Posts Tagged ‘walk’

Three Weekends. Three Walks.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016


Since the start of the 2016 I have managed to go on three consecutive Sunday walks. When I first moved to England I was determined to become one of those ‘outdoorsy people’ who makes rustling sounds when they walk thanks to their appropriate wet weather attire. It has taken me over two years to get anywhere near this dream and while I have been on various walks over this time, it hasn’t been until the most recent sales that I invested in a “wet weather jacket”. Amazing things! Not only do they keep you warm, they also STOP RAIN. This was particularly useful on

Walk #1

Some of my Yelp mates have decided that regular outdoor exercise is a good way to balance the regular indoor eating that we do. On the first Sunday in January, I headed north with Michael and Lucas (everyone else had dropped like flies as the weather forecast rapidly worsened) to Rivington Pike – a small(ish) hill near Bolton. We left early to avoid the rain and as we pulled into the car park to start the walk it began to sprinkle. It then proceeded to becoming increasingly wetter and windier the higher we climbed.

Rivington Pike

Walking up the hill.

It was all worth it – reaching the top to eat a piece of homemade carrot cake that I had brought along and pretending to be in the Matrix (while facing the wrong direction) in the wind on the top of the hill was great fun. We couldn’t see far as the rain and clouds were covering most of the countryside but hey – we made it. And we didn’t drown.

Plonkers

Posted by Lucas Smith on Sunday, 3 January 2016

Rivington Pike

My cake, Lucas’s hand.

We did get saturated EXCEPT as I removed my rainproof jacket I was delighted to discover that my inner layers were dry! Now all I need are some water proof trousers. I can’t wait to hear the rustle.

Our walk ended with a slightly snooty lunch at a local pub where I had soup that was served with two rocks that were apparently my ‘bread’.

Rivington Pike

Soup and rocks.

Walk #2

The following Sunday, Garden Boy took me to Entwistle reservoir for a good old stroll around the water. The sun was shining and it was a remarkably warm day – surely there’d be no water worries today! WRONG.

Entwistle reservoir

Entwistle Reservoir with giant, man eating bird.

Recent flooding in the Yorkshire region had resulted in the reservoir breaking its banks in a few sections and there were many puddles for us to get through. And by the time we had made our way around the reservoir we had climbed muddy banks and jumped fences in order to not drown. It was definitely wettest walk on a path around a reservoir that I have ever done and even Garden Boy was surprised by the amount of water. Turns out that my second hand walking boots are not so water proof if you walk ankle deep in a puddle.

This walk ended with lunch at another local pub called the Strawbury Duck. Despite the clear spelling mistake, the food was good, the beer was good and the service was great.

We then drove to nearby Summerseat where the recent floods had washed away a 200 year old pub that was sitting on a bridge over the river Irwell. Sad. We also managed to arrive at exactly the time that the Flying Scotsman train, zoomed through. It was only going to happen once. We were there. Awesome.

Summerseat

The Flying Scotsman above. Missing pub below.

Walk #3

The final walk was to Dovestones Reservoir with more Yelp folk. It had snowed the night before so some were nervous about the slippery road situation but we were keen to give it a go. Michael managed to keep the wheels on the road and we walked around the beautiful snow-covered fields and paths around the reservoir.

Dovestones Reservoir

Dovestones Reservoir

Dovestones reservoir

So pretty.

Having discovered my water + shoe = not so good, issue the week before, I had popped into town and bought myself some cheap wellington boots. BEST PURCHASE EVER. I am in love with my wellies even though they’re not stripy like I would ideally like. But they do say Dunlop which I like to believe is vintage cool.

Dunlop wellies

Looking cool.

My boots and I went stomping through snow, puddles and mud and not wet feet were had! On this walk I was warm AND dry. I am almost British!

