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It's been a long time coming but the night of the Charity Chuckle was finally upon us. What could possibly go wrong? Hmmm, maybe the call on Tuesday to say Pat Monahan was filming a movie in London all week and was physically unable to make it. But would that stop us having a great time? Would it hell!
As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining, and it proved to be the case again. As disappointing as it was to lose Pat at such short notice, Neil from Hilarity Bites (who ALWAYS does the biz) pulled Phil Ellis out of the hat as the replacement headliner. He also, if things went according to plan, would have Pat beamed down to us via FaceTime on the projector on the stage at some point throughout the night. The final silver lining being that Pat has agreed to come up and do a preview of his Edinburgh show in July - so we now get two gigs out of it!
A small crack team (Me, Nat & Mark) got to the pub at 6 to set ourselves up ready for the 120+ people who would attend. I was to take tickets/money etc, Nat was queen of the raffle, and Mark ended up being greeter/projectionist/lighting/cashier/general ensurer that things went smooth. We all did a bloody good job of it!
The comedy itself was excellent, with each comedian being quite different from the rest. Tony Jameson done a fantastic job of hosting the night, and Neil did manage to connect to Pat Monahan in London! It was a pretty unique thing to do and added to the night. We were worried for a while though thinking that the screen would come down and the image would be of Uncle Chris via satellite in Angola sat in his underpants eating his supper. We were spared that though!
Most of the crowd abuse focused on Richard, primarily because he sat on the front table, with a neon yellow t-shirt on. He was tortured over his job, accused of being a 'swinger', called homosexual (at least once or twice), but told me during a break that he was thrilled - nobody seemed to notice he had ginger hair! Fantastic.
I must give a special mention to Nat who excelled herself selling raffle tickets - she nearly took £400 on the raffle alone (Despite her threatening to join the winner of the afternoon tea for two in The Dean Court Hotel, York)! Also thanks to Mark who put himself about all night, thanks to Neil from Hilarity Bites who put the night together excellently, to all of the comedians who took part - genuinely nice blokes having spoken to them. Thanks also to The Swan for the free room hire and the effort they put in to make the night a success.
Final thanks go to everyone who supported the night by firstly turning up, and secondly, supporting the raffle. The profit made on the night just passed the £1,000 mark, so well done!
With that major event out of the way, I am able to focus on the other things we have planned - bag packing in Asda (April 20th if anyone is free!), Pat Monahan's comedy night, the Stockton to Darlington Ukulele Express are playing a charity gig, oh and a 192 mile walk from one side of the country t'other.
Well, I suppose it's better to be busy than to have a boring existence!
Have you ever parked your car underground at Asda, then done your shopping and forgotten where you had put it? Now imagine parking your car in Grosmont, getting dropped off 7.8 miles away (as the crow flies) and finding your way back to it, with everything against you.....
The day was already at a stutter as two potential walkers, Ged and Les, were rested up for the day. I had looked at rearranging the last four days of the Coast to Coast and the new route took us via Richmond - Osmotherley - Blakey Ridge - Grosmont - Robin Hood's Bay. I decided to try the Blakey Ridge to Grosmont leg today. I had already slightly overslept but was at Dad's house for 9:30 raring to go, and better prepared than last time. Nat was also driving, and we left for Grosmont. Dad left his car there and we headed to The Lion pub in Blakey Ridge, the plan being to walk back to the car.
As we travelled over Blakey Moor we realised it was going to be a long cold walk in the snow, one which we were unprepared for today, especially kitted out in our shorts! So instead, after my navigation had managed to get us lost in the moors, we ended up in the car park of The Grapes pub along the Moor Road, the GPS had said it was 7.8 miles back to Grosmont so we decided to get out and walk from here. We waved bye to Nat and we were alone in the wild!
About to embark on a 7.8 mile walk in the freezing cold after being dropped off in a pub car park, we thought to ourselves what would be the best plan of attack? You got it - we went into the pub for a pint. Technically though, we never, we went to the toilet, but we felt obliged to buy a pint while we were in there, we don't expect free facilities. We got talking to the owners who had recently taken over and they sounded keen on making a go of it so good luck to them.
The last time out I had used Dixie's GPS but never really got the hang of it, this time though, I had spent all of the time in the pub playing around with it and I had pretty much sussed it, and what an asset it will be on the actual walk. Disaster was to strike though, I had spent so much time messing with it and plotting the upcoming route, and had forgot to charge it after the last use, that when we left the pub, after about 30 metres the battery gave up the ghost. Never mind, I had my new iPhone 5 with all of its glorious settings - only thing is it doesn't get signal over the moors. Ah wait! I have my C2C route maps, hmmm, only thing is we had veered off course and the maps didn't cover it, bugger!
