Little and Often: Fall Down at Your Door

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In Eaves Wood.

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

I did it! At some point during October half-term I reached the completely arbitrary target I set myself, which was to walk 1000 miles during 2018.

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Silverdale from Castlebarrow.

I was talking to my old school friend JS about the thousand mile challenge when we walked on Whitbarrow back in September. He has subsequently joined the same Faceache community which I joined, in a fit of enthusiasm, last January, but then religiously ignored for the rest of the year – the kids are always highly amused by any engagement on my part with social media since they have decided that I am essentially anti-social – so, anyway, JS has joined the group and committed himself to walk 1000 miles in 2019. All to the good.

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I think this must be the spring, bizarrely quite high on the hill on which Eaves Wood stands, which feeds the large water-tanks by the edge of the wood which once supplied Hill House, now the Woodies pub.

JS asked me, during our walk, whether I would be repeating the challenge in 2019? I told him that I was undecided, in fact, that I was struggling to make my mind up. Now, since I finished in 2018 with room to spare and have really enjoyed getting out regularly, that equivocation probably requires a little unpicking.

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In Eaves Wood.

It doesn’t require a maths teacher to work out that, in order to reach a thousand miles in a year, you need to walk roughly 20 miles a week, or an average of 3 miles per day; actually, slightly less in both cases. Bizarrely, my highest mileage months in 2018 were January and February, in that order. I did just about make the required total in most other months, aside from November, when the wheels came off a bit.

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Eaves Wood.

January and February went so well, despite the lack of daylight and the miserable weather, because, in the first flush of enthusiasm, I really took the ‘little and often’ idea to heart and tried to get out as often as possible, including regular lunch time walks from work, which prompted, incidentally, the Listed Lancaster posts, some of which have become almost the most popular posts in the ten year lifetime of the blog, rather annoyingly.

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But when I was talking to JS in September, I had already realised that, because our circumstances have changed somewhat, the lunchtime walks are not really feasible any longer and I anticipated that I was going to find it very difficult to maintain the kind of mileage I had hitherto achieved.

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Ironically, September turned out to be one of my better months, and I did well in October too, but December and particularly November have gone on to confirm some of my worries.

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By the end of November, I was finding my relative inactivity that month exasperating. When I chatted to JS, I had been anticipating that, should that happen, then tracking my mileage each month and watching myself fall behind schedule would only exacerbate the frustration.

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Sunset from the Cove. The photos here were all taken on either the Saturday or the Sunday at the end of our October half-term.

That still is a bit of a concern, but I’ve decided that I am going to aim for a thousand miles again, and continue to track my progress on Mapmywalk. The reason, simply, is that I’m feeling pretty fit, by my own lax standards. Towards the end of our night in Glasgow, when TBH took me to the Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show, a guy in a donkey jacket (how the heat in the room didn’t melt him I don’t know) came over and shook my hand, congratulating me on dancing through the entire show. At that point we’d been dancing for something like four and a half hours, fuelled, in case you were wondering, only by curry, tap water and euphoria.  What’s more, I was full of cold, but would have happily carried on dancing for at least a while longer.

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In retrospect, I’m quite chuffed with that: I don’t think I would have managed it a year ago. And since walking is pretty much the only exercise I get, the little and often approach has to be working. It’s going to be more difficult this year, I’m going to have to box clever and be creative in finding opportunities to get out, but hopefully the target will spur me on, as it did at times in the rain and the dark last year.

Onward and upward.

Having begun with a quote from a Proclaimers lyric I really ought to end with one of their songs, but then I was intending to work in some more of the tunes from our night at the Glasgow Academy. So, two for the price of one:

Not, 500 miles, but the boys from Leith at their witty best.

