Thursday, 21 April 2016

It will all work out alright in the end

Only one week to recover this year between the Calderdale Hike and the Fellsman but I was not too worried about that. I was worried that my left shin area was uncomfortable and Bob was still trying to pass me his cold. It would be my 5th Fellsman so I pretty much knew the way and what to expect. It would be Bob's first but we had done a fair few reccees.
Andy, Bob, Dick and Josie
The forecast changed day by day but at least it wasn't for torrential rain or gales. In the end it was mostly blue sky and quite warm, hot in the valleys in early afternoon and a bit chilly but not really cold around midnight. Oh and we got a bit of sleety snowy hail and mist on Fleet Moss to Middle Tongue. Possibly the best weather I have ever done it in although the ground conditions were perhaps the worst.
The only time I saw Mike until Sunday morning
We drove across early on Friday afternoon to put up flags, banners and display boards with Andy. Despite this we were not first in the registration line. Fortunately we were late enough for the parking field to be declared shut and we parked on tarmac at the school.
Bob- Fellsman virgin
By 7pm we were registered and kit checked and had left out drop bags too. Back in the van we had our evening meal and wondered what the weather would bring. Overnight the rain stopped and the wind dropped. It was chilly but not freezing cold. We had booked on the last bus and so had plenty of time for breakfast and final adjustments to our sacks.
Nick making sure he stays warm this year
Once on the bus it was clear there had been snow overnight on all the bigger peaks like Pendle, Ingleborough, Whernside etc but it did look more of a dusting than a serious amount. We breezed through the hall and collected out tallies before finding many friends to catch up with. Josie was nervous without Albert and Tony, especially Tony her nav man.

Aleks was there in sandals again although he had put socks on too. All too soon we were herded outside and our tallies got their first clip of the day. Suzanne had a quick chat, told of us snow still falling on the tops and we were off. I tried a different way out of the field this year. It had a short sharp pull up but was a little shorter. I am not sure there is much in it really. As we left the road and started our first big climb I could see Josie ahead and I  fell in with Mick C and Dave R. I felt I was really struggling to keep up and just did not feel in the zone. Tearful? what is that all about?

Descending the slightly wet rock did not improve my humour as 36 people overtook me. Having had two bad falls on rock I am now a real wuss. I tried to laugh it off but I was cross with myself. Still a few others did tumble and there are many miles and hours left at this stage so perhaps I was wise. Once off the flagstones and onto the lower paths I picked up the pace and set about regaining places.
Great photos from Racingsnakes
I did not blast it but by running and barely stopping at the CP I was back with friends like Dave R on the lower slopes of Whernside.
The start of my happy face
By the top I had overtaken a number and was starting to enjoy myself. It was a wonderful day to be out in the hills and my legs had now started to get into the zone. Despite the dusting of snow it was not really cold so long tights and two very thin thermals was all I needed.
Looking back to snow on Ingleborough
On my way to the trig point CP I met the winners and faster runners like Ian, Chris and others on their way down. Josie passed just before the top and shouted for me to catch her up. Jasmin also passed me but she was descending to the Hill Inn? I guessed she was not racing and just out for a run. Hmm, that means Josie and I were definitely at the sharp end and I needed to man up and make a proper effort. There was little rock now and as we got further down the ridge none at all so I started racing. Once over the slightly worrying tall aluminium stile it was just boggy and I could not believe how many people I was now overtaking.

At Kingsdale I grabbed a flapjack and stomped uphill closing on Josie and others. I did stop to catch my breath and admire the views but progress was good.

Soon I was on the little out and back to Gragareth summit and the friendliest marshalls on the hills.

It was as boggy as I ever remember it along the tops to Great Coum but I was with a small group and this kept the pace up even as we picked our way through the worst bits. From the trig CP I tried a slightly different line this year.

I didn't get it totally right as I crossed one band of rocks but it was otherwise drier, more direct and more runnable than the wet by the wall. I had been dreading the stony track down to Dent as I had opted for grip not comfort but in the end it was fine and I met Josie in the campsite field. She was having a bit of a nightmare as her too small sack meant she also had a bum bag which was uncomfortable and her water bottle had been crushed and split. I have gradually learnt how to be efficient at CPs. Knowing what would be available helped and I planned ahead. Grab some orange pieces, ask for a cup of tea, top up may water and take a cheese and onion roll. Leave the field walking with the tea and roll. 5 minutes at each CP, even just road side ones easily adds up to an hour not running. I couldn't help Josie, except to suggest she rummaged in the bin for a bottle, so I pushed on. It was now very warm in the valley and running along the lanes totally alone I got hot. I was regretting the thick tights I had on but knew later I would be grateful and I had not wanted to paff with leg cover at dusk when the rules insist on it.

