For Andy, who wonders why we need to worry about wild pigs over here

31 October, 2009

wild boar

Andy wasn’t sure why Phil needed to carry a deadly weapon funny stick to deal with wild pigs. But Wee Piglet and I know why…


Is Blogspot broken today?

31 October, 2009


I can’t get into any Blogspot blogs to reply to comments. It’s been going on since this morning. Hmmm…

Ooooh! Brilliant!!

31 October, 2009


Ye Olde Slowman mentioned to me a brillzville TV programme that I somehow overlooked last year. That’ll be because it wasn’t shown on the Cookery Channel.

However, I’m just settling into Episode 1 of Maestro, the story of 6 peeps competing to learn how to conduct an orchestra. I bet quite a lot of y’all saw it when it was first on. Doh…

Meanwhile, my wholemeal bread rolls are proving (ha! I hope…) downstairs in a bin liner. I made some mixed seed ones yesterday, and I think I can accurately state, without fear of contradiction, that they were just about the most noxious and lead-ridden lumps of dough ever to emerge from a mixing bowl. I ate a bit of one this morning, and I don’t want to go into too much detail at what’s still vaguely lunchtime, but if I explain that it involved an immediate dash to a small room upstairs and an extremely uncomfortable 10 minute hiatus then I’m sure you’ll get the picture.

Weevils in the flour, perhaps? Hmmm… or maybe Piglet and Piss-Piss had some sort of secret input?? I dunno, but I hope the new batch bears absolutely no relation to last night’s revolting bleuch.

Antibiotics and steroids

30 October, 2009

piglet exhausted

Poor Piggly.

The vet says the patches on the fronts of her legs have been infected, and that it’s a kind of dermatitis, probably caused by the rubbing of the coat. He also confirmed that she’s come into season, 2 months earlier than expected. Apparently dogs’ immune systems are a little lower than usual when they’re in season, and he said that because of that she may well have reacted more strongly than she otherwise would have done to the rubbing of the coat.

He also removed a tick from the side of Piggly’s face. I found it this morning as we were having pre-vet cuddles.

So, Piglet’s now on antibiotics and steroids for a week. The purpose of the steroids is to reduce the itching, but if she can’t stop licking her legs in the next few days then she’ll have to wear a collar too. In the light of all that it’s clearly a good job we came home.

It just goes to show that it’s impossible sometimes to know what to do for the best. I thought the little softshell coat would have been just right–certainly it kept her bone dry on Loughrigg despite some truly horrendous wind and driving rain–and perhaps it would have been had it not been for Piglet’s depressed immune system. I now wish we’d stuck with her little Equafleece, though, which doesn’t extend down her legs and has no cuffs.

I got P a nice Herta harness too before we left, but I’m dumping that because the buckle rubbed some fur away behind her elbow 😦 I do think she needs a harness in the Lakes, but perhaps we’ll take a closer look at the Ruffwear one, which seems to be more padded. We met a Parson’s Jack Russell wearing one near Coniston Old Man two days ago, and the owners said it was great.

Interestingly, the vet does believe it’s important for small dogs like Piglet to wear coats in foul weather. I got her a coat because she sometimes shivers without one when we’re walking. It seemed obvious that she was cold. Doh… But over on the BT website that I regularly read I was promptly lambasted by a few moronic unimaginative owners/breeders who seem wedded to the idea that Borders have waterproof coats and should Never Have To Wear Anything Else. One of them–both a breeder and a judge–actually referred to dogs who need extra insulation as “cissies”. Um, hello?? I felt transported straight back to infants’ school. Then again, I suspect that many of their dogs never walk more than a mile, and only in decent weather. They’re show dogs who spend much of their free time standing around on tables in halls, simpering at judges.

So, once again: poor Piglet! I really thought she’d love the Wainwrights, and believed I’d done everything possible to kit her out properly. Now it turns out that I failed to notice the beginnings of the problem with her legs, because clearly it can’t all have happened the day before we came home.

I hate to sound trite, but…

29 October, 2009

Alex Stobbs -- A Passion for Life

…if anybody feeling overwhelmed by life’s challenges didn’t watch Alex: A Passion for Life then you should go and watch it now.

I can’t think how I came to miss it. I found it this evening when checking up on Cutting Edge, one of my favourite documentary series, and discovered that it had been on before I went to the Lakes. It’s the follow-up to the documentary made a couple of years ago about Alex Stobbs, a schoolboy music scholar (at the time) suffering from cystic fibrosis, but with an ambition to conduct Bach’s Magnificat. Now he’s at Cambridge, and this second documentary is about his attempt to conduct the St. Matthew Passion.

I knew it was coming up, but somehow I didn’t see any adverts for it before I went away. Fortunately it’s still available on Channel 4 on Demand, and if anything was going to put a few drizzly days on some slippery hills into context for me then this was definitely it.