And, hard to dance to, and played by one of the DJ’s who preceded Mr Charles…

When I saw them at the Lancaster Music Festival, the Hackney Colliery Band finished with this, leaving the stage and wandering around mingling with the audience. Bizarrely, Weezer have also recently covered this song, after a concerted campaign by some of their fans. Their cover is very faithful to the original, which is not a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

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Little and Often: Fall Down at Your Door

Little and Often: Progress Report

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Somehow the end of February slid by without any mention here of my progress, or otherwise, towards the target I’ve set myself of walking 1000 miles this year, above and beyond the pottering about I do at home and at work. This wasn’t because I’d fallen behind; I didn’t quite match January’s total, it’s true, but with a little over 120 miles logged, I had much more than I need to reach my, admittedly arbitrary, target.

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These photographs are from one of my ‘little and often’ strolls. The day after our friends left us was once again wet, but it briefly brightened up in the afternoon, so I took my chance for a standard wander to the Cove and across the Lots.

These are the benches where I sometimes sit to watch the sun set, currently graced by an entourage of Daffodils.

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I’ve been enjoying a website, Other-Wordly, “about strange and lovely words” and one of the words which I hope will stick with me is smultronställe, a Swedish term,

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Maybe these benches are not wild enough, or private enough, to match that description, but otherwise they’re a perfect fit.

The rain may have paused for a while, but the evidence of it’s recent ubiquity was everywhere to see…

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Even on the Lots, which usually stay reasonably dry…

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By the time I came back through the village, the skies were leaden again, presaging the imminent arrival of more wet.

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Here’s my calendar for February, from Mapmywalk…

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By contrast, March looks a little spartan…

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..and it’s true that illness and general busyness did hamper my efforts somewhat. In fact, at one point, I did find myself bitterly contemplating the possibility of a blogpost entitled something along the lines of ‘Too Little, Less Often’, but despite my misgivings, I still just about crept over the required mileage for a month, so that’s okay then. In fact, as of today, I’ve just passed 400 miles for the year so far.

In a similar vein: last night I was updating my ‘Birkett Tick List‘ page, essentially a list of the hills in the Lake District which I’ve climbed since I started to write this blog, back in 2008. I was engrossed in the technicalities of editing the page – something I’ve had trouble with, which is why it was almost two years behind, but it was quite enlightening to look back at two years of walks and realise that in that time I’d actually climbed far more hills than I expected. At one point, A was looking over my shoulder and pointed out to me that the list has become quite a long one. And she’s right: without ever really applying myself, I do seem to have accumulated a fair few ascents. Now, admittedly, the Lakes are compact and it’s often possible to tick-off several hills in a single walk. And also, it’s taken me 10 years to build-up a substantial tally, but I still feel like this is another victory for the steady , softly-softly, tortoise (rather than hare) approach.

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Blea Tarn Hill – somewhere I might never have visited without Birkett’s list to encourage me. Not a lot of effort being expended here, but we actually managed to claim a fair number of summits that day.

Little and Often: Progress Report

Lately I’ve Let Things Slide.

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Eaves Wood.

Between work, the weather, the lurgy and lethargy, I’ve let my Little and Often resolve crumble away and I haven’t been getting out as often as I was. But now I’m off work for a couple of weeks, and the sun has come out, and in the woods spring is already well under way.

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Ramsons in Fleagarth Wood.

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Gorse at Jack Scout.

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Jack Scout view – The Coniston Fells in the distance. The horizon was tilted like that, honest.

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Wolf House.

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Daffs on Lindeth Road.

This was a short, familiar outing which I made very heavy weather of; apparently, I’m not completely over the lurgy yet. Still: time to do some catching up.

Lately I’ve Let Things Slide.

Listed Lancaster: Town Hall

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On Thursday I had a parents’ evening, so had a couple of hours between finishing teaching and starting work again. I was eating my tea in the staffroom (very nice if I do say so myself: coronation chicken and a couple of salads) when I noticed that the light coming through the windows was glorious. I rushed up to Castle Hill but was too late for the sunset.

Castle Hill has a good view across Morecambe to the bay and the hills of the Lake District beyond, but it also has a fine view across the town.

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Here’s the view again, but this time from Friday lunchtime.

