Sunday 10 November 2013

Pride Comes Before A Fall ?

After the (relative) success of the Half Marathon a few weeks ago I signed up for the Coastal Trail Series South Devon Marathon in February. This takes place along the south west coastal path and comprises of some extremely hilly terrain and its also a bit longer than a marathon, at 28.5 miles.

Whether I've bitten off more than I can chew remains to be seen, but I'm pretty confident I can do it provided I train properly. We'll see.

I tried to get the Manc Midgit to join me. At first all he could say was "28.5 miles ? In February ? In February ?" I explained that the south west was not like the frozen wasteland that is the north of England and I think he may have joined me had his long standing ankle injury not started causing him trouble last week.

The Silent Assassin has managed to secure a place in the London Marathon in April and decided that the Devon race would interfere with his preparation (Wimp. What's wrong with the youngsters these days?). In the end I managed to persuade Perry Taylor, an ultra fit customer/mate to enter. Three weeks before he's doing a 45 mile "Ultra" ! Think I may struggle to keep up with him.

I've started to increase the distance of the long run at weekends and yesterday did a steady 15 miles, starting at Mistley, through Manningtree, Dedham, Flatford, East End, Cattawade and back. Felt nice and easy, though I didn't push it pace wise.

Today I thought I'd get the mountain bike out and had a good, very muddy,  ride over to Wivenhoe and along the river. Beautiful crisp day with clear blue sky, bloody lovely.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Dunwich Off Road Half Marathon

Despite my best efforts I couldn't persuade any of the Boners to join me in the Dunwich Half Marathon, 13.3 miles of trail running across marsh, beach and woods in deepest Suffolk.

Manc Migit said he'd used up his yearly allowance of fun (actually I think it was Mandi who told him that ) and said he wouldn't be partaking in any physical activities until 2014. Norbert is busy working on his new house and The Silent Assassin was unavailable as he plays football on Saturdays.

So it was just me, undisputed Gang Leader, yet again "Rolling Back The Years" ( this is my new catch phrase that I will hammer home at every opportunity ), escorted by Lady Bong, who came along for moral support and as official photographer.

We were lucky with the weather, which was very mild, mostly sunny and very windy. There was a big turnout, the event being completly sold out. It comprised of a 10K, a full marathon and an Ultra (33 miles), in addition to the half marathon.

After registering we were ready to go and almost as soon as we started we were delayed as a single width footbridge caused a bottleneck as dozens of people tried to squeeze through at the same time.

Things improved as the field quickly spread out, the first few miles being along a wooded track, and through Walberswick marshes. Things got a bit tougher just before we reached the river at Walberswick, where we ran along the strength sapping sandy beach. 

We then made our way along the western edge of the marshes where it became muddy and very difficult to keep up a decent pace and in some spots, to even keep on your feet. In one place a couple of blokes were trying avoid a massive muddy puddle by shuffling around the outside, trying not to get wet and muddy, taking ages. What a couple of soft ponces I thought, as I ploughed straight through the middle of it, losing my footing and going arse over head before crashing into a tree. If someone is going to make a tit of themselves it's always me, I'm very reliable in that way.

From about the nine mile mark the surface improved and for the most part we were running along much drier tracks through the woods which made things easier. I was in a bit of pain for the last few miles but was pleased with the 1:56:49 finish.

Chief photographer Lady Bong was in position at the finishing line to capture my moment of glory but somehow failed to spot me so no action shots were taken.

We then retired to The Crown in Westleton when I have to say the pint went down rather well. A very enjoyable day.

Monday 7 October 2013

Boners Are Back

Yes, it's true, the wait is over.

After a brief hiatus (look it up), The Strolling Bones are back. Sort of. The very beginnings of the 2014 challenge(s) are being discussed. This time Ruddski is hoping that no accidents prevent him not only organising, but participating fully to the very end. Mad dogs notwithstanding.

Although The Silent Assassin suffered the trauma of being forcibly withdrawn ( stop sniggering at the back Slowgrove ) at 80 km in Trailtrekker, he seems keen to be involved in any of the suggestions raised so far.

Talking of Norbert Slowgrove, I think he may have been permanently harmed by his, admittedly unpleasant, finale to the Trailtrekker in June, as whenever a prospective challenge is discussed, after initial enthusiasm, he says he's not up for it because "it's too hard". C'mon man, it's only pain.

The Manc Midgit will be up for anything he's told to do, as "I'm a private, not an Officer", as he never tires of telling us. Well, he'll do anything Mandi lets him..

That leaves The FISH and Hamish. Time will tell whether they will be taking part or in the Support Team. I think The FISH will be up for a cycling trip, if he can drag himself from the DIY.

