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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!

Monday, October 24, 2011

National Parks For Northern Ireland?

Slieve Donard from Slievelamagan

The Department for the Environment N.I published a White Paper in March of this year, as a first step to bring forward enabling legislation to allow for the creation of national parks in Northern Ireland.

White Park Bay on the North Antrim Coast

Since then a new consultation document has been published. Which looks in more detail at governance, access, criteria and seeks answers to a number of specific questions on national park issues, with a view to developing policy proposals for the enabling legislation to be brought before the Northern Ireland Assembly. Responses have been invited by Monday 31st October 2011.

Ben Crom from Slieve Binnian

Responses can be submitted by email to :- national.parks@doeni.gov.uk

As this is a White Paper, all comments are noted & count, so even just a short email stating that you are in favour of National Parks in Northern Ireland. Maybe suggesting a few areas for national park status and expressing support for the extension of access legislation to Northern Ireland, currently enjoyed in other parts of the U.K, would all have to be noted in the final paper.

The full consultation documents can be downloaded from this link :-

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Outdoor Stereotypes No. 4

The Mountain Biker

Cartoon picture of mountain biker

You find a nice sheltered spot out of the wind and settle down to look back with satisfaction at the country that you have covered. It’s been tough going to get up here – steep, slippery and sometimes pathless, but all that’s forgotten as you relax and admire the view with cloud shadows scudding across the crisply lit landscape far below.

A strange, hunched figure with a peculiar gait staggers into view. As he slowly draws closer it becomes apparent that he is not really dressed for hillwalking. In fact he seems to have got dressed in the dark. The style, lurid colours and most of all the diminutive size and tightness  of his attire all point to an inadvertent  raid on his ten year old daughter’s ballet wardrobe.

His tights reach only to mid-calf. A bright girly pink spandex top strains to contain a resolutely masculine belly. He is wearing a pair of orange shoes secured with Velcro straps instead of laces, which match an elaborately sculpted plastic crown on his head. But most remarkable of all is the reason for his crab like progress.

He is carrying a bicycle.

And he has carried it up the same treacherous heathery hillside that has left you gasping for breath. You gaze at him in wonderment – the chief part of your wonder being, “Why?”

He doesn’t notice you as he trudges past, eyes down and breathing heavily; a nylon bag clatters as it bounces on his back. It seems to be full of Tupperware.  Oh well, you think – takes all sorts I suppose – and you resume your now pleasant ascent to a perfect perch overlooking the lesser hills, and reward yourself with a fine lunch and a celebratory slug of Ardbeg before taking the long rocky path back.

You hear him microseconds before you see him,  his approach heralded by the squeal of disc brakes and a clatter of loose gravel. The tubby middle aged man dressed as a pre-pubescent ballerina has been transformed.

He is now Robocop on wheels as he hurtles straight at you at forty miles per hour. Wearing more armour than a mediaeval knight he has become a crazed carbon fibre clad robot seemingly intent on your destruction. Spittle and sweat stream across his cheeks in the slipstream. The setting sun blazes from wraparound mirrored glasses and glints on gritted teeth.

“Loooookooouttheeeeeremaaate!” cries a panicking voice, forcing you to leap aside and sprawl  into the only truly boggy bit for miles. Clearly a bell is not considered essential equipment by this knight of the hills.

And he is gone. You listen hopefully for a crash of metal and a cry of anguish, but disappointingly you spot him a few minutes later pedalling along the track that leads to the car park. Dark thoughts of walking poles and spokes evaporate as you observe the back of the pretty pink top and purple tights - plastered with mud from top to bum.

His daughter will be very upset when he gets home.

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Crash Bang Wallop

Lifesystems First Aid Kit
Is this in your rucksack?
The importance of carrying a first aid kit was brought home to Miss W with a wallop last week. Ever since Alan Sloman's unfortunate brush with a barbed wire fence, I have made a point of carrying a first aid kit on even the most unchallenging outing. And what could be more unchallenging than a walk along the beach for a picnic on a sunny day?

We never made it to the beach.

Crossing the A149 at Snettisham for a pleasant stroll through the woods to the seaside, Miss W's foot got stuck in a catseye - or rather the deep hole where a catseye had once been - and pivoting on the jammed foot she hurtled face first onto the tarmac without time to put up a shielding arm.

Fortunately the oncoming traffic was far enough away to slow down and enable me to escort the shocked and bleeding patient to the side of the road. We sat down in the woods to assess the damage.

Right knee with two deep gashes. Elbows gashed and grazed. Chin cut and bleeding as was her nose (fortunately not broken) and a piece of gravel had perforated the skin above her top lip, meeting her teeth coming the other way.

Blood pouring everywhere.

Amazingly the little Lifesystems Trek first aid kit had everything that I needed to patch up the patient (I had added some swabs, low contact dressings and plastic tape) and she insisted that we continue on a much curtailed walk to "stop things seizing up". Before long though I guided a very stiff and slightly wobbly Miss W back to the car, where she was horrified to see the full extent of the damage.

So, the first lesson learned - or rather confirmed. Accidents usually happen in the most mundane circumstances, so keep a first aid kit in the pack and in the car. You never know when it will be needed.

 The second lesson is that bruising and swelling gets worse before it gets better, and if you're out with a girl who looks as though she has just had a severe beating, be prepared for some dark looks cast in your direction.

I'm thinking of getting a T shirt printed, "It Wasn't Me!"