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Doodlecat's Homepage

Picture of Doodle - a 
black cat

Welcome to Doodlecat, where we enjoy the pleasures of life (with a slight bias towards the outdoors). This page is regularly updated with news and views plus information about any additions or changes to the various parts of the site. It acts as Doodlecat’s Blog too, so the odd rant considered opinion may pop up from time to time.

I would love to be able to say that Doodlecat is all my own work, but it isn’t. Much of the outdoors content is courtesy of the splendid people who participate in the annual TGO Challenge (there is a section entirely devoted to this unique event) and many others.

To help in tracking down that elusive morsel on Doodlecat, the search facility under the title bar above is tailored to help you find it, either on this home page (Doodlecat's Blog) all the rest of the site (Main Site) or – if all else fails - the internet!

So have a rummage around the old cat basket and enjoy your time with us!

Friday, October 26, 2007

How to write a (proper) TR ?

In May this year I walked the TGO Challenge as a firsttimer.
For those who don't know what the Challenge is all about : it's a non-competitive selfsupported
walk from the westcoast of Scotland to the eastcoast. I completed the journey in 13 days.
The real task seemed to be writing a triprecord afterwards. I've just published my TR, more than 4 months after completing the Challenge. I didn't make notes during the Challenge, the only thing put on paper was who I met where and when and that was a bit lacking at the end because of the rising numbers of Challengers met. I only need to look at a map to know where I've been and what has happened. I tend to write in English but I noticed I'm at a loss of words sometimes. I don't just want to write a "left at, right at" story. I think it's helpfull for readers to be able to follow you on your journey but you also want your readers to 'taste' the circumstances you've encountered. I want my story to be a guide and a good read at the same time. Some people are gifted whith that talent, I'm not. I have to work hard and my Oxford Thesaurus gets consulted often. I've read TR's with a lot of flora and fauna described in it but I'm no good at all at English names for those little flying, crawling and growing thingies. Even in Dutch I can't keep them apart.
Human contact can be interesting, especially with experienced hillwalkers, but that's mostly about walks in the past, not the present. I like to read and write about the landscape and the effort made to conquer (or failed to conquer) that landscape. Perhaps next time I'll take some sort of memorecorder with me. With a camera I can record what my eyes see and with a 'soundrecorder' I can record my thoughts and feelings.
The only thing I'll still need is time to put it on 'paper'.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Birthday Weekend

Given a weekend pass by Miss W, I slipped off up to the lakes with old mate, Alan Sloman for a bit of R & R. We bunked off early on Friday, and were in Ambleside in good time for lunch and mooch around the gear shops before heading off to the Great Langdale campsite and the Old Dungeon Gill climbers bar to plan our week end walk.

In a local shop I bought a pie with an attractive crust, simply labelled “Pie” – no clue as to its contents. The pie vendor could shed no light on its probable ingredients, but reassured me that no one who bought one “had ever come back”.

The day had been disappointingly dull and misty, but the weather forecast in the climbers bar was optimistic, so we drank to the fine dawn that would surely follow, and met some splendid chaps one of whom sported a tee shirt with the initials RMI.

“What does that stand for?” asked Al.

“The Real Mens’ Institute”

“So, you’re hard men then?”

A confused conversation followed as to what constituted “Real Men”, and we became increasingly baffled by the explanations until we realised that our unattuned ears had misheard “Rail Mans’ Institute”.

We switched immediately to a northern brew to assist with mastering the local patois, This worked splendidly, as soon we could not understand a word the other said, and so we retired to our tents.

Saturday dawned cold but sunny and I was surprised to find that during the night I had eaten the Pie …and survived. We were off well before opening time, heading up to Angle Tarn for lunch, enjoying the views rather more than the climb, as the sun became quite hot! Too hot for some – we found a pair of padded trousers labelled as part of a ‘chemical hazard suit’ abandoned on a rock. Alan recalled that he could have done with those when the Chernobyl cloud came over, and told me how he and his companions had been soaked to the skin in the rain here, and found that they had acute skin irritation and peeling for weeks afterwards.

As the day wore on, and our enthusiasm for climbing wore off, we set about finding a good camp spot, and after a false start we found an absolute corker by High House Tarn.

The evening was amazing. We watched the sun set and the shadows fill the valleys. The moon hovered over the tarn outside our tents. Later in the night the moon had set and in an ink black sky the stars and Milky Way sparkled like diamonds.

Sunday, my birthday, dawned to reward us with a better sight. It was colder in the valleys and so on our lofty perch we were rewarded with a splendid cloud inversion to add to the sunrise.

As the sun rose, so did the cloud, and after half a hour of watching the clouds rise over ridges and suddenly plunge into the valleys we became enveloped in mist, so we packed up and headed down by a different route, arriving back at the Old Dungeon Gill just in time to miss lunch! Fortunately they were still serving the Northern translation fluid, so I had a couple whilst Al (driver) downed a well earned coffee before we headed off for the M6 and home.

All in all, a splendid birthday, rounded off with a big hug and kiss from Miss W who presented me with a chocolate smartie cake with one candle (well, there wasn't room for the full set).

Sometimes getting older ain’t so bad.

PS In case you are the trouserless one, your strides are at NY251073

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Atomic Theory

A couple of Sundays ago I decided to get on my bike and go for a beer, it was an ideal day for cycling (no wind) so I kept going a bit further then a bit further and ended up clutching my pint in a comfy armchair in the Glen Avon Hotel in Tomintoul, at least the 42 miles home was mostly downhill. It was while avoiding the main road and riding along the Speyside Way between Ballindalloch and Craigellachie that I remembered 'The Third Policeman' a rather amusing book by Flann O'Brien full of useful facts like the five rules of wisdom:

  1. Ask questions but never answer any.
  2. Turn everything you hear to your own advantage.
  3. Always carry a repair outfit.
  4. Take left turns as much as possible.
  5. Never apply your front brake first.

'If you follow them you will save your soul and you will never get a fall on a slippy road.'

But to get to the point, the 'Atomic Theory' states:

  • 'Everything is composed of small particles of itself and they are flying around in concentric circles and arcs and segments and innumerable other geometrical figures too numerous to mention collectively, never standing still or resting but
    spinning away and darting hither and thither and back again, all the time on the go. These diminutive gentlemen are called atoms. ..what takes place when you strike a bar of iron with a good coal hammer..(is) when the wallop falls, the atoms are bashed away down to the bottom of the bar and compressed and crowded there like eggs under a good clucker. After a while in the course of time they swim around and get back to where they were. But if you keep hitting the bar long enough and hard enough they do not get a chance to do this and ..(if you) ask a blacksmith for the true answer he will tell you that the bar will dissipate itself away by degrees if you persevere with the hard wallops. Some of the atoms of the bar will go into the hammer and the other half into the table or the stone or the particular article that is underneath the bottom of the bar. ..The gross and net result of it is that people who spend most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads ..get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycles as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who nearly are half people and half bicycles. ..And you would be flabbergasted at the number of bicycles that are half-human almost half-man, half-partaking of humanity.'

I would have written this earlier but I have only just been able to sit down.