Well this post has been sitting on my desktop for a while now, originally saved as “August post”. The original opening paragraph complained that the weather was October-esque and here we are now in October (actually November now) and yeah, that was a pretty accurate description! So yet again, there’s been a fair old gap between posts. Not that there are hoardes of disappointed visitors to the site, I’m sure! It’s been a busy 5 months since Stanford Hall including three further trips to the Lakes. I can’t quite believe that it’s coming up to the end of my first year living in Burley in Wharfedale – how did that happen??

And when I say the Lakes, I really mean Coniston. The next trip up was a quick jaunt up there the week following our trip to see Metallica at Twickenham, after some plans with Ginger Mat changed at the last minute. Despite the ridiculous humidity I made it to the top of the Old Man, so naturally had to revive myself with plenty of cool refreshing beverages at the Black Bull. They’ve done quite nicely out of me this year! It’s pretty rare for me to be up there alone, so it was nice to be free of the admin of the awning and extra bits and pieces that company usually requires. Ginger Mat and I did make it up there a few weeks later, and yet again I ended up in the Black Bull having been over the top of the Old Man.

The weather on top of that hill has not been kind to me all year, and it started to rain as soon as we got to the summit. Because we’re not stupid, we were prepared for this, having checked the weather forecast and packed the appropriate clothing. Some of the people we saw on the way down, however, were clearly stupid. It’s not fair that Mountain Rescue teams should put themselves at risk for people like that – hopefully they didn’t have to that day. The weather also wasn’t hugely kind to Spicey Matt and I when we were up there in August. After a promising start – a day later than planned due to Matt’s motorbike breaking on the way up – the rain came again.

We’d decided to try somewhere new for our longer break up there after the August bank holiday so had plumped for a couple of nights at Gillside Farm before heading over to Pier Cottage at Coniston. Clarence absolutely bossed the Kirkstone Pass twice in two days, which brought back some distant memories from my D of E days. An RAF training jet flying up the valley was reminiscent of, if not as cool as, the Tornado that flew under us all those years ago. I doubt we’ll be in a massive hurry to head back that way, although if we’re going to have a crack at Helvellyn we may have to. Ullswater is beautiful, there’s no doubt about that, but I don’t think either of us were hugely impressed with the facilities at the site or the local hostelries! It was lovely to be back at Pier Cottage for a few nights, although I can’t help but think it would be much lovelier with a bit of sunshine around. I really wish they would update the shower and toilet block because that’s the one thing that rather lets the place down.

Despite the wind and the low cloud, Matt and I got to the top of the Old Man (that’s number four for me this year) and having got down out of the weather enjoyed the company of the Paynes for a couple of hours at the Black Bull. Brad finally got to find out what all the oatmeal stout related fuss was all about, but unfortunately had to leave relatively early as the kids were in tow. Naturally it hammered it down with rain for the rest of our stay! So that pretty much covers the Lakes – unless I have a run up there in the bug for the day I think that’s probably it until next spring now.

The only other camping trip I managed to squeeze in was back in September with Darryl and Jo. The Caravan Club had given them a free night, so we decided we would check out their site at Buxton. I really like the fact that it’s set in a former quarry, but it did feel as though some of the pitches were a little crammed in – especially in comparison to Park Coppice. The facilities were, as they always are at the Caravan Club sites, top notch and with a discount deal with a local pub we had a very pleasant weekend that included a walk along the Roaches and through Lud’s Church.

As far as the bug is concerned, she’s not been out of the garage as much as I’d have liked since the Stanford Hall weekend. I still haven’t managed to get her through an MOT first time, but there wasn’t too much needed. With the Herbie Hospital having moved out towards Wetherby, that will be the last time either of the dubs will be tested at Discount Dave’s, and to be honest I don’t have too many issues with that!

Interspersed throughout, I’ve been honing my brewing skills. Some brews have turned out better than others but the last couple of batches – an English bitter and an oatmeal stout – are pretty bloody excellent! The first OP style that I brewed tasted nothing like OP, but version 2 is currently fermenting away behind the sofa. Fingers crossed for a good result on that! (Update – it turned out pretty well!) Other than a trip to the Great British Beer Festival, a day at the Headingley test match against Australia, a visit to the new Spurs stadium to see the Bears against the Raiders and a double Therapy? gig, I think that’s about that for the last few months!

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