unpleasant with a longer walk.  Not so this last Thursday. (Ian Fleming said that "actually" was a word not in Bond's vocabulary). 

We were foiled on two geocache attempts. The first where we could see the container, but an elderly woman was parked in the lay-by  smoking out of her car window, and within fifteen feet of the hiding place. On the second, although I am six feet tall, we were still sufficiently vertically challenged to reach the damn thing. People were approaching and Pete was reluctant for us to appear like a couple of drunken idiots by getting on my shoulders.

Within a hundred yards of regaining the car heavy rain started and continued with fiendish intensity for over two hours. If we had been on a six miler we would have had another three quarters of an hour of misery, and worst of all, probably not been in a fit state to visit our favourite café. 

As it turned out that would not have been a problem, Café Ambio hadn’t a table available. Neither had our upmarket garden centre café. We went to Booths, bought a de-luxe Lathoms apple pie and repaired to chez moi for debriefing and another lesson for Pete on his new smartphone. Having entered a couple of destinations into the pseudo satnav app we found it impossible to delete them despite consulting various internet forums where the same problem was being aired. The only consolation is, that unless Pete decides to remove, he will now always be able to find his way "home".

A fine stand of Yew trees

Farleton Fell

My commenter Gimmer recently faced part of his abode with shingles. I thought he may like to see this fine example

Looking south down the West Coast Mainline half an hour before the vicious rain onslaught which no doubt  enhanced the already visible flooding

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Plonker of the year award

Today I was cleaning my car. A guy pulled up on the other side of the road to visit my neighbour. The road is not wide enough for two cars so it was blocked. He folded his mirror and went to visit. Another car arrived so he had to return. He pulled his car across the top my neighbour's drive on my side of the road and asked me if he could park there. I said that was not for me to say. Thirty yards up the road, and visible from the venue of this incident, and quite obvious, it is possible to park on the side of the road with no problem.

What is wrong with people? Just for the sake of walking thirty yards. Or am I just a grumpy old man?


The season's greetings and best wishes to all my readers.
Thanks for your comments and I look forward to exciting projects in 2014

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Photoshop paintings

I promised Mike M to put some of my finished Photoshop paintings on display.

Click for the slideshow, then click on the first picture to view all full size.


Tech, fresh air and motivation

Pete and I are not wimps, but last Thursday we nearly succumbed for opposite reasons.
I have a reputation amongst friends and acquaintances, (albeit those who rarely flirt with tech), for being an accomplished technocrat. The truth is that I have a love-hate relationship with gadgetry and waste endless time bumbling along trying to make things work based on a thin layer of knowledge. I often achieve the result, but in more time than NASA took to get a man on the moon, when a paid up member of Club Technocrat wouldn’t even have seen a problem.
Pete has elected to travel along the bypass of tech. When I re-met him after a forty year hiatus he usually had his mobile switched off ..."saving the battery", so I could rarely contact him. Well, we got over that  and progressed to texting  and other "advanced" functions, BUT he has now upgraded to a smartphone - oh dear!
Thursday was dreish as the Scots say. An hour or so of our walking morning was spent  at my house fiddling with the Xperia and looking glassy eyed at the on-line manual -  how much does a guy get paid for inventing those names? By then we had mastered how to make a call, but cabin fever set in,  and we deluded ourselves that dreish had gone back north over the border. We departed for two local geocaches close to Fairy Steps, a geological semi-impasse on The Limestone Link.
Pete is not a geocacher, so I was pleased when he made the first find - that helps to encourage those, who I suspect, feel a bit embarrassed and uncertain about the value of ferreting around the countryside for plastic boxes. The second geocache had a contradicting two part clue and we aborted - a dnf (did not find) will be registered, yes, geocaching is, like tech, riddled with jargon.

Fairy Steps - pics taken circa Christmas 2006


Reasons for motivation are difficult to interpret, especially for the one who is motivated. I’ve  started  another Photoshop painting of a rusty old barn - Here is my w.i.p.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Two walks with two good friends

Pete and I can’t remember cancelling a Thursday walk for weather for a year or more.

Thursday 9:30 am - from my study window, howling gale and lashing rain. I reckon the cancellation phone call is imminent.