Climbing the big track to the shoulder of Whernside I could see other runners ahead and I tried to reel them in. I didn't catch them up but did get closer. By the time it was time to leave the track people were taking many different lines.

I stuck to my plan and left before the ruin and found the trod to the fence line. It was very wet in the valley before Blea Moor but it always is and being light helps so I stuck to my shortest line route and headed for the cap of peat hags that were my guide. I caught one guy just at the CP.

A quick stop to admire the view and chat to the marshalls and I was off towards Stonehouse and more food. What a motivation! I tried to shout the guy back when he missed the fence climb to the trod but it was too windy. The mud in the forest section was a bit grim but I was soon at Dent Head Farm, minus the turkey now, and then the lanes alongside the river.
Thanks Laura Sportsunday

I ran this section alone and it was nice to see supporters out at the bridge, including Jane and Laura who both took nice photos of me. The CP staff here are amazing and had a new fancy dress theme of super heroes this year.

They also had a nifty foot operated water filler. I stopped for pasta, two pieces of cake and a cup of tea. I must have woofed it down because I left only just behind a group that had been some way ahead of me.
Thanks Jane
Careful not to run just yet I stomped up Artengill beck. I can stomp fast. In fact for me it can be as fast as running up hills and seems to use much less energy. I gained places here and felt good with all the food inside me.
Thanks David Sportsunday
It is a long pull up but Dave from Sportsunday was there to cheer us on and eventually the stone stile appeared. I was lucky to have company all the way up and down Great Knoutberry which motivated me to keep up the pace. I love the run down off this hill, no rocks and not so steep it hurts. It is also useful to see who is just behind and to feel good about who you area head of now. I did not see Josie at all and was worried about where she had got to. The run to Redshaw is easy and in good weather finding the best line is no problem. It was here that I caught Dave, Terry, John and others. I grabbed even more food and set off out the door with a banana. Leaving the CP we all suddenly felt the chill eats wind moving up the valley and had to stop to put cags and gloves on. They were moving at a good pace but we still had time to chat and put the world to rights. Snaizeholme arrived in a blur and we were off up the easy path to Cam road which had been newly surfaced (perhaps for a big cycle race?). I felt I was starting to struggle with the pace but they were keen for us to be a foursome and run together until we were grouped. At the trod to Dodd I was still with them and I hung on down the other side. We arrived at Fleet Moss together but it was starting to take its toll on me. Time for more food, although we were all pretty efficient with this and did not take long. I was carrying food but it was mostly sweet (you'd think I had learnt by now) so the CPs with real food like hotdogs, soup and stew were wonderful.
Determined but slowing -Racingsnakes
It was still early here so we were in no danger of being grouped and about 10 of us set off on various lines across Fleet Moss and onwards. The weather closed in at this point with a nice flurry of snowy sleety hail and some bad visibility but I knew the way, as did most others, and we pushed on hard. At least it was getting hard for me. Hugh and his dad were with us now and I felt happier that I was no longer the slowest in the pack. I did doubt Dave's line to Middle Tongue but stuck with the group regardless. Their pace probably compensated for the rougher ground anyway. After the CP I had intended to drop a little to easier ground before the fence and wall but I stuck with the group for company. On this section Dave and a few faster runners pulled ahead and a couple also dropped behind. At Hells Gap which was unmanned this year I caught Terry who also had suffered from the fast pace. A quick wee stop at a wall and I was flying down to Cray. The CP was in the new cattle pens and I stopped for food again. Here 6 of us were grouped as dusk was looming. It was cozy in the CP but once out we decided it was chilly and most of us had our primaloft jackets on (great advert for Montane it would have been).

After a short discussion we stuck to the left hand path and soon emerged at the top of Buckden Pike.

