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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!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Talented Mr Smith

Steve SmithI had an email from Steve Smith yesterday, author of the Munro Diaries in Random Doodles.

Writing is Steve's hobby, and this email was to announce his bright shiny new website, where he has gathered many of his outdoor writings, poetry and humour under one roof. They're always interesting and Steve has a gift for involving the reader as he recounts his experiences.

Here are a few of the 'outdoor' titles to whet your appetite:
  • "Welsh 2000s" - The story of walking all the Welsh 2000ft mountains
  • "English 2000s" - The English 2000ft mountains I've walked so far.
  • "Scottish 2000s" - The Scottish 2000ft to 3000ft mountains I've walked so far.
  • "Footsteps" - a 32 mile walk I did on Boxing Day 2008 (re-creating a walk my Grandfather did 70 years to the day)
  • "Glenmore Lodge" - Diary of an outdoor skills course I did in February
  • "Walking Home" - a 24 mile walk across the Wiltshire Downs
There's lots more, so why not pop over to www.meip.co.uk and enjoy Steve's excellent writing ... and the occasional terrible joke.



Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Free Akto

I already have one - and it's been well worth the money. I purchased mine on line from the excellent Climbers' Shop in Ambleside, and now I see that they want to extend their database of potential e customers by tempting us with a draw for a free Akto. It's got to be better odds than the lottery, so if you want to give it a try, click this link. It could be you!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

She's Snow Angel!

After spending the last couple of days confined to barracks (redecorating kitchen for a few GBPs) today was the first day since the blanket of snow descended to actually go out and enjoy it.

We were having a great walk through the Kings Forest, with snow depth averaging a comfortable 5", and nice and cold too, so it stayed light and powdery, when Miss W suddenly shouted "Let's make angels!"

This is an activity missing from my childhood memory. It's probably more of a girly thing, so not actively promoted at Dotheboys Hall, or wherever it was that I was confined during the 'growing up' phase. Anyway, I was unfamiliar with both the concept and the procedure. A demonstration, with instruction, was duly given.

"Lie on your back and swing your legs out sideways and wave your arms up and down - now roll your head from side to side  - now get up".

 Results below.

Lord E follows instructions and lies in snow tooMiss w lies in the snow
Miss W (above in the blue jacket) and Lord E (right) begin the creative process. Below: The finished creations.

completed snow angel no 1completed snow angel no 2
It has to be said that the process is far less wearying than creating a snowman - or would have been had Miss W not been so delighted with the results that we had to repeat the procedure at every level area of snow that we came across.

Very level, this part of Suffolk.

There are many, many angels in the forest.

I have a frostbitten bum.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Walking poles - who needs them?

picture of Leki PolesBrowsing the excellent Grough recently, I read a piece about medical emergencies in the hills, and followed the link to the medical section of the BMC website. All good stuff of course, but being curious I dug further, and came across a download for a piece on the use of walking poles.

A key sentence stood out: "During load carriage on moderate grade, they reduce the perception of physical exertion." 

Did you see what caught my attention? Yes, the telling phrase "the perception of physical exertion". Not, please note, the actual physical exertion.

It's quite interesting, especially when considering that "Long-term use of sticks may reduce balance and coordinative ability of the subject. This disadvantage is becoming more and more evident and can lead to certain balancing problems, especially in difficult mountain areas... "

My recent walks have been without the use of poles - mainly because I find they just get in the way when you want to use a compass, have a drink, smoke a fag etc. But the balance thing is undoubtedly true - you can become overly reliant on the sticks in difficult terrain, to the detriment of your natural balance and rhythm.

On the other hand, it is considered that for those of advanced age, with excess bodyweight, arthritis, and / or carrying heavy backpacks the use of sticks, especially downhill, may be beneficial. So I'll probably take mine on the TGO Challenge then ;-)

But, for the more lightweight hiker - given that the weight of your pack and footwear has probably reduced by 15lbs or more over the past few years, do you need those poles? Especially if you carry them most of the time. And even of you do clack clack along all the time, is it really neccessary? Or have we all fallen for  marketing spin and truly believe that without these talismans we'll be carrying hundreds of elephants (or whatever the ad man's pachyderm of choice might be) up every hill we encounter? Are they more of a security blanket than a real benefit?

The consensus of the UIAA medical committee seems to be that, unless diseased, overloaded and infirm, most of us don't need them, and might even be better off without them.

Just a thought.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

How to drink beer.

In the last post about pork pies (my next project is a Melton Mowbray variant) I touched on the subject of beer. One aspect of english cuisine that has enjoyed a welcome revival over the last couple of decades is craft brewing, and even the big brewers are producing new and reviving old ales to tickle the palate.

In a recent newspaper article I saw an old tip for serving fine ales to accompany food. Serve them in a large wine glass. It sounds a bit odd, but it works really well, and allows your guests to sample a range of ales as an integral part of a meal, just as they would expect with fine wines. And the shape of the wine glass encourages the aromas from the beer to be appreciated.

Try it. It really does add to the experience. Plus your guests won't get overwhelmed with the volume. I first came across this in the seventies when invited to Sunday lunch with a chap from work. I was doing a night shift at the Goodmans loudspeaker factory in Havant at the time - one of many short lived jobs in my early career.

I was used to drinking Gales HSB in pint pots, and thought this chap serving his family peculiar brews in tiddly glasses was a) a bit eccentric and b) a bit miserly. How wrong can you be? A wealth of top beers from England, Belgium and Germany graced the table, and we finally finished with five year old Thomas Hardy's Ale from Eldridge Pope with the pudding and cheeses. With an ABV of almost 12% we are talking of something with the same strength as wine. Sadly, Eldridge Pope went bust a few years ago, and although there have been random efforts to recreate it, I'm not sure how successful they have been.

Down at the pub, of course, a pint glass is the thing - and a fine session ale in quantity makes for a great evening. But the next time you're having a supper with friends, instead of a bottle or two of  Kangarouge or Billablanc, why not try serving a range of interesting beers in your guests' wine glasses; and maybe, just maybe, see committed wine lovers seduced by the delights of good ale.