So there we were, stood outside a pub in the middle of the moors with no navigational aids. The only thing I remembered from before the GPS went off was that it was 7.8 miles as the crow flies, but actually 12.5 miles walking. Great! It was at that point I realised it was April 1st and the walking gods were having a laugh at me. Despite my ability to levitate, there was no way I was even attempting to walk on water, it was far too cold for that, so we headed right from the pub and set off walking around Scaling Dam Reservoir. We followed the designated path for about 2-3 miles hoping it would take us to our first point of interest, Lealholm, but instead, we came out on the other side of the reservoir...near the pub we had earlier left! Gutted.
Undeterred, we set off, again, in search of the Holy Grail, or Lealholm as it is more commonly known. With nothing to go by, it was a strut across many fields (which always look the same) for mile upon mile with no sign of civilisation. We even hoped PC Nick Rowan would pass and pick us up in his sidecar, but to no avail.
A chance meeting with a couple of fellow ramblers set us on some kind of right path, even if it was back to the Moors Road, where Nat would come to meet us once more. It was at this point we had completely given up on Lealholm, although I am sure it is still there somewhere.
It was a long pathway back up the track but we eventually made it and parked ourselves in a bus shelter just by the road to The Black Bull. Had we noticed that there was another pub about 100 metres away we would have no doubt took refuge there but as it was, we were happy for a sit down and some relative warmth. Overall we had clocked up somewhere between 8 and 9 miles, and despite the problems we suffered, we managed to have a decent walk out. It wasn't part of the C2C as hoped, but a good day out nevertheless. Nat picked us up from the bus shelter and as we were only 9 miles from Whitby we headed to Mr Chips for tea. A decent day all round.
Oh, and Dad did finally get back to his car in Grosmont, somehow!
I think it's almost two weeks since I last posted, and I would like to say I have loads of things happen to me and loads of exciting things to blog with loads of fantastic pictures. As you will see, I haven't.
It has meant 2 quiz nights have gone by though, and for the first time in 6 months we managed to squeeze into the top 2! Yes, you guessed it, we came second. We did beat Yasser and The Marrowfats on that occasion though which is a triumph in itself. Add the £15 prize to the spot prize we won and we managed to stick £20 in the pot that night. Good work. Monday gone was not quite as successful though - despite only dropping 5 points the whole night we were still nowhere near the money. Somes ya win and somes ya lose. One of the highlights of the quiz was the carefully prepared snowball Paul celebrated his birthday with - and there's not many pubs where you can get the wallpaper to be a perfect match for the colour of your drink!
This morning we took Joe and Isaac to the farm. We all had a great time despite the cold weather. Last time we were there it seemed like there was an unwritten rule that the kids didn't like any animals that were bigger than them, this time they were slightly better and at least walked, or maybe scurried, past the cows/pigs/donkeys. Everything was made better when we got to the soft play, with the lads ruling the roost as always. A great photo below shows Joe posing with his fruit pastilles seconds before turning round, seeing the goose coming, and legging it!
I've only just got in from the latest horror that is Hartlepool playing football. You can't always blame the ref, but this one was terrible, a total game spoiler. Yes, we lost (again), and I think it is safe to say now that we will not be playing in this league again for a few years.
I (and it seemed like everybody else!) was struck down with a bug midweek but I still managed, with the help of Sarah Dale, to get a piece in the Gazette for the Charity Chuckle. If you want to see it it's here. If you still haven't got your tickets yet, why not?! There's well over 100 sold, and when they've gone they've gone! You can get them here.
As it's Easter weekend I am hoping to rack up some walking time, hopefully a couple of days, but certainly one! Due to the bad weather it will be a nearby leg of the walk, we are even contemplating the big 24 mile leg (Richmond to Osmotherley) on Monday, we will have to wait and see....but first of all, a night in Manfield!
Finally, after a few weeks off, I got back on it. It was a free Saturday so it meant I could get out and onto a leg of the walk. After deliberation I decided on the Keld to Reeth leg, or Day 7 on my itinerary.
It's never easy getting up early on a Saturday, especially as I like my late night Fridays, but I was up and ready for 8:30am. Dad picked me up and we met at Ged's, then the three of us set off for what would be the second dry run of a day of the walk.
