Jogle Blogle – Day 32

Jogle Blogle – Day 32

IMG_3189

Eyes down, look in – here we go again. You know what, the best thing about writing a Blogle is that you don’t necessarily have to Jogle and that’s the thing I find most enjoyable. Brother Steve is off traipsing around the country in all bloody weather and all I have to do is lie here, typing on my iPad. Well not all I do obviously, sometimes I get up and make a cup of coffee, or have a wee – that sort of thing.

 

IMG_3184IMG_3187Anyway, what day are we on? Oh, that’s right, Day 32 of this Jogle from John O’Groats to Land’s End. Steve stayed overnight at an Airbnb in Kendal and would like to give a shout out to Jo and Ian who fed and looked after him and then sent him on his way along the Lancaster Canal. Except it isn’t. Not anymore anyway. It’s been filled in and is now a walkway. Where once there were narrow boats there is now a Jogler, Jogling for the Macmillan Cancer Support charity (See Steve’s link at http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi )

IMG_3193IMG_3194Passing by High and Lower Haverflatts both at the same time and not feeling the urge to use the facilities offered by the bushes, my brother carried on through the villages of this green and pleasant land.

 

 

IMG_3218IMG_3219

IMG_3226

And then he came to the tea room at Carnforth Station. Does that ring a bell? I thought it did, yes! That’s where they filmed ‘Brief Encounter,’ back in 1945. Shall we? Oh go on! I’ll be Trevor Howard, you can be Celia Johnson. That’s it, I’ll go and sit over there with the Bakewell Tarts and you pretend that you just walked in – don’t forget, best Queens English. O.k. You can start – cue entrance, lights, action, camera…

‘Oh, you’re here, my dear sweet unrequited love, I wondered if you’d wait!’

‘Yes, I waited as long as I dared, but now I must leave my darling, my train is coming through the tunnel.’

‘Oh how I love your use of suggestive metaphors. Must you go?’

‘I must.’

‘Oh please don’t.’

‘I jolly well must, I’m going to Johannesburg on the 3:30 from Crouch End in case we should accidentally stumble over this delicious tearoom crumpet and have an affair.’

‘Very well. But I only wanted to share my muffin with you!’

‘I know, I know and your muffin looks so moist and lovely, but go I must. Goodbye.’

‘Goodbye.’

Cut to steam train pulling into station clouds of steam hanging in the air, a long melancholy blast on the steam whistle and pan back to the tea room.

Stare lovingly at the door as it closes, aaaaand – that’s a wrap.

Blimey – Oscar winning stuff indeed! Eat your heart out David Lean. Well done you! That was an epic performance I must say. Oh, just there at the corner of your mouth – a tiny bit of muffin.

fullsizeoutput_7fe

Oh hang on. While we were doing that the Jogler’s wandered off again. Oh, that’s why, he’s found a teeny bit of home, it’s a wonder he didn’t drape his Black Country flag over it.

 

 

 

fullsizeoutput_7fdfullsizeoutput_800Some deer! Wildlife of the day. That’s more like it bro.

And although he didn’t see any rabbits I doubt that they’d have closed the gate anyway – I don’t think rabbits can read.

IMG_3227IMG_3236

 

Finally back down to the canal again, this time full of water. They’ve either renovated it or it rained while we were filming in the tea room.

 

 

IMG_3234As he wandered into Lancaster he passed The Sugarhouse which has fallen into disrepair since the Jogleressette finished drinking here in her university days, no doubt they’ll unveil a blue plaque once renovations are complete saying something like, RACHAEL ROBERTSON DRANK HERE.

MILEAGE TODAY: 23.0   TOTAL: 545.33

STEPS TODAY: 44,859  TOTAL: 1,119,459

DURATION: 7 hours 45 minutes 46 seconds

Join us tomorrow as we pass the halfway point of the Jogle Blogle with a special guest appearance. No, I don’t know who it is, he won’t tell me! 

fullsizeoutput_7ff

Advertisements

Jogle Blogle – Day 11

IMG_1963Well I hope you’re all prepared for this. Today’s going to be a grueller! The Jogler and Jogleress are about to embark on their longest leg of the journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End so far. Day 11 of The Jogle could be make or break day on Steve’s charity walk for Macmillan Cancer Support – see his link here http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi

 

You may recall that they strolled into Invergarry on the afternoon of Day 10, conserving their energy. Day 11 was going to be tough – and they knew it! Steve had planned to walk 26 miles on their journey to Fort William and so they set out earlier than normal at 08:20 via pathways alongside the River Oich, Loch Oich and the Caledonian Canal. Due to not staying where they planned the night previously however this meant the trek was nearly 30 miles instead. The panorama stretched ahead of them, reminding our walkers with each step just how much further there was to go. Grasses, heathers, the mighty Scots pine (no, let’s not go there, eh?) tranquil waters and pale skies with clouds which would do the opening credits of ‘The Simpsons’ proud.

