Sunday, October 22, 2006

Celebrating 80!...

A join of two families, and two complete sets too! We had achieved miracle of modern teenagers all were available, but then it was for their SGM!

We had SGM, the FftN and the FftS joined to celebrate SGM's 80th, which coincidentally was not the speed she was doing when she gained the appelate SpeedyGrandMa, after being nabbed by one of the more dastardly pieces of technology that the Human Units have developed, namely a "Speed Camera".

As an aside it is quite interesting to experience the weird juxtaposition of horror and celebration that occurs when one passes a recently burnt out Speed Camera. Such acts of vandalism in any other context would have created nothing but horror and loathing for the unthinking miscreants. The blackend Box clearly no longer operational, one gets a small sense of victory against the forces of oppression.

TBMHSE chose the meeting location halfway between the South Coast and Bawtry. Clearly he used an ancient map with the standard scale distortion that used to accord the proper import to the South of England. On such a map Matlock would have looked to be exactly half way! To be fair the location did turn out to be all he had promised. We arrived at the Red House Country Hotel in the afternoon and true to their word we were served Tea and a home made fruit cake, whose fruit had clearly been soaked endlessly, to create that difficult to achieve moistness.

Our superbly appointed room had a magnificent view of the National Park with a balcony. The only minor complaint and warning to future guests is that the hot water is not available to exhausted walkers who return from a hike in the early afterrnoon. (I would suggest an extra layer of foam around the tank and a commitment to keep the hot water hot!)

Later that evening we began our sorry slide toward gluttony, that most dastardly of the sins. The evening dinner is a four course affair, not including the coffee and mints at the end. The chef should rightly proud of his offerings, though super-tasters beware, as the flavours he conjures up are not for the faint of heart. The fish soup on the second night was sublime. The pepper sauce that accompanies the steak is not shy of shouting "PEPPER", and my rather picky description of the way I wanted my steak cooked, as the French would say "at the point" was taken very seriously and delivered to perfection.

SGM celebrated her birthday on the Saturday, and after a day of visits to Matlock and the surrounding area and sundry visits to various retail outlets, apparently a necessity when one is blessed with daughters ;-), we finished off the evening with a game of "Famous People".

Which will be the subject of a future Blog...

We all decided that we had fun and had thoroughly enjoyed the locale and establishment.

Before I sign off I must also acknowledge the true gem of the RHCH, ie Sylvia!. Her experience in the hotel industry has given her the ability to read a guest

A questionable cache...

'Tis but a short?! walk from the Red House Country Hotel in the Peak District to the Stanton Enclosure geo-cache. At least according to my new way of finding caches, somehow on a 2D Map, the hills are less of an issue!

The walk starting with a footpath down by the side of the hotel, continues across a rusty railway line occasionaly frequented by harumphing steam trains, takes you towards a set of green fields in front of Darley Bridge. I started a little late and my first mistake was to decide against an early lunch at the pub at the muddy exit to the fields. It is amazing how muddy a herd of cows can make the exit to a field.

Following my trusty GPS enabled Personal Navigation Device (PND), I was taken past an Industrial site, on the left apparently still working, on the right mounds of disturbed soil, being used by children on bikes and marked as "Contaminated Land Unsuitable for Recreational Use". Clearly the human units have not yet grasped the fundamental tenets of the things they would call "Conservation" and "Safety". Found at the very edge of a National Park called the Peak District, it is interesting how the parks boundaries bend inwards to accomodate this blot on the landscape.

Walking a little further I approached the cache from the same direction that many other GPS directed hunters had done before me, namely the "wrong" direction. It was here I made my second mistake. My "you can't get there from here" alert did not trigger effectively until I had reached the point where I couldn't! There had been a clear track up the steep hillside until then, where had it gone? I was faced by what looked like a stone built escarpment built into the hillside to block my path. So I struck off to the left, to find a place where I could clamber up it. On top of the escarpment?! I found a track up the side of the hill, which took me away from the cache. I followed it some way until I decided to strike out into the 4 foot high ferns, to make my own path back to the cache, my third mistake. Had I continued some 200 yards I predict I would have found the proper path back to the cache.