Dovestones reservoir

Snow in them there hills

The pub this week was the best yet – we headed to a local pub in nearby Greenfield and waited over an hour for our hot Sunday lunches but it was so worth the wait! I had a fantastic beef suet pie with mushy peas (I weirdly like them now. I really am a POM.) and chips and gravy. So so good.

Suet pie

We’re fairly certain there was an entire cow inside that suet pie.

So as you can see, I am getting steadily closer to becoming a local. Soon I will rustle with the best of them.

One Stoat, Two Stoat, Three Stoat, More.

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

In an attempt to work off our Christmas bellies, Sir Pubert, Katy, Ken and I headed to Malham in the Yorkshire Dales on Boxing Day for a walk in the hills. Ken, local Yorkshireman, avid explorer and map reader, was our guide and had planned the walking route. Having parked our car in Malham, we wrapped ourselves in multiple layers, grabbed our picnic lunches and headed off. Adventure awaited!

Malham

Off we go!

Ken and Katy sprinted off in front of wheezy–Sir–Pubert and “I’ll catch up in a second, I just want to take a photo”–tourist–me. Every minute or so I needed to stop and say, “Wow.” as the scenery expanded and the Yorkshire Dales showed us what they are made of.

We were in limestone country and our first stop was Malham Cove, an impressive and formidable limestone amphitheatre. We climbed up to the top (via some easy-access steps) and then had a view over the rolling hills of the Dales.

Malham Cove

Malham Cove

The landscape shifted from green hills to rocky outcrops with waterfalls and streams winding through the valleys. It was beautiful. I have generally considered myself a city girl, but having the opportunity to stomp through mud, water streams and climb over rocks was very stimulating. This was helped by the fact that the weather held out and we managed to complete the walk sans pluie.

View from Malham Cove

View from Malham Cove

We stopped for lunch (I don’t think many walkers have stilton and walnut sandwiches, but we picnic in style.) sitting on a small rocky amphitheatre. Enjoying the quiet and the expansive view, I spotted a white object tumbling down the small road in front of us.The pure white stood out clearly against the black bitumen and it soon became clear that it wasn’t just a polystyrene cup blowing in the wind. I nudged Ken and asked him what it was. As they say in the north, Ken got dead excited.

sandwiches

Sir Pubert makes some seriously good sandwiches.

The tumbling white thing was a stoat in ermine – a weasel-like creature whose fur coat changes from brown to pure white during winter months. Apparently it was quite rare to spot one of these little guys and I had just spotted something rather special. Ken whipped out his binoculars and we all had a close look at him as he jumped and tumbled his way over rocks and through shrubs looking for food for his own lunch.

stoat

This isn’t the stoat that I saw but look at him! SO CUTE! www.telegraph.co.uk

His tumbling running action (these guys don’t really run – they look like they are having the BEST TIME EVER jumping and skipping and leaping about like 4 year old girls who have just consumed excessive amounts of sugar at a birthday party) and his adorably cute face fooled me into thinking he was an innocent little thing. Apparently not. These guys are vicious killers who bite and snap the spinal cords of rabbits. Coming from a country where everything kills you, I’m not entirely surprised.

Here is a BBC documentary showing the leaping cuteness. It also shows the less-cute rabbit killing. You’ve been warned.

The stoat eventually disappeared into the rocky landscape and we continued on our walk. We hadn’t walked far when Sir Pubert called for the binoculars and looked down into the valley at a dry stone wall that had some remarkably white stones near the base. Then the stones moved. He had spotted two more stoats living in the stone wall, potentially waiting the lunch that was being collected by the stoat I had spotted earlier.

While it would have been great to stand and watch our new furry friends all day, our fingers and toes were turning numb and the idea of warming cups of tea was too exciting. We walked on, heading back to Malham and to the Buck Inn where we re-heated ourselves by the fire.

As we drove out of Malham the rain started and we drove home in a constant downpour. Perfect timing with the weather, rare animal spotting, fantastic views and delicious blue-cheese sandwiches. It had been a great day.