No phone call - drive to Pete’s - he gets in  - I suggest cancellation giving him easy option - he is indignant, “it’s only showers” he says. I’m caught on the hop, but  welcome the optimistic stance.

At Levens rain has stopped but wind is ferocious. We have deliberately chosen a short four miler, but apart from being shoved frequently by the wind for several yards in unplanned directions, we only experience one ten minute shower, and even then find  shelter in a barn doorway, and arrive back at the car dry again. 

Coming back into Arnside we find “Road closed” notices, but the combination high tide and high wind has receded and we can drive through with only one section of flood, but Pete’s wife’s art class Christmas party has been abandoned because most people are unable to get there.

Here, and below as a zoom - distant view of our Lake District National Park - for my USA readers: that is an area of lakes, and mountains only up to 3000ft, and about 20 miles east to west and 40 miles north to south. The second part of this post locates in the middle of all that. 

This  was taken on 28th December 2011. On this Thursday, 5th December, water reached a third of the way up the road sign left of picture. Pete's Wife's art class is held in the village hall about a hundred yards up that road


Saturday 6th December

My commenter Gimmer is my oldest friend going back to school and scouting days. He studied chemistry and went to Oxford. I went to work.

Gimmer's penchant for chemistry led us to making bombs based on sodium chlorate, (I think), and also something to do with potassium crystals mixed with ammonia. We roamed the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, camping, walking, rock climbing, and caving, as well as amusing ourselves by turning off the electrical master switch in the village hall where our soppy contemporaries were dancing. 

In later years we had forays into Scotland, and G accompanied me on the last week of my GR5 trip (Lake Geneva to Nice).  Gimmer lives mainly in the South, but also periodically visits his late parents' house here in The Lakes.

I still have twelve Marilyns unclimbed in The Lakes, so as a means of focus last Saturday, which coincided with my birthday, we made the long drive to Wasdale Head to climb Illgill Head directly above the famous Wastwater screes.

My day was made when, with my recent membership of The National Trust, I saved £4.50 on parking. Unbelievably, ours was the only car there at 10:30am on a Saturday - so much for my frequent grumpy-old-man complaints about the overcrowded Lake District - we met only one lonely fell runner on our round trip.

We visited the traditional and nostalgic Newfield pub in Dunnerdale afterwards, and then back on the LD fringes we had a good birthday meal at The Eagle's Head in Satterthwaite. Almost what some Spanish guys I climbed with would call a dia completo:  a café  coffee meet in the morning, climbing together during the day, and having a convivial meal together in the evening - we only missed the morning coffee.

Great Gable identified:  location of zoom shot below and a major rock climbing venue including the famous Napes Needle

Illgill Head from Wasdale Head car park - the summit is further back. Our route went topside of trees on left
Great Gable - zoom to crags below
Great Gable famous rock climbing location including Napes Needle. The big scree to the left of the crags is Great Hell Gate

On the summit. The pointy one sticking up above the edge is Yewbarrow, one of the steepest ascents in the Lakes.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Beware the Yellow Peril

At 9:45 am on Thursday, my erratic brain suddenly triggers “Christmas cards”.

Thursday is my walking day with Pete, I pick him up at 10:00. We both attach importance to punctuality and what my mother called, “a proper going on”.

I buy Mountain Bothies Association cards, and realise I had missed the order form in their last magazine. I raid the pile of unread magazines, can only find the one before, asking for photos for the cards.  I email the guy for an order form, then look again and find the form, and send a cancelling email. I hastily complete the form and write a cheque. It is now 10:05 and it takes five minutes to get to Pete’s. My reliability rating is under threat - panic.

Another delay at the post box and I arrive at Pete’s where he watches for me from the window. I aplogise, and he says “ok, it’s not as though I was standing outside”, hinting that if that had been so I would have been in trouble.

Our walk from Haverthwaite had a strange occurrence. Look at the map in the south-west corner. I have plotted the route on a yellow road running south-east to Greenodd. Look further north on that yellow road and you will see that it is not a road but a blue river - the yellow Lake District National Park boundary line has re-coloured the river yellow. Arriving at that point I was expecting to find our yellow road, very unusually, crossing over the top of another yellow road. If things don’t fit you should always stay put until you have worked it out. I have rarely been so perplexed with a map, and was well relieved when I sorted it.