It was almost sunset and the temperature was dropping. Having got the climb over with I now wanted to run, well jog. It is one of the frustrations of grouping that you cannot always move at the pace you would prefer.
Our 6

 I told myself we were still moving OK and tried to chivy things along. The flagstones were still fine but the stiles were now getting a very thin coating of ice.
Thanks to Aleks for photo
The pallets in the wall corner were lethal and one of our group was decked but fortunately not hurt. As we approached Top Mere we still felt no need for torches and had also got a little spread out. We were reprimanded by the marshalls who also insisted we donned our torches.
Our group of 6 were not really at the same pace now although we stuck together as we jogged towards Park Rash. Here we met two sad souls who had been waiting for a group for over 20 minutes. We broke our group of 6 and two of us offered to join them. The admin took a few minutes but we grabbed food and were ready for the off. On the steep section of Great Whernside I was regretting my enthusiasm for more pace and slowed the group a little. I hope my route knowledge made up for this from there to the finish. Once we had broken through the wall and were on the diagonal path we jogged and the lights of the other group fell away behind us. We left the top in high spirits knowing that the last big climb was over. The fence line route was very very wet and I wondered if we should have dropped to the alternative but despite the wet and bogs we were still moving quite fast. Brian and friend were making the pace with Stuart (who I had met on a reccee) and I controlling the lines. Great team work. It was properly dark now but we all had decent torches and the ground was not too bad. I needed more food but did not want to slow us down so just forced two gels down as we ran on. From Capplestone Gate the terrain gets easier and the grassy paths are a joy. We didn't manage to run every step of this but we tried. The numerous beacons (I am sure there were more this year) drew us on and seemed to be insisting we ran faster. The gels were perhaps one too many because as we approached Yarnbury I knew I was going to be sick. We de-grouped, refused all offers of food etc and set off for home. Brian and friend soon disappeared. I was sick but managed to keep Stuart in my sights even though I was unable to catch him up. Down the tarmac which did not hurt my quads as much as previously (please dont suggest I had not been trying hard enough), through the sleepy village, down to the river and one last stomp up the other side before running into the school. At Redshaw I had been on for 14.5 hours which would have been a huge PB. As it was I lost time from Cray to Park Rash. I was happy with 15 hrs 45 and slumped in my chair. Amazingly I was first lady as Jasmin did not run and Nicky etc had not entered. It is probably the slowest win in recent years but I don't care, plus it was muddy and many times were about an hour slower than usual. It was alright in the end!
I was glad I had planned ahead and left a drop bag. I hobbled round to collect it and then sat in the showers. It was a battle getting shoes and clothes off but I was determined to get a shower. It was hot and forceful. My feet were suddenly painful and the toes on my right foot started going an alarming purple blush. I struggled into skins, more clothes and then hobbled round to the van and bed. It was cold enough for me to put the heater on for an hour or so and I couldn't sleep at first as my hips just wouldn't get comfy.I remember wondering where Bob was and how he was doing as I drank a recovery shake and then fell asleep. I was up before 7am to find the van was very cold and just 0.5C. I threw clothes on and wandered in to the school for a toilet and food. I ate more and more breakfast and sat chatting. I didn't actually feel too bad really. I am sure the skins and recovery shake do work and the soft ground meant my legs were less trashed than often.
Photo- Racingsnakes
Suzanne did a great prize giving although I did feel a bit of a fraud as first lady. Patagonia had given incredibly generous prizes which made it even more worth while. Runfurther and my friends had done well. Ian S, Martin , Chris , Mick, Andy, Nick, Dick, and more. Josie was second lady and had managed without Tony to guide her. Andy and I moved outside to get the flags down and John V came to help. It was a crisp bright morning and I was keen to get out and find Bob.

My recovery 'run' involved a fast stomp up to Yarnbury! Just before the CP I spotted him- stooped, twisted and bent over to one side. He had hurt his back in the dark on Fleet Moss and had been like that ever since to ease the pain. I told him there was a V70 trophy with his name on it and he must keep moving. I walked down the hill with him and a friend he had made Dave.It seemed to take forever but he was beyond running. I was very worried when he hugged the wall at the river but he made it up the slope and jogged into the school.

I pushed Bob to move into the hall and fetched him food. He had his own mini presentation and it was good to see the fuss they made of him after his efforts.