I eventually found the conventional path, having forced myself through the ferns. It felt like miles but was measured in a few 100 metres on the PND. The path went right past the cache location. The cache was in an old stone built enclosure, I started hunting for the cache on and around the enclosure, when my conservation alert did trigger very solidly! I started noting upturned stones with the moss underneath, the tops of the recently disturbed wall with no lichen or moss, cache hunters before me had started the slow but sure destruction of this enclosure. At this point I stopped my search and decided that I would submit an archive request to the fellows at on my return.

With a mixture of pride and sorrow I started my journey home. As I had left my rain gear at the bottom of the "you can't get there from here" hill. I decided to head straight back down the hill toward it, my final mistake! The journey while steep was relatively safe as the heather and ferns were very forgiving and also made a soft cushion that protected my knee on the journey down. I was approaching the area that I thought was the escarpment keeping a sharp?! eye out for the track that was atop it, when I found a secondary escarpment! The manner by which I found it consisted of a violent spin to my right, with a flailing left arm and my right arm hanging onto my PND for dear life. The protective heather and ferns had protected my eyes from seeing a 1.5 metre drop off this secondary "escarpment". Happily they re-asserted their more positive protective qualities as I landed on them in a heap! Nothing but my pride was bruised, and I continued down the hillside mentally berating myself.

Back tracking, I amused myself by selecting which of the pubs I would stop at for lunch, remember that first mistake? Having chosen and arrived at the Square and Compass I met the publican who was happy to estol the virtues of his liquid refreshments then told me that lunch stopped at 2pm, and no amount of pleading on my part would persuade him to part with even a slice of bread, let alone toasted! So my lunch consisted of a pint and a packet of crips and nuts. Not that I am bitter, but I would not be moved to recommend the pub to hungry hikers. Though to be fair he did open the back door to the pub garden so I could sit outside. (I have to say though if you haven't already click on the link to the pubs website it is something else! I suspect it was developed by one of the younger locals for a free pint!)

The walk back to the Hotel was uneventful.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What do they get from these puzzles???

The human units seem to enjoy puzzles and games, so when NITRAM emailed this link... I could not but try.
Especially as he declared himself to be stuck on Level 11, while TDoMB was herself stuck on level 16. My silly mistake was to share the link with HWWGTA! I admit to doing my usual trick of getting a few levels ahead before I did, but it still only seemed a matter of minutes before he was ahead of me.

The unfortunate side effect was that we then got into a competition and lost sight of the fact that SWWMD both cooked the evening meal and cleaned up after it.

I was gutted to hear HWWGTA, tell me the total number of puzzles in this particular 3D Logic Game another example of his cerebral proficiency, though perhaps not his subtelty. He may as well have shouted I won!!! :-)

It tickled me to transmit that number to NITRAM, I didn't state that I completed the puzzle, that would have been fibbing! Though I can now "proudly?" state that I have completed it!


Monday, October 16, 2006

Canoeing ....

I suspect that the pre-launch discussions regarding the last canoe trip, which involved a "C"apsize, here-in-after known as the "C" word, were the reason for my nervous-ness. The act of boarding was in itself a vision, the slippery mud bank adding to the fun. We launched onto the river at high tide. My white knuckles the subject of much mirth, were kept white by appropriately timed repeats of the "C" word. The highly efficient paddling of my crew mates helped us achieve a wake, at times I felt we were exceeding the rivers speed limit! We soon pulled out of sight of the village and turned the corner into sublime wilderness.

We passed through a section of water that had a thin floating layer of brown sludge, identified by our captain (PoSDO) as his own output! The predictable increase in the use of the "C" word created the equally predictable change in my knuckles colour! A vague reference to needing the water testing skills of a previoulsy "C"apsized crew member, whilst creating some mirth, only served to firm my grip. Happily we soon left the sludge layer behind.

The mists clearing, we soon arrived at our destination a small spit of land where we intended to partake of the bacon butties being carried overland by the less intrepid, or was that more intelligent!, explorers of this glorious wilderness.

