Archive for the ‘Random wifflings’ Category

Up to Galloway

Posted: June 10, 2015 in Random wifflings
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We don’t get many holidays, mostly because of my lawyer wife’s crazy working hours. But we were lucky enough to go to Scotland to stay with my cousin on Monday 25th May. After an incredibly stressful journey (cracked windscreen, near accident, open door on the motorway) we spent two brilliant nights up in Galloway. Benny caught his first fish (a pike!) we went to the seaside and did a spot of grass sledging.

Anyway, the reason for this is not to tell you the tedious ins and outs of my life, but to furnish you with the latest in my exhilarating series of pictures of rocks on hills. Here’s Benny at Bruce’s Stone in Glen Trool, a memorial to Robert the Bruce’s victory there over the English in 1307. This time, we had to make do with a short hike, but we’ll scale the hills on our next visit. Still, a fine day out.

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Small Viking, medium rock, big glen.

 


This Sunday gone (26th April), Benny and I ascended Blackstone Edge. My boy’s quite a hardy little walker, although I suppose he doesn’t really have much choice, and he had a great time clambering over the rocks on the summit. He only had one meltdown about how far we had to go, about normal for him. Once he gets over that, he genuinely can go for miles at some speed. In fact, he insists on running large stretches of our walks.

I’d been on my good pal Jes Bickham’s stag-do the night before and had consumed prodigious quantities of booze. So a walk up a wind-blasted hill was just the ticket to reinvigorate my half-poisoned organism.

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The summit of the ridge looking Northwest. The trigonometry point is visible to the right. The dark hill in the far distance is Pendle Hill, about 15 miles away. At 557m it’s the tallest hill in the area, and a candidate for genuine mountainhood.

Blackstone Edge is a high ridge topped by large millstone grit formations. I’ve never been up there, despite growing up in the area. Here the Pennines plunge dramatically down to the Lancashire/Cheshire plain, and you can see for miles. All the towns from Littleborough to Manchester are laid out like models, and in the distance is the grey band of the Welsh mountains. To the north the height of hills round Calderdale obscure the view, but you can see far south into the Peak District. The Pennines stretch off like broken teeth, giving one a firm impression of geographical decrepitude. In these brown stumps are the memories of long dead mountains.

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This is the view to the Southwest. The hills pretty much just stop here, plunging three hundred metres straight down to the plain. Blackstone Edge is 447 metres tall, and affords fantastic views. Hollingworth Lake and Littleborough are in the foreground. Rochdale beyond. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you can see on the horizon a dark bar in the haze. That’s Wales, well over 65 miles away.

This was our second attempt to climb the hill. The first time we were blasted back by a frigid wind that tortured our gloveless hands. A foolish oversight on my part, as I should have known better. The weather in the valleys has been unseasonably clement, and tricked me. Blackstone Edge is, however, terribly exposed, very high and therefore bloody freezing.

If you fancy going yourself, park by the White House pub off the A58. The walk to the top is around three miles. As a note of further interest, there’s an old paved road on the way. For many years this was believed to be Roman, but it’s now believed to be a packhorse route or turnpike dating from the early 18th century.

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A bold six-year-old explorer freezing his nuts off on Sunday 19th April as he surveys the lands of Lancashire. After restorative sausage rolls by the old road, we were forced to turn back for base camp.

Happy springtime

Posted: April 10, 2015 in Random wifflings

It’s spring! Blossom on the trees, lambs in the fields, the chatter of birds in the woods and heather, the sun showing his happy smiley face. Predictably, I’ve been miserable. My misery won’t last long, indeed it passes already. Tis only a black cloud that momentarily obscures the shining brilliance of my cheerful personality (note: this is irony). The end of winter always kills me. I love the cold weather, but four months of DARK gets too much, and by the end I am an embittered, scowly-faced hobgoblin that wants to stay in its hole, nurse its beer and spit curses at the world. Some people who know me well might say that’s me anyway. True, but only half the time. Generally, I’m that most peculiar of creatures, a misanthropic extrovert. It’s like being a bloody werewolf, honestly. This time of the year I am the goblin most of the time. So I’ve been sulkily away from the internets, plotting the downfall of the surface folk from the cold comforts of my damp, earthern cave. I don’t think my work patterns help much, all that sitting alone. And it may be that after producing fourteen novels worth of material in five years I have burned myself out a bit. But in truth, this post-winter misery used to be lots worse back in my genuine crazy-ass days (I’ll get round to writing about that). Still, as the sun burns off my entirely self-indulgent woe, I return to you now. And I bring you this by Chuck Wendig, about why so many writers’ blogs are bobbins, including, I fear, this one. I should follow his advice. I intermittently do, when I can’t be bothered. Today is not one of those days.


Terry Pratchett had a big influence on me; reading his work was one of the prods that poked me in the direction of the career I now have, so I’m going to join my voice to that of the rest of the world and mourn his passing.

I remember first being exposed to Sir Terry’s work by reading an excerpt back in the 1980s in White Dwarf. The scene was the one featuring the gnome in moleskin trousers (The Light Fantastic, I think. Aficionados may know better, please set me right if it was The Colour of Magic). I picked up his first two Discworld books on the back of that, and for several years read everything he wrote. Eventually I moved on, simply because I wanted to experience other authors’ voices and worlds. But years after, when I read some of his later books, I was delighted to see that they retained their quality and wit. He did not seem to grow tired or jaded with Discworld, it was an engine of endless creativity and satire, and in that it seemed to be as much a source of delight to him as it was to his readers. (more…)

Haley: The Next Generation V

Posted: February 13, 2015 in Random wifflings
Tags: , ,

On Monday my sister-in-law gave birth to this lovely little lady here.

IMG_2738This is Louisa May Haley, my new niece. May is for my grandma, Louisa just because.

Louisa’s advent signifies two important things. Number one, although I have female cousins, she is the first female Haley in my immediate family. I have four brothers, a son, and three nephews. My mum knitted Garth (Louisa’s father, and the second brother in our family) a full set of clothes in girly pink just before he was born. He was a boy (obviously). She’s taken them out again for each subsequent birth in the family only to put them away again. After 41 years of waiting, our mum finally has someone to give the outfit to. Secondly, together my brothers and I now have five children, and so have reached replacement rate. Our plans to make sure every third person in the north is a member of our clan by 2200 AD proceeds apace.

It’s lovely to have a girl in the family. I can only hope she grows up into a world where women have a lot less nonsense to put up with.


510MnSuGPtL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX324_SY324_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA346_SH20_OU02_A couple of years ago I wrote about my youngest, football-mad brother Ralf’s epic quest around Europe to play in just one professional football match, anywhere. He was accompanied by my middle brother Tristan (whose floorboards I spent some time under today, funnily enough. It’s a family thing. We live like borrowers), a film cameraman, who shot the whole enterprise for a documentary – when he wasn’t trying to get them both drunk. Much hilarity ensued.

Although the film is (still) not finished, Ralf has actually managed to complete the accompanying book, and here it is! A very amusing tale of Ralf’s heroic idiocy and somewhat misplaced belief in his own sporting skills, it is available to buy here. Early reviews compare it favourably with Dave Gorman and the like, which is high praise.

Hang on a minute, I’m supposed to be the author in this family, why I oughta…

Ahem. Anyway. If you want to see Ralf in action for real, here’s a repeat of the film trailer. This really is worth seeing.