Frank and Na come to visit me in Chester
After last months meet up with Julie and Nick in Manchester, my oldest friend Frank and his lovely wife Na came to visit me in Chester.
I took them to the remembrance garden. It features a flower display which renders as the medal of the Cheshire regiment. Every time Frank’s been before it was winter and there was nothing to see. On this day, all the flowers were out and he finally got to see it.
Speaking of things to see, I’d worked out an interesting itinerary of things to do including the newly re-opened castle, Chester’s amazing Storyhouse theatre/library/cinema and a visit to the official Liverpool football club merchandise shop, as Na had a number of requests from friends back in Thailand.
The main event, was the Ark exhibition in Chester Cathedral. As you can see above, the Cathedral is spectacular in its own right, but with the addition of some spectacular exhibits, it came to life.
Featuring 90 works of art, by 50 world renowned sculptures, the exhibition is free (although obviously, we bought the optional map and made a donation).
Most interesting to me was “False Gods” by Damien Hurst.
Frank had always wanted to see this and was quite delighted (I remember commenting, that I never thought I’d get to see it, but definitely not in Chester Cathedral !).
Frank and Na are back home safe in Thailand now, and I look forward to catching up with them the next time one of us is in the others country.
Peak district walking: Bleaklow
The following day, we head off to the Peak District, to go hill walking with the Chester and District Walking Group.
Bleaklow is an iconic hill in the peaks. I was looking forward to returning as the last time we were here, the weather was appalling.
An early start, we drove there with a full car of keen participants and parked at the Mill (which once made textiles and is now filled with web developers).
Some of the path was muddy, but there were clear trails throughout the day.
After a morning of trekking and friendly conversation we stop on the hill side for lunch.
One of our group, Brian is an excellent navigator.
He had worked out where an American plane had crashed nearby and he had worked out a route to the site.
Amazingly, after all these years, some wreckage still remained.
A plaque to the crew of the Superfortress, nicknamed Overexposed.
Some of the larger engine parts from the plane.
We wander back down the hill, have a pint in the Bulls Head, Glossop. We like to contribute to the local economy (and we like pints as well).
Another fab day out with the walking group then its the usual routine, drive home, bath and dinner at Artichoke.
New First aid and safety equipment
I’ve been upgrading some of my equipment recently (you may remember a new hard torch and duffel bag).
I’ve actually bought a new first aid kit by Ortlieb. When I say first aid kit, its actually just a bag, as I’m going to fill it with my standard travel first aid kit supplies anyway,
The Ortlieb bag is a lot more hard wearing than the Life venture one I have at the moment and is fully waterproof.
While researching first aid kits I was delighted to discover the Nokia 3310 has been relaunched.
Time was, when you saw a police officer or a fireman, they always had a Nokia.
With a weeks worth of charge available and amazing signal strength, this is the ideal emergency phone.
A new experience at Urbano 32.
Urbano 32 in Chester is somewhere I go frequently, and I’m a regular attendee of their wine testing hosted by their supplier Rodney Densem wines.
It normally involves 5 wines and 4 food courses (food and wine are matched to make for an amazing experience).
One this occasion, they had the same format, but decided to opt for a Gin tasting evening.
I like to try different things.
I enjoyed myself, but the joys of Gin are lost on me, as it felt like eating a 4 course meal, with lemonade in between every course 🙂
Crib Goch – a date with destiny.
Crib Goch near Snowdon, is one of the most spectacular ridge walks in Europe.
A girl called Jane Smith gave me a framed picture of it 30 years ago, it’s hung on my wall ever since and for reasons I can’t explain, I’ve never gotten around to doing it.
Probably because, this isn’t easy, requires perfect weather and planning (and a suspension of a persons fear of heights!).
I’ve been talking to a few friends at work and we’ve got a date set to go and do it.
A mixture of health trepidation and immense enthusiasm. I’ll post updates when its completed.
The other side of my day at work.
I was asked the other day what I do at work, when I’m not working. So, for no particular reason, I thought I’d write a bit about it.
Amazingly, it takes 2 trains to travel the 7 miles from Chester to Ellesmere Port where I work.
Instead, I get on this train with my bike, get off 9 minutes later at Capenhurst then ride for 20 minutes to my office at EP.
I usually do the same in reverse on the way home, but if the weather is nice, I join the canal and peddle the 10 miles along the towpath, where I get to see fishermen, people walking dogs and other people smoking Marijuana.
At lunchtime, if its raining, I find a quiet corner in the warehouse and read.
If not, I go out for a walk.
A circuit I do, takes me through some quiet industrial places, some forested areas and on the way back, I get to sit on this bench in the graveyard where I usually eat my lunch and drink mineral water.
As I’m walking, I usually listen to the Smiths or the Happy Mondays.
Occasionally, I don’t cycle to work and just do the 2 train combination.