Hills, Lakes and Cakes

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

I am not an outdoorsy-type but I would like to be. I am amazed by people who go for long walks, have camping holidays and who own jackets that make that water-proofed swishing/crinkling sound. These people own boots that don’t matter if you walk through puddles and muddy ground, and their cheeks have a healthy red glow from outdoor activity. I want to be one of these people with their bright blue Northface jackets, fleecy beanies and thick socks. I want to go on long walks up hills, along rivers and through valleys even when it is raining and for it not to matter if I get saturated. It is freedom and adventure far beyond my usual explorations of museum galleries and city back streets. I think I will always want a clean toilet and warm shower (let’s not get too crazy) but getting back to nature looks like so much fun.

On Saturday I had a taste of this wild adventure when my cousin Les took me to the Lake District to walk up a hill. A one and a half hour drive north of Manchester, this area of England is a stunning collection of hills, lakes (although there is technically only one ‘lake’ in the Lake District – the rest are waters/meres/etc) and cute little towns with thriving tourism industries. As we left Manchester, it was, of course, raining. My mood suited the Mancunian cloud as my not-so-great week made me a not-so-great driving companion for poor Lesley. But as we drove further north both the rain and my mood lifted and soon we were surrounded by rolling hills, fluffy white clouds, golden sunshine and happy sheep. Happy sheep will always make a happy Jess. Always.

On the way we stopped at Low Sizergh Barn, an organic farm with a shop and tea room, for a cup of coffee. What would be the point of going to a tea room if you don’t sample the homemade cakes? Les and I each had a scone served with homemade jam and cream. As we sat stuffing our faces with large balls of dough, we could see into the cow milking room (the source of the cream we were happily consuming.) I think that if you can see where the fat originated from then it is good fat.

More cream? Why, yes please!

More cream? Why, yes please!

Re-energised, we continued on to the town of Grasmere where we parked the car, changed our shoes, donned our waterproof/windproof/mountain-lion-proof gear and prepared ourselves for the climb ahead. It would be tough. It would be gruelling. There was a chance we would not make it. A very, very small chance because it wasn’t a particularly large hill and there was no real danger involved.

Our aim was Silver How – a reasonably steep fell with an elevation of 359 metres. By this time the sun was shining, the wind had dropped and there were a few clouds around so it was perfect fell-climbing weather. One of the nicest aspects of the walk was the fact that for a large part we were heading up a rocky path that was also a small stream so I was able to put my second-hand hiking boots to the test as I tromped through flowing water. I could walk in water and mud without worrying about my shoes! Brilliant!

Les leads the way up the rocky path

Les leads the way up the rocky path

The views as we got higher were amazing – we were surrounded by other large hills, some of which had snow covered tops, and as we rose up above the town of Grasmere we could see down to the lake. We met other walkers along the way, exchanging nods, hellos and general good vibes. Everyone was happy to be walking up and down a hill, breathing fresh air and taking in the beautiful scenery.

We met a dog, too.

We met a dog, too.

After an hour and 15 minutes of walking we reached the summit of Silver How and were welcomed with a stunning 360 degree view of the Lake District. The hills, lakes, towns, snow, clouds and sky created a overwhelmingly beautiful display, demonstrating once again why so many painters have spent their time recording British landscapes. At the top the wind had increased and a small weather front was heading across the snow-covered Langdale hills. As the clouds passed alongside Silver How, the wind blew remnants of snow onto us and we sat at the top of our conquered fell with never ending views, patchy sunshine and snow falling on our waterproof jackets. The sound of snow on plastic hoods is fantastic. We were soon freezing and had wet bums from sitting on the soggy ground (jeans aren’t waterproof) so we headed back down the hill, eating our picnic lunch near the bottom.

Amazing views from Silver How.

Amazing views from Silver How.