IMG_1970IMG_1982IMG_1992

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our intrepid pair though are still prepared to fire off some photos as they breathlessly traverse the countryside, each step after endless step getting them agonisingly slowly toward their long, interminable day’s goal of collapsing exhausted into bed and not caring if that bed were a bed of nails!

IMG_1966

 

 

Today’s wildlife of choice – a cow. (Honestly I was expecting so much more – otters perhaps, or maybe a wild sporran!)

 

 

fullsizeoutput_7a3IMG_2005

 

Gairlochy and the surrounding area was where Commandos trained during World War II, hence the memorial at Spean Bridge just up the road. Believe it or not, whilst training for beach landings these brave men were shot at with live ammunition by their instructors who were trained to miss – but not by much.

How are you holding up? Yes, me too – I’ll be glad when we can take a rest, my calf muscles are cramping up just writing this. My breathing’s getting a little ragged and I think my pulse is racing, but don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.

IMG_2009

We’re now passing Exhaustion Point and heading out along the Glen of Despair, passing by Loch Knackered for mile upon mile, yard upon yard, inch upon torturous inch and in the distance, Ben Nevis, taunting them, so near and yet so far as they strain sinew and muscle toward their base camp for the assault on its summit in two days time. Will they recover in time? Thankfully the troublesome, Bertie Blister is totally overwhelmed by the magnitude of the days mammoth task and Steve is now aching in places he never knew that he had, rendering that sore point an unpleasant memory at best.

 

IMG_2021

IMG_2025

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neptune’s staircase at Banavie is home to two swing bridges across the Caledonian Canal. The rail bridge opened in 1901 and carries locomotives from the West Highland Line and is operated by hand from the south side. The road bridge allows traffic from the A830 to cross the waterway, unless vessels are passing through as they were today. Hang on, do you think we could thumb a lift?

How you doing? Could I just have a sip from your water bottle please? Thanks! Hang on while I just roll my socks down to my ankles. Gosh if it weren’t for writing about the idyllic scenery I think I’d have gone mad, mad I tell you!

IMG_2040Finally they reach the end of The Great Glenn Way and although it’s not the final destination it is a chance to rest up under the sign. If you recall the start point of that pathway was at the photogenic Inverness Castle. This end is marked by McDonalds, Morrison’s and an badly parked mini digger, a sure sign we’re getting toward civilisation. Nice hanging baskets though. My word, that hard wooden bench looks comfortable!

IMG_2028More wildlife as Sue befriends a mutt. How can she bend her back like that? Mine’s in bits and I’m only writing about this. Is it far now? No, leave me here, I’m only slowing you all down. Leave me a gun and I’ll hold all the Apaches off – don’t worry, I’ll save the last bullet for myself. Sorry, I think I’m delirious. Just carry on without me – I’ll catch up tomorrow.

IMG_2033IMG_2035

In the meantime here’s a snap of an old wreck, the walkers first view of Fort William and the days stats. Well done guys, well done indeed. No, just prop me over there against Ronald McDonald’s drive through menu board. I’ll be fine, don’t worry!

Mileage for Day 11 an astonishing 29.9 in 59,162 steps. The walk was 10 hours 20 minutes and 37 seconds in duration. The totals for the Jogle so far are: 211.23 miles, 421,035 steps.

Jogle Blogle – Day 10

I bet you thought I’d missed one, didn’t you? Not at all. I just didn’t have time to post it that’s all. So you’ll be getting two today – you lucky, lucky people!

IMG_1856IMG_1873Day 10 of The Jogle. Into double figures. Uphill, down glen. A fairly leisurely start for our dynamic duo as they conserve energy for their big climb on Day 13 and indeed for their marathon walk into Fort William tomorrow (unless you’re reading this today of course). They did catch their first glimpse of Ben Nevis in the distance, worryingly capped with snow – more of that on Jogle Blogle – Day 11, because you would have to squint at these photos a bit!