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You can make out three prominent tall buildings: the Ashton Memorial almost hidden by the branches of the tree, the tall spire of the Cathedral and the clock tower of the Town Hall. All of those are listed buildings as are pretty much all of the houses in the area around the Castle.

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Because time was short, I cut my usual route short, leaving out the canal, which gave me a chance to visit the Town Hall, where the low light was challenging for photography. The next day, I went back, but now the very bright sun was behind the building, which didn’t help much either.

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Pretty grand isn’t it? Quite nice inside too. It was built in the early part of the Twentieth Century and was designed by Edward Mountford, who also designed the Old Bailey. Apparently this is in the Edwardian Baroque style which he was noted for. That’s Edward VII in the middle of the carved figures. His mum is commemorated in the statue in Dalton Square in front of the town hall…

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The statue is from 1906 and is also listed, but there’s a lot of detail here to photograph, so I’ll come back another time.

That’s it for last week’s Lancaster strolls, except for the fact that I almost forgot the best moment: on Thursday lunchtime, when the sun was shining, I’d just joined the canal towpath when an unmistakable metallic green sheen, not dissimilar to the verdigris on Queen Vic only shinier, alerted me to a Kingfisher flying low over the water. First one I’ve seen in a couple of years. Marvellous.

Listed Lancaster: Town Hall

Listed Lancaster: The Music Room

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Hidden away on Sun Square, I think I worked in the town for quite a few years without really being aware that this curio was here.

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This is what the Wikipedia page on listed buildings has to say:

“This originated as a summer house, it was restored in the 1970s, and then used as a shop and a flat. It is in sandstone with a slate roof, and has three storeys, three bays, and a balustraded parapet. The bays are divided by pilasters, fluted Ionic on the ground floor, fluted Corinthian in the middle floor, and panelled in the top floor. In the ground floor is a central round-headed archway, now glazed, flanked by doorways with architraves. The windows are sashes, the window above the archway having a swan-neck pediment and a central urn. Inside is richly decorated plasterwork.”

Some summerhouse!

I’ve never been inside to see the plasterwork, but now I’d like to. Good to see hardy customers enjoying the sunshine and sitting outside on the first day in February.

Listed Lancaster: The Music Room

Listed Lancaster: The Assembly Rooms

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Back to the eighteenth century. Once again, a building which I photographed on two different lunchtime walks; this time because of the difficulties posed by traffic, rather than by light.

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Built in 1759…

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…by the trustees of Penny’s Hospital, the rooms were used for social gatherings which raised money for the running of the almshouses. These days the Assembly Rooms houses a sort of permanent market with various stalls including a cafe and a secondhand book seller.

Nearby on King Street, this…

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…is Penny’s Hospital…

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…but that deserves a post of its own.

Listed Lancaster: The Assembly Rooms

Listed Lancaster: Natwest Bank

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Built in 1870 for the Lancaster Banking Company. This is also on Church Street very close to the older building in the previous post.

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Those columns either side of the door are pink granite apparently. Wandering round town this last week, it’s struck me like never before that, I suppose like everywhere, Lancaster’s buildings are characterised largely by the available local stone, which in Lancaster’s case is sandstone.

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I’m also realising how difficult it is to photograph buildings satisfactorily. This is a surprisingly large building, and I couldn’t get it all in frame. I wasn’t happy with this last photo which I took on a gloomy day earlier in the week, but then when I took new photos yesterday, realised that the strong winter sun was giving very dark shadows and therefore challenges all of its own. I also wished I had my camera with me rather than just the phone, both for the wide-angle capability, but also for the zoom to capture some of the detail. I’m learning a new vocabulary too: the doorway has a frieze and a pediment above the columns, the building has Corinthian pilasters and at the top a modillion cornice.

Lancaster has other large, grand, bank buildings, so expect more posts to follow. I wonder how long our high street banks will maintain large town centre branches like these?

Listed Lancaster: Natwest Bank