It is a tough event  at 61 miles and 11,000foot of climb but a great organisation and a lovely route. Despite the tough terrain and climbs there are long cut-offs as it started as a walkers event which means many people can have a go. There were awards for people who had completed 10,20,30 and even 40 events. I don't see how I can make 40 as I would be in my mid 90s then but it might be nice to complete 10 Fellsmans.
So a fantastic weekend that finished with a great family double with two trophies and a shed load of voucher value from Patagonia! After all it will be alright in the end!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Calderdale Hike

Race number 2 in the Runfurther series again. We have sometimes run this in glorious weather and sunbathed on the cricket field at the end. The weather forecast suggested this was not going to happen this year. Bob and I parked the van just before dark on Friday and were joined by Carmine for a night cap and natter. It rained overnight (and there was a party at the cricket club pavilion) which combined with Bob's bad cold and snoring meant a disturbed night and 5.45am arrived all to soon.

Carmine was a great help putting up the flags and banners which meant Bob could make use of the early start, eat his breakfast and set off early with the 'long walkers'.

We hoped this would mean we might finish closer together in time. I seemed to have hours to spare but only just noticed the change to one of the CPs and even then did not consider whether it meant a different route might be wise. I did at least have time to present Les Hill with a prize I have kept for him since 2014.

Before 9am we were assembled outside and trying to get used to the days weather. At 6am long tights had seemed sensible but now I was thinking perhaps I should have stuck to my original plan of shorts.

I also had two thin thermals on, but not for long. This year more people had recceed the route and the field split more evenly. The steep steps were treacherous and I wished I had gone another way but even though we skidded and picked our way down (and little Dave fell) it was faster than the road route. Runners on the shorter 26 mile route set off with us so it was difficult to know how your pace was and I hoped I was not off at too fast a trot. Probably not as Nicky S was soon out of sight and Lucy on the shorter course also pulled steadily away over the first 10 miles. I was however surprised to find I was not the most timid on some of the greasy descents and was able to catch a small group, guide them through to the main road and into the Ryeburn valley. Somewhere around here a settled into running with Simon and in the end we stayed together for virtually all of the race. I was enjoying the day out but suspect I was not truly racing as I had time to notice the wonderful old farm buildings before we headed out onto the moors. Here I struggled to run and should really have pushed myself harder. I did catch Simon again but only by taking a better line down to the goyt. There was no evil hail storm this year and I was soon past the Rishworth reservoir CP and moving towards the M62. Last year I had stuck to the fell route and been overtaken by Andy. This year after shouts and waves with SportSunday photographers David and Laura I opted for the road and verge route. Simon came with me. Despite face planting after tripping on a metal hoop of litter and walking the steepest bit of road after the motorway we caught and overtook runners on the moorland route. Running back along the Pennine Way path allowed us to see who was just behind us and it does help spur you on.

 The flagstones across towards Blackstone Edge were easy (no bog and no ice) and I found my trod that would allow us to break through the lower end of the ridge to join yet another goyt. The terrain down is a little rough but the run along the goyt is flat, wide and easy. It is possibly further than over the tops but I knew the top would be a peaty mess with boulders to trip tired legs. Again, it paid off and we overtook several faster runners. Two of these who arrived at the CP just behind us must have then made other errors because we never saw them again.
Not race day but this guy with horse and cart went up and down twice
At the White House we refilled water and I grabbed a sandwich. It said jam on the packet but there was so little jam it was hard to identify the colour never mind the flavour! Simon was now appreciating my route finding on the fastest lines and it was helping me to keep up a reasonable if not blasting pace. The route past the Moorcock pub is definitely the best way to Sladen Fold and the canal. It was warm here and I was regretting my long thick tights. I did stop to remove one top.

It never occurred to me that moving the 'stepping stones' CP to Coolam meant there might be an alternative route but I believe some did go north along the canal before turning west. To be honest I was just irritated that it now drew more people onto my route near Trough End after the CP. We flogged up to the moor and the wind turbines.

The new road is now very runnable but this is a significant hill and I wonder if those who stayed on the canal tow path and approached Coolam from the east had much less climb. I will need to check a map to see whether this is a better option. The path after the turbine road was boggy and wet. Up ahead I spotted an orange shirt and knew it would be Bob.
I had been wondering when I would catch his two hour lead. The new CP is a small diversion- apparently the radio reception is better there- and then we were off up Trough End.
NOT race day- going the opposite way!
Bob was still ahead and although we were gaining it took an age to catch him.  He had taken a tumble and bashed his head but was moving well on the path towards Slate Pit despite this and his cold. We chatted briefly before Simon and I pulled away and on to the roadside CP. Several CPs this year had bananas I was enjoying them- never can tell for sure what I will like and what will go down well on the day.