IMG_1882IMG_1900But today was the day that they bade farewell to Loch Ness as they continued down to Invergarry on Steve’s charity walk from John O’Groats to its furthest counterpart in Cornwall. Pausing only to take a few more shots of the scenery, a selfie (thank heavens he’s had a shave – he looked a right scruffy Herbert yesterday [had to get a Dad saying in somewhere bro!]) and mugging a fellow walker to take a shot of the pair of them they dropped down from the high trail they’d been following into Fort Augustus. Isn’t the Jogleress little? Or is the Jogler tall?

IMG_1885IMG_1895IMG_1913

 

 

 

 

 

Out then onto the wide flat towpaths of the Caledonian Canal, for lunch at The Bothy by the locks leading to the Loch which may or may not be the home of a certain monster.IMG_1918

IMG_1920

IMG_1951Back on the trail, passing Cullochy Loch where apparently the royal family disembarked in 1958, such a momentous event that they put up a plaque. Perhaps this was the origin of the term ‘the royal wee,’ as they all obviously stopped for a trip behind the bushes. (Well there’s not much else there!)

IMG_1955Finally they passed the suspension bridge at Oich, built over the river of the same name in 1849 and designed by the appropriately named James Dredge, on their way to their overnight stop.

The stats of the day were mileage 17.4 giving a total of 181.33. They walked for a leisurely 6 hours 23 minutes and 37 seconds in 38,191 steps and the running total is now 361,873.

Find out all about Steve’s walk at his just giving page here http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi

And Sue will walk 500 miles… (JOGLE BLOGLE +30)

30 days now to the big ‘off.’

Yes, that’s right! My brother, Steve Robertson is walking from John O’Goats to Land’s End in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

Excited?

Yes I thought you were, you weren’t snoring quite as loudly as usual.

So before we go too far down the road of ‘The Jogle,’ there is something I feel I should own up to. Steve is not doing this alone. I thought you ought to know so that you don’t feel that I have in any way misrepresented the Jogle.

What’s that?

No it’s nothing like the PPI scandal and I…

Say again?

I don’t see how you could possibly claim a refund, I checked just before we started this and you haven’t actually paid anything – yet.

Well no, thinking about donating isn’t the same as actually doing it, is it?

And anyway, you have no idea what it is that I was about to ‘fess up to, do you?

No, I thought not. So if I could just explain…

As I said, Steve is not doing the Jogle alone. He’ll be accompanied for forty per cent of the journey by wife Sue.

Yes, his wife Sue! He’s hardly going to be marching along with some random Sue who happens to be married to someone else, is he? Honestly – will you just let me finish!

Now for those of you who haven’t met him, Steve is tall. Very tall. 

Sue on the other hand, isn’t. 

Tall that is. 

Which is probably why Sue will only be doing forty per cent of the route. For every stride that Steve takes she’ll be doing two and a half. At least. So – not quite half the distance, but the same amount of steps. Explain that to your Fitbit.

But don’t blink or you’ll miss her, she may be small but she’s speedy. In fact the only picture I could get was one of her disappearing into the distance. There was a rush of air and a loud noise which may have been a sonic boom as she sped past.

57634249079__5FBDA9F5-F23B-4D9F-BEFB-282A74CFE66AAll this means, dear reader, is that technically speaking Sue should have been sponsored too. 

And she’s not.

Sponsored that is.

So here’s an idea, you know that 10p you were generously and charitably going to donate toward Macmillan Cancer Support? How about making it 20p instead. Just to show willing.

You know it makes sense. Here’s the link to Steve’s just giving page. http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi

In the meantime they’ll both be out training this Easter holiday weekend somewhere around here in the Black Country, so I suggest that you keep a sharp lookout – otherwise you may get trampled in the rush!

We’ll be back in ten days as the countdown continues.

 

 

 

Life on the cut

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I started writing a regular column for Canals Online magazine. For those of you who didn’t believe it, here is one of the aforementioned articles, treated of course with my usual diplomatic reverence.
As mentioned in the last edition of ‘Canals Online’ magazine, spring has well and truly sprung and is now in full swing down by old bridge number 38.