Anyway, in the mean time, The Mighty Ruddski and myself enjoyed probably the last weekend of really warm, sunny weather this year, in a 50 mile bike ride around the Suffolk countryside yesterday. The first 30 odd miles was enjoyable, with quiet roads, good scenery and bright sunshine. The last 20 were less fun, being on busier roads, but a decent ride nonetheless.

The Mighty Ruddski ( AKA Mussolini ) and myself - Fine Specimens of East Anglian Manhood

Monday 3 June 2013

The Day of Reckoning

This post goes on a bit, but it's the last one, so indulge me a bit, would you ?

Well, where to start ? A somewhat fraught week one way and another and before I knew it,  Friday was upon us and we were on the way to Yorkshire, to try and walk 100 km in under 30 hours.

"We" being me, Norbert Slowgrove, Silent Assassin Ben Cooper, The FISH and Hamish. Not forgetting The Manc Midgit who was due meet us at Aireville School, Skipton, where we were going to camp on Friday night so we could be ready for the 06.00 start.

Unfortunately we were without Team Manager Ruddski who had a freak accident whilst on holiday in California and was unable attend due to two broken bones in his foot. When I spoke to him he was obviously really disappointed he was going to miss out on the weekend and it was impossible not to feel gutted for him after all the work he has put in over the last few months.

We arrived late afternoon and after we'd unpacked, registered, attended safety briefings, eaten and done a whole lot of other things it was time for bed. Bed I said, not necessarily sleep. I had the customary two or three hours before being woken up by Hamish snoring (who was two tents away) shortly before 03.00.

It was a beautiful cloudless morning and after breakfast and a (cold) shower it was soon 06.00 and we were off, the first section being the easiest and flattest, along the canal to Gargrave. Soon we were past Gargrave and heading towards Malham, the scenery changing slowly and becoming slightly more hilly. After failing to get the walkie talkies to work (User Error) we reached the first checkpoint at Malham where The FISH and Hamish had got the food out, the tea on and laid the table. Top work.

The real walk started after we left Malham and headed for Fountains Fell, a long (15 km) section and the hilliest of the whole walk. We went through some stunning scenery at this stage and even more importantly the sun continued to shine. A quick drink at Fountains Fell and we were off in the direction of Horton in Ribblesdale a short, but difficult downhill trek in the village where we again met The FISH and Hamish at Checkpoint 2. We had now completed 40km with no real problem. It was almost as if the real walk hadn't begun. How true that was.

So, on towards Cam Farm. Halfway through this section, an absolutely incredible "incident" occurred when one of our team had to attend to an, erm, emergency. Unfortunately, time was of the essence and the "incident" was carried out in full view of half a dozen women, who were, up until then, having a nice walk in the sun. We were pissing ourselves laughing, whilst at the same time being gobsmacked that he had absolutely no concern that he was in full view of innocent members of the public.

 The person in question demanded that I delete photos of this hideous display and not mention his name. I have already deleted the said photos and won't mention the Short Arse's name. I'm a man of my word.

Shortly before Cam Farm we were going really well, we could see the end of the section in the distance and we started a horrible, boggy descent, which, although it was only about 1 km long, had started giving me the very beginning of a couple of blisters. I was a bit concerned at this point, as this was the 50 km, half way point and I most definitely did not want my feet to start giving me problems. I applied some dressing which worked fantastically well and luckily they didn't develop into anything serious.

The barn at Cam Farm had a wood fired pizza oven which produced the most amazing pizzas you've ever eaten. Not something you expect in the arse end of nowhere.

By this time it was about 18.00 and despite having walked 50 km I felt fine and off we we were along a flat section along the river. We passed the Deepdale water stop and on to Buckden, the third Checkpoint and the 65 km mark. When we walked into Buckden it was dusk, just gone 22.00 and starting to get cold.

There seemed to be people everywhere, in the Food Hall, the First Aid tent, outside, everywhere. We all had a massage, which at the time felt great. However, as soon as I got up I started feeling sick and was shaking with cold.  I felt absolutely freezing.


We all piled into the van looking for our night gear, torches and change of clothes. This was the only point where I got wound up. Norbert was sitting in the back for what seemed like ages which meant I had to wait to get my clothes, etc. He seemed to be farting about for ages and quite frankly I felt like killing him, which in retrospect seems pathetic for such a small offence, but after 16 hours and 65 km of almost constant walking seemed an entirely reasonable thing to do. For once in my life I bit my tongue and sat in silence waiting for him to move. I'm glad I did.

