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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!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

If you want to get ahead - get a hat!

One of the greatest advertising slogans of all time, I reckon.

And now it’s your chance to esconce your bonce in the sine qua non of mountain headgear – the Lowe Alpine Mountain Cap. Yes, it’s another Doodlecat competition. We’ve published a picture of a well known spot in Scotland, and named the hills in it, so it’s very easy to find on the map (OS Landranger sheet 40). All you have to do is study the picture and work out where the photographer stood to take the shot.

The picture is in our Gallery and you can go to it by clicking HERE Have fun and good luck. We'll be drawing the winner on Sunday January 4th.

As my TGO walking companion, Alan, has suddenly found himself up to his ears in work lately, I will be burning the Christmas candles late into the night as I try to nail a route together. I rather suspect that I'm not the only one looking for inspiration, judging by the recent surge of interest in the TGO pages. Well, there's another crossing account for you TGO aficionados, going way back to the early years - Peter Goddard's 1984 Challenge.

Whilst on the subject of trail diaries and the like, chapter five (January) of Mike Knipe's Howgill Diaries will be published here sometime on New Year's day... (can't say exactly when, on account of New Year's Eve) ... anyway, Mike has thirteen monthly walks in the Howgills and a new one is published each month. Well worth a look as not only are outdoors and walking subjects covered, but bananas, personal relationships, giving up smoking and lots of other life enhancing stuff.

Well, that's just about it from me for another year. The wine has arrived, presents have been delivered, mother has been kidnapped by my sister for the duration, and Miss W has succumbed to 'Yuletide Lassitude'. Peace reigns at Elpus Hall.

I hope you've enjoyed Doodlecat throughout 2008, and it only remains for me to wish everyone a happy Christmas, and all the very best for the New Year.

Cheers

Phil (aka Lord Elpus).

Saturday, December 6, 2008

In The Footsteps of Giants

One of the benefits of the short winter days is the quality of the light (well, when the sun shines) and we have just enjoyed a brilliant sunlit stroll through some ancient rights of way - and I mean ancient. Even the public footpath signs seem to be relics from a bygone age.
Our walk took in the River Granta, the Gog Magog hills, and a stretch of the old roman road that ran from Cambridge to Colchester – and still exists for most of the way. In this well preserved few miles, it is easy to picture the legions, merchants and travellers of the past disappearing into the sunlit mist ahead... but the ghosts aren’t just roman ones...

The Gog Magogs are steeped in history and folklore, with
an iron age fort, roman road and of course the legend of Gog and Magog - a strange tale from Britain’s earliest beginnings.

Spooky shadows on the old roman road

The story starts with the Roman Emperor, Diocletian, who had thirty-three (!) wicked and disobedient daughters. To bring them to heel and curb their excesses, he married them off to thirty three husbands - but the daughters were not at all happy with their arranged marriages, and the eldest, Alba, hatched a plot to cut the throats of their husbands as they slept. The unfortunate chaps didn’t have a chance, and all were murdered in their sleep.

For this crime Alba and her sisters were set adrift in a boat, with enough food for six months, and after a long and dreadful journey they arrived at these islands which came to be named Albion, after the eldest daughter. Here they stayed, and “by coupling with demons they populated the wild, windswept islands with a race of giants”, the greatest of these being Gog and Magog, who dwelt in these hills.

Later on (not sure how much later) an escapee from the sacking of Troy, one Brutus, arrived. With him he brought his champion, Corineus, who faced the now united being of GogMagog in single combat and eventually hurled him from a high rock to his death. The fruits of Albion were now his, and the name 'Britain' derives from Brutus, as Albion came from Alba.

'Fruits of Albion' on the Gog Magog Hills

Legend, and the splendidly unreliable Geoffrey of Monmouth, tells us that Brutus then founded the city of New Troy, which eventually came to be known as London. This is why Gog and Magog stand as guardians of the Guildhall in the City, and are part of the Mayor’s parade. Trust those city boys to claim our giants for their own!

According to some accounts, which caught my fancy today, the site of old Troy was right where we stood. Yes, we were walking through the very centre of the Trojan war. Troy was right here, in Cambridgeshire!

You don’t believe me? Check this link out!

OK, OK, but it makes a great story. And given the right conditions (low winter sun, a touch of mist, a spooky rustling in the trees) you really can believe that you are walking in the footsteps of giants... Romans... or even Trojans!

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas is coming.

The latest instalment of Mike Knipe's Howgills diary is now in Random Doodles - another splendid stretch around the fells on the 'other side' of the M6, interweaved with Mike's reflections on the Christmas season and giving up smoking. Go right to it HERE.

Coming up for the Christmas Holidays is another Doodlecat competition - made a bit easier this time to allow for the more relaxed mode that the grey cells enter in late December...well relaxed is a bit of a euphamism - you know what I mean.

And thinking of competitions, thanks to Darren Christie, who furnished me with a new head torch and a set of blister prevention patches in his Outdoors Bloggers raffle. So there's no need for me to worry about what to get for Miss W's Christmas present this year!