‘How do you know,’ I hear you cry.
Well I’ll tell you a few of the tricks us old timers living down by the cut use in defining the passing of the seasons.
Firstly, during the first full school holiday week of Easter the tourist boats begin to weave their way up from Stourport. ‘Weave’ is the operative word as the novice captain of the vessel struggles with the intricacies of steering left but going right.
Also during this holiday period it rains.
Incessantly.
Yes, it comes down in galvanised bloody buckets.
Happy Easter, pass the creme eggs, some oilskins and a sou’wester.
But there are other signs.
Fishermen for a start.
The secretive solitary angler has slowly been shedding his winter plumage. The waterproof green and brown camouflage jacket and camouflage over-trousers with visible bum crack have been replaced by a stunning pair of dungarees in a fetching Grey/ Black ‘shock and awe’ pattern just in case a Russian submarine should surface through the murky waters of the Staffs and Worcs. ‘Can’t smear Novichok nerve agent on my knob, Vladimir – I’m disguised as a rock.’
Flocks of them have now appeared on the banks, freshly returned from their winter migration to The Horse and Jockey or the far more exotic Hinksford Arms.
The calls have changed too. Instead of the customary grunt of the lone fisherman in response to any hearty greeting from passing walkers, the calls echo out as they try to locate their mate – ‘How about them Dingles? Couldn’t pass a ball if they tried!’
‘You need bloody talk, the Baggies ain’t much better.’
The ritual displaying of their wares is in full swing. Boxes on wheels have been dragged through the countryside before being opened up to allow all and sundry to see the bewildering array of hooks and lures lovingly arranged in trays. Phalanxes of carbon fibre rods lie across the towpath, held up on all sorts of tripods, steady’s, stands, racks and bits of old twig, giving each angler more catching power than a fleet of Grimsby trawlers.
A pair of Tupperware boxes, one with cheese sandwiches in cling film which have been mouldering on the windowsill since last Wednesday and one full of maggots fresh from the fridge lie discarded in the grass. Take care not to mix those two up then.
A chorus of disapproval starts at the far end and like some slow motion Mexican wave the only rod each of them ever uses is hoisted out of the water and into the air to let the latest learner skipper zig-zag his way past.
Look out!
Coming toward us now is the latest fair weather visitor, clad in shorts, an Action Heart tee shirt and shiny new trainers. Yes, the occasional jogger has peeked out of its nest, discerned that the temperature is above fifteen degrees and it is unlikely to drizzle for at least the next half an hour. He has set out on a mission to jog up as far as the pub, stop for a crafty half and then head back in an effort to lose a few pounds. As well as his colourful plumage he wears a Fitbit on his wrist to be examined every few seconds as an antidote to his being unable to access Facebook in this wi-fi dead-spot called ‘the countryside.’ He is also sporting a utility belt which would make Batman green with envy. There is a water bottle handily placed to be unslung without
losing pace. An iPod is connected up to his head with the latest in ear-bud technology. There is a spare water bottle and a container with re-hydration fluid for emergencies. A pouch contains a multigrain bar which when opened will look (and probably taste) like something that has fallen out of the backside of a squirrel. There are a packet of plasters because you never know do you? He once stumbled, fell and grazed a knee whilst attempting to
hurdle a particularly well spread dog poo. Another pouch contains an economy tub of Vaseline just in case his nipples start to chafe and create static electricity against the nylon of his shirt. And if his right arm should somehow become incapacitated there is a further water bottle within reaching distance of his left arm, to which is also strapped a blood pressure monitor and a sweat band.
Another recent riser from hibernation is the fisherman’s arch rival. So fast and unwilling to stop are these creatures that it causes the normally reticent angler to swear and cuss like girls on a hen night in Newcastle as they hastily drag their fancy plastic rods off the towpath. In a blur of florescent Lycra the mountain biker swoops past covered in an array of multi-national corporate logo’s like an oversubscribed advertising hoarding, head armoured against attack and bum splattered in mud (well at least I hope that’s what that is!) because his bicycle is far too fancy for mud-guards.
Also leaping out of the way are a pair of ramblers. Quiet and unassuming these shy creatures are also agitated by the cyclists ill-mannered charge past and the male may ‘TUT!’ loudly only to be admonished by his mate who will tap his arm apologetically and whisper, ‘George, really!’ They dress identically in a (whisper it, because the next bit is rude) uni-sex sort of way. Despite the heat they wear long grey woollen socks which are rolled down to the top of their hiking boots. Khaki shorts are topped with check patterned shirt (or blouse). He wears a cap, she a sun hat. He carries an Ordnance Survey map in a plastic cover and a compass which he examines at regular intervals despite being on a towpath which allows only a choice of two directions. She has a canvas knapsack inside which is a tinfoil wrap of egg and cress sandwiches, two packets of plain crisps, four Hob-Nobs in cling-film, a thermos of tea – no sugar, her reading glasses (his are on a string around his neck for map and compass readings) and two sensible raincoats.
If I’m not very much mistaken in that thicket over there, just off the towpath – if we approach quietly… Ah yes, I thought it was, the den of the angst ridden teenager – thankfully unoccupied. Normally raucously obnoxious when in a group but get one alone and it will become monosyllabic, with words like ‘yeah,’ ‘nah,’ or ‘innit.’
Pardon?
Oh, how do I know?
Well it’s very similar to looking out for Otter scat. As you will notice there are many empty cans of lager strewn about and the lingering smell of weed signifies that they have been marking their territory. We’d better get back out into the open in case they come back.
Watch out for the over excited Alsatian bounding along it will probably (ah yes, I thought it would – apologies for the tardy warning, it was running faster than I thought) sniff your groin and drool unnervingly. Here comes the owner, or ‘Dad’ as he likes to be called in Tyson’s presence, with a cheery if hesitant, ‘he’s very friendly, so I don’t think he’ll hurt you.’ He would have been closer to his pooch but he was diligently poo picking before hanging the plastic bag from the branch of the nearest tree like a gaudy Christmas bauble.
And that my friends is how we country bumpkins tell the time of year. Summer will be upon us soon, it’s scheduled for a week next Thursday – we will of course know by the arrival of a pair of Kayakers and a paddle boarder.
Oh yes, and the rain will be warmer.
If you’d like to read my latest musings of life on the cut for ‘Canals Online’ magazine you’ll find them at https://www.canalsonlinemagazine.uk/david-robertson-article-2