Perhaps the entry numbers were down this year but I seemed to be running miles without seeing other runners compared to the previous year. We had overtaken walkers but not seen any runners since the White House and in fact did not see any from here to the end. It meant I settled into an OK pace but was not chasing as hard as perhaps I could have done. The path near the mountain bike track was less muddy than I expected and we were soon down in Cornholme on the edge of Todmorden.
So many turbines now
I took this next section far too easily and plodded up hill before a chat with the marshalls at the top. Running but not really racing? It was super muddy along the section to the golf club and this slowed me a bit. All of this section is shared with the Haworth Hobble and the navigation is therefore easy.

On the climb to Lumbutts church I took the opportunity to eat and drink  more before grabbing yet another banana and refilling my water bottle.
Stone sheep in Mankinholes
Stoodley Pike stood proud on the hill top and it was a relief to know we did not have to climb all the way up there today. The landslip on London Road was a mess of mud but soon negotiated. This track should be very runnable but we were getting tired. I looked across to Heptonstall and urged my legs to feel happy they were not being thrashed on the descent to Hebden and the climb up to Heptonstall.

We trotted on and past even more walkers now people who had done the shorter route had joined back on. Descending to Dauber bridge felt tough on the steep concrete track and eroded path. It is quite direct but steep down and then just as steeply up to Nab End. Last year Chris caught me here and dragged me along at quite a pace. Today I was setting the pace, but not as hard. Nearly there now. I knew I had not been trying as hard because once past the last CP I was able to run and run, whereas last year I was close to throwing up and had to walk at least twice. I pulled ahead of Simon and concentrated on trying hard to get inside the 7 hours. It was not quite to be; 7 hours 1 minute. It wasn't a sprint finish through the village and I did contemplate leaping the wall from the tennis club and across the cricket field but what is a minute really?  I was surprised to hand over my tally card and see Bob already sitting there. He had retired at Slate Pit after the CP staff were concerned at a head injury. In fact his ribs now hurt from landing on his poles and his cold was not helping matters. I thanked Simon for his company and settled into some serious refuelling (baked potato, tea, yogurts, more tea, fruit salad, more tea!) Some people I think I only run because then I can eat and eat but I am sure they are wrong.

I managed to cheer Mick C  and Carmine home and only just missed Nick when I was getting changed. Andy appeared a bit later having been forced to walk by his cold/ man flu. Dick also got round despite the snow that hit the later runners for the last 45 minutes or so.
Eventually I went to the van to change and get clean. At first I had thought I was just 8 minutes slower than last year which is perhaps OK given the mud and few runners to chase. Then I realised it was 18 minutes and I was more disappointed. Nicky had a great run finishing in 6 hrs 18 which just proves that I only get my name on the trophy when the best runners do not turn up. This was all made more interesting coming on the back of a conversation with Carmine the night before. He now has a coach and is concentrating on fewer races, more specific training and so aiming for quality. I am sure that this would improve my pace too but somehow it is not for me. I do not really plan my year and have races that I target to win or even do especially well at. I just pick races I like, fit them all in the best I can and enjoy my long days out. Picking just a few and training just for them would for me remove some of the joy. I am competitive in some ways because I hate the idea of dnf, will push myself to complete almost whatever the issue and I do like beating people and doing well but not so competitive that I want to improve pace at the loss of some long days out. Anyway, race 2 of the Runfurther season completed. Now I just have to coax the sore throat into disappearing before the Fellsman next week and figure out what to do about the old injury flare up in my lower left leg.
Weird shape, all lumpy, but now also sore all down shin
The joys of getting older!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

A few more miles in the legs (and a wimp out)

I discovered the LDWA Blubberhouses 25 event back in 2011 and I used it when I needed lots of local and cheap long races again in 2013, my ultra year. It's not really so far along the A59 and is a lovely route. This year we went across the night before and slept in the van so we even got a lie in. Fog or mist were forecast but when we emerged at 7am there was neither and the night's rain had stopped. I never know who I will see at events over the Pennines but as usual there were some friendly faces like Adrian on registration and runners from  Harrogate and Otley who I had not seen for some time.

Registration was swift and I went to check the wall map in case there were any changes or bits I could not remember. I hoped that my shoe choice would not let me down. I had opted for Hokas as I knew that the stony track from the moors to Bolton Abbey would be hard on my feet. The latest ones don't look quite so daft and have fairly good grip for most trails.

