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.

 

 

 

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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.