Month: November 2010

Half of the Sandstone Trail.

Sandstone trail sign in Frodsham.

Its about 5 years since I last walked the Sandstone trail with Frank. I go walking 3 weekends out of 4, and its usually around Helsby/Frodsham/Runcorn. When that Whore of the trail, Tony suggested doing it again, what could I say.

Its normally done as a 2 day walk from Frodsham to Whitchurch with an overnight stopover in between.

I remember the path being fairly easy to navigate with sign posts. The main problem I encountered last time, was actually finding the accommodation at the half way point and the train station at the end. I decide to print out maps of both along with train/bus timetables and I program all relevant numbers into my mobile.

The plan for food, is bacon sandwiches, to start us off on Saturday (and make extra, which we will wrap in tinfoil, for breakfast on Sunday). Sandwiches for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Various trail snacks (crisps, chocolate bars and sausage rolls) and Saturday evening meal in the Pheasant pub with a few pints.

We will be sleeping in a camping barn. Its basically a big stone tent. I take a gas stove, for heating up drinks along with my Trangia mini kettle, titanium mug and fork and spoon.

Sleeping bag and kip mat will be my bed for the night (these 2 items, weren’t cheap, but when you see the size and weight, you know its worth it).  Torch, mobile, minimal wash and first aid kit. Trainers and a clean T shirt for my visit to the pub.

Overall, I’m trying to travel as fast and as light as I can. My daysack is only fractionally heavier than the one I carry to work.

An early start was needed, so Tony came over to Chester on Friday evening, and we had a few cans and ate fried chicken, while watching Fringe.

In the morning, organisation was a bit of a missed opportunity, but we finally got the train on time, and after 13 minutes, were standing in Frodsham.

Some of the sandstone, where the trail takes its name.

The first part of the trail, involves walking up a fairly steep hill, to the Frodsham monument. Once there, its mostly downhill or flat.

There are a couple of different variations on the route (we had a map, but the route is fairly well signposted).

You can see from the picture above, where the trail takes its name. This is my favourite section, and I’ve walked it a dozen times, frequently branching off, to Helsby, or the road route to Delamere Forest.

Some kind of dog sled competition was taking place in Delamere Forest.

We pass by a car park, which is normally closed in the evening due to the unsavoury pastimes of some of its evening occupants.

An entirely different type of dogging is taking place today. Loads of vans, dogs, and dog sledge’s with wheels are in attendance, as there is some kind of Dog sledging competition taking place.

I’m a pretty live and let live sort of guy, but personally, it annoyed me that the quiet of the countryside was broken by the screeching and howling of literally hundreds of excited dogs.

We continue walking, then tragedy strikes. We realised, that instead of being near to the half way point, we are actually only a third of the way along.

Frustrated further, as we accidentally leave the trail twice, and have to walk miles along country roads, to re-join it. We find ourselves walking through endless boggy fields (some of them, completely waterlogged). Darkness falls.

On this part of the trail, you move into a field, and then exit into the correct field, when you see a yellow SST sign. Fine in the daylight, but at night, you sometimes have to peruse the entire perimeter of the fence, with a torch, to find the exit. This slows you down significantly.

We finally reach the Canal at Beeston. After 40 minutes of searching, we cannot find the next leg of the path. We end up walking about 2 miles, up the tow-path, to central Beeston.  We set off walking towards Burwardsley, where our accommodation awaits.

We are cold, hungry and tired, but drink some water, eat a bar of chocolate, and summon all our remaining energy for the final leg of the days journey.

After around 30 mins, the owner of the barn, Mandy calls us and asks if we would like picking up. Delighted we say yes, and 10 minutes later, we are sat in a warm car on our way to the barn.

Our overnight accomodation at Burwardsley.

We arrive at the Old Smithy camping barn in Burwardsly.

Once inside, it was much more elaborate than I had expected and rather cosy. I had expected it to be like the mountain bothy’s that you find in Scotland, but it had tables to congregate and eat, a sink with running water, an area for cooking, a flushing toilet and a separate room, with a raised area for sleeping.

Candle lanterns illuminate both rooms, and give it a boyhood den feel. There are even blinds over the windows to keep out the cold.

I light the Stove, fill up the Trangia kettle, and with hot chocolate in hand, I relax for the first time that day.

Along the way I’ve turned my ankle, and in quite a lot of pain. Against my better judgement, I sack of the pub, eat some sandwiches and go to sleep.

Walking past some roadworks on the way home.

The following morning, my ankle has swollen.

Its not going to be possible to complete the trail. After paying for our nights accommodation (a bargain, at £5 per person) its decided that well walk to Tattenhall and get the bus.

