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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, March 28, 2010

Stealth Warning

Readers of Alan Sloman's blog will be aware that he has purchased a new jacket, described as his "newly acquired 'stealth' jacket" from Paramo.

One might imagine from the description that this is of a sober hue, blending with the subtle shades of nature - not a bit of it. The chromatically challenged designers at Paramo have come up with an absolute corker with this one - those with aesthetic sensibilities should look away now.

Alan in his new bright green jacket

The fabled 'man in black' has at last emerged from his monochrome chrysalis in a burst of gorgeous technicolor. Spring is here.


Monday, March 22, 2010

The Hill Track Campaign

New bulldozed track in Scotland
There have always been paths and tracks in Scotland - and, whether for trade, social or sporting use, we who enjoy the odd stravaig have benefited greatly from the labours of those who constructed them. The bold 'rover roads' of the forties, the ingeniously engineered victorian stalkers' paths, or the old drovers' routes such as the Minigaig or the Mounth Roads - all have added to the accessibility and the delight of walking in the Highlands.

But you can have too much of a good thing ... and when tracks are bulldozed through virgin land for no good reason other than to save the legs of a few pampered bankers (I chose my words very carefully there!) then someone has to call a halt.

Having run my own business (before the weight of regulation, taxation, and interfering busybodies made me see sense and stop) I am not in favour of people with no investment and exposed to nil risk poking their noses into someone else's affairs. Especially the affairs of hill farmers and the like who have a genuine and pressing need for vehicular access to the hillsides, and without whom many of the areas we love would be much poorer.

However, when someone's business activities are liable to mar or destroy large tracts of fragile land for decades to come, then at the very least they should be called to account to justify the activity before the bulldozers rip in to the hillside.

So please do pop over to the Hill Tracks Campaign where you will be able to find out more - and, most importantly, sign the petition for greater regulation of the construction of vehicular hill tracks.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Mexico to Canada

Owing to the demand for tickets, John Manning's illustrated talk has been reconvened at a larger venue. This message just received from John:

Hi all,

Please note that the venue for my "2700 Miles" talk about the Pacific Crest Trail on March 26 has changed. It will now be held at St Peter's Church, Stainforth, which is just that little bit closer to the car park and the campsite than the village hall, as well as being equidistant from the pub. It's also warmer, drier, is easier to find and has a larger capacity - which means tickets are back on sale, and there should be entry on the door also.

Very best wishes all, and many thanks for your support,


John Manning
So there's still time to get your ticket! You can ring John on OI729 822547 to reserve tickets (only two quid a a shot!) or email at john(at)outdoorsmanning(dot)com.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A kick in the Googles Pt 2

Things have not been going well with the changes necessitated by Blogger's withdrawal of FTP support. Creating a Wordpress theme that accurately mimics Doodlecat's existing design seems to be beyond my (limited) abilities. Thus I have a choice between these three options:
  • Choose an existing Wordpress theme and modify it a bit. Trouble is, I cannot export the ftp Blogger posts directly into Wordpress, so I'd have to move it all over to Blogger first. And I'd need to work carefully on the CSS to make sure all the static pages worked properly. There's an awful lot of them!
  • Create a new index page for the site and have just this page hosted by Blogger as the Doodlecat Blog or whatever. Clunky and possibly slow - but easy to do.
  • Just stop blogging altogether - it was only ever embedded in the home page to allow multiple users to add content to Doodlecat. We no longer do that, so this is now just an amusing pastime. I could go and do something more useful instead.
Right now I feel a bit like this chap - and I have to confess that my initial reaction to the news was similar!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

New boots & panties

The old Asolos - still muddy from their last walk
But so far – just the new boots! The old Asolos have hiked their last hike and will see out their twilight years in gentle retirement around the garden. Although the soles are worn almost flat (through to the spongy stuff underneath in places) and the fabric uppers are a bit ragged, amazingly they remain watertight and astonishingly comfortable.

But they won’t do another year, and this model is now looooong discontinued.

Anticipating the old Asolos’ demise, I tried a pair of AKUs a while back, but didn’t like them, and none of the current crop from Asolo seem to fit as well. Readers with long memories might recall that I have “issues” with boot fitting.

But not this time – no sir!

Bury St Edmunds, miles from the nearest hill, is strangely well provided with shops selling outdoor gear, but I always go first to the independent outdoor emporium. Outdoor shops come & go, but 'Stepping Out' keeps on adapting and surviving, diving into any niche not covered by the big boys. In the face of competition from the new Cotswold and Blacks stores they are currently re-inventing themselves again. I browsed the footwear. Nothing much that I fancied, but the Meindl Softline Ultra GTX looked pretty good. Despite knowing that the narrower Italian lasts suit me better, after a chat with the owner I was persuaded to give them a try. My size wasn’t in stock, but it was ordered straightaway and yesterday a phone call confirmed that they were in.

Meindl Softline Ultra GTX
Absolute astonishment. They laced up easily to give a firm snug fit. A stroll up and down – no appreciable heel lift, and plenty of room in the toe box too (the Asolos tended to taper in a bit at the end). Either my feet have got wider, or the Meindl Softline is narrower than their traditional boots, or maybe the new design and lacing system is much more flexible. Whatever – the fit is excellent.

Even better, this is a fairly stiff boot with a high ankle cuff. OK, unlike some of the softer lightweight boots they will take a few miles to bed in. The benefit is that over rough, steep ground edging won’t be a problem and that higher cuff means that maybe there is less chance of water pouring over the top in the ultra boggy ground that Scotland promises after this winter.

To sum up. Not the lightest boot on the market, but light enough, and very well made apart from the usual rubbish insole, which I’ll replace with my Superfeet. I think I’ll get a lot of miles out of them. So if  you think that the regular Meindl boot is too wide or has too much volume, these are well worth a try.