After tucking in to a hot meal we were off at about 22.30 into total darkness on a long (15 km) section ending at Conistone. The iPods were plugged in, the head torches switched on and we were off at a steady pace which increased as we got into our stride. We started overtaking one team after another and at this stage I felt so good it was almost unreal. In the middle of the Dales, under a clear, star laden sky in the dead of  night, with the likes of Rage Against The Machine, The Clash and Californian psychedelic stoner rockers Wooden Shjips blasting in my ears, it was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had. I felt like I could go on forever at this stage.

After stopping to help a walker who had been deserted by his team and was unable to walk and could only just about string a sentence together, we continued on our way, through Kettlewell and up a long steep ascent. Little did we know that in these five or ten minutes things things would start to change. Most definitely for the worse.

Shortly before Conistone, Andy's ankle started to give him a real problem, Norbert's blisters had got worse and he was looking decidedly the worse for wear and The Silent Assassin had damaged his knee, though at this stage he did not realise how badly. At 03.00 we entered Checkpoint 4, the 80 km mark. Quite frankly it looked and felt like a military field hospital, with people layed up, some dropping out and First Aiders running around everywhere.

The Dr inspected TSA's knee and announced that if he continued he risked permanent damage. I just remember Ben saying, in disbelief,  "I can't, Ive just walked 80 km". He clearly wanted to carry on, but it would have been madness to do so, so he was persuaded to stop. I said something crap like "Well done" but what can you say to someone who has to drop out after having walked for 21 hours and but for the injury would have completed the whole thing ?

A Dr was also talking to Andy about his ankle, which had been heavily strapped and was clearly causing him pain. He was in two minds whether to go on, but with TSA withdrawing, we were down to three. I think he felt duty bound to give it a go, although at this stage I don't think he believed himself he'd be able to finish.

Norbert's feet were giving him problems and he had to get them freshly dressed by a medic. You can see from the photo that at this stage he'd started to deteriorate quite badly. He was beginning to look, in technical terms, totally smegged out.
We had another walker, a young lad called Andy from Crewe join us at this stage, as all his mates had thrown in the towel, so off we set for the final 20 km. Dawn was breaking, another beautiful day, although at this stage it was still very cold. The pace was slow, very slow.

We were heading for the final water stop, at 90 km, in the village of Hetton. I still felt fine, luckily the feet were not causing any problems and apart from a few aches and pains, everything was better than could possibly be expected. This section seemed to take forever and as we finally entered Hetton, the signs, for Norbert especially, did not look good.

I got to the water stop a bit ahead of them both and started videoing them coming in. It was apparent that they didn't even see me, despite me being right in front of them, such was their state. We tucked in to biscuits, cake, tea, everything. Then Norbert started falling asleep whist drinking. Then he started loading his rucksack with bottles of water, despite having a 3 litre Camelbak full of it. "What are you doing ?" I said. " I need water" he replied. I told him he'd got plenty and took the extra bottles out. He was beginning to lose it.

With another 10 km to go I was seriously concerned he would collapse at some stage, as he seemed to be retreating into himself. At least with Andy it was just ( sorry Andy, not "Just " but you know what I mean.) physical pain.

Into the last 10 km and the pace is so slow I've seen mourners at a funeral move quicker. It's down to a shuffle and every few hundred yards there's a stile and each one seems bigger than the last. I felt helpless watching the two of them in their own worlds, unable to help, iPods on, face contorted in pain. I know I shouldn't say it, but I have to admit I was a bit jarred off every time someone overtook us. I know it's not a race, but at 80 km we were flying and now , due to injuries, it was totally different.

"This is the last hill. After that it's downhill all the way" I said. And every time we get over the top it continues upwards. Again and again. "4 km" to go says the bloke at the makeshift tea stop. A very, very long 4 km down into Skipton. "1 km" to go says a marshall and although it's a bloody long 1 km I don't give two monkey's whatsits because I know we're going to make it.

Just before we enter the school where the finish line is, I stop Andy and say "You can come out now". He knows exactly what I mean. He's been "in the zone" for 20 km, detached from everyone and everything, his only concern being putting one foot in front of another. He is one hard, gritty little fecker.

Norbert is so drained he can't or can't be bothered to speak. He's also been in his own world, possibly in a different way to Andy. It appeared to me he was almost unconscious whilst walking at some times. He tells me later he was hallucinating at times and that he has seen things moving in the bushes (no, not Short Arse having a crap). I take my hat off to them, an almost super human effort by them both.

Round the corner and we're greeted by cheering crowds and applause and it's over. 101 km in 28 hours 7 minutes. I don't know what I felt really, deep satisfaction mostly I suppose. I can say confidently that it was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had.