After the compulsory multiple toilet visits I decided it was time to take some layers off and aclimatise outside, just as the air started to feel damp! Reluctantly I put my cag on, all the time knowing that I would be far too warm unless it poured down.

A quick word from the RO and we were off. This race is quite unusual in that it starts with a fairly long and even steep downhill. The pace was furious and before the dam I was worrying. A brief queue at the self clip gave some respite but not enough. I should have gone for a proper warm up instead of chatting but it was too late now. I even had to slow to a walk a couple of times and felt a bit pathetic as other runners bounded past. It should be easy on the well graded path along the side of the reservoirs which just made walking even more embarrassing. A stop to remove my cag did not help matters. I was therefore surprised to see Helen and others only just ahead as we reached the A59 for the first crossing and this motivated me as we turned up the Washburn valley.

This was muddier than I expected but the path is wide and there was no real fear of slipping over. I worked hard to gain back some places but then Helen and others slipped ahead again by staying on the right hand side of the river and avoiding a small lump of hill. Most of us seemed to just flow through this CP with very few stopping for food or water.

A short section on lanes upped the pace yet again and it stayed that way until we crossed the stile onto the moor. Even here the forecast mist was missing and we could see runners up ahead. At last the pace for many of us was settling down and although we ran most of the big track we sensibly conserved some energy on the steeper hills.
Arriving at the Rocking Stone shooting house we were greeted by cheery marshalls who just seemed a little disappointed that nobody wanted to stop and go inside for food. We were all on a mission - off on the big tracks and down, down, down to Bolton Park farm. The track is quite stony and as it is sunken there is no grass verge. This is where I was glad to be wearing my Hokas although even then I switched to the grass as soon as we reached the fields. The path through the woods above the Abbey seemed shorter than I remembered and it was nice to have enough route knowledge to shout back a guy who almost missed the self clip. We trudged up the walled lane and then shot through the next CP. I knew I must eat and so grabbed a homemade flapjack from my sack. It wasn't the best place to try to eat as there were so many stiles and I was still trying to run fast.

 Climbing up out of Deerstones Helen caught me up and we overtook a younger girl at the CP. The climb up Beamsey Beacon was the last big climb but it was soon over.

 The next section over the tops to Round Hill was muddy but not too bad. I settled in on Helen's heels and we made great progress. Leaving Round Hill and turning east was a different matter. As the path got steeper and very narrow I lost control. It apparently looked quite comical from behind as my arms and legs windmilled in the hope of keeping me upright. I knew it was a lost cause and just waited for a soft spot of heather to collapse in. The flatter section before Ellercarr Pike was wet and everyone was slipping regardless of footwear. From this CP I thought we had 5 more miles and so was pleasantly surprised to be told it should be less than 4 as the whole race was no longer 25 miles. I managed quite well along the first lanes but the pace was up again and before Timble I allowed my legs to win and I slowed to a walk. With less than 2 miles to go this was a bit pathetic but I did not have a race head on. Perhaps I needed more food and had just not realised or perhaps I was just being a wimp.

I soon got going again and enjoyed the muddy green lane and fields back to the woods by the reservoir.  A skid at a gate pulled my leg and climbing down over the stile to the dam wall was an effort. I did run across the dam but then gave in again on the road for a short section. The few fields to the top are too steep to run fast but I did jog up most and then the short section of road and back to the hall. My garmin said 3 hr 52 and a bit which they rounded up to 3 hrs 53. So I have done this race 3 times 2011, 2013, 2016 and each time despite different ground conditions, very different weather etc my time has been exactly the same. I guess being positive I could argue that 5 years on I should be pleased not to have got any slower but I know in my heart that with a bit more guts I could have shaved off a minute or two at the end this year. No point saying 'If only..'
It was great to sit and chat with Helen and the locals. The food was wonderful- really tasty stew that slipped down a treat and so many cups of tea. I did boil a kettle in the van and wash before enjoying a cup of coffee in the sunshine and stretching like a good girl.

I wandered down to the fields just in time to see Bob and a small group with Sarah F and Matt Po appear over the stiles. A great day and rounded off with a leisurely drive to Ilkley, more coffee and sun plus a visit to family.

 Even better when we arrived home the boys had cooked the tea.