It’s utterly inspiring stuff, whether you love the St. Matthew Passion or not, but if you *do* love the music (as I do) then it’s simply transporting.

I think I’ll put the chicken in the oven and go and watch it again.

Edited to add:
Listening to this wee bit of the St. Matthew Passion on the way to and from court each day helped me to win the biggest case I ever did as a lawyer, quite a long time ago now. The whole drama of the thing–all the ups and downs and nuances of cross-examination–was there in the music. Nothing beats music.


29 October, 2009
Exhausted Piglet relaxing with her rat

Exhausted Piglet relaxing with her rat

Well, we’re home, and both pretty relieved about it.

The journey was much less painful than it might have been: only 2 hours from Windermere to chez nous. A friendly assistant at Booth’s in Windermere held Piglet in the porch for me for 10 minutes so that I could zip round and stock up on salad and chicken and goat’s cheese, and now I don’t have to nip into town to get something yummy for dinner. (Pity I forgot the milk, but c’est la vie!)

On the way from the station to the house we popped into the vet’s but Piggly’s favourite isn’t in until tomorrow, so we’ll go in the morning and see what he has to say.

Piglet seemed overjoyed to be back in the house. She raced from room to room and then into the garden, and it was only when I spotted her dashing past like a brown and black blur with something pink in her mouth that I realised she’d grabbed a poor soft piglet from a place she isn’t normally allowed to go, and tossed it around in the garden. Wee monster! The poor thing is now muddied, but recovering with a stiff gin and the company of the other piglets on top of the drinks cabinet.

It’s a shame we didn’t complete the walk, but it became clear to me fairly quickly that (i) the exercise was going to take longer than I’d anticipated, and (ii) that Piglet wasn’t wholeheartedly committed to it. I think I was, but I’ve learned quite a lot in a short space of time, and one of the things I’ve learned is that reining in/dragging along an alternately over-enthusiastic/reluctant wee terrier on an extending lead adds considerably to the burden of what at this time of the year up there is already quite a challenging day.

Having to drag Piglet along is simply not what walkies is supposed to be about, and when I woke in the night on Wetherlam to find her shaking–not cold, but frightened (I assume) by the way the wind was buffeting the tent–I felt it really wasn’t fair. When the following day I realised that what a couple of days earlier I’d assumed to be marks left by a tick on one of her front legs had actually been the beginnings of a large sore created by the rubbing of her coat cuff on her leg it seemed clear that it was time for a re-think. I was unsure last night about what to do for the best, but despite the improvement in the weather today I’m quite sure now that I did the right thing. Despite having purchased a new rucksack. Doh… Does anyone want an Osprey Ariel, size small?

I have to say that even if I’d not had Piglet with me I’m unsure about whether I’d have been able to complete the Wainwrights in the sort of weather we encountered up there. Bad weather is only to be expected in the Lakes at this time of year, of course, and I did expect it, but it’s demoralising when it happens every day; and it’s also very clear that the exercise requires much more planning than I put into it. The Joss Naylor route is a great one, but it’s clear to me now that it doesn’t really suit a person with a penchant for regular descents to pubs with warm fires, restorative beers and bowls of crisply sizzling chips. Maybe I could have done it, or maybe not. What I *do* know, though, is that as I struggled along in virtually nil visibility, with my boots slipping and sliding on rocky ascents and praying that my pack wouldn’t tilt to one side so suddenly that I was unable to correct it, with the consequence that it dragged me off the side of the hill, stranding Piglet alone and unprotected, I thought many times of what Steve Perry achieved on the Munros back in the winter of 2005-6, and marvelled with a whole new insight at his fortitude and determination.

I’m still keen to complete the Wainrights with Piglet, but I think we’ll approach it as a series of day walks instead. As I was travelling home it occurred to me that a camper van would be a very nice way to do it, but since I haven’t got a camper van yet that’ll have to remain a pipe dream for now. In the meantime, Piggly and I will be delighted to go walking up some Wainrights with any of y’all who may be up for it from time to time.

Right! Now it’s time for a shower, and then I’m going to cook something to eat. After that I’m going to see whether I can find any episodes of The Restaurant on TV on Demand. I was horrified to realise that I’d left home without setting the cunning wee device under the television to record it for me… Kate, watch out! I warned you that MTP was just the thin end of the wedge… Raymond Blanc is coming next!

Thank you to everyone who offered advice, encouragement and kicks up the bum, in whatever form. Sadly my email wasn’t working on the phone, and I suspect that I may therefore have missed a few messages, but both Piglet and I treasured every text, telephone call, meeting with friends (thank you, Martin, Brummie Dave, Susan, Alan and Phil) and posting on here as a most welcome connection with home and great friends. And now that we’re home we’re both very glad to be back ♥

Grim in Coniston

28 October, 2009

We’re back in C after a miserable 24 hrs in the hills. Thick clag with virtually nil vis.