Did I mention..?

I’ve only gone and got myself another job!
Now don’t get excited, it’s not paid.
Oh, and don’t worry – I’m not giving up the day job either.
No madam, I’m not giving up the blog or the writing.
O.k., who shouted, ‘Shame!’? There’s no need!
Some people!
No listen, I’m now a columnist for ‘Canals Online’ magazine.
I know, I know. I’m chuffed once again. It seems that my chuffedness knows no bounds. Just as soon as I think, ‘do you know what, I think that I’m as chuffed as it’s possible to be,’ something comes along and boosts my chuffidity to a whole new level.
Now I must admit I feel a bit of a fraud. Stop shuffling about at the front and I’ll tell you why.
I haven’t actually got a boat.
Apparently I don’t need one.
Hard to believe I know.
I don’t fish either.
No, nor cycle.
And I don’t even…
Hang on a minute, will you stop fidgeting.
Yes you. I asked nicely not long ago.
What is that you’ve got there?
Is it?
Eurrgh! Well put it down and go and wash your hands.
So for the rest of you, here’s what happened. I was looking for somewhere to advertise, DOGNAPPED!
Pardon? Yes, that’s right, the first kids book.
Anyway I was trawling through the Internet and…
No, I don’t know why I wasn’t trying to advertise the third book, ON THE DOG WALK. Somehow my mind doesn’t work that way.
What!? No I said ‘trawling through the Internet,’ not ‘trolling,’ that’s something entirely different. Perhaps you should join our hand washing mate and go and give your ears a quick swill.
I said, ‘GO AND GIVE YOUR EARS A SWILL.’
Oh sorry, is it? Well switch it back on again, that way I won’t have to shout so much.
‘I said, ‘SWITCH IT BACK ON…’ Good Lord, does it always whistle like that?
So yes, anyway, I wanted somewhere to advertise DOGNAPPED! and if you remember it’s set on a narrowboat. So I thought, ‘Why not try canal magazines?
So I did.
Canals Online.
Columnists Wanted,’ it said on the Home page.
Hmmm! I thought.
Could I?
It might just attract more readers to my blog, I thought.
No, I never said anything about a better class of reader now, did I?
Although thinking about it…
Well if you’re going to complain at least stop picking your nose while you’re doing it! Honestly, I ask you!
So I anyway I applied.
And now I am.
A columnist.
For ‘Canals Online’ magazine.
Here’s my first one here.

http://bit.ly/2DFuK0W
Try it, you might like it. And don’t forget to read the rest of the magazine too. It’s only fair.
Oh hello, back again. Didn’t dry your hands I see. You what? The dryer’s broken. Well that’s not my problem is it?
No don’t wipe them down my trouser leg like that! It’s unhygienic.
No I’m not going to go through it all again just for you.
Well you should have thought of that before, shouldn’t you? Some people!
Ask the others, perhaps they’ll tell you.
I have to go away and write next months column.
Now I’m a columnist.