It was no time at all before we got to Richmond, but the journey from Richmond to Reeth seemed to take forever, it was driving along the winding roads that we had walked along a month or so ago. We left Dad's car at Reeth then headed to Keld in Ged's. I think we actually set off walking about 10:30am. It was a nice day weather-wise, even worthy of unleashing the legs, although we did get some funny looks from the locals. I assume people don't normally dress like that in March.
I never used to be a lover of 'the beautiful countryside' or 'the great outdoors', but I think it sunk in yesterday what a great area is on our doorstep. After leaving the car park, it was a short walk and then we hit our first incline. It blew off some of the cobwebs and gave us a spectacular view of a waterfall, a nice start to the walk. We had decided to follow the 'low route' which took us right along the River Swale. A number of times throughout the day we simply stopped and observed the beauty around us, we were in a valley and pretty much wherever we looked we could see snow capped hills and fields that stretched for miles.
After pointing out the most useless bridge ever which led nowhere, I ate humble pie as it turned out we weren't getting over the river without using it, so we backtracked slightly to it and as we passed we swapped pleasantries with fellow hikers going the way we just came. Despite us only having walked a mile or two, Ged was convincing enough in assuring them they 'only' had 15 miles to go, they were devastated. I can sense that these people didn't quite get the Thornaby sense of humour.
One noticeable feature of the day was the amount of wildlife which was, let's say no longer living, in the fields. Rabbits, pheasants, rats, stoats, and at one delirious stage - a lion and a horse, were all present, and once when we heard the farmers gun we did wonder whether we would be next! We followed the river right along for 6 or so miles up to a little village called Gunnerside. It was there we sat on the Queen's Jubilee benches and tucked into our scran. Having seen a local tea room charging £5.65 for a bacon sarnie it made me appreciate Mam's even more!
We left Gunnerside and before long we were back into the fields. Now I am not against stiles in priniple, but when you get to number 438, then they make me hate them! We had walked over all types of surfaces today - grass, bare soil, hard road, tarmac, water (ok stones in the water) and sand, but the best was when the path led us across what looked like a Roman wall, it was a nice treat to save us from the usual stile/gate/field combo.
I have never been a fan of crossing rivers on stones, and yesterday was no exception (see photo below). Added to the fact I had a £400 phone in one pocket and a £400 GPS tracker in the other, it was no wonder it took me 30 minutes to cross (OK, a slight exaggeration). There was no falling over as such by anyone but I suppose Dad got the closest with his Vicar of Dibley impression. We were walking roadside and he was walking in the puddles to clean shoes off a bit, as you do, and then all of a sudden he disappeared having found the big hole in the road. OK, maybe another slight exaggeration, but it makes for a better story.
As is usual for any sizeable walk, it was the last mile which was the worst. We knew Reeth wasn't far away but it seemed to take an eternity to appear. It was at this point that every stile was a chore, and the slightest uphill was a challenge. We got finished somewhere around 4:45pm, and although that leg of the walk is said to be the relaxing day of the C2C, it didn't particularly feel like it at that point. I am sure though, come May, after a few days crossing the Lakes, it will be looked at as a nice easy day. In total, we had clocked up between 12 - 13 miles.
We all congratulated ourselves on a good days walk and compared aches and pains at church this morning. It is hoped that the three of us will be doing all of the walk together, and if the camaraderie shown yesterday was anything to go by, the twelve days will fly by, and we might actually start to enjoy it! Cheers guys.
I will be planning another one soon, but I have done the two 'easiest' days, so the next one will be a bit more of a grueller.
Just a final note to say we have a new boss! Not only at work (although he is not based in my office), but in life in general. Well done and good luck Pope Francis.
Oh and happy St Patrick's Day to y'all.
It was a case of 'more of the same' on Saturday as I continued to hone my DIY skills - this time I finished off the chest of drawers and nailed the bedside cabinet, literally. The afternoon brought around another Pools match, this time at home to high flying Yeovil. It was a pretty drab affair, with their manager quoting afterwards 'It was a long way to come for a 0-0 draw'. Indeed, it was maybe another case of 2 points dropped as we had plenty of chances to nick the winner. We had called into The Showroom, our pre-match haunt for a pint or two, and had to explain to the barman that we were ropey due to the fact we were at games night, not gay night as he had misheard. It was a long time stood at the match in the freezing cold and was glad to get home for my feet to thaw out.