As we reach the Tattenhall, I see a sign for Chester, 8 Miles. Although I’m still in pain with my foot, I cant be bothered to just sit around for 2 hours, until the bus arrives, and we set of walking. After 3 miles, we realise that there are roadworks, and the bus wont be stopping here. 5 more miles home.

The good news, was 1 mile away, was Christleton. We join the Canal, and walk the 4 miles home along the Canal towpath, one of my favourite walks around Chester.

Once home, Tony gets the train back to Chester, I have a bath, then sleep for 4hrs.

We’re having another crack at it, on the 20th of November !.


Japanese Garden.

The planned Japanese Garden, I'm going to construct.

Inspired by a visit from my brother, I’ve decided to do a few things in the house. Thing is, I have always said, my main focus should be adventure (and it should). The idea, is that instead of buying a new cooker which looks nicer, keep the one you have, and use the money to visit Istanbul.

At the end of your life (and due to the recent passing of my mum, I’ve been thinking about this more than usual) what will really have made a difference. Will it be walking across the Bospherous bridge, from Europe to Asia (the only place in the world where this is possible) or having friends in your house and hearing ooh and aah to your new cooker.

These are principles I’ve held since the birth of the bluelist. But there’s another side to this isn’t there ?. The paint in my bedroom, is a bit dingy, and the room looks and feels dark.

I have been diagnosed with S.A.D., and on average, will spend a 3rd of my life in that room. Equally, the bathroom, is the first room I will enter each day.

The colour schemes in both rooms, are the ones which were prevalent in the house, when I moved in, there is no personal reflection of me, in either. It will only cost £12.50 to repaint each room. Adventure will still be the focus, but in between adventuring, I think its important that you enjoy being at home, rather than just putting up with it until the next trip.

I have made a list of around 50 things (clearing the guttering, putting up a shelf for my mouse and keyboard to clear my desk, putting the cookery books in the kitchen etc.) most them wont cost any money, but should increase the quality of my life (when I’m at home at least) significantly.

Above is the plan for the Japanese garden I have always wanted to build (the design is Steve’s, he’s offered to help for free).

Time traveller.

You’ve probably seen this video kicking around the internet. It basically concerns somebody in a Charlie Chaplin film, appearing to talk on a mobile phone (with the narrator, promoting his own work to high heaven, along the way).

Do I believe that this is an example of time travel ?. I believe that time travel is probably possible, but I don’t think this is an example of it. The first hearing aids, were made by Siemens in the early 20’s and I thank that’s probably what were looking at.

Far more interesting for me, is to see the internet, being used for its original purpose. The exchange of ideas, a discussion of the fantastic and the endless possibilities of what life can hold.

I am sure it will fade in a few days, and well be back to “Tracy: I’ve just come back from the gym and I’m having a shower, can’t believe that Brad was at Angela’s party on Friday” and other rubbish like that.

School report.

Me standing at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

My original School reports, recently came into my possession and made for interesting reading. They all say that I am friendly, but lack focus, that I’m incapable of getting on with anything, and I’m therefore unlikely to achieve anything.

They’re probably accurate for that time. I rectified most of those problems after I left school (the fact that I wasn’t helped or inspired very much at School is one of the reasons, I have very few teacher friends).

Around this time last year I was in South Africa touring the Garden Route. There was one particular day there that came to mind when I was reading the school reports and had a special significance for me.

I remember being 13 and a PE teacher, was teaching us geography in a most un-inspiring way.

Typically, he used me to make an example of me (I wasn’t a rough lad, and avoided trouble, which he came to rely on).

I had to stand up in front of the whole class while he shouted at me and ridiculed my hair (I was 1 of only 2 people in the class with blond hair). I remember the humiliation as he told me I was scruffy and I would never “go anywhere”.

The lesson was about famous Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama setting up a spice trading route around the Cape of Good Hope in 1497.

If by any co-incidence, your reading this Mr Blease, I’ve actually been there. Have you ?

Police to be given training in Facebook.

The Police are to be given training in facebook.

The police development agency, are arranging for detectives to be given training in Facebook.

If I was providing the training, it would be short, and fall into 2 parts.

1. Facebook is crap, don’t use it personally. Go to the cash-point, take out some money, and go and meet some “real” friends over sport, a pint etc.

2. No real detective work is needed. The kind of people that “live” on Facebook are that dense, if you have a potential criminal, just look him up.

It will only be a short time, before he confesses on-line, and you can use shift + print-screen to gather evidence and then spend a bit longer in the pub at lunchtime.


If you live in the centre of Chester and scanned a wireless network with the same name as this website, welcome to – the adventures of an ordinary person.

Some of our regular visitors may have noticed some changes recently. The banner above has been changed from the Ganges at sunset to Uluru at sunrise, to symbolise a new beginning. Technical changes include  a tag cloud on the right and I have finally fixed the scrolling quotes.