The organisation by Oxfam was absolutely superb, as were the hundreds of volunteers all of which were very friendly and helpful.

I really feel for Ben though, having to pack it in at 80 km after all that effort. He was a great bloke to have on the team, always positive and upbeat.

Hamish and The FISH did a fantastic job as Support Team, two of them when there should have been three or four (that's another story), putting up tents, driving, taking stuff out, putting it away, again, again and again. Thanks fellas, you did a great job, as did The Mighty Ruddski, organising things for months before being forced to miss out.

Now I reckon that we could beat 28 hours 7 minutes.......

Andy's Thoughts on Trailtrekker

Most people, including me, when they agree to do something expect the least and fear the worst.
When the Essex Johnny Depp nee Ade Edmoson first asked me if I wanted to join him and two others in taking a 'stroll' in June 2013, my immediate thought was that 'a walk in the hills of Yorkshire', can't you bit a bit more adventurous & imaginative?

Move on six months or so later and there we were the Four Muscaqueers (my sons name for four 'blokes' sharing a tent) and the 'Odd Couple' Hamish & Fish, the support team of support teams, making camp in a school field in Skipton anticipating a 100KM walk starting at 6.00 am the following morning.

Digressing ever so slightly, the noise from the Big Bang (if anybody could have heard it?) would have been of the magnitude where eardrums would have been shattered and any 'normal' sense of hearing would have been hindered for months later......try sharing a tent with Hamish and his snoring. It's the closest anybody will ever get to 'The Big Bang Noise'!

A 4.30am start and the sight of our glorious leaders (Kim Jung Il - nee Gale) naked frame trying to get clean in the coldest shower this side of Wormwod Scrubs (good job he didn't drop the soap) was enough to make me realise that the challenge ahead wasn't the worst thing I was ever going to encounter in my lifetime!

6.00am (in the Big Brother Diary Room) the time had come - The Strolling Bones, the months of organisation, the anticipation, the 'toned & finely tuned Boner athletes (and me)' are on their way...........

How does someone adequately describe a 100KM walk across some of the most idyllic and picturesque countryside this side of Braintree. It's simple, you can't!

It is almost  impossible to put into words the emotions, the pain, the enjoyment, the distress, the sense of euphoria, that I had............. when I had the most tumultuous dump ever on the top of a hill, in the middle of nowhere, watched by my 'team mates' and a team of girls (including Blondie, not Debbie Harry).

Pictures are-supposedly out there, I'm not sure? When you've got to go, you've got to go?

3.30 (ish) in the Big Brother diary room........DayLight is starting to penetrate over the glorious peaks of the North, the pain of the last 80 KM's is starting to penetrate our bodies and souls.

Our glorious leader (General 'Stormin Norman' Light) has managed to come through the night time ordeals with the freshness and exuberance of someone who has just been for a walk to the shops for his copy of The Daily Mail!

Unfortunately his team hasn't faired as well, The Silent Assasin has been shown the red card by an over cautious Medic, the Manc Midget has decided that a week in Magaluf would be a more exiting option than another step across the moors and The Norb is probably thinking of putting something mildly toxic in Gale's next cuppa?

Only 20 km's to doesn't sound far? It might as well be in a Galaxy Far,Far,away?

On a warm sunny day (which it was) what could be nicer than a pleasant walk to Skipton? Maybe having molten lava poured onto your extremities? Maybe listening to all of Genesis back catalogue? Meeting Kevin Webster's Dad in a remote cafe in Kettlewell? Showing your hairy backside to a bunch of total strangers?

All of the above sound more appealing than that last 20 km's of this particular trek?

If it wasn't for our illustrious leader (Lord Light of Thorrington) and his amazing powers of motivation, duration, and pure stubbornness, there wouldn't be have been a 'happy ending' to The Story of the Bones.
If only he could transfer this energy and enthusiasm to selling fans, the world would be his lobster?

Single handedly he dragged the remaining two boners over the finishing line, not a small feat considering Norbert's ever increasing girth!

What a weekend.......

Next time someone asks you to take up a challenge, expect the worst, the least is inextricably better! Don't assume that a walk in the countryside is anything but imaginative or adventurous!

More importantly never let an Ade Edmonson 'look a likey' press gang you into doing anything, except maybe meeting him for a slap up breakfast at The Jubilee cafe.

Long live the bones, long live the odd couple, long live the Ruddski and long live life!

Jamie's Thoughts On Trailtrekker

Looking back on TT conjures a combination of the most extreme emotions and feelings I think I have ever felt, a true sense of satisfaction & relief.  Those 28 hours will live with me forever.