Saturday night brought about more DIY - the recommended time for a 3 door wardrobe is 90 minutes... 4 hours later and I was still going. To keep me sane I went downstairs for a break, only to be whacked by Nat and Cody on Call of Duty Zombie Attack.
Today is Mothers Day, so everyone piled round to Mam's house for dinner, we know that's what she secretly wanted.
It's now 71 days until the walk and I am looking to get some accommodation sorted this week. I have been watching a western with Dad to get tips for when we're out in the wild (namely - don't trust Native Americans and if under attack from rattlesnakes use your spit to scare them away. Very helpful!).
It's now 81 days, or 11 weeks on Tuesday until the walk starts. That's not very long. Unfortunately (for training purposes) it has been a very busy week and it is nearly 2 weeks since a decent walk out. After quiz on Monday (finished 5th out of about 16, still trying for that first place), Hartlepool match on Tuesday (seven games unbeaten - the great escape is on), two nights of bringing work home on Wednesday and Thursday and a dash to Ruby's 5th birthday party tonight, I finally have a little time to chill out for the remainder of the night. This consists of a couple of films, a couple of cans of Bud, and who knows, maybe even an early(ish) night. Well, maybe not the early night, especially on a Friday.
Tomorrow is going to be a day around the house before a jolly over to the casino tomorrow night. I have already picked my football bets to put on tomorrow and have a feeling an overdue win is on the cards.
All in all it has been a pretty busy week with not too much bloggable excitement, sorry about that!
Couple of bits of good news walk-wise though - Asda have put a couple of posters in store for both the charity chuckle and the walk itself, the Arc in Stockton have donated a couple of their monthly comedy club tickets to raffle at the charity chuckle, and tickets are now starting to shift pretty well for the comedy night. If you want to get your grubs on some you can get them here, or you could just see me......
Anyway, I promise I will have something a little bit more interesting next time!
Well, Friday was the annual beer festival at the Arc. Always a fantastic day out, missed it last year due to a year of abstinence, but rejoined this year and there was a gang of us. As per usual it was like Russian Roulette with the drinks - some you win, some you lose. I managed to get off relatively lightly with only one duffer during the day, that being the Stockton Blond funny enough.
We headed off later to the local Wetherspoons where, by an untypically heroic Stockton gesture, we were tipped off as to a phone theft, it was swiftly dealt with and justice was restored. Thanks to those involved, it made me smile and think not all of Stockton is lost.
We ended up back at the Arc, where the beer fesitval had begun. It was only for a late night pint but managed to talk to Andrew Ryan, MC for the Charity Chuckle, who was opening act for the Arc's comedy night. He was looking forward to the night, as am I, very much!
Saturday was always going to be a lazy day for me. I spent all of the day in the house having put my bets on before the beer festival, leaving me free to do a bit of housework, and more importantly, watch Soccer Saturday! It was a mixture of pottering around the house and watching the scores trickle in. I thought I was still under the influence of the 'Stockton Blond' but it turned out Hartlepool really did win 2-1 away from home. That makes it 6 games unbeaten and a real chance of escaping the relegation zone. Tuesday night we play Crewe in a match which will hopefully decide the manager of the month in Yogi's favour.
Thanks to the Diocese of Middlesbrough for publishing an article about my Coast to Coast this week, there will be a link available shortly to the media section where you can read it.
In the meantime, I have enjoyed my weekend off (from pretty much everything!) but will look forward to getting back on it next week.
So Saturday was to be one of them long walk days - a 10+ mile walk to the Hartlepool match. Alas, it wasn't to be. It was me and Dad today, and we had planned to walk to Middlesbrough, then over the transporter bridge and on into Hartlepool. The transporter opened at 9:30am and I rang to check if it was operational, which it was, so we were almost set. I checked the route and it turned out it was a longer route than my previous Hartlepool walk (13.3miles), this was nearer 14 miles! By the time we were all ready it was 10am, and by my reckoning, 14 miles would take about 5 hours, that meant we would arrive at about 3pm - kick off time. Not wanting to take this risk we decided to get the train to Seaton Carew and walk from there. It turned out to be a lovely day weather wise. The sun was shining, the beach was nice, we even seen the Seaton Carew palm trees! It could almost have been romantic, only I was with Dad and not Nat, and yes, we fought off the urge to skip hand in hand along the front.