We have been avoiding footpaths recently in view of wet weather. Thankfully this one was not part of our route


Greenodd and the Leven estuary 

Zoom to Greenodd

Footpath ostensibly crossing river

The Leven bridge at Haverthwaite - it is still tidal a few hundred yards downstream

Monday, 25 November 2013

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Lulu, relics and some walking.

I have been busy recently;

1.Finalising my seventh Lulu (self publishing) book, this one covering my walks last summer.

2. Chasing elusive geocaches. One in particular is a double whammy, the first cache, which I only found after three visits, gives coordinates to another which promises to be even more adventurous than the rock climbing ones. More of that later IF, and when I return.

3. Visiting my brother in Darlington who has Alzheimer's and has now had to enter a retirement home.

The book is written in a Microsoft Word template specified by Lulu. It then has to be converted to a PDF file to upload. Because of cumbersome file sizes with many photos I had five separate PDFs and had to find how to merge them - free software found on Internet. Halfway through, the PC (Parallels software) partitioned part of my MAC started running out of space. I had to convert more of my MAC hard disk to PC - a frightening step into the unknown. That sounds nerdish, but when one accomplishes an advanced, to oneself, computing task one just has to shout about the triumph to someone. I suppose I could have waited until the next person came walking down my road - that would have made a good Thurber cartoon, memories of, "I come from haunts of Coot and Tern". Unfortunately that little triumph isn't as  good a story as loosing  all five years blog photos then getting them back which happened to me some time ago.


Gimmer joined my regular Thursday walk with Pete.

Finding new, circular, six mile walks reasonably close to home is becoming increasingly difficult without overlapping or coinciding with previous routes.

Drama not far from the start. Road closed (not for us) because of huge fallen tree branch

Gimmer and Pete in intensive chat-up mode with the bonny lass from the contractors.
 The tree would need to be felled, but the trunk was rotten so impossible to predict direction of fall if cut at base, therefore would need to be done bit by bit. We speculated on the cost. The contractors had already travelled from Appleby to Staveley.

Crossing the Kent at Hagg Foot

Side House and waterfall

One for my Relics collection. There is much rich and interesting colouration here, especially if click to enlarge. Could be subject of a painting. I like the half submerged wheels.

The weir on The Kent above Stavley

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Boat building

I promised to show my new commenter MikeM from the USA pictures of my boat building exploits some years ago, and this seems as good a place as any.

Boat building for me was a diversion at a difficult time. I intended to elaborate, but decided this was not the right place, so here are the pictures. Suffice to say I gained more from the building than the sailing and both boats have long since been sold. I was under no illusions about the financial side of boat building, and from my experience you are only likely to get back a tenth of what you spent when you  sell.

The first boat was a 15ft 5in. rowing skiff with a mast and sails designed by Lilian Woods.

The second was a Bolger Micro 12 ft. mini cabin sailer with a large mast up front like a catboat, and a small mizzen at the stern. Bolger was an American designer with a reputation for eccentricity that worked. If you Google him you will see why.

The two sets of photos are chronologically wrong way round.

These are the only photos I have of the Bolger's construction; I took many on the old film camera with no film loaded. I have another set of pictures of turning the Bolger back from upside-down, but that is another story.

The boat was built upside-down to start with

The mould for the 440lb lead keel. Copper rods were inserted top to bottom at intervals so that individual pourings of lead would be held together

I had some assistance with melting and pouring the lead from a friend Kevin and his mate who were plumbers

Note the stratas of lead. The copper pipes can be seen sticking out, they run right through the lead and keep the individual pourings in one piece

My neighbour Dan who got me going with all this, and another neighbour Richard, an engineer by trade. To hear him talk you got the impression he built the whole of Heysham Power Station singlehanded -a practical and helpful guy though, who masterminded turning the boat back right side up. The lead keel is lifted into its framing with an engine hoist
 This is the framing for the 440lb lead keel. That long  keel baton was a superb piece of Douglas Fir, and had to be bent alarmingly to follow the profile of the boat bottom
The keel was then encased, glued and screwed with marine ply. The boat was finished with two layers of glass cloth before painting

I never got a picture of mine sailing. This is cribbed from Google Images

My neighbour who had built many boats and passed the bug on to me

On Derwentwater with a Wayfarer