Because of the way the train times fall, I usually have 28 minutes to wait, so I pop to a pub across the road.
It’s full of balloons (the human kind) but I find a quiet corner and relax with my tablet or notebook before getting the train.
Sometimes, I treat myself to dinner in the pub and the tasty Fish and chips above cost only £3.99
One of the most advanced laboratories in the country help me out with a personal problem.
Speaking of work, some of my friends in the lab have been helping me with a conundrum.
How do I know, how much is left in the gas canister for my camping stove ?
The answer, weigh a full one and then weigh the one you’ve been using.
Obviously for the full scientific solution we’ll need an empty one as well.
For the time being its a great little solution, so thanks for that Alison.
The Beggars Opera and humble pie on the menu.
I’ve been to Chester Storyhouse several times to watch films, get coffee and study in the library.
I recently got my first chance to watch something in the theatre.
A reworking of the Beggars opera with the musicians on the stage joining in, some incredible vocal work by the actors and instead of the tragic ending, the audience are invited to choose an ending just like Wayne’s World.
Great day out in the Ogwen Valley.
Following day, were back in the Ogwen valley, Snowdonia, in further pursuit of the Welsh 3000’s.
One of my favourite people: Tracy, who seems like a typical mum with grown up daughters who likes to bake cakes.
Which gives little clue to the amazing adventure life she’s lived. She was stationed all over the world with the British army and spent 2 years in northern Ireland.
These are the kind of people you meet when you go hill walking 🙂
We got coffee before setting off, but when we got back, the kiosk was closed so we missed out on the sausage rolls I’d been dreaming about all day.
The mountains and lakes around here are stunning to look at.
We stop for a breather.
Dave E in the front of the picture and Andy in the back.
The woman in blue standing up, is a Russian lawyer who lives in London. She’d travelled up for the weekend but got lost.
We invited her to join us and we spent the day on the hill together (she had come on the trip straight from work, so was carrying her work laptop and other unnecessary stuff for the whole day).
Our goal’s for the day Foel Grach and Foel-fras (2 more Welsh 3000’s to tick off the list). Our task finished and a day of interesting conversation complete, we head for home.
Disappointing start to my sailing career.
But not everything goes to plan.
For ages, I’ve wanted to have a go at sailing. I’ve been on bigger boats in the past, but the idea of having a relaxing afternoon sailing up and down in your own little boat seems pretty attractive to me.
A training centre that was highly recommended was the Wirral Sailing Centre at West Kirby, where they have a large marine lake.
I’d signed up and had been looking forward to it for weeks (they only run 4 courses a year).
I was so enthusiastic that Nikki’s sister Lyn got me a book and DVD from the Royal Yachting association and I’d been learning theory and practising knots for weeks before.
An then, the night before I wake up and start being sick (I’m still unsure why) and with that, my sailing hopes for this year are dashed (the next and only other course this year is on the same day that Nikki and I are due to give a talk at the Chester Globetrotters).
After calling the centre and telling them I couldn’t attend I was overtaken by despondency. Why do I set my sights high. It only means when something goes wrong, I’m miserable.
Why don’t I do what many of the masses do, watch x factor, tidy the garage , sit in the garden and just goe through the motions of life. I doubt they feel much dissatisfaction.
But then it hits me, I couldn’t live that way, even if I wanted to. I’ve booked to do it next year and I should have a tidy compliment of sailing attire to wear when I do it.
Enemy’s become friends
For a long time, Pigeons caused me all kinds of problems in my garden (back yard).
They had a nest on my Sky dish and since its a 3 story house, I couldn’t move them and they would poo in the garden which required frequently cleaning up.
Over time, the dish was removed and the problem went away.
The other day, I noticed that the pigeons had built a nest on the ground, next to my storage cupboard (oh the cliche of motivational speaking) and were using my garden chair as a sort of porch.
Having read up on it, I know that both parents will take turns to incubate their 2 eggs. It will take 17 days and then another 30 for the young chicks to learn to fly, find food and annoy me.
In the meantime, since I was responsible for them being homeless, I’ve let them stay and I put a little bowl of water and some bread out for them each night.
But once the chicks are grown, as Americans say, “your outta here!”.
Counting down the days to the Dr Who experience in Cardiff.
Well, one more weekend at home, and then I’m off to Cardiff to see the Dr Who experience.
I’ve even signed up for the walking tour. I’m only sorry there isnt more time, as I’ve found out there are other Dr Who filming locations that are a bus ride away and I won’t have enough time.
I’m sure I’ll go back, Cardiff looks like a fab place. I’ve even found a nice bar featured in Torchwood where I can get a drink before I head for home.
Don’t forget that Nikki and I are giving a talk on Burma on Saturday the 16th of of September at Chester Museum.
Near and far, the search for adventure continues…