Starting from the original acceptance of the 'challenge' laid down by El Capitano Light, I don't think I truly gave this experience the respect it deserved.  We all approached the training with gusto & enthusiasm knowing preparation was the key to it all, but NOTHING prepares you for what your mind and body goes through during those painful, low and desperate hours.

I can honestly say I would, or could not have achieved what we did without the great support of my Team, an ensemble of legends elect who stepped up and put it all on the line with me for those hideous 28 hours.  Something only they can appreciate, with what we all went through, the amazing laughs (some front page story headlines too), the pain, the suffering & agony, I will never forget it.

Something strange happens to you when you compete in a team endurance event that is like nothing I have felt before, the knowledge that the fella to each side of you is suffering, hurting & allowing that chink of doubt to creep into their thoughts, but knowing they won't quit so you sure as hell won't either:

To El Capitano Light.  I could have killed you around the 24 hour mark, but my god, you are the only reason I crossed the line.  I cannot thank you enough.  Glad we did it together.  Excuse the garbled mutterings for the last 2 hours, I was officially off the reservation.

To the Crazed Manc Migit.  My friend, you are the grittiest, most stubborn fighter I have ever met.  You are a legend of unbound limits in my eyes.  The last 20k we 'walked' together summed up the whole event perfectly in my eyes - By any means possible, cross the damn line.

To the Silent Assassin.  You are possibly the most depressing man to walk 100k with I could imagine.  Like a machine.  Always happy.  Always upbeat.  Like a walk in the park.  Do you how hard that is to take when im in agony?!  That last check point will stick in my mind for a long time, you did the right thing, I know you didn't think so at the time, but you did. Much like Window, i am in awe of your mental strength.

To the Fish & Hamish.  You fellas gave us so much, and I am so pleased you were there for us, just seeing your ugly mugs at each checkpoint gave me such a lift to carry on. From the bottom of my heart, thanks chaps.

Finally, Ruddski.  Struck down by such a freak (yet unfortunately hilarious) event, I wanted to say that your organisation, planning and forethought made the weekend go so smoothly.  I was gutted you couldn't be there, but the foundations you provided for us meant that you were with when we crossed the line.  Cheers.

Finally, I leave you with 2 simple words.  NEVER AGAIN.

Slowgrove, Out.

Ben's Thoughts On Trailtrekker

We await TSA's thoughts

Thursday 30 May 2013

A Few Hours To Go.......

A rather eventful week. Ruddski managed to break two bones in his foot whilst on holiday in America, so the Director of Operations is now out of action and won't be able to attend this weekend. Poor old boy is gutted and so are we, as he's put in loads of work over the past few months.

The FISH has again stepped in to take Ruddski's place, so we're in safe hands.

Then today, less than 24 hours before we leave, we had someone else bail out, so we're down to two Support Crew. Not ideal preparation, but what can you do ?

Next post will be review of the event and the last one.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Manc Midgit's Moral Meltdown

So, the last proper training session before the real thing on 1/2 June. The FISH was due to join us, but is in the middle of moving house, so it was just me and Norbert Slowgrove who set off just before seven on Saturday morning, heading the the direction of Horton In Ribblesdale in North Yorkshire.

The weather (yes, I am obsessed by it)  was grey and blustery, becoming more so as we headed north. We tried a different route which took us through, amongst other places, Bradford. Norbert wasn't impressed and said that it was very probably the first and last time he would ever visit the town.

We met the Manc Midgit in the Pen Y Ghent cafe in Horton. We found his car, but no sign of him in the cafe. After five minutes I though I'd better check to make sure he'd not fallen off his booster cushion and was not trapped in the footwell of the car (it's happened before). But no, he was asleep in the car. After a quick coffee and chat, we found somewhere to park, in the car park of The Lion pub.

Norbert put £2.00 in the honesty box, whilst TMM walked past it. "Oi, you've not paid !" I said. "I'm not paying, if they want you to pay there should be someone collecting the money" the tight arsed weasel replied. After giving him far more than two quids worth of abuse we were off, up an extremely muddy, rocky path, into the rain and wind.

I glanced several times at the map, pretty confident that we were on right track. Conversation topics came and went until Norbert started regaling us with tales of "The Donkey" ( a mutual friend ) and his, how shall we say, extra curricular activities. I was so fascinated by his stories, exaggerated or not, that the map reading was forgotten about and we ended up not exactly where we wanted to be. No, we were not lost, just not where we wanted to be.

Anyway, Norbert and TMM were surprisingly understanding and didn't moan or whinge or even take piss. We just trudged back where we'd come from and carried on listening to the tales of Iggy Pop, adventures and depravity. By this time Norbert had started getting blisters and three months after buying his walking boots he had decided they were too small.