Camped on Wetherlam last night. Was a bog by morning but Akto responded with characteristic fortitude to high winds. Had hoped 4 better this morning but was disappointed.

Worst of it is that cuff round front legs of P’s coat has rubbed big patches of fur away, leaving angry-looking bare pink patches, which P licks at every opportunity. Had hoped 4 vet here but out of luck.Thinking of getting bus to Windermere to seek vet there.

Not sure what our next move is. P tries to get into cars and run into open buildings. I know she enjoys some of it but can she cope with another 6 weeks or more? Can I? Unless weather improves our progress will be painfully slow. I can cut the cuffs off her coat, but not sure what to do 4 the best.

Options seem to be:

1. Continue along Joss Naylor route. Not ideal as his days were so long that there aren’t many descents to villages.

2. Try to follow the 36 (?) routes in Walking the Wainwrights, which might involve buses from route to route.

3. Go home.

Unsure of best course :{

3 in a bed i Grasmere…

25 October, 2009

This is the way to do it! Lord Elpus and I braved a closed M6 and bowled through the Trough of Bowland to finaly make the Lakes by late afternoon. We hooked up with the amazing Heather Rhodes to be treated with tea and cakes and a quick treatise in the biomechanics of the hominid.

You see, this is an educational blog this morning as I have hijacked Shirls blog. (now you wil see her readership tumble) Ooh, you probably need to know that its Alan who is writing this…

Anyway, Heather is half of the team behhind ‘Pacerpoles’ and we were dropping off essential suplies for Shirl who was having an incredibly tough day trying to buy a replacement lead for Piglet who had chewed through her old one in a last gasp desperate bid for freedom. It has to be said that when we did eventually catch up with Wiggly she was very happily ensconsed at the Royal Oak, having already having treated herself at the in at Skelwith Bridge.

She seemed to be in good spirits…

After supper at the Unicorn we eventually found our way to three in a room in Grasmere, where we are now enjoying breakfast before heading off into the hills…

Filthy morning…

24 October, 2009

…on Silver How. Having hot choc. P now actually wearing my smock but clearly unimpressed by this change to her accommodation. Hasn’t come up 4 air yet.

Still almost dark. V v glad I now have dedicated GPS AS JUST A BIT OF USE IN FOUL WEATHER QUICKLY DEMONSTRATED THAT THE SMART PHONE GPS would never have coped with the and learn etc.

Trousers wrong size but very lovely and warm.


Alice In Wonderland strikes Cumbria

23 October, 2009

Well finally I’m writing from my tent up in the hills. P is snuggled into her fleece suit lying on her down gilet and wrapped in my down smock. How come she always ends up with my down smock?

I’m going to tell u an impossible story now. I can’t believe it, anyway.

some of u may remember that I decided to order a paired Of expensive down trousers. The makers very kindly agreed to make them in time 4 my Lakes trip, which was v. Much appreciated. Unfortunately, when I collected them from the PO in Ambleside they’d accidentally sent me a size large rather than the medium I ordered.

I rang. It’s not easy to get through on the phone sometimes, but finally they rang me back. They apologised and arranged to send a M to my BB yesterday. The package arrived just as I was going out to dinner–I’d thought it mightn’t be coming as it was then 6pm–but I was delighted to get them.

After dinner I opened the package and the label said M. I was relieved. When I tried them on they seemed a bit big but I was dashing to bed by then, so this morning I packed them up and set off.

30 mins ago I unpacked them and put them on. This timed they really did seem big but I realised I had them on back to front and thought maybe it wa jus the bum That was large. As I wriggled out of them‚ though, the internal label caught my eye, and yes: you’ve guessed it. They’ve sent me another Large.

it’s hard 4 me to believe they could do this twice, accidentally. I’ll have to wear them as it’s cold and I brought my lighter sleeping bag because I knew I’d have the trousers. Naturally it’s Friday now, so I won’t be able to contact them until Monday. Unbelievable…
And then I’ll prolly listen to audiobook, as I had no room 4 a real one. Oh, and I need to check map re tomorrow.

I hope you’RE ALL having fun!
other than that it’s been a good day. I was relieved to learn that I can still carry a 15kg+ pack: I think the last time I carried so muc weight was prolly on the Pennine Way. It wasn’t too bad, though.

P got very wet, and shivered for some time after I’d settled her in the tent. I made her kibble up with warm water, though, and fed it to her by hand after she’d lapped up the juice‚ and that semed to make her feel better 🙂

I‛m going to make soup soon and eat a sandwich (coleslaw in white roll–yum!)