After a brief exploration of Grasmere and a sample of their local gingerbread (wow.) we drove to Ambleside and to a café called Chesters where I had my second piece of cake for the day. A two-pieces-of-cake day is always a good day. Although I guess if you count the small gingerbread sample I had, then that’s a three-cake-day. My very large square of carrot cake was particularly good with large chunks of apple and walnut throughout and a marzipan carrot on the top. Delicious.

That's a big piece of carrot cake.

That’s a big piece of carrot cake.

While we sat and ate our afternoon tea, Les had the idea of visiting some of her friends who live in the area and we organised to meet them for dinner. We ate at a local pub in Ravenstonedale and went back to their house where Will showed me his vintage buses. They run a vintage coach hire company and take tours and rent out their beautiful classic coaches.

It was then time to drive back to Manchester and we arrived home just before midnight. It had been a long and adventurous day full of food, activity and good times. Being surrounded by the impressive hills and lakes of the Lake District and being out in nature reminded me of how small I am in the big picture and how there’s so much to see and do and explore in the world. Life’s little annoyances are just that – little and annoying. If you spend too much time worrying about the meaning of life, you will miss out on noticing the green-patchwork on grassy hills, the way in which  sunlight bounces off dampened ground, the sound of snow hitting plastic jacket hoods, and the wiggle of happy sheep bums.

On top of the world

On top of the world

Italia

Monday, August 27th, 2012

My trip to Italy was wonderful – good food, nice people, astonishingly beautiful views. Lake Como is one of those places in the world that make you wonder how somewhere like that can exist. A little piece of natural beauty – a super model of nature. I spent one and a half days in Milan and was somewhat disappointed with the city. I had been told by various Italian friends that it wasn’t the most beautiful city in Italy – they were right. It has pockets of ‘nice’ that make up for the general concrete-box architecture, but I can’t say I wanted to stay there for much longer. Maybe if I was rich and wanted to go shopping at Chanel, Prada and D&G I would have been more entertained, but as your average adventurer there wasn’t much to see.

Navigli

The canal in the Navigli area was my favourite part of Milan.

I met up with my brother and parents in Bellagio, a small town on the edge of Lake Como. Most of the towns scattered around the lake now operate as tourist resorts and while I had gone there expecting tourists, I don’t think I had adequately prepared myself. Lots of souvenir shops, inflated prices, average food and annoying tourists. Thankfully our way of travelling made us remove ourselves as much as possible from these situations and we explored beyond the tourist track, met some locals and sampled some decent food.

Lake Como

Wowzers.

Overall I was a little disappointed with my food intake – not so much as far as quantity but the quality wasn’t what I was hoping for. This is to be expected in a tourist-filled zone where food is produced to please international taste buds en masse rather than offering a REAL experience. The best pizza I ate was in Milan at a restaurant I picked because it was full of locals.

Pizza in Milan

Pizza Caprese

The best gelato was from a gourmet, hipster café, Ronchi, in Como whose cioccolato fondente (dark chocolate) was beyond amazing.

Gelato from Ronchi

The colour says it all.

The best experience of the trip happened on our last day in Bellagio. We had spotted a small church on the other side of the lake and on top of a hill and as we had run out of tourist ferries to take, we decided to walk there.

San Martino

Our destination

I felt very holy and considered converting to Catholicism as we made our way up (and I mean UP) a twisty path that went through towns, forests, gorges and along the edge of cliffs. The view from the top was spectacular – looking down to the lake and across at the mountain ranges. I was surprised by the number of other people who were walking the trail, but it also provided a pleasant relief from the swarms of tourists in the towns.

San Martino

Heading uphill

San Martino

The reward for making it to San Martino

For more photographs of my trip in Italy (we’re talking over 400), visit my Flickr site. To really know what Lake Como looks like, go there.