It was my intention to re-launch the website yesterday, but various things caught up with me. We will now be re-launching on Friday the 5th of November. The tag cloud on the right will be fixed on all versions of explorer. Most importantly, the pages about Capetown, which complete my bluelist (and have taken nearly a year to update !) will be up on the website.

I’ll also be writing to catch up with some of you, who I’ve lost touch with.

Near and far, the search for adventure continues…

Meet up with an old friend.

Nick joining us for a drink at my brothers house.

There aren’t many positive things about attending a funeral, but it was made a little better by the appearance of my old friend Nick Barker.

Afterwards, he came back to me brothers house and the 3 of us were reminiscing for several hours about old times.

I took nick up on his invite and had a night out in Newton Heath. It was just the way I remember it (although Jon Leech now has the pub, and there was no Lionel there to call me joystick john (alluding to my work in computers). We had some good humored laughs at the bar of the White Lion, and another old friend, Gary Hilton popped in.

A rather annoying drunken woman kept wanting to interrupt our conversation. But of course, this is Newton Heath, and there is no poncing about, re etiquette. Some words were exchanged and she was encouraged go away.

Went to the Church street Chippy on the way home, that was a trip down memory lane. I spent the rest of the evening chatting to Nick’s wife Maggie and got to meet their son Sam ( he was 3 when I moved to Chester and 13 now, he really is an amazing lad).

Ill go back as soon as I get the chance, thanks to everyone for making me so welcome.

On the subject of old friends, Julie Coffee (previously Julie Dermody) got in touch with me through me website, so I’ll be meeting her for lunch, next time I’m in Manchester.

A quick thanks for the kind words from a bloke called Phil, who I worked with at (the awful) Corning.

Finally, completely out of the blue, after rumors of him disappearing and re-emerging all over Europe and the UK (which is contained inside Europe, I got an email from Craig Sutton, an old friend from my early days in Chester.

To all of you, thanks for getting in touch.


Halloween at the Griffin house.

Around at Tony and Lorraine’s house the other evening for Halloween. Well, actually, I don’t normally go for all that crap, and I went around for Sunday roast, nice wine and good company.

However, forces were at work to get me on board with the whole trick or treat thing.

Back in my younger days, when trick or treat first contaminated the UK from America, children used to knock on your door and ask for money. If they didn’t get it, you would have dog excrement put through your letterbox !.

Things have moved on, and Lorraine (who spent a number of years in Canada, and something of an enthusiast of this stuff), had a chocolate box for “the kids” and even had a sculpted pumpkin, in the window, which you can see above.

In Fairness, many of the child visitors had made a real effort, and one particular child was dressed as a mummy, with bandages and everything.

Anyway, as I grow a little older, and become more miserable and cantankerous, its nice to know that I can still enjoy pointless indulgences like this, once in a while.


Retro 30 year old gaming with Atari.

One of my colleagues at work was asking me about the lyrics from a song, presently annoying people listening to the radio on their way to work. “Maybe he’s an XBox and I’m more an Atari” go the lyrics. Whats an Atari asks Gareth ?

After my mum passed, some of my old possession have come back into the fold. What do you know, the 1980’s Atari that David and I saved so hard to buy was setup in my house the other evening.

Atari revolutionized home gaming. Before that, was Binatone with dozens of different games, all based on a kind of ping-pong theme. The Atari allowed you to play as many games of Space Invaders as you liked without having to part with 10p, for every 3 lives !.

In perfect working order, it even had the Kempston pro joystick, which we bought, when the bobbins one sourced with the Atari fell apart. My living room was alight with Pacman and Defender, but I simply couldn’t find space invaders anywhere (I found a copy on ebay for 99p, so that should be pretty good).


The Sandstone Trail Sign.

I’ll  be re-walking the Sandstone trail this weekend with Tony. We have found a camping barn to sleep over in mid trail and a pub nearby for our evening meal.

Next week I’ll be in Budapest from Tuesday until Friday. Its my first and only overseas trip of the year, I’ve just about been able to scrape the money together, so I’m going to make the very most of the trip, and get everything I possibly can from it.

I was reading about the UK Government putting up the Tax on long haul flights.  The thinking by our betters, is that International travel, is obviously a luxury and should therefore be taxed even more.

My thoughts on this are clear. I’m not going to go with the “other people choose to have children as their hobby, so leave mine alone” nonsense. However by the time I’ve paid taxes for everything and everybody else, there’s usually a bit of money left just for me. Why cant they just leave that alone.

Urgent. Mobile Number.

An old style mobile phone.

Several people have contacted me in the last few days, saying they have sent me texts and left voice-mail calls and not got a reply. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.

I you have my number ending 665 or 320, then unfortunately, I don’t use ether of them anymore and haven’t for some time.

The number I presently use ends 617. Email me if you don’t have it, and I’ll send it by reply.