We arrived at the car park just before eight in the evening, having done about twenty miles in seven hours. Back to the B and B, a few drinks and a curry and it was morning again.

Just a quick walk today, up to Pen Y Gent, where it was extremely cold and windy, more like February than May.
We continued on to Plover Hill, across severely wet and boggy moorland, where Norbert found out that the boots he'd borrowed from me were not quite waterproof. A quick stop for some Gangsta stylee trekking photos, don't dis me blood, we is baaaad. That's my attempt "urban speak" by the way.
Below - The bastard son of Rudolf Nureyev and Larry Grayson

A quick stop for a bite to eat and to pick up the litter that TMM tried to leave (for the second day running . Bloody townies ) and we were back in the cafe ready for the long drive home.

Another great weekend, looking forward to the event in three weeks.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Town Mouse, Country Mouse

After missing out on a weekend in Yorkshire walking and checking out the course in March, due to bad weather, myself and The Manc Midgit re arranged the trip for this weekend.
However, The Silent Assassin had bigger things on his mind, running the London Marathon, so was yet again absent. Update on how he got on to follow when we have news from the front.

Norbert Slowgrove was also on a big weekend away, thanks to The Sun newspaper's promotion of a two nights in Caister for a mere £8.50 per night per person per night ( Terms and Conditions apply). Free entertainment in the form of a "Best Elvis Impersonator" thrown in too. Too good to turn down. BARGAIN !

Anyway, luckily the re arranged trip coincided with some beautiful spring weather, with mild temperatures and clear blue skies. We stayed at a pub in Grassington, had a few beers in the evening and were up before 7 in the morning, eager for an early start. Only problem was that breakfast was served between 9 and 10. What ! That's halfway through the morning ! So we left without breakfast. Don't worry, said I, we'll have breakfast at a cafe in Conistone, about three miles into our walk.

After a minor detour round Grassington, due to a bit of, erm, careless map reading, we set off north, with the early morning frost being burnt off by the strengthening sun. I insisted on taking loads of photos, which caused much whining and whinging throughout the day from TMM.

It's strange, no matter how many shots I take, I always end of looking like a skinny, rubber faced, middle aged man, which is obviously not what I really am. The camera never lies ? What a load of bollocks !

After about an hour we arrived in Conistone. We saw some blokes getting ready to go canoeing and asked them where the cafe was. "Kettlewell" came the reply. "About 5 miles away". Great. I was bloody starving, so a near black banana about 3 weeks old had to suffice until we reached Kettlewell.

We started climbing a steep, narrow pass, known as Conistone Dib. TMM spotted a dying rabbit, which was twitching and shaking. A man with two small children, about 5 and 8, were behind us, so TMM stood in front of said rabbit and shuffled about, trying to stop the kids catching site of it. It was like a scene from Monty Python. With the man a few yards away, TMM says, in hushed tones, without moving his lips "Dying rabbit....dying rabbit".  "What?" the man says. "Dying rabbit, dying rabbit" says TMM. Man looks at him as if he's a lunatic and walks on. One of the kids looks at the animal and just says "Eerrh, look at that rabbit" and walks off unconcerned. That's what happens when an ignorant townie goes to the country.

We reached the top of the pass and carried on over some beautiful rolling countryside, with me pointing out, in my most pompous and condescending manner (I can't help it, it's part of who I am), various different birds and animals. Though to be fair, I was making half of it up, because TMM didn't have a clue. We did, however, spot a Yorkshire Spider Monkey , see photo below.

Eventually, three and a half hours after leaving Grassington, we walked into Kettlewell and sat outside a cafe, ready to tuck into breakfast. I recognised a bloke sitting near us. "That's Bill Webster" I said (OK, I sometimes watch Corrie. Alright ?). "Who?" says TMM. And him being a northerner too.

A local woman pipes up. "Are you Bill Webster ?". "Yes" says.....well, Bill Webster. For those of you not Corrie watchers, I should point out that Bill Webster is TV Dad of Kevin Webster, who, in real life, is facing sexual assault charges. "What's your Kevin been up to? " says the woman. "I've no idea" says Bill. "Well you bloody well should have! " replies the woman. "I blame the the parents ! " she says, seemingly unaware that Bill is merely his fictional Dad.

After breakfast, we headed up towards Whernside, the highest peak in Yorkshire, standing at 2415 feet (I hope you're taking notes). It didn't look far from the village, but it  took a good amount of  time and effort to get to the top, where it was considerably windier and colder than in the village. Although it was the third week in April there was still a ridge of snow at the top.