We arrived as a female swimmer chose to exit the water. Presumably she had not spotted the three male canoeist paddling feverishly toward her, for she started to change with the occasional use of a covering towel! She would not have known our goal was bacon butties as she turned to see us hit the bank at speed, only yards from her changing spot. Luckily the con-current arrival of the all female over-land party calmed her somewhat frantic towel clutching activities. Our captain gallantly reversed from the bank and reinserted the canoe 6 yards further from the partly changed swimmer, an act which I am not sure did much to calm her further. We all rapidly exited the vessel averting our eyes apart for the odd glance to check for brown sludge, as after all the offending layer was only a few 100 yards up the river??!

The bacon butties in crunchy baguetes, justified our haste, though perhaps not our lack of gallantry!

I reluctantly?! let others experience the return journey, surely driven solely by my sense of fairness!, not the need to let my knuckle muscles rest! I was actually too much of a landlubber to realise that the turning tide and the wind would make the return journey much harder!

This blog was just a small part of a brilliant weekend that felt like we packed in the activities of a week! As usual the location exerted it's power. I felt the word "Relax" hit me as we drive into the village, very similar to the effect Orkney has on me. Needless to say the village is a BlackBerry free zone.... NO SIGNAL! BLISS!

Few DMLA's this blog. I have not spent the time to consider them for this previously unblogged group... the FoSDO! SDO was not there on this occasion, though her sister (SoSDO?) was.

Monday, October 09, 2006


The human unit: TMO, had clearly fondled the marinaded raw pork in the plastic bag long enough, as "The Canon" was prompted to ask; "How did you keep the meat so tender!". The kebabed (sp?) Thai Pork was in fact del.ic.ous!

If only I could understand...

... the complex interactions of Family and Friends. Perhaps writing of it will help.

TMO has prompted me to start the blogging more seriously. Mostly due to his penchant for assigning DMLA's to his Blogged victims!

I was privileged to once again experience the welcome and hospitality of the FoSDT

As usual I left with too much to Blog even if I had unlimited hours.

From the surreal offer of the opportunity to fondle a plastic bag containing raw pork in a Thai Marinade. What was TMO thinking? He had just got it from the fridge! Where's the fun in that?

To the coincidence(s) of just having visited Moscow and St Petersburg, which the visiting Canon had also done. Except "The Canon" was a gourmand who had found a number of excellent Russian restaurants (Would that I had met him before we visited). Both of us had visited at a historic moment, he at the time of the Theatre Bombing, Us at the Re-Burial of the Swedish Mother of the last Czar in St Petersburg. (I wonder if I did understand that correctly?)

This occasion was the second time, this year, that I was present at a full family get together. As usual the love was demonstrated by full-on ribbing. "TTO" (the current partner of SDT, I use ""'s for DMLA's when they are not mine!) demonstrated his ability to survive the FoSDT by responding instantly to a challenge, that in an instant switched topic and dissed the Brits. It was a masterpiece! The question of who was the best Doctor Who had been raised. Rather unfair given that the dinner was taking place in Indiana and not all guests would know who Dr Who was let alone the list of actors who played him. So his instant response: "George Lazenby!", (this punctuation should get me an "F") was truly a classic.

TOWCC also had his current partner at the dinner, she impressed me as much at this dinner as she did the first. I am always left thinking how few braincells I have in the company of the FoSDT, so it feels totally unfair that the two partners add so clearly to the IQ of the FoSDT. I am still working on a DMLA for her, so for the time being she will be TPoTOWCC

The double sighting of a starving Humming Bird, and the comparison of TMoSDT to a Russian circus Bear trainer for not having the feeders out, prompted an instant feeder. Despite observing closely for the rest of the afternoon, I did not see the Humming Bird partake. Although I did see lots of bubbles, I suspect that he was drinking from the Dark Side of the Feeder, Grrrr. I really WILL super glue closed the feeder hole on that side one day, I am convinced they sneak in and drink from that side on purpose...

In short, another glorious and pleasurable visit to the FoSDT!!