New year in Hawes

We spent the week after Christmas in Hawes, North Yorkshire with Tony and Catherine, our friends who are both runners and orienteers.

Day 1

The holiday started with a 7.5 mile walk into Widdale from our cottage in Hawes. After a short time on footpaths we were beating our way through moorland tussocks to get to the top of Widdale Fell. It was pretty windy and cold on the tops, so we soon descended the Widdale Valley and made our way down the valley via Snaizeholme where we saw a number of pretty red squirrels. Once back at the cottage we feasted on soup made by Catherine and ginger cookies made by Tony and then we headed into Hawes to have a look around and to say hello to my Uncle who runs the Whites of Wensleydale clothing shop. Tony is from Yorkshire and proved this fact by purchasing a very nice flat cap!

Running down the side of Widdale
Running down the side of Widdale
There was sun at times... just not where we were
There was sun at times… just not where we were
Happy people :-)
Happy people 🙂

Day 2

T+C rode their mountain bikes on the local trails, whilst Richard and I went for a 14 mile run. We headed from the cottage up Wether Fell, to the Cam High Road. We then cut across the open access land to the top of the Bardale Valley and ran the 4.5 km descent to Semer Water, which was rather nice. We looked around the ruins of Stalling Busk Abbey and refuelled on cake, before continuing on to Butterset and back to Hawes. We spent the evening relaxing and working on a jigsaw (a very Christmassy activity!).

The long descent to Semer Water behind me
The long descent to Semer Water behind me
A view of Semer Water from the north
A view of Semer Water from the north

Day 3

The rains came down and no-one felt like going out! Eventually we decided to walk into Hawes and take a look at the creamery and the ropemaker. This took longer than expected as there was a flood on the main road just outside Hawes. I was wearing boots and trudged across happily giving Catherine a piggy back. Richard, who was wearing trainers, turned around and went off to find an alternative route. Meanwhile Tony, who was also wearing trainers, and his new flat cap, thumbed down the next car and managed to blag the world’s shortest hitch of about 25 m (probably because he looked like a yorkshireman in his hat)! The creamery was less exciting than the journey there, as no cheese was being made… the ropemaker was also closed. So, we headed into my Uncle’s shop where Richard purchased a very stylish harris tweed jacket. After purchasing supplies and a few bags of wood, we headed back to the cottage via the flood. This time, Tony braved the water and gave Richard a piggy back and I provided the same service to Catherine. By this time it was about 1300, so after a quick bite to eat Tony dropped Catherine, Richard and I at the top of Sleddale in the pouring rain and we ran the 6.2 miles back down to Hawes via the Roman Road and Wether Fell.

Day 4

On New Year’s Eve we went for a run-walk from Muker. We walked around the southern side of Black Hill and then along Jingle Pot Edge to Lownathwaite, from where we walked across to Keld and then back down the Keld Valley to Muker. At the end of the 9 mile route, we were displeased to see that the pub had closed, so we headed back to the cottage for tea and cake. To celebrate the new year, we ate at the Crown Inn in Hawes, which was very nice. We just about managed to stay awake for new year, but were in bed soon after!

View down to Muker from the side of Black Hill
View down to Muker from the side of Black Hill
The remains of mining activities around Gunnerside Gill
The remains of mining activities around Gunnerside Gill

Day 5

The weather on New year’s day was not exactly nice, so Catherine, Richard and I made a plan to run early and get home before the worst of the weather set in. Tony planned the same, but on the mountain bike. We ran from Hawes up the side of Great Shunner Fell. The weather was wet, windy and cold so after ascending a fair way, we realised that the view from the top would be rubbish (and cold), so instead of making our way to the top, we descended into Cotter Dale and then back to Hawes. About 0.5 miles from the cottage we bumped into Tony who was making his way back to the cottage after a wiery mountain bike ride. We were tired after the 11.4 miles; Catherine even needed an injection of cake to make the last kilometre back to the cottage! In the late afternoon and evening we were entertained with skeleton building… See Richard’s post!

Day 6

The weather improved and so we decided to entertain ourselves by taking a 13 mile run-walk on Ingleborough. We parked in Clapham and ascended Ingleborough via Gaping Gill. After a short cake stop on the top we headed back down through the limestone pavements above Horton in Ribblesdale, and then we traversed the slopes back to Ingleborough. A lovely day was enjoyed – Richard didn’t even put on his waterproof, which was quite amazing given the recent weather. We got back, feasted on Wensleydale cheese and worked on completing the skeleton 🙂 .