 Sir Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tensing celebrate at the top of the Everest
We walked along the top of ridge back in the direction of Grassington, over some very rough, boggy ground where my Gore Tex  lined waterproof boots proved not to be. The views, though, were truly fantastic and well worth all the effort to get up there in the first place.
We scrambled down a very steep drop onto a firmer footpath and continued without incident, enjoying the sun and talking guff,  until we reached Grassington about 9 hours and 19 miles after we first set out.

A great day.

Thursday 4 April 2013

Manc Midgit Goes Dog Racing

The Manc Midgit has been suffering with injuries recently, so last weekend he decided to go dog racing instead. Don't know if he did any good.....

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Into April...

Out on April Fools Day with Norbert Slowgrove for the longest training walk so far. We invited The FISH, Ruddski and The Silent Assassin, but to no avail.

The FISH said he'd lost his phone, so never got the message and Ruddski said Lady Dawnie had already got his whole weekend planned. I've only recently realised that he does exactly what he's told at home and the Effin' and Blinding Man of the People character only exists when he's at work.

By the way, The Silent Assassin DOES exist, He's not a figment of my imagination. It's just that he's training for the London Marathon at the moment. I always ask him if he wants to join us for a walk and although he's to polite to say it, you can see that he's thinking "You silly old twat, you think I need to train with you and Norbert when I'm running 26 smegging miles in a couple of weeks ?"

The weather started off grey and cloudy with that poxy, biting north easterly wind that I loathe.

We started at Great Bromley church, set off through the back lanes to the edge of Lawford, across the fields to Flatford Mill, on to East Bergholt, then over no man's land for several miles. By this time I was starving, so tucked in to the smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches, with a few mini chocolate Easter eggs for good measure, stolen from Jamie's rucksack. We reached Bentley (Suffolk) via Holly Wood and Dodnash Wood, where the sun managed to struggle (and stay) out. From here we headed back via East End, over the river at Brantham and on to Manningtree, where we were going to have a break.

By this time we'd done about 13/14 miles and my only interest was that the cafe MUST be open as I was desperate for a hot drink. Luckily it was and we had a drink and snack before continuing on to Mistley and Bradfield.

At Bradfield we took a path along the top of Mistley, by the rugby club and through Furze Hill wood, where we stopped to pose for a photo with Old Knobbley, an oak tree that's reckoned to be 800 years old ( bit of local history for you, good solid facts. I'm not making this up you know ) .

That's me with Old Knobbley, that is
Below - The gayest man in Essex
By this time the feet were starting to ache a bit, so we changed from walking boots to trainers for the last few miles, which made it a bit more comfortable, as we followed the lanes back to via Little Bromley to Great Bromley church.

A total of 23 miles in 6 hours 10 minutes actual walking. With stops, about 7 hours.

If we were doing the "real thing", we'd have another 39 miles to do. Hmm....

Sunday 24 March 2013

Oh, To Be In England In Spring

17 March

Me and Norbert Slowgrove decided training would take the form of a run, as opposed to the usual walk. This was due to the poxy weather. With rain and cold winds forecast we thought it best to have a quick hour and a half run, rather than spend four or five hours walking in the miserable weather.

Norbert got out of his car, resplendent in turquoise top and three quarter length lycra leggings. I, on the other hand, chose a fluorescent orange zip up jacket and full length black lycra leggings, with matching peaked beanie hat. I have to say we looked fanfeckingtastic. No full body photos though, as this would drive any women reading the blog wild and they'd forever look on their other halves as totally inadequate in comparison.

We decided to attempt the mighty "Manningtree Four Peaks".......what do you mean, you've never heard of them ? Starting near The Thorn in Mistley, we headed up the hill towards Wrabness, before coming back towards Lawford, up and down the hills. Halfway up the second hill Ruddski appeared out of nowhere in the support team Skoda offering words of wisdom, which were obviously ignored.

After about four miles we started up the main hill into Manningtree, a real killer and when it was just about starting to flatten off I heard Norbert shout "Stop! Stop!". I turned round and he was walking the last part of the hill. Dear reader, you will never know how much pleasure this gave me, the newly fit and ultra svelte 31 year old Jamie Slowgrove begging the 48 year old to stop because we was out of breath.

Yes, I realise I am a sad and pathetic man, but at that moment I was a sad and pathetic man with a huge smile on his face.

We continued around the lanes for another half our or so before ending back where we started, a good run of around seven miles.

24 March

This week we were meant to be in Yorkshire for a training session. Unfortunately, the ridiculous weather put paid to this and we called it off, to be re arranged sometime in April.