It was only about 3 or 4 miles to walk, then after mooching around town, and watching the early kick off, we headed to the ground. Buoyed by our 4 match unbeaten run, the bubble was soon popped as a sixth minute penalty was converted for them. It was, amazingly, the tenth home penalty conceded. It looked inevitable that we would be beaten until we broke through on the 88th minute to equalise. More excitement was to come as Luke James hit a 95th minute winner to send The Vic crazy. It took us off the foot of the table for the first time since October! Who knows, we may even stay up at this rate, hence the great escape.
Sunday was a day of relative rest. Chris had come back home, and must have been feeling flush with Angolan Kwanza's - he even got the teas in at the parish hall after church! Seriously though, we did have a run out to (possibly) the greatest shop ever, Go Outdoors, and Chris further helped me in the walk with a good kitting out, thanks very much! I spent the rest of the evening trying to fix up a bookcase from Argos - it took slightly longer than I had estimated. In the words of the legendary Brain Anderson "When will they ever learn?"
It has been a good week walk wise, I have had my first real run through of one the days and realised it is going to be tough, and that was one of the 'relaxing' days of the walk. I also had an article printed by North Tees Hospital after going for an interview there. Thanks to both Mark for arranging and Claire at North Tees. The article can be read by clicking here. Hopefully there will be a bit more good news later in the week too.
The weekend started early for me - I finished work on Friday at 2 o'clock and headed off to North Tees Hospital with Mark for an interview (of sorts) to get an item about the Coast to Coast published in their magazine. It went very well, so that will hopefully garnish a bit more interest.
I was intending to do 2 legs of the walk at the weekend to give me a feel of getting up on day 2 and doing the same again, or as some would say, a glutton for punishment! As it was, this never transpired but I went out on Saturday with Dad and did a trusted route - over to Stockton, then on to Portrack, nip into Go Outdoors, over the Newport Bridge and on into Middlesbrough. We called into Walkabout for a bit of the Spurs v Newcastle match, and Nat was on her way home and the offer of a lift home was there so we took it. In all though, we had clocked up 6 miles, not bad.
Saturday night was poker night, it was on tour this time though and round at Amy & Pip's house. I was glad to be going, as Nat was cooking for 9 of the girls. The night itself was a good one, though oddly I didn't win a single game, very untypical! Congratulations to Sharpey on winning 4, but more importantly to Pip for the spread, with Amy shirking her duties.
The morning after the night before. I had arranged for cover to play the organ at church so it meant I could be up and about early on Sunday. Although I was planning one of the latter stage walks of 17 miles, it was a late switch and we opted for the Reeth to Richmond leg, which was about 11 miles
3 of us were walking today, me, Dad and Les, so we had two cars - Les parked at Richmond and Dad drove us on to Reeth. We were talking about Back to the Future, and I think we had actually found it at Reeth, a nice little villagey type place with the pub sign upside down (see top photo), and a Willy Wonka-esque character running the local newsagents. Very nice! We set off on the walk armed with my trusty Coast to Coast guide, and it was invaluable en route. We had only walked about 50 metres when Dad was nearly wiped out by a cyclist, "watch where you're going" shouted the disgruntled cyclist as he sped into the distance. To be fair, we were walking in the middle of the road, bloody walkers! This was followed by disrupting a jogger to ask directions (come one, we were just getting started - everywhere else I have walked I have knew where to go!), he didn't mind though he was very pleasant. So we were off, heading to Grinton, and we encountered our first wicket gate of the day. It was snug getting through and I ended up falling onto a pole. Within 5 minutes of the walk, Dad had nearly been mown down by a cyclist and I had bruised buttocks, surely things could only get better.
Don't worry, they did. We meandered along following the River Swale to Marrick Priory, an old ruin, and despite missing a turning, we made it up to Ellers Cottage. The weather was lousy, we encountered rain, snow, sleet and a whole lot of mist. We seemed to walk through endless fields, and at times felt like quicksand, thank God for my boots, had they been anything less they would still be stuck in a field now! We strode onto Marske, and this is where we made our second mistake - taking a right instead of a left. We should have known really instead of presuming the book was wrong.... We did, however, pick up on the road again and followed the road into Richmond, all 5 miles of it (felt like 10 though). It was a slog and we clocked in a total of 13 miles (2 miles more than we should have), but I'm so glad we walked it, at least we can iron out mistakes before the day. I hope to have more of these dry runs before May 21st so if anyone fancies it, you're more than welcome! Thanks to Dad and Les, it always helps to have banter on the way.