Our route up Ingleborough, with the summit in the cloud
Our route up Ingleborough, with the summit in the cloud
On the top of Ingleborough
On the top of Ingleborough
Views over the limestone pavement on the route back down
Views over the limestone pavement on the route back down

Day 7…

… was unfortunately our leaving day. The holiday was very enjoyable. Catherine described it as like a boot camp… and I tend to agree, it was pretty active… but of course we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Aysgarth Falls
Aysgarth Falls

Hmmmmm, Sachertorte…

Our lovely friend Dalma sent us a postcard from Vienna with a recipe for Sachertorte. I simply had to make it, but we decided that we’d have to expend a few calories before we could eat it. More “Hmmmmm, Sachertorte…”

One day in Bangkok

I’d never visited anywhere in Asia before, so we took advantage of the journey from NZ back to the UK and stayed in Bangkok for a day.

We arrived late at night. It was very dark, very humid, very hot and lightning filled the air.

The next day was our full day in Bangkok; we wanted to see a bit of the city and take full advantage of the authentic thai food!

Our first rather exciting adventure was the Lumphini Park; an inner city park with lakes and grassy areas. Even though this park is surrounded by the city, it holds an extraordinary range of ‘wild’life….

First we saw lizards that were the size of alligators, called monitors:

A monitor at Lumphini Park

then turtles…

Turtles at Lumphini Park

Some very pretty white herons ….

A white heron at Lumphini Park

and some rather scary centipedes that were 1 cm in diameter!

Following our park adventure, we joined a ‘Bangkok Food Tours’ walking tour to get the opportunity to sample the best local food. We visited 5 restaurants in total and enjoyed a wide range of Thai food:

First, delicious roast duck

Lunch number 1; Roast duck on rice at Chareon Wieng Pochana

then egg curry (one of my favourites)

Lunch number 2; Curry lava on egg at Muslim Restaurant

then Tom yum noodle soup (Richard’s favourite)

Lunch number 3; Tom yum noodle soup

then pork buns and custard buns (delicious), with thai iced milk tea (which is delicious; it’s thai tea, with condensed milk + ice)

Lunch number 4; thai bbq pork buns and thai style green custard buns, plus thai iced tea, at PanLee Bakery

then finally, we finished with thai chicken curry, which was very tasty. This was followed by coconut sorbet (yum).

Lunch number 5; Thai curry served on roti at Kallaprapruek

We were quite full and needed a sit down after all the food, so we hired a man and his long-tailed boat to take us on a tour of the Bangkok canals. It was quite amazing seeing where many of Bangkok’s poorer residents live. Houses were built on stilts on the edges of the canals and many were at bizarre angles, having sank into the mud beneath.

Long-tailed boat on a Bangkok canal

The long-tailed boats are so-named because the propellers are mounted on the end of a long pole at the back of the boat. It seems that the size of the engine is of key importance!

The size of your engine appeared to be important!

After the tour, we spent time walking around the streets and visiting some amazing temples. This was fun and interesting. The journey back to the centre of town in a tuk tuk was far too adventurous for my liking and I don’t think I’ll be repeating that form of transport – the roads are absolutely manic here! The driver was on the wrong side of the road a number of times, eeeek.

Later we came across a shopping area and spent a while walking around the huge and varied foodcourts. We found this array of wonderful cakes 🙂

Amazing cakes in the Siam Paragon Food Court

I think we made the most of our day in Bangkok. It is an amazing city and is certainly worth a stopover if you’re passing through.

Hawaiian birthday party

This year I’ve been lucky enough to have two birthday parties … earlier in the year we all met up in Derbyshire to celebrate for a weekend, but this didn’t stop us celebrating my actual birthday…. TODAY!

The celebration had a Hawaiian-theme! We arrived at the party through the driving rain and cold, in Hawaiian dress, with Leis around our necks and flowers in our hair (well, mine anyway). I wasn’t sure what to expect as we arrived at the party, but conditions were suitably tropical and the hawaiian atmosphere was certainly present. The wood burning stove had been going for a good few hours and the room was absolutely boiling! Hawaiian radio was providing summery Christmas tunes and there were palm trees shading the beach with the gently lapping ocean. Soon enough Richard settled into the hammock and with piña colada in hand we soaked up the atmosphere.

The locals drinking piña colada under the shade of a palm tree
Richard relaxing in the hammock

After a little while, we decided to have a go at some Hawaiian-themed origami and after a few attempts, we managed to create a fabulous crab who looked at home near the beach.

The origami crab looking longingly at the beach

Dinner, or luau, was suitably hawaiian-themed and consisted of a meze of delicious starters, then sea bass and crispy belly pork, hawaiian baked beans (containing beans, sugar, onions, pineapple and vinegar), roast sweet potato and hawaiian coleslaw, followed by fruit and chocolate fondue. Yum!

Luau - or dinner on the beach

By the end of the evening we were all fairly merry, but managed to stay awake until midnight so that I could open my pressies :-). Thanks for the paprika Dalma! It was a lovely surprise.

A great time was had by all, and it was certainly an evening not to be forgotten! Richard even made me a birthday cake on our return home!

Birthday cake, made by Richard