With The Silent Assassin due to be running a half marathon in Brentwood and no word from Norbert I set out by myself on Sunday morning for a hike wrapped up as if I was heading for the Arctic rather than north Essex.

Starting from Thorrington, I headed towards Frating, through Bluegates Farm into Alresford, through Cockaynes wood, onto Wivenhoe, Essex University, along the river back into Wivenhoe (yes, I know it's boring......imagine what it's like having to write this nonsense every week, for God's sake).

Some pictures of snow
A quick coffee and a snack (a slice of date crumble since you ask) before continuing along the river to Alresford creek, Tenpenny farm and back home. Despite the sub zero temperature and 30 mph easterly winds an enjoyable walk. No, really.

Monday 11 March 2013

Never Judge A Book By It's Cover

This weekend I was left to train by myself, as Norbert Slowgrove was on a weekend Stag "do" in Skegness, The Silent Assassin was otherwise engaged and The Manc Midgit was bed ridden with man flu (makes a change from sofa ridden with a bad knee).

With the weather being so miserable I decided on a run rather than a walk and did a big (for me) circuit around Great Bromley / Burnt Heath / Lawford / Manningtree / Little Bromley. A bitterly cold, dull day with nothing much to report, so on to more interesting matters.

Strolling Bones Team Manager Andy Rudd gave me a lift in his new Jaguar XKR sports car at the weekend. He pulled up dressed in his Hugo Boss suit and drove me around the lanes overlooking the Stour Estuary, until we came to a huge house on the outskirts of Mistley. We waited at the electric gates which slowly opened, whereupon Ruddski drove slowly up the long shingle drive, stopping only to say hello to his gardener. I was given a quick tour of the house before being told to leave (he'd caught me with some of the family silver in my pockets).

So, never judge a book by it's cover. Just because Ruddski turns up at work in his tatty old Skoda, dressed in a hideous yellow tank top and his Manningtree Comprehensive School (circa 1976) trousers, it doesn't mean he hasn't got a pot to piss in.

Sunday 3 March 2013

Stour Valley Trek

Me and Norbert Slowgrove met in Stratford St Mary at 9 on Saturday morning. Parked up in a layby, we were just about to make a start when two shady looking characters started eyeing Norbert's Audi TT (or it could have been my sexy Insignia Estate), so we moved up and parked in the village.

Norbert had been on a spend up and got out a brand new ruck sack and sky blue Berghaus jacket. It would have looked better if he'd taken the price tags off, but I thought it best not to mention it. From what I could make out the ticket said it was a "second" and was reduced from £99.99 to £29.99. Bargain. The man loves a deal.

We set off in the direction of Langham, down to the waterworks, up and down a few hills, then past Boxted Mill, and on to Thorington Street, where we had a quick stop for a bite to eat. I tucked into smoked salmon, cream cheese and caper bagels. I was apparently a "pretentious tosser", whilst Norbert had to make do with plastic bread and value chicken. 

After the welcome stop it was up a long steep hill to Withermarsh Green, Shelly, Rayden, Higham and then back to Stratford. 16.5 miles in exactly four hours, brisk walking with a bit of jogging mixed in.

We await news from Manchester as to whether The Manc Midgit's ankle held up this weekend. Hope so, we don't want another one dropping out

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Wardle Out in Injury Shocker !

STOP PRESS - Stuart "Football Head" Wardle has had to bail out of Trailtrekker 2013 due to alleged injury, which happened when he fell off his static bike in his garage, bruising his ribs, badly hurting his knee and making a large crack in the concrete floor.

His place will be taken by Ben "Marathon Man" Cooper, AKA The Silent Assassin , a twenty something veteran of many endurance events.

Oh well, every cloud's got a silver lining. The team gains a fit youngster and gets rid of a knackered old'un. That's life.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Why Try and Walk 100 km ?

Good question. day in November I was pondering my impending doom and stumbled across this Oxfam Trailtrekker challenge, which I thought seemed tough but achievable with a bit of training. And obviously we would raise money for a good cause along the way. There was a choice of three distances, 40 km, 60 km or 100 km, so having big egos it was obvious we would have to go for the 100 km.

I mentioned the idea to Jamie, Stewart and Andy and they were surprisingly keen, so we entered and now we have try and finish it. In case you don't know us, here are some photos which show us at our magnificent best.......

 Gale Light

Jamie Slowgrove

Stewart Wardle

Andy Window (actual size)

We have a support crew of Andy Rudd ( recently appointed manager ), James Fisher ( recently sacked as manager ) and Claude Butcher, plus one other. They will provide us with food, drink and fresh clothes at various checkpoints throughout the course.