Catching Up

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Gosh, how time flies when you have an approaching deadline. Four days have past since I last wrote which means I have lots of Fun Time Count Down events to tell you about. Let me see if I can remember…

Monday

Tom and I have decided that now we have been living together relatively successfully for almost a year it is time to take things further. We know it is a big step but we feel we are ready. It is time… to buy a Le Creuset pot. PLUS what better time of the year to do it than during the winter sales! For those of you who haven’t discovered of Le Creuset, step out of your restrictive shell and open your eyes to the world of cast iron cookware. They are beautiful, heavy as hell pots that will last you a life time, once you’ve made the investment. Being that they come from the land of the French, they are significantly cheaper in France. Plus with the current 20-30% discounts we’ve been seeing on them at shops throughout Paris, they’re even MORE of a bargain!

Anyway, on Monday Tom and I walked through Paris in search of a bargain pot but were slightly disappointed. Mostly because at one point we decided to go to Galleries Lafayette which is ALWAYS a mistake. I dislike that place with an ever growing passion. It is hot, it is stuffy, it is full of snooty Parisians and tourists. The staff are rude and I’m clearly not rich enough or touristy enough to be worth serving. Anyway, we didn’t end up buying one. But I have since found the exact pot that I want, in red, at a shop near my house. With 30% off the original price. Excellent.

All of this shopping had made me hungry so we had crêpes. I had my usual Nutella, while Tom went all out and ordered a cheese, ham and egg crêpe from the crêperie that claims to have the best crêpes in Paris. They are good, and they’re freaking huge. Tom spent the rest of the afternoon/evening walking around like a stuffed duck. Good times.

Crepe

It warmed my hands nicely, but then I ate it.

Tuesday

Tuesday wasn’t the greatest day as our friend and fellow Australian who is trying oh-so-hard to stay in Paris next year discovered that her application for a sponsored work visa had been rejected. There were tears, there were profanities directed towards Monsieur Sarkozy and his anti-immigration policies, and there were very early evening drinks at Pip’s bar. There’s still hope for Pip’s visa if she reapplies when she is in Australia (weird French policies about not being able to get a new working visa if she already has one… blah blah blah) but it’s ridiculous really. Anyway, I bought Pip a jasmine flavoured biscuit from a very unique patisserie Tom and I walked past.

Jasmine biscuit

A delicious heart for a broken heart

We also purchased a pistachio galette for ourselves as a “we have to make the most of being in Paris” treat. It did make things slightly better.

Pistachio galette

Mmm... so green.

Wednesday

I have been trying to do some writing and expand my range of writing styles and genres. I figure I should attempt some different forms other than first person narratives about Paris. So I spent the morning attempting to do this, failing mostly but at least I tried. In the afternoon we met some friends for afternoon tea at a café called Rose Bakery. It is very popular in Paris as a BoBo place to be and sells organic and home made food. I had a date slice which was delicious and a long black. The long black was served as an espresso with a jug of hot water. Strange. But it worked.

In the evening Tom and I went and cured my pizza craving at a restaurant on the other side of the canal. Maria Luisa is one of the few places in Paris where you can get a REAL pizza and their toppings are fresh and delicious. The restaurant itself is a bit pretentious, but of the three wait staff who served us, only one was grumpy. A miracle, really.

Pizza

Mmm... pizza... so big it is nearly falling off the table.

Thursday

Thursday was a busy day of washing, shopping and eating lunch with a friend from the Récollets. She is Romanian and made us romanian crêpes which were essentially the same as French crêpes only made by a Romanian. They were gooood. In the afternoon, I went for a walk to burn off my lunch, and attempted to get lost in Paris. Unfortunately I have tried to do this too many times now that I always know where I am. That’s a good thing probably. Anyway, I ended up at the WHSmith bookshop where I purchased three books for under 10 Euros. I was happy. They are all ‘classics’ as I am on a bit of a “I must read must-read books.” So I will soon be literary and knowledgable.

