27 not out

I made my 27th consecutive Christmas Eve ascent of Moel Famau earlier today, accompanied by four dogs, Irish Mick, and almost an entire soccer team provided by Carolyn (some of whom I had never met before). This wasn't so much a walk as an expedition.

Group shot on top of Moel Famau

A large number of people and dogs on top of Moel Famau earlier today.

As usual, it was very windy on top. So windy, in fact, that one of our team got blown away:


A teenager getting blown away this afternoon.

One particularly large gust even caught Carolyn off guard:

Carolyn cartwheeling

Carolyn caught off guard this afternoon.

As I've said before, you will stop me if this becomes boring, won't you?

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25 not out

It's that time of year again. So did I make it up Moel Famau for the 25th consecutive Christmas Eve?

I certainly did:

Expedition team.

The Silver Jubilee Expedition team.

An excellent turn out! Irish Mick and Carolyn had a lot of catching-up to do. The last time they saw each other, she wasn't even a mum!

Twenty-five years! It's official: I'm in a rut.

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Today is 10/10/10. Because it seems only right, I am posting this item at 10 seconds past 10:10am.

101010 is the number 42 in binary.

42, according to the late, great Douglas Adams, is the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.

Irish Mick once met Douglas Adams half way up Kilimanjaro. He was wearing a rhino costume. Douglas Adams, I mean. As far as I know, Irish Mick does not own a rhino costume.

Kilimajaro was an album by The Teardrop Explodes, which featured the song Reward:

Reward was the first single Jen ever bought.

Jen and I once danced cheek-to-cheek with the lead singer of The Teardrop Explodes, Julian Cope. (In the case of Jen and me, the cheeks in question were on our faces.)

In this month's Address Druidon, Julian Cope writes:

…In those ancient days before the stinking concept of nationalism obtained a hold, certain insular ancient English places such as The Wirral, the Cotswolds, The Weald (in Kent) all took their 'world' names from enthusiastic ancient locals who'd been convinced that their patch of land was the only world worth considering.

I was born on the Wirral.

I am 45 years old.

Not 42.

Something is not quite right with the Universe. It doesn't quite add up.

Your thoughts, please.

20 not out

20 not out

Toasting conspicuously absent friends.

It's Christmas Eve. That must mean I went up Moel Famau again, right?

Well, yes. But I very nearly didn't make it this year. I made the mistake of going for a practice walk with Irish Mick and his mate Geoff the day before (photos here). It was a great walk, but it reignited an old Achilles' tendon injury which I had been under the mistaken impression was finally healed (no pun intended). As a result, today's ascent wasn't so much a walk as a hobble. In the pouring rain. On my own.

But I had to do it because this year was the big two-oh: twenty consecutive Christmas Eve ascents of Moel Famau.

As I've said before, it's the closest thing I have to regular exercise.

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The man who mistook somebody else's dog for a hat

Irish MickIrish Mick caught the train to Hebden Bridge on Sunday, and we went for a seven-mile walk which took us up onto the moors, then down into the valley, then along Hebden Water to The White Lion in Hebden Bridge. I've put a few photos from the walk on Flickr.

At one point, we were overtaken by a woman with unnaturally red hair walking what I took to be a greyhound, but which I later learnt was a lurcher.

Isn't lurcher a great name for a breed of dog? It's the 'er' at the end that does it. The 'er' makes it sound like the dog actually does something: lurcher, terrier, pointer, retriever. You see?

Anyway, about 10 minutes later, we spotted the same woman (the hair was a dead giveaway) apparently trapped in a stile on top of 10-foot-high drystone wall. As we got nearer, we realised what the problem was: the stile was one where you have to climb up stone steps projecting out of the wall, pass through a narrow gap at the top, then climb down similar steps on the other side. The woman had tried to lead the lurcher over the stile, but it had got half-way up and lost its nerve. The woman was now leaning back through the gap on top of the wall, trying in vain to coax the frozen dog forward with chocolate drops and gentle tugs on her long lead.

Richard and Irish Mick to the rescue!

I tried to get behind the dog and ease her forward onto the next step, but she wasn't having any of that and jumped back down to the ground. So I suggested the woman come back down and I go over to the other side of the wall and pull on the lead.

The woman and Irish Mick somehow eventually managed to dog-handle the terrified creature into the gap on top of the wall. Then I had to climb up the steps on my side of the wall and somehow try to pick it up on my own. The problem was, one of the steps was missing from my side of the wall, so the dog's feet were at my eye-level.

After a bit of general faffing about, I thought what the hell and just lunged at the dog. I'm not quite sure what happened next, but somehow the dog ended up on top of my head. I have absolutely no idea how I managed to climb back down the steps with the dog on top of me, but I did it somehow. Then I realised I was supporting the dog with my hands above my head, and there was no way for me to adjust my grip so that I could put her down. So I did the only thing I could do and fell over.

The dog landed neatly on all-fours, and I ended up flat on my arse, looking like a total idiot.

I wonder how they managed to get back home.

See also: The man who mistook his hat for a telescope

19 not out

Me and Irish MickIt's that time of year again: Christmas Eve—time for my annual ascent of Moel Famau. That's 19 years out of 19.

Stense and Carolyn both stood me up this year, so I had to make do with Irish Mick.

The weather was absolutely amazing: bloody freezing down in the car park, but with incredible views over to Snowdonia, marred only by the obligatory wind powerstation (which, I couldn't help observing, was becalmed).

Irish Mick on top of Moel Famau

We passed through a layer of low mist and up into sunshine, giving me one of the best cloud sea views I've seen for many years. Then, after a cup of tea and a photo opportunity, we headed back down into the woods and mist.

Here's to number 20.

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