My walk home involved a sprinkling of rain, sunset (well, the sun was going away but it was cloudy so you couldn’t really see much) in the Tuilleries, a sparkling Louvre and turbulent and lively waters of the Seine. It was wonderful. But it also made me realise how much I don’t want to leave this place. But I’ll be back. Just you watch.

Louvre

Sparkly!

Christmas Market Time

Monday, November 28th, 2011

The Christmas Markets have arrived in Paris, with young Audrey Tautou (of Amelie fame) turning on the Christmas lights along the Champs-Élysées last week. Tom and I dared the crowds on Saturday afternoon and elbowed our way through, mostly in the hope of finding a warming Nutella crêpe. We had been out walking all day heading from our house, down to the river, a quick duck into Sainte Chapelle, and then towards the Grand Palais. It was bloody cold and my hands were falling off so I needed something to warm them up with. We found the solution:

Vin chaud and crêpes

Hand warming.

Vin chaud and crêpes. Ahhh… I love Christmas in Europe. I hate it in Australia because of the excessive commercialisation and the too much food and too many presents. But here there is something more festive and REAL about it, although the Christmas markets in Paris really disappointed me as they are largely commercial stalls selling awful mass produced goods that are ugly and tacky. Plus, our Nutella crêpe was made using Nutella substitute which just did not hit the spot. Then I saw the vin chaud lady pouring more wine into the urns to heat up and it came straight out of a giant cask. It was essentially goon with spices, and it was all pre-mixed. Nothing real here.

I will go and have a better look at the markets when it isn’t a Saturday afternoon. I think a Monday morning when everyone is going to work with a depressed look on their faces is probably the best time to check them out.

What’s in the Canal Today?

Monday, October 17th, 2011

It was a bright and sunny weekend, so lots of ‘outdoor walking time’ was had. Yesterday we headed north along the canal and spotted a few interesting objects floating in the water along the way. I thought I would share these with you. I saw:

Couch in the canal

A couch.

Cans and bottles in the canal

Various consumed beverages.

Estonian viking boat

An Estonian Viking Boat.

During my run this morning I saw a double mattress in the canal. I contemplated using it as a raft to paddle myself home but wasn’t confident on how it would fare in the locks.

Paris in Black and White

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Yesterday I spent the afternoon walking through Paris with my camera set on the black and white function. Last year, my brother and I went to Melbourne together and he spent the entire trip with his camera set to black and white and 1600 ISO and the results were fantastic. So I tried to copy him, although my ISO was a bit lower and I’m not sure it was such a success. I was very snap-happy and didn’t spend time setting up shots. Here are a few images that I managed to capture:

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

For more photos from my day out and about, visit my Flickr site.

A Long Walk

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

This morning I woke to blue skies and sunshine and declared that today was the day that we would do my favourite walk of Paris. You start at the Eiffel Tower and then make your way along the Seine, ducking in and out of streets as you feel like it, spotting monuments and art galleries along the way. Stop half way near the Tuilleries for lunch and then continue on to Notre Dame. From here you can either continue along the river or, as we did, turn north and head towards Sacre Coeur and home.

On previous visits as a tourist this walk has involved more deviations and exploration of side streets – today we walked in a fairly straight line so it took far less time and my feet aren’t as tired as they normally are. I wore my Garmin GPS running watch to record where we went and how far it was and how many calories we burned. Here was where we walked:

Paris

Not the clearest map but you get the idea

It was 11.2km and we burned 669 calories, which would be good if we hadn’t both consumed large baguettes and macaroons each. Tom also had a chocolate mousse and a can of coke for lunch so I feel better about my calorie consumption. You will be able to see more photos on my Flickr site once I upload them. This may take awhile as our internet doesn’t like letting us upload photos. That’s far too high-tech.

Anyway, the walk was as lovely as usual, although after lunch, while sitting in the Tuilleries eating our macaroons, it started to rain and became quite cold. The sun only lasted until we got out of the metro at the Eiffel Tower and from then on it